Classics for pleasure

Michael Dirda

Book - 2007

In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world's most entertaining books.

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Subjects
Published
Orlando : Harcourt c2007.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
x, 341 p. ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes index.
ISBN
9780151012510
0151012512
Main Author
Michael Dirda (-)
  • Lucian
  • Denis Diderot
  • Thomas Love Peacock
  • Max Beerbohm
  • Jaroslav Hašek
  • Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • S. J. Perelman
  • Italo Calvino
  • Edward Gorey
  • Beowulf
  • Abolqasem Ferdowsi
  • The Icelandic sagas
  • Christopher Marlowe
  • Émile Zola
  • Ernst Jünger
  • James Agee
  • Sappho
  • Arthurian romances
  • Marie-Madeleine de La Fayette
  • Sören Kierkegaard
  • George Meredith
  • C. P. Cavafy
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Anna Akhmatova
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • Lao-tse
  • Heraclitus
  • Cicero
  • Erasmus
  • The English religious tradition
  • Benedict de Spinoza
  • Samuel Johnson
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The classic fairy tales
  • E. T. A. Hoffmann
  • Prosper Mérimée
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • E. Nesbit/John Masefield
  • Walter de la Mare
  • Plutarch
  • Girolamo Cardano
  • John Aubrey
  • Alexander Pope
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Jacob Burckhardt
  • Henry James
  • W. H. Auden
  • John Webster
  • Mary Shelley
  • James Hogg
  • Sheridan Le Fanu
  • Bram Stoker
  • M. R. James
  • William Roughead
  • H. P. Lovecraft
  • Thomas More
  • Daniel Defoe
  • Xavier de Maistre
  • Jules Verne
  • J. K. Huysmans
  • Isak Dinesen
  • Robert Byron
  • Petronius
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Ivan Goncharov
  • José Maria Eça de Queiros
  • Anton Chekhov
  • Jean Toomer
  • Willa Cather
  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Eudora Welty
  • H. Rider Haggard
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • H. G. Wells
  • G. K. Chesterton
  • Agatha Christie
  • Dashiell Hammett
  • Ovid
  • Robert Burton
  • Edward Gibbon
  • J. G. Frazer
  • H. W. Fowler
  • Ezra Pound
  • André Malraux
  • Philip K. Dick.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The book critic for the Washington Post offers a wealth of personal takes on works of fiction, poetry, drama, and other nonfiction prose that have come to be regarded as classics and thus, he fears, are generally thought of as "difficult, esoteric, and a little boring." It is Dirda's conviction that "great books speak to us of our own very real feelings and failings, of our all-too-human daydreams and confusions," and to broadcast that sentiment widely, he supplies energetic, even exciting, 3-page essays on approximately 90 authors. He arranges his selections into nontraditional categories, from "Playful Imagination" ("the realm of every sort of laughter—wit, irony, repartee, satire, gallows humor, imaginative exuberance, the fanciful and the surreal") to "Heroes of Their Time" ("the heroes range from a slayer of monsters to striking coal miners, from Persia's greatest champion to the dirt-poor of Depression-era America"). Provides true inspiration to shut off HBO and start reading. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

From the Washington Post Book World's Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic: fun books from Icelandic sagas to Dracula. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this casually brilliant collection of "great book" recommendations, Dirda, a Pulitzer Prize–winning critic for the Washington Post Book World, discusses titles ranging from well-known favorites such as Sherlock Holmes and Beowulf to more obscure writers such as Jaroslav Hasek and John Masefield. Dirda is a charming and exceedingly well-read host, erudite without slipping into pretension. He is more generous and less canonical than Harold Bloom, to whose work Dirda owes a debt in style and substance. The book creates a pleasurable but somewhat maddening sensation in the committed reader, who will be tempted to read most of Dirda's selections based on his brief summations. The complete works of Christopher Marlowe are summed up in five eventful pages, and Dirda makes Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire sound so essential over the course of three pages that one forgets it would take the better part of a year to actually read. Dirda's greatest accomplishment, however, is rescuing many formerly illustrious masters from the dustbin of our culture's pitifully short memory: James Agee, G.K. Chesterton and Ernst Junger are just three who benefit from their inclusion in this indispensable volume. (Nov.) [Page 57]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Organized thematically and by author, a collection of essays introduces nearly ninety of the world's most entertaining and informative literary works, covering fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, epics, history, philosophy, essays, and children's literature.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Organized thematically, a collection of essays introduces nearly ninety of the world's most entertaining and informative books, covering masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, epics, history, philosophy, essays, and children's literature, by authors ranging from Sappho and Petronius to Frederick Douglass, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Georgette Heyer.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This is not your father’s list of classics. In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world’s most entertaining books. Writing with affection as well as authority, Dirda covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as epics, history, essay, and children’s literature. Organized thematically, these are works that have shaped our imaginations. Love’s Mysteries moves from Sappho and Arthurian romance to Soren Kierkegaard and Georgette Heyer. In other categories Dirda discusses not only Dracula and Sherlock Holmes but also the Tao Te Ching and Icelandic sagas, Frederick Douglass and Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Whether writing about Petronius or Perelman, Dirda makes literature come alive. Classics for Pleasure is a perfect companion for any reading group or lover of books.