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How to Read a Novel : a User's Guide ebook

by John Sutherland


John Sutherland's splendid "How to Read a Novel" is a comprehensive guidebook to an art form that is very dear to my librarian's heart

John Sutherland's splendid "How to Read a Novel" is a comprehensive guidebook to an art form that is very dear to my librarian's heart.

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Do we still know how to read a novel?" John Sutherland, Chairman of the 2005 Booker Prize Committee, asks. On one level this is a book about novels: how they work, what they're about, what makes them good or bad, and how to talk about them

Do we still know how to read a novel?" John Sutherland, Chairman of the 2005 Booker Prize Committee, asks. His disheartened answer is an unequivocal, "N. But Sutherland has not given up hope. With acerbic wit and intellect, he traces the history of what it used to mean to be well-read and tells readers what it still means today. On one level this is a book about novels: how they work, what they're about, what makes them good or bad, and how to talk about them. At a deeper level, this is a book in which one of the most intimate tête-à-têtes is described-one in which a reader meets a novel. Will a great love affair begin? Will the rendezvous end in disappointment?

The British scholar John Sutherland offers readers a way to approach novels

The British scholar John Sutherland offers readers a way to approach novels. Banville does not understand the game of squash, he writes, indisputably. Would that the novel were so easily dispatched.

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John Sutherland takes the reader on a literary journey from the first English novels of three hundred years ago to the present avalanche of ten thousand a year. In a series of informed and intelligent conversations set around a variety of exemplary texts he shows that reading a novel is not a spectator sport, but an intense participatory activity. People of all ages, classes and nationalities read novels - Sutherland gives us new insights into what we read, new questions to pose and the means to pursue them.

Twenty-eight years later, How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide addresses many of the same topics. Here consanguinity ends, for the new work, you can't help feeling, is pitched at a very different audience. This impression is confirmed by the author-biog which mentions Sutherland's "bestselling trilogy of literary puzzles and mysteries" while remaining ominously silent about his definitive biography of Mrs Humphry Ward. And nothing wrong with that, it should hastily be added.

How To Read a Novel: A User's Guide. John Sutherland, Profile Books, 2006, . 9. The Sutherland book would be shockingly bad, coming from a professor of literature at two of the world's most prestigious universities, if we didn't already have the series of parlour-games and puzzles 'about' literature that he and OUP have been doing very nicely from, thank you, over recent years. How To Read a Novel contains the following school-boy howlers. This reads like a mildly diverting essay one might find in the Sunday supplements puffed into book length to meet some publisher's demand

Do we still know how to read a novel?" John Sutherland, Chairman of the 2005 Booker Prize Committee, asks. His answer is an unequivocal, "N. This reads like a mildly diverting essay one might find in the Sunday supplements puffed into book length to meet some publisher's demand. And no, it isn't, as the title avers, a book about how to read novel. Rather it is a book about how to choose a novel to read. Perhaps the reading bit comes later. Of course there are plenty of anecdotal and spurious tales to tell about the book trade.

Dogrel
Very good book on reading, and the history of the novel. Good information on the publishing industry. Why reading novels is valuable.
Doukasa
a wonderful book, a real sleeper!
Cherry The Countess
I agree with other reviewers' complaints about Sutherland offering little concrete advice on precisely "how to read a novel." Sutherland starts off well, acknowledging that "In the past getting books, or access to books, was the problem. Today the problem is staggering out from under the book avalanche" (6). One would expect Sutherland to begin with some tips on selecting a few choice novels to read (depending on one's background, novel-reading aims, and "taste") among the plethora of material out there. He doesn't do this, unfortunately, electing instead to pepper his "guide" with numerous anecdotes about authors, publishers, reviewers, and readers. In this regard, *How to Read a Novel* is decidedly NOT a user-friendly book -- Sutherland leaves unanswered the all-important question of "What do you want to get out of reading a novel?" Other critics, such as Mortimer Adler, Harold Bloom, and Thomas Foster, have tackled precisely this question, and I recommend looking at their guides if you're interested in pursuing a structured course of reading in the Information Age.

