What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey?. Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface—a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character—and there’s that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.
In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.
In this valuable handbook for English literature students and enthusiasts alike, Foster (English, Univ. of Michigan) shares his love of the subject, encouraging readers to explore multiple meanings when reading literary works rather than be daunted by strict or limiting interpretations. The text is broken down into manageable chapters that focus on literary sources such as the Bible, themes and symbols ranging from vampires to rain, and literary forms (e.g., the sonnet). An amazing breadth of literature is covered, from Greek myths to Shakespeare to modern literature and even contemporary screenplays. Foster’s key strength is his ability to tackle such a vast and weighty topic in an informal and conversational manner, making fairly complex literary theories such as intertextuality and Northrop Frye’s notion of literary archetypes accessible through clear illustrations. Written in plain English with plenty of humorous anecdotes, this book certainly lives up to its description as “lively and entertaining.” A worthy addition to academic and large public libraries ~ Library Journal