Orwell's Nose

A Pathological Biography
Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 1780236964
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 240
View: 3499

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In 2012 writer John Sutherland permanently lost his sense of smell. At about the same time, he embarked on a rereading of George Orwell and—still coping with his recent disability—noticed something peculiar: Orwell was positively obsessed with smell. In this original, irreverent biography, Sutherland offers a fresh account of Orwell’s life and works, one that sniffs out a unique, scented trail that wends from Burmese Days through Nineteen Eighty-Four and on to The Road to Wigan Pier. Sutherland airs out the odors, fetors, stenches, and reeks trapped in the pages of Orwell’s books. From Winston Smith’s apartment in Nineteen Eighty-Four, which “smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats,” to the tantalizing aromas of concubine Ma Hla May’s hair in Burmese Days, with its “mingled scent of sandalwood, garlic, coconut oil, and jasmine,” Sutherland explores the scent narratives that abound in Orwell’s literary world. Along the way, he elucidates questions that have remained unanswered in previous biographies, addressing gaps that have kept the writer elusively from us. In doing so, Sutherland offers an entertaining but enriching look at one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and, moreover, an entirely new and sensuous way to approach literature: nose first.

Orwell’s Nose

A Pathological Biography
Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780238265
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 256
View: 1486

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In 2012 writer John Sutherland permanently lost his sense of smell. At about the same time, he embarked on a rereading of George Orwell and—still coping with his recent disability—noticed something peculiar: Orwell was positively obsessed with smell. In this original, irreverent biography, Sutherland offers a fresh account of Orwell’s life and works, one that sniffs out a unique, scented trail that wends from Burmese Days through Nineteen Eighty-Four and on to The Road to Wigan Pier. Sutherland airs out the odors, fetors, stenches, and reeks trapped in the pages of Orwell’s books. From Winston Smith’s apartment in Nineteen Eighty-Four, which “smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats,” to the tantalizing aromas of concubine Ma Hla May’s hair in Burmese Days, with its “mingled scent of sandalwood, garlic, coconut oil, and jasmine,” Sutherland explores the scent narratives that abound in Orwell’s literary world. Along the way, he elucidates questions that have remained unanswered in previous biographies, addressing gaps that have kept the writer elusively from us. In doing so, Sutherland offers an entertaining but enriching look at one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and, moreover, an entirely new and sensuous way to approach literature: nose first.

Orwell's Nose

A Pathological Biography
Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 1780236484
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 240
View: 1953

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In 2012 writer John Sutherland permanently lost his sense of smell. At about the same time, he embarked on a rereading of George Orwell and—still coping with his recent disability—noticed something peculiar: Orwell was positively obsessed with smell. In this original, irreverent biography, Sutherland offers a fresh account of Orwell’s life and works, one that sniffs out a unique, scented trail that wends from Burmese Days through Nineteen Eighty-Four and on to The Road to Wigan Pier. Sutherland airs out the odors, fetors, stenches, and reeks trapped in the pages of Orwell’s books. From Winston Smith’s apartment in Nineteen Eighty-Four, which “smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats,” to the tantalizing aromas of concubine Ma Hla May’s hair in Burmese Days, with its “mingled scent of sandalwood, garlic, coconut oil, and jasmine,” Sutherland explores the scent narratives that abound in Orwell’s literary world. Along the way, he elucidates questions that have remained unanswered in previous biographies, addressing gaps that have kept the writer elusively from us. In doing so, Sutherland offers an entertaining but enriching look at one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and, moreover, an entirely new and sensuous way to approach literature: nose first.

Or Orwell

Writing and Democratic Socialism
Author: Alex Woloch
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674282485
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 410
View: 2935

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There have been many studies of George Orwell, but nothing quite like this book by Alex Woloch—an exuberant, revisionary account of Orwell’s radical writing. Bearing down on the propulsive irony and formal restlessness intertwined with his plain-style, Woloch offers a new understanding of Orwell and a new way of thinking about writing and politics.