Nonetheless, despite the book's insufficiencies as a guide, Sutherland does provide an engaging "insider's" view of the modern book trade, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the digital revolution. This shouldn't be surprising, given that Sutherland is a noted authority in book history studies, and particularly in the study of the Anglo-American publishing industries. If you'd like to learn more about the rise of the modern book-form (hardcover and paperback), the origin of bestseller lists, and the politics of book reviewing and book prize-judging, then *How to Read a Novel* is for you, hands down. Sutherland writes in a breezy, conversational style which some readers (seeking advice) will find horribly imprecise. But for those who wish to learn a bit more about modern book publishing from a learned yet informal perspective, Sutherland will indeed prove to be a useful guide to you.
MilsoN
I wasn't going to review this, because it seems so lightweight and insignificant. I read it in one sitting and wasn't bored reading it, but I don't get bored eating popcorn either. The title is remindful of Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book, which in its original 1940 version (not the 1972 revision with Charles Van Doren) had a far-reaching effect upon me. Sutherland's How to Read a Novel is not anywhere near as significant. It's a breezy book with absolutley no lasting effect after it's read. It's not a badly written book. It's just without intellectual depth or weight (use whatever metaphor has more meaning for you). I personally cannot imagine why anyone would want to spend an entire life reading novels more than reading non-fiction. I know such readers, but I'm not that kind. My lament is not, like Sutherland's, that I don't have time to read all the novels that interest me. My lament is that I don't have time to read all the non-fiction books that interest me. This non-fiction book, it turns out, I could have left unread.
Qwne
John Sutherland's splendid "How to Read a Novel" is a comprehensive guidebook to an art form that is very dear to my librarian's heart. Sutherland's credentials are impressive: he has taught Modern English Literature at University College London, served as the committee chairman for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, and writes for such prestigious publications as The Guardian and The London Review of Books. Sutherland's professed goal is to help overwhelmed book borrowers and purchasers make more informed choices than they would by merely browsing through their local library or bookstore.

The author is nothing if not thorough, covering everything from the history of the novel (its format has changed surprisingly little over time) to its many distinct parts, including the dust jacket, copyright page, title, epigraph, foreword, afterword, opening, conclusion, and even the font. How much stock should we put in blurbs that gushingly declare a suspense novel to be "taut and riveting"? Would we better off slavishly following the advice of some curmudgeonly critic who urges us to avoid the very same novel, since it is hackneyed and melodramatic tripe? Is an intimate knowledge of the cultural background and setting of a book indispensable to its appreciation? What role does genre play in a reader's enjoyment of a particular work of fiction? What factors go into making one book a bestseller and/or a literary prize winner while another is quickly forgotten and dumped into a store's remainder bin? Can movies and novels coexist comfortably or do cinematic adaptations inevitably destroy our enjoyment of the printed work on which the movie is based? Do novels have any lasting value beyond their ability to entertain us for a few hours?

The well-read, highly literate, and somewhat opinionated Sutherland brilliantly and amusingly answers these and other lively questions. Although I am a presumably knowledgeable librarian, the author's occasionally arcane prose had me checking the meaning of quite a few unfamiliar words and allusions (costive, belletristic, Zoilism, to name a few) that permeate this book. In addition, "How to Read a Novel" is geared more to a British than an American audience; the British cultural references may have some readers on my side of the Atlantic scratching their heads in bewilderment. I was none too pleased with Sutherland's derisive (although obviously tongue-in-cheek) attitude towards librarians. He tars us all with one brush as being narrow-minded fussbudgets. Shame on you, Mr. Sutherland!

However, these quibbles are offset by the author's exuberant love of reading and his understanding of what makes a novel addict come back time and time again for another fix. In "How to Read a Novel," John Sutherland takes us on a delightful and entertaining journey, citing numerous passages from such works as Zadie Smith's "On Beauty," Ian McEwen's "Saturday," Michael Cunningham's "The Hours," Salman Rushdie's "Shalimar the Clown," and J. M. Coetzee's "Disgrace" to illustrate his witty and thought-provoking comments. I suspect that many readers will be unable to resist looking at "How to Read a Novel" more than once, the better to absorb its nuances and appreciate its lively analysis of what makes novels so eternally beloved.
How to Read a Novel : a User's Guide ebook
Author:
John Sutherland
Subcat:
EPUB size:
1425 kb
FB2 size:
1332 kb
DJVU size:
1555 kb
Language:
Publisher:
Profile Books (2007)
Pages:
288 pages
Rating:
4.4
Other formats:
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