Curiosities of Literature: A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition

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9780099519294: Curiosities of Literature: A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition

A witty and eclectic tour of some of the more arcane byways of literature. Illustrated throughout.

How much heavier was Thackeray’s brain than Walt Whitman’s? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature?

In Curiosities of Literature, John Sutherland contemplates the full import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays that are both witty and eclectic. An account of the fast-working Mickey Spillane, for example, leads to a consideration of the substances, both legal and illegal, that authors have employed to boost their creative energies. An essay on good and bad handwriting points out in passing that Thackeray could write the Lord’s Prayer on the back of a stamp. As for Mary Shelley, a brief recital of the circumstances in which she wrote Frankenstein stops off to consider what impact the miserable summer weather of 1816 had on the future path of English literature.

It’s debatable, of course, whether knowledge of these arcane topics adds to the wisdom of nations. It does highlight the random pleasures in reading literature and reading about it.

As John Sutherland rightly asks, “Why else read?”
From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

John Sutherland currently teaches literature at the California Institute of Technology and is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor at University College London.
From the Hardcover edition.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle What are some of the biggest blunders in literary history? John Sutherland, a professor of modern English literature at University College London, knows: There is Shakespeare's gaffe of endowing Bohemia with a coastline in "The Winter's Tale" (a play also notable for its famous stage direction "Exit pursued by a bear"). In "The Antiquary," Sir Walter Scott had the sun rise in the east. Sutherland's favorite example occurs in the speech improvised by Orson Welles for his character, Harry Lime, in the film of Graham Greene's script for "The Third Man." In Lime's cynical attempt to justify warfare and brutality, he contrasts the glories of the blood-drenched Italian Renaissance with the alleged vacuity of Switzerland, whose only contribution to the world after "500 years of democracy and peace" was the cuckoo clock. Lime, and Wells, was wrong, says Sutherland; "The cuckoo clock was invented in the mid-eighteenth century in southern Germany." As its title suggests, this book is a grab-bag of facts, figures, factoids and trivia. The first female detective in literature, for example, was probably Amelia Butterworth, who made her debut in Anna Katharine Green's "That Affair Next Door" (1897). But "Curiosities" also serves up some criticism. Take the squib on Anthony Trollope's grumpy death: Already suffering from angina, the novelist threw open a hotel window and railed at a German brass band, which was annoying him mightily; a few days later he was gone, and in Sutherland's phrase it was "death by tuba and hurdy-gurdy." In an aside, Sutherland repeats with approval G.K. Chesterton's epithet for Trollope: "the lesser Thackeray." Perhaps it is time for those of us who've devoured the Barsetshire and Palliser series to take a fresh look at William Makepeace.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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John Sutherland
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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. How much heavier was Thackeray s brain than Walt Whitman s? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And, while we re about it, who wrote the first Western, is there any link between asthma and literary genius, and what really happened on Dorothea s wedding night in Middlemarch? In Curiosities of Literature, John Sutherland contemplates the full import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays that are both witty and eclectic. His approach is also unashamedly discursive. An account of the fast-working Mickey Spillane, for example, leads to a consideration of the substances, both legal and illegal, that authors have employed to boost their creative energies. An essay on good and bad handwriting points out in passing that Thackeray could write the Lord s Prayer on the back of a stamp. As for Mary Shelley, a brief recital of the circumstances in which she wrote Frankenstein stops off to consider what impact the miserable summer weather of 1816 had on the future path of English literature.Of course, it is debatable whether knowledge of these arcane topics adds to the wisdom of nations, but it does highlight the random pleasures to be found in reading literature and reading about it. As John Sutherland rightly asks, Why else read?. Bookseller Inventory # AB99780099519294

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. How much heavier was Thackeray s brain than Walt Whitman s? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And, while we re about it, who wrote the first Western, is there any link between asthma and literary genius, and what really happened on Dorothea s wedding night in Middlemarch? In Curiosities of Literature, John Sutherland contemplates the full import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays that are both witty and eclectic. His approach is also unashamedly discursive. An account of the fast-working Mickey Spillane, for example, leads to a consideration of the substances, both legal and illegal, that authors have employed to boost their creative energies. An essay on good and bad handwriting points out in passing that Thackeray could write the Lord s Prayer on the back of a stamp. As for Mary Shelley, a brief recital of the circumstances in which she wrote Frankenstein stops off to consider what impact the miserable summer weather of 1816 had on the future path of English literature.Of course, it is debatable whether knowledge of these arcane topics adds to the wisdom of nations, but it does highlight the random pleasures to be found in reading literature and reading about it. As John Sutherland rightly asks, Why else read?. Bookseller Inventory # AB99780099519294

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Book Description Cornerstone. Book Condition: New. 2009. Paperback. How much heavier was Thackeray's brain than Walt Whitman's? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And is there any link between asthma and literary genius? This title contemplates the import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays. Num Pages: 304 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: DSB; DSR; WDKX. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 213 x 132 x 22. Weight in Grams: 290. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780099519294

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Book Description Cornerstone, 2009. Book Condition: New. 2009. Paperback. How much heavier was Thackeray's brain than Walt Whitman's? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And is there any link between asthma and literary genius? This title contemplates the import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays. Num Pages: 304 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: DSB; DSR; WDKX. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 213 x 132 x 22. Weight in Grams: 290. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099519294

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Book Description Cornerstone. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Curiosities of Literature: A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition, John Sutherland, How much heavier was Thackeray's brain than Walt Whitman's? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And, while we're about it, who wrote the first Western, is there any link between asthma and literary genius, and what really happened on Dorothea's wedding night in Middlemarch? In Curiosities of Literature, John Sutherland contemplates the full import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays that are both witty and eclectic. His approach is also unashamedly discursive. An account of the fast-working Mickey Spillane, for example, leads to a consideration of the substances, both legal and illegal, that authors have employed to boost their creative energies. An essay on good and bad handwriting points out in passing that Thackeray could write the Lord's Prayer on the back of a stamp. As for Mary Shelley, a brief recital of the circumstances in which she wrote Frankenstein stops off to consider what impact the miserable summer weather of 1816 had on the future path of English literature. Of course, it is debatable whether knowledge of these arcane topics adds to the wisdom of nations, but it does highlight the random pleasures to be found in reading literature and reading about it. As John Sutherland rightly asks, 'Why else read?'. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099519294

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