Lives of the Novelists

A History of Fiction in 294 Lives
Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300182430
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 896
View: 5063

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No previous author has attempted a book such as this: a complete history of novels written in the English language, from the genre's seventeenth-century origins to the present day. In the spirit of Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, acclaimed critic and scholar John Sutherland selects 294 writers whose works illustrate the best of every kind of fiction—from gothic, penny dreadful, and pornography to fantasy, romance, and high literature. Each author was chosen, Professor Sutherland explains, because his or her books are well worth reading and are likely to remain so for at least another century. Sutherland presents these authors in chronological order, in each case deftly combining a lively and informative biographical sketch with an opinionated assessment of the writer's work. Taken together, these novelists provide both a history of the novel and a guide to its rich variety. Always entertaining, and sometimes shocking, Sutherland considers writers as diverse as Daniel Defoe, Henry James, James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Michael Crichton, Jeffrey Archer, and Jacqueline Susann. Written for all lovers of fiction, Lives of the Novelists succeeds both as introduction and re-introduction, as Sutherland presents favorite and familiar novelists in new ways and transforms the less favored and less familiar through his relentlessly fascinating readings.

A Little History of Literature


Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300188366
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 288
View: 8351

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This "little history" takes on a very big subject: the glorious span of literature from Greek myth to graphic novels, from "The Epic of Gilgamesh" to "Harry Potter." John Sutherland is perfectly suited to the task. He has researched, taught, and written on virtually every area of literature, and his infectious passion for books and reading has defined his own life. Now he guides young readers and the grown-ups in their lives on an entertaining journey "through the wardrobe" to a greater awareness of how literature from across the world can transport us and help us to make sense of what it means to be human. Sutherland introduces great classics in his own irresistible way, enlivening his offerings with humor as well as learning: "Beowulf," Shakespeare, "Don Quixote," the Romantics, Dickens, "Moby Dick," "The Waste Land," Woolf, "1984," and dozens of others. He adds to these a less-expected, personal selection of authors and works, including literature usually considered well below "serious attention"--from the rude jests of Anglo-Saxon runes to "The Da Vinci Code." With masterful digressions into various themes--censorship, narrative tricks, self-publishing, taste, creativity, and madness--Sutherland demonstrates the full depth and intrigue of reading. For younger readers, he offers a proper introduction to literature, promising to interest as much as instruct. For more experienced readers, he promises just the same.

The Last Man in Europe: A Novel


Author: Dennis Glover
Publisher: The Overlook Press
ISBN: 1468315927
Category: Fiction
Page: 256
View: 2536

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What was Orwell’s world like? Is Orwell’s world still our world? Is Big Brother still watching you? April, 1947. In a run-down farmhouse on a remote Scottish island, George Orwell begins his last and greatest work: Nineteen Eighty-Four. Forty-three years old and suffering from the tuberculosis that within three winters will take his life, Orwell comes to see the book as his legacy—the culmination of a career spent fighting to preserve the freedoms which the wars and upheavals of the twentieth century have threatened. Completing the book is an urgent challenge, a race against death. In this masterful novel, Dennis Glover explores the creation of Orwell’s classic work, which for millions of readers worldwide defined the twentieth century, and is now again proving its unnerving relevance. Simultaneously a captivating drama, a unique literary excavation, and an unflinching portrait of a writer, The Last Man in Europe will change the way we understand both our enduringly Orwellian times and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The Story of a Brief Marriage

A Novel
Author: Anuk Arudpragasam
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 1250074754
Category: Fiction
Page: 208
View: 6162

