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Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction Reissue Edition
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`It is impossible to imagine a clearer treatment of the subject, or one that is, within the given limits of length, more comprehensive. Culler has always been remarkable for his expository skills, and here he has found exactly the right method and tone for his purposes.' Sir Frank Kermode
About the Author
Jonathan Culler is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and a leading figure in the world of literary theory. Praised by Frank Kermode for his "remarkable expository skills," his publications include seminal works on deconstruction and semiology as well as studies of individual authors.
Top customer reviews
This sort of thing is not for everybody, I understand. And, others have criticized that this book does a fine job of introducing "theory" but does almost nothing to explore various major "schools" of theory. I'm fine with that; I got all I needed right here, and I have a solid enough foundation to move on should I choose to.
The author, Culler, is a great writer; his Introduction to Roland Barthes book was fabulous too. It was my search for other works by Culler that lead me to this.
Culler traces several paths through this boundless philosophical landscape. Seven such paths actually, exploring aspects of language, identity and meaning. These constitute as gentle an introduction as is possible. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a better guide than Culler, with his clear and elegant style and his breadth of knowledge. Although this is not a conventional school-by-school primer, there is a section at the end briefly summarizing the major schools, from Russian Formalism to Queer Theory (yes, you heard right). The author advises that you can read these summaries before, after, or during the main text. I recommend leaving them until after, when they will be a lot more meaningful. Otherwise, they might frighten you off from reading the text itself.
The illustrations consist of a half-dozen or so vaguely relevant cartoons. I suppose, as this series is illustrated, OUP felt obliged to include something, even if the text had no need of it. More positively, this book is blessedly free of the typos that normally bedevil the series.
If you wish to 'dip your toe in the water' of literary theory (and be warned, it is a maelstrom) Culler's book is the perfect place to do it.