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The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse) First Edition Edition

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192804686
ISBN-10: 0192804685
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Editorial Reviews


"...good for endless hours of random reading. Open at any page, at any time. You will be rewarded in unexpected ways, by unexpected writers."--William Grimes, New York Times

"An agreeable and quite funny bookish companion."--Los Angeles Times

"Literature lovers will find juicy tidbits and surprising revelations on every page."--Library Journal

"Contains scores of delightful items.... All the anecdotes are set out in the elegant, unobtrusive manner that one is accustomed to from other of Mr. Gross's handsome anthologies for Oxford."--The Wall Street Journal

"I would argue that, after food, shelter, and sex, anecdotes are an absolute necessity to human life. After all, the only thing that makes most of our agonizing experiences endurable is the potential for turning them into amusing anecdotes.... full of such juicy tidbits, along with more serious or even poignant reflections."--Booklist

About the Author

John Gross was editor of the TLS from 1973-81, editor and staff writer on the New York Times from 1983-8, and theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph from 1989-2005. For OUP he has edited the Oxford Books of Aphorisms, Essays and Comic Verse, The New Oxford Book of English Prose and After Shakespeare. His other books include The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, Shylock: A Legend and its Legacy, and A Double Thread.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Books of Prose & Verse
  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (July 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804686
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.5 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,518,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on July 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Civilians like to imagine that writers talk about writing when they get together. I'm sure, in all of literary history, that has happened several times. But it is not a favorite subject. Sex is. As is Food. Travel. Money. The perfidy of rivals. And did I say money?

Those are ordinary topics. But that doesn't mean we have nothing to gain from hearing what writers have to say about them. These are writers, remember? They're at the most clever when they're envious, scornful or otherwise out of sorts.

John Gross, editor of this anthology, is a particularly witty example of the breed. I stood by him at a party once, and, though I am said to be not entirely dull, I remained mute for a good twenty minutes. Gross spoke in epigrams. He could go lofty or vulgar. He was wise and wicked, and, most of all, funny. No surprise that he has edited a book with those same qualities.

Anecdotes are compressed stories, the more compressed the better. Like this one, about the dictionary-maker and moralist Samuel Johnson: "A young fellow, lamenting one day that he had lost all his Greek --- Johnson retorted, 'I believe it happened at the same time that I lost my large estate in Yorkshire.'"

I was amused to read about William Blake and his wife, sitting in their summer house, naked: "Come in," cried Blake. "It's only Adam and Eve, you know!"

And here's a trivia question. What lines did William Wordsworth write before forking manure into his garden? The opening stanza of the Immortality Ode:

There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Appareled in celestial light

The glory and the freshness of a dream...

Do you know Jane Austen's last words?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like literary anecdotes as entertaining or surprising vignettes into the life and times of authors ... was hoping for more entertainment from this book. Of course, Wilde and Shaw provide wonderful material. But for most of the other authors I don't find the stories sufficiently interesting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm sure this book would be a delight to read--if I could read it without a magnifying glass. VERY small print make this frustrating rather than enjoyable
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