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New Summer 2014
Mihaela Culea and Andreia-Irina Suciu
INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY INTERPRETATION.
FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
NARRATIVE STRATEGIES, DISCOURSE
PRESENTATION AND TROPES
2014. 296 pages. € 24,80
This book defines and critically examines a number of terms that are useful for the interpretation of literary texts. Fully aware that on the market there are many other books that cover this broad topic, the book certainly has many strong points that make it different from the dictionaries of literary terms it also quotes in the reference section (see, for example, Abrams 1999, Baldick 2001, Childs & Fowler 2006, or Quinn 2006). In fact, it is by no means a dictionary of literary terms, especially due to the large space devoted to commentaries of literary terms and the illustrations from literary texts provided for each individual entry.
However, the book does not claim to offer a comprehensive analytical framework for a rich collection of literary terms. Instead, its specific aims are:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>To offer theoretical and practical guidelines for the basic interpretation of literary texts.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>To show that literary analysis can be assisted by a series of analytical instruments that make it more accessible and easier to conduct. This way, the book will raise students’ awareness of the potentialities of literature for critical thinking and will improve their analytical skills. Students will, therefore, feel more comfortable with literary investigation and will be able to perform simple or complex analyses, and they will develop capacities for systematization or will perform comparative evaluation of some principles and basic methods for the analysis of specific literary texts.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Ultimately, is seeks to make the reading of literary texts more analytical, methodical and enjoyable.
The book is structured in four sections, as follows:
Chapter 1, Narrative Strategies, provides an overview of the major narrative strategies that can be found in literary texts, such as narration, description, dialogue, monologue or evocation. These strategies represent different techniques or modes of organizing discourse in which writers tell their stories.
Chapter 2, Discourse Presentation, discusses the strategies employed by narrators in order to present other people’s speech and thought (Norgaard et al. 2010: 81), including the most common categories of speech and thought presentation (from direct speech or indirect thought to internal narration).
Chapter 3, Tropes or Figures of Speech, presents a selection of ten essential tropes that are highly recurrent in literary texts, namely, epithet, hyperbole, personification, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, simile, litotes, alliteration and assonance, and irony.
Chapter 4, From Theory to Practice, represents a study section which consists of a selection of literary excerpts from novels, short stories, poems, or plays accompanied by a number of questions that invite readers to apply their theoretical knowledge to the interpretation of literary texts.
The list of bibliographical references placed at the end of the volume contains the critical books (over 80) and the literary works (around 100) which are quoted in the book.
Both a thoroughly documented study and a study guide or sourcebook, this volume seeks to make literature and literary analysis more enjoyable, systematic and efficient. To this end, the structure of each entry takes the form of an essay with the following components: first, the authors have selected the most relevant definitions and characteristic features of the term, and then follow critical discussions concerning the literary application of that term. This way, the readers can find and study commented examples of the ways in which the term under discussion works in various literary texts belonging to various periods from English and American literature.
The selection of literary concepts explored has a double justification. On the one hand, our teaching experience has shown that undergraduate students often have difficulties in handling these concepts. On the other hand, they are indispensable tools for performing basic, introductory interpretations of literary texts. The appropriate understanding of these simpler and more accessible steps for a first reading of the texts makes further investigation of broader literary concepts (discussed in the second volume, Introd) less difficult and more reasonable. For example, it is only by first understanding how metaphor works that a more complex analysis of allegory becomes possible. Likewise, satire makes use of exaggeration or caricature, distortion or displacement, so it can be built on a wide range of stylistic devices, including hyperbole or litotes.
Consequently, the key-features or strong points of the book lie in the following aspects:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The schematic organisation and discussion of each literary term with strong emphasis on its definitions, features and its literary applications.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The wide range of texts used as a literary support, from the earliest works in the English language (such as Beowulf) to works by contemporary writers (such as Martin Amis or Ian McEwan).
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Perhaps the most important element of originality rests on the combination of theory and practice, which results from the careful organisation and structuring of the book in order to build readers’ analytical competences. First of all, the theoretical discussion included in the first three chapters is complemented by models for further analyses, so they serve as practical examples. Secondly, the study section from the last chapter contains literary texts and topics suggested for a detailed analysis of those texts. The readers are thus encouraged to use the theoretical background and the illustrations previously introduced and are guided on how to carry out step-by-step interpretations of literary texts.
The targeted readership includes advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students of English and American literatures, scholars working in this field who might want to use the book as a study textbook for their literary analysis classes, as well as all those interested in literature and literary criticism.
Appropriate for introductory analysis of literary texts, the volume is conceived both as a critical work and a workbook for literary classes. Structured in four sections, the book combines theory with practice by providing a thorough analytical framework for a rich collection of literary terms. The first three chapters investigate narrative strategies (narration, description, dialogue, monologue or evocation), speech and thought presentation categories (from direct speech or indirect thought to internal narration) as well as selection of tropes (personification, metaphor, metonymy, simile, irony etc.) by offering a theoretical background and explanatory comments for a wide range of texts. The last section is particularly useful for in-depth interpretation of a variety of texts proposed for further study with specific tasks assigned in order to actively engage readers in the process of creative literary exploration.
Dr. Andreia SUCIU is a lecturer at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Letters, “Vasile Alecsandri” University of Bacău. In 2008 she obtained her PhD at “Al.I. Cuza” University of Iași, Romania, for her thesis in English Literature (Malcolm Bradbury between Critic and Novelist). She has published a monograph on this author as well a translation in Romanian after one of his novels. Her teaching and research fields include contemporary British drama and fiction (especially theatrical communication, dystopias and the campus novel), varieties of the English language.
Dr. Mihaela CULEA is a lecturer at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Letters, “VasileAlecsandri” University of Bacău. In 2008 she obtained her PhD at “Al.I. Cuza” University of Iași, Romania, for her thesis in English Literature (Types and Spaces in Eighteenth-Century English Narratives). Her teaching and research interests include English literature and literature-related subjects, as well as British cultural history, cultural studies, or stylistics of text and discourse.
Look as well to
Linguistic Representations and
Contested Identities in the Media
The Special Case of South-Eastern Europeans
as ‘Others’ in the British Press
2016. 238 pages. € 24,80
Andreia-Irina Suciu and Mihaela Culea
LITERARY READINGS: KEY TERMS FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
2014. 318 pages. € 24,80
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