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Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize “Brave...Brilliant...This is a book that makes one kneel before the elegance of the human spirit and the yearning that is at the essence of every life.” —The New York Times Book Review "One of the best books I have read in years." —Colm Toibin Two and a half decades into a devastating civil war, Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority is pushed inexorably towards the coast by the advancing army. Amongst the evacuees is Dinesh, whose world has contracted to a makeshift camp where time is measured by the shells that fall around him like clockwork. Alienated from family, home, language, and body, he exists in a state of mute acceptance, numb to the violence around him, till he is approached one morning by an old man who makes an unexpected proposal: that Dinesh marry his daughter, Ganga. Marriage, in this world, is an attempt at safety, like the beached fishing boat under which Dinesh huddles during the bombings. As a couple, they would be less likely to be conscripted to fight for the rebels, and less likely to be abused in the case of an army victory. Thrust into this situation of strange intimacy and dependence, Dinesh and Ganga try to come to terms with everything that has happened, hesitantly attempting to awaken to themselves and to one another before the war closes over them once more. Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage is a feat of extraordinary sensitivity and imagination, a meditation on the fundamental elements of human existence—eating, sleeping, washing, touching, speaking—that give us direction and purpose, even as the world around us collapses. Set over the course of a single day and night, this unflinching debut confronts marriage and war, life and death, bestowing on its subjects the highest dignity, however briefly.

The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell


Author: John Rodden
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521675079
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 218
View: 5282

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This 2007 Companion is a collection of essays on the life and works of George Orwell.

Building the City of Spectacle

Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Remaking of Chicago
Author: Costas Spirou,Dennis R. Judd
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 1501706837
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 264
View: 3001

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By the time he left office on May 16, 2011, Mayor Richard M. Daley had served six terms and more than twenty-two years at the helm of Chicago's City Hall, making him the longest serving mayor in the city’s history. Richard M. Daley was the son of the legendary machine boss, Mayor Richard J. Daley, who had presided over the city during the post–World War II urban crisis. Richard M. Daley led a period of economic restructuring after that difficult era by building a vibrant tourist economy. Costas Spirou and Dennis R. Judd focus on Richard M. Daley’s role in transforming Chicago’s economy and urban culture. The construction of the "city of spectacle" required that Daley deploy leadership and vision to remake Chicago’s image and physical infrastructure. He gained the resources and political power necessary for supporting an aggressive program of construction that focused on signature projects along the city’s lakefront, including especially Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, Northerly Island, Soldier Field, and two major expansions of McCormick Place, the city’s convention center. During this period Daley also presided over major residential construction in the Loop and in the surrounding neighborhoods, devoted millions of dollars to beautification efforts across the city, and increased the number of summer festivals and events across Grant Park. As a result of all these initiatives, the number of tourists visiting Chicago skyrocketed during the Daley years. Daley has been harshly criticized in some quarters for building a tourist-oriented economy and infrastructure at the expense of other priorities. Daley left his successor, Rahm Emanuel, with serious issues involving a long-standing pattern of police malfeasance, underfunded and uneven schools, inadequate housing opportunities, and intractable budgetary crises. Nevertheless, Spirou and Judd conclude, because Daley helped transform Chicago into a leading global city with an exceptional urban culture, he also left a positive imprint on the city that will endure for decades to come.

Guilty Thing

A Life of Thomas De Quincey
Author: Frances Wilson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374710414
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 416
View: 4427

