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The Land and Literature of England: A Historical Account Paperback – October 17, 1986
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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About the legends of Ireland, for example, Adams writes, "There are a great many more stories than the 'Ulster cycle" of Celtic legend, and there is another entire cycle of primitive stories from the south of Ireland, dealing with Finn MacCool, his trusty band of Fenian comrades, and his son the warrior-poet Ossian. Readers of Yeats and Joyce will recognize, again and again, in the characters and episodes of ancient Irish legend, the origins of persons and events, as well as the point of hundreds of allusions, in these modern writers."
Adams does not pretend to write a comprehensive book without prejudice. "There are two long stories to tell," he writes, " and very little space to tell them, other elements of the background must be treated only intermittently...I make no apology for having introduced my own enthusiasms into the literary commentary." After all, it IS his book. He gets to choose what to say and how to say it. It's well that he doesn't apologize because his "enthusiasms" are what makes the book readable and delightful.
This isn't an anthology -- the reader will have to track down copies of works but there's a bibliography and references to writers and their publications are plentiful. He doesn't confine himself to just the well-known literary works, but offers examples of lesser-known works, as well.Read more ›
The book is intended to serve as a propadeutic for students of literature and it is by far the best of its kind available. What Adams selects from history is designed to accompany the Norton Anthology. It is like reading a professor's series of notes for lectures but designed specifically to help the student who wants to think about particular literary pieces within historical contexts. Adams gives just enough historical fact to make the literature come alive. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to undergraduates and even grad students who need to refresh.
Most entertaining is Adams's sense of humor and the text is dotted with little places where the reader will laugh aloud. The footnotes are helpful and suggestive, the design of the chapters and their titles easily assist comprehension and a sense of sequence and order. Reading the book thoroughly and attentively will help any student develop context and hopefully write better papers. If you don't have this book and you are a student of English literature, find a way to get it.