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Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) Paperback – January 23, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Sample quotes from emails sent by visitors to Mary Klages theory webpages: 'Finding your course was a godsend to me...Your lectures are wonderfully clear and make the formerly incomprehensible material understandable''You have a wonderful way of making these very difficult obtuse essays easily accessible for our students. Your explanations on these have helped me very much in my Foundations of Literary Criticism course''Your Lacan lecture is a gem of clarity and user-friendliness in both its content and style...Among my colleagues I've never found any one who has created so helpful a course website, or more clear and helpful lectures as you have.'

"There is nothing else like this sparkling, fresh, accessible and wise guide to literary theory for the student and other beginners."
Professor Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara


"Written by literary theory teacher Mary Klages, Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed isa straightforward introduction to thinkers, writers, and subjects that studentsof literature can find confusing. The overviews apply specific focus to themost challenging ideas and concepts, and touch upon structuralism,deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, ideology and discourse,race and postcolonialism, postmodernism, and prominent figures of humanist literarytheory. Written in terms accessible to lay readers, Literary Theory is especially ideal for high school seniors andfreshman college students, and anyone else who can use a solid grounding in thebasics."- Library Bookwatch, June2007 (Library Bookwatch)

"This is one of the best introductions to literary theory this reviewer has encountered. ...Anyone curious about literary theory can do no better than pick up this book. Summing up: Highly recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and general readers." - Choice
(CHOICE)

"For students who are faced with literary theory for the first time, it would be hard to find a better introduction that Klages' demystifying guide." —Mark Y. Herring, American Reference Books Annual, 2008, Vol. 39
(Mark Y. Herring)

“Written by literary theory teacher Mary Klages, Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed isa straightforward introduction to thinkers, writers, and subjects that studentsof literature can find confusing. The overviews apply specific focus to themost challenging ideas and concepts, and touch upon structuralism,deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, ideology and discourse,race and postcolonialism, postmodernism, and prominent figures of humanist literarytheory. Written in terms accessible to lay readers, Literary Theory is especially ideal for high school seniors andfreshman college students, and anyone else who can use a solid grounding in thebasics.”- Library Bookwatch, June2007 (Sanford Lakoff)

"For students who are faced with literary theory for the first time, it would be hard to find a better introduction that Klages' demystifying guide." —Mark Y. Herring, American Reference Books Annual, 2008, Vol. 39
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Mary Klages is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA.
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Product Details

  • Series: Guides for the Perplexed
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826490735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826490735
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C. Trop on June 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I was perplexed with all the terminology and application of theory to literary texts. I found this a useful guide that clearly expressed the function of theory, as well as the historical beginnings of theory, something I did not find in other guides (guides that were verbose and weighty, not the stuff for understanding the basics!). I'm certain that this book will prove a useful guide when I myself take my graduate theory class in September. Dr. Klages has done literature students, both undergraduate and graduate, a great service with this book.
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Format: Paperback
Written by literary theory teacher Mary Klages, Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed is a straightforward introduction to thinkers, writers, and subjects that students of literature can find confusing. The overviews apply specific focus to the most challenging ideas and concepts, and touch upon structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, ideology and discourse, race and postcolonialism, postmodernism, and prominent figures of humanist literary theory. Written in terms accessible to lay readers, Literary Theory is especially ideal for high school seniors and freshman college students, and anyone else who can use a solid grounding in the basics.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Dye on October 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I could keep only two books, I'd probably go with Anna Karenina and Moby Dick. Or maybe I'd loose the whale and go with A.K. and Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed. I mean, SERIOUSLY, this little book is GREAT--especially for those attempting to swim (like I once did) from Marxism to New Historicism, past Structuralism and Postcolonialism, only to be caught in the whirlpool between Deconstruction and Formalism....

It's clear. It's easy to read. You don't feel like an idiot for not understanding Derrida. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Whenever one wishes to learn what passes for cutting edge criticism in literary theory whether on an undergraduate or graduate level, one is faced with the daunting prospect of a thicket of prose made nearly impenetrable by scholarly jargonese and unfamiliar concepts. In LITERARY THEORY: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, Mary Klages, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado, has succeeded in demystifying this thicket, presenting the reader with a basic text that ought to belong on that reader's permanent shelf. Part of the problem that most readers find in introductory texts on theory is that these texts often assume previous knowledge or the organizational structure of the material is a jumble of poorly connected facts. Klages begins with a concise definition which leads to her first consideration of pre-twentieth century theory. Most texts scant the reader with the works of Plato, Aristotle, Wordsworth, and Arnold, but not Klages. She points out that one cannot understand the humanistic tradition in literary theory of the first half of the twentieth century unless one first can grasp how the Enlightenment impacted on such early theories as the New Criticism.

Klages' strong point is her ability to place theory under two broad categories of humanism and poststructuralism, both of which she defines clearly. It would not be easy for anyone to plow through the literary fog of deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, New Historicism, Marxism, postcolonialism, and postmodernism without descending into the very real verbal foliage that both categorizes such theories and acts as a stumbling block toward understanding. Mary Klages has indeed done so.
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By Kat on November 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everything you ever wanted to know about literary theory as an undergraduate---and then some. I purchased this book because I felt my "introduction to literary theory" wasn't thorough enough through a class by that name. I've used this book as a reference extensively since purchasing it. I've grabbed it off my bookshelf and reread chapters and passages for other classes. I recommend this for any English major.
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