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National Book Critics Circle Award, Biographers International Organization Plutarch Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist New York Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian Best Books of 2016 Thomas De Quincey was an obsessive. He was obsessed with Wordsworth and Coleridge, whose Lyrical Ballads provided the script to his life, and by the idea of sudden death. Running away from school to pursue the two poets, De Quincey insinuated himself into their world. Basing his sensibility on Wordsworth’s and his character on Coleridge’s, he forged a triangle of unusual psychological complexity. Aged twenty-four, De Quincey replaced Wordsworth as the tenant of Dove Cottage, the poet’s former residence in Grasmere. In this idyllic spot he followed the reports of the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, when two families, including a baby, were butchered in their own homes. In his opium-soaked imagination the murderer became a poet while the poet became a murderer. Embedded in On Murder as One of the Fine Arts, De Quincey’s brilliant series of essays, Frances Wilson finds the startling story of his relationships with Wordsworth and Coleridge. Opium was the making of De Quincey, allowing him to dissolve self-conflict, eliminate self-recrimination, and divest himself of guilt. Opium also allowed him to write, and under the pseudonym “The Opium-Eater” De Quincey emerged as the strangest and most original journalist of his age. His influence has been considerable. Poe became his double; Dostoevsky went into exile with Confessions of an English Opium-Eater in his pocket; and Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Alfred Hitchcock, and Vladimir Nabokov were all De Quincey devotees. There have been other biographies of Thomas De Quincey, but Guilty Thing is the first to be animated by the spirit of De Quincey himself. Following the growth of his obsessions from seed to full flowering and tracing the ways they intertwined, Frances Wilson finds the master key to De Quincey’s vast Piranesian mind. Unraveling a tale of hero worship and revenge, Guilty Thing brings the last of the Romantics roaring back to life and firmly establishes Wilson as one of our foremost contemporary biographers.

Scarlet A

The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Ordinary Abortion
Author: Katie Watson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190624868
Category: Social Science
Page: 304
View: 7238

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Although Roe v. Wade identified abortion as a constitutional right 45 years ago, it still bears stigma--a proverbial scarlet A. Millions of Americans have participated in or benefited from an abortion, but few want to reveal that they have done so. Approximately one in five pregnancies in the US ends in abortion. Why is something so common, which has been legal so long, still a source of shame and secrecy? Why is it so regularly debated by politicians, and so seldom divulged from friend to friend? This book explores the personal stigma that prevents many from sharing their abortion experiences with friends and family in private conversation, and the structural stigma that keeps it that way. In public discussion, both proponents and opponents of abortion's legality tend to focus on extraordinary cases. This tendency keeps the national debate polarized and contentious, and keeps our focus on the cases that occur the least. Professor Katie Watson focuses instead on the cases that happen the most, which she calls "ordinary abortion." Scarlet A gives the reflective reader a more accurate impression of what the majority of American abortion practice really looks like. It explains how our silence around private experience has distorted public opinion, and how including both ordinary abortion and abortion ethics could make our public exchanges more fruitful. In Scarlet A, Watson wisely and respectfully navigates one of the most divisive topics in contemporary life. This book explains the law of abortion, challenges the toxic politics that make it a public football and private secret, offers tools for more productive private exchanges, and leads the way to a more robust public discussion of abortion ethics. Scarlet A combines storytelling and statistics to bring the story of ordinary abortion out of the shadows, painting a rich, rarely seen picture of how patients and doctors currently think and act, and ultimately inviting readers to tell their own stories and draw their own conclusions.

Inside George Orwell


Author: Gordon Bowker
Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
ISBN: 9780312238414
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 495
View: 618

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Traces the acclaimed writer's childhood, Eton education, experiences as a Burma policeman, deliberate entry into poverty, witness to the Spanish Civil War, complex relationships, and contributions to literature.

Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough

The Medical Lives of Famous Writers
Author: John J. Ross, MD
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250012074
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 304
View: 3146

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The doctor suddenly appeared beside Will, startling him. He was sleek and prosperous, with a dainty goatee. Though he smiled reassuringly, the poet noticed that he kept a safe distance. In a soothing, urbane voice, the physician explained the treatment: stewed prunes to evacuate the bowels; succulent meats to ease digestion; cinnabar and the sweating tub to cleanse the disease from the skin. The doctor warned of minor side effects: uncontrolled drooling, fetid breath, bloody gums, shakes and palsies. Yet desperate diseases called for desperate remedies, of course. Were Shakespeare's shaky handwriting, his obsession with venereal disease, and his premature retirement connected? Did John Milton go blind from his propaganda work for the Puritan dictator Oliver Cromwell, as he believed, or did he have a rare and devastating complication of a very common eye problem? Did Jonathan Swift's preoccupation with sex and filth result from a neurological condition that might also explain his late-life surge in creativity? What Victorian plague wiped out the entire Brontë family? What was the cause of Nathaniel Hawthorne's sudden demise? Were Herman Melville's disabling attacks of eye and back pain the product of "nervous affections," as his family and physicians believed, or did he actually have a malady that was unknown to medical science until well after his death? Was Jack London a suicide, or was his death the product of a series of self-induced medical misadventures? Why did W. B. Yeats's doctors dose him with toxic amounts of arsenic? Did James Joyce need several horrific eye operations because of a strange autoimmune disease acquired from a Dublin streetwalker? Did writing Nineteen Eighty-Four actually kill George Orwell? The Bard meets House, M.D. in this fascinating untold story of the impact of disease on the lives and works of some the finest writers in the English language. In Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough, John Ross cheerfully debunks old biographical myths and suggests fresh diagnoses for these writers' real-life medical mysteries. The author takes us way back, when leeches were used for bleeding and cupping was a common method of cure, to a time before vaccinations, sterilized scalpels, or real drug regimens. With a healthy dose of gross descriptions and a deep love for the literary output of these ten greats, Ross is the doctor these writers should have had in their time of need.

Field Trip


Author: Gary Paulsen,Jim Paulsen
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
ISBN: 055349676X
Category: Juvenile Fiction
Page: 128
View: 9132

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Father-and-son writing team Gary and Jim Paulsen pick up where their Road Trip left off. Ben has been invited to try out for a special hockey academy. But Dad wants Ben to catch up to the school field trip instead. So Ben, Dad, and their dogs, Atticus and Conor, jump into their truck. Ben concocts a secret plan to make the tryout, but Atticus and Conor are on to him. Ben and Dad’s road trip turns into a wacky adventure full of new friends and surprises.

Memoirs of a Geisha

A Novel
Author: Arthur Golden
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
ISBN: 0307275167
Category: Fiction
Page: 434
View: 7506

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The "memoirs" of one of Japan's most celebrated geishas describes how, in 1929, as a little girl, she is sold into slavery, her efforts to learn the arts of the geisha, the impact of World War II, and her struggle to reinvent herself to win the man she loves. Reissue. (A Columbia Pictures film, directed by Rob Marshall, releasing Winter 2005, starring Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, & Gong Li) (Historical Fiction)

Literary Seductions

Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers
Author: Frances Wilson
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1466875747
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 256
View: 2144

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We have all surrendered ourselves to the world that writing creates. Eudora Welty once observed that her mother read the works of Charles Dickens in the same spirit with which she would have eloped with him. Some of us remember our first novel with more pleasurable vividness than our first kiss. Many of us go to on-line chat rooms, looking for love with our keyboard. And most of us have tried to seduce with words--reciting that Shakespeare sonnet or composing that Valentine's Day poem with tremulous hope. All writing seeks to ensnare the reader in its embrace. As Frances Wilson also proves in this engaging, enlightening, and provocative new book, writing can also ensnare the writers themselves. Highlighting the lives and loves of celebrated literary couples, Literary Seductions reveals the depth of their passion for language--their own as well as their partner's. Taking as a point of departure the legendary courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, a courtship conceived on the printed page, Wilson explores how easily, how seductively, literary desire becomes sexual desire and vice versa. "Literary seductions," she writes, are "violent, extreme, and irreversible." Not all reading seduces, not all writing inflames. But when they do, what is written ceases to be merely an arrangement of symbols on a page. The word has been made flesh. Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, Laura Riding and Robert Graves, Osip and Nadzheda Mandelstam, W. B. and Georgie Yeats were all in the grip of a compulsion for writing and reading, enmeshed in words. Miller called his relationship with Nin, a "literary fuck-fest"; for Riding and Graves, it took on the self-destructive (and self-conscious) melodrama of a Russian novel; for the Mandelstams, it was a life-giving (if self-sacrificing) bond in a precarious world; for George and W. B. Yeats, it offered sexual stimulus. The couplings of verbs and nouns do more than precede coupling; they comprise it. Literary Seductions is itself a seductive book. The elegant power of Wilson's arguments, the rigor of her research, and the delights of her prose enthrall the reader. Here is intellectual engagement and readerly pleasure rolled into one.

The Good Brexiteers Guide to English Lit


Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 1789140145
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 208
View: 814

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What is Nigel Farage’s favorite novel? Why do Brexiteers love Sherlock Holmes? Is Philip Larkin the best Brexit poet ever? Through the politically relevant sideroad of English Literature, writ large, John Sutherland quarries the great literary minds of English history to assemble the ultimate reading list for Brexiteers. Brexit shook Britain to its roots and sent shockwaves across the world. But despite the referendum victory, Brexit is peculiarly hollow. It is an idea without political apparatus, without sustaining history, without field-tested ideology. As Sutherland argues: it is without thinkers—like Frankenstein waiting for the lightning bolt. In this irreverent, entertaining, and utterly tongue-in-cheek new guide, Sutherland suggests some stuffing for the ideological vacuity at the heart of the Brexit cause. He looks for meaning in the works of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Thomas Hardy; in modern classics like The Queen and I and London Fields; and in the British national anthem, school songs, and poetry. Exploring what Britain meant, means, and will mean, Sutherland subtly shows how great literary works have a shaping influence on the world. Witty and insightful, and with a preface by Guardian columnist and critic John Crace, this book belongs on the shelves of anyone seeking to understand the bragging Brexiteers (and the many diehard Remoaners, too).

A Clockwork Orange (Restored Text)


Author: Anthony Burgess
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393239195
Category: Fiction
Page: 224
View: 2936

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A newly revised text for A Clockwork Orange’s 50th anniversary brings the work closest to its author’s intentions. A Clockwork Orange is as brilliant, transgressive, and influential as when it was published fifty years ago. A nightmare vision of the future told in its own fantastically inventive lexicon, it has since become a classic of modern literature and the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s once-banned film, whose recent reissue has brought this revolutionary tale on modern civilization to an even wider audience. Andrew Biswell, PhD, director of the International Burgess Foundation, has taken a close look at the three varying published editions alongside the original typescript to recreate the novel as Anthony Burgess envisioned it. We publish this landmark edition with its original British cover and six of Burgess’s own illustrations.

How to be Well Read

A guide to 500 great novels and a handful of literary curiosities
Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1409039153
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 528
View: 3257

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As the annual flood of published novels grows ever greater, it’s a hard a job to keep up, let alone sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately, literary sleuth and academic John Sutherland is on hand to do precisely that. In the course of over 500 wittily informative pieces he gives us his own very personal take on the most rewarding, most remarkable and, on occasion, most shamelessly enjoyable works of fiction ever written – the perfect reading list for the would-be literary expert. His taste is impressively eclectic. An appreciation of Apuleius’s The Golden Ass – arguably the first-ever novel – is followed by a consideration of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger. The Handmaid’s Tale is followed by Hangover Square, Jane Eyre by Jaws. There are imposing Victorian novels, entertaining contemporary thrillers and everything in between, from dystopian works to romance. The flavour of each is brilliantly evoked and its relative merits or demerits assessed. At the same time, John Sutherland shows how the work fits into a broader context – whether that of the author’s life or of other books from the same genre or period. And he offers endless snippets of intriguing information: did you know, for example, that the Nazis banned Bambi or that William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying on an upturned wheelbarrow; that Voltaire completed Candide in three days, or that Anna Sewell was paid £20 for Black Beauty? Encyclopedic and entertaining by turns, this is a wonderful dip-in book, whose opinions will inform and on occasion, no doubt, infuriate. It is also effectively a history of the novel in 500 or so bite-sized pieces.