How to read novels like a professor

Thomas C. Foster

Book - 2008

In his first book, "How to Read Literature Like a Professor," Foster led readers through the symbolic codes of literature. Now he presents this lively and entertaining guide to understanding and dissecting novels to make everyday reading more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Harper c2008.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
xviii, 312 p. ; 21 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. [309]-312).
ISBN
9780061340406
0061340405
Main Author
Thomas C. Foster (-)
  • Preface: Novel possibilities, or all animals aren't pigs?
  • Introduction: Once upon a time : a short, chaotic, and entirely idiosyncratic history of the novel
  • Pickup lines and open(ing) seductions or, why novels have first pages
  • You can't breathe where the air is clear
  • Who's in charge here?
  • Never trust a narrator with a speaking part
  • A still, small voice (or a great, galumphing one)
  • Men (and women) made out of words, or, My pip ain't like your pip
  • When very bad people happen to good novels
  • Wrinkles in time, or Chapters just might matter
  • Everywhere is just one place
  • Clarissa's flowers
  • Met-him-pike-hoses
  • Life sentences
  • Drowning in the stream of consciousness
  • The light on Daisy's dock
  • Fiction about fiction
  • Source codes and recycle bins
  • Interlude: Read with your ears
  • Improbabilities : foundlings and magi, colonels and boy wizards
  • What's the big idea
  • or even the small one?
  • Who broke my novel?
  • Untidy endings
  • History in the novel/the novel in history
  • Conspiracy theory
  • Conclusion: The never-ending journey.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Covering a range of novelists from the classic to the slightly idiosyncratic, Foster (How to Read Literature Like a Professor ) expounds on the various elements of novel construction and offers advice on how to analyze them. Foster maintains a conversational tone throughout, offering pithy interjections among his literary explication (on the possibility of having a reliable narrator in Huck Finn: "Now seriously, where's the fun in that?"). Each chapter of the book breaks down a different part of the novel, from the significance of Faulkner's repeated use of the word "self-abnegation" to the intermingling of philosophy and fiction, particularly in the work of John Fowles, one of Foster's favorite writers. Foster's enthusiasm for his subject is palpable, but his audience will probably be limited to students, given the combination of examples like Joyce, Faulkner and Woolf (English course staples) and the tone of Foster's explanations—often simplistic to a degree that would seem condescending to more experienced readers, as when he emphasizes that "the narrative voice in a novel is a device invented by the writer" and then explains the idea for a full paragraph. (July) [Page 56]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An upbeat primer on how to enjoy classic novels from an academic perspective traces the form's traditions and influences, offering insight into such topics as literary symbolism, the grammar of the novel, and the ways in which an author's choices impact a story's structure.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An upbeat primer on how to enjoy classic novels from an academic perspective traces the form's traditions and influences, offering insight into such topics as literary symbolism, the grammar of the novel, and the ways in which an author's choices impact a story's structure. Original. 60,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The follow-up and companion volume to the New York Times bestselling How to Read Literature Like a Professor—a lively and entertaining guide to understanding and dissecting novels to make everyday reading more enriching, satisfying, and funOf all the literary forms, the novel is arguably the most discussed . . . and fretted over. From Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote to the works of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and today’s masters, the novel has grown with and adapted to changing societies and technologies, mixing tradition and innovation in every age throughout history.Thomas C. Foster—the sage and scholar who ingeniously led readers through the fascinating symbolic codes of great literature in his first book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor—now examines the grammar of the popular novel. Exploring how authors’ choices about structure—point of view, narrative voice, first page, chapter construction, character emblems, and narrative (dis)continuity—create meaning and a special literary language, How to Read Novels Like a Professor shares the keys to this language with readers who want to get more insight, more understanding, and more pleasure from their reading.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Of all the literary forms, the novel is arguably the most discussed . . . and fretted over. From Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote to the works of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and today's masters, the novel has grown with and adapted to changing societies and technologies, mixing tradition and innovation in every age throughout history.Thomas C. Foster—the sage and scholar who ingeniously led readers through the fascinating symbolic codes of great literature in his first book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor—now examines the grammar of the popular novel. Exploring how authors' choices about structure—point of view, narrative voice, first page, chapter construction, character emblems, and narrative (dis)continuity—create meaning and a special literary language, How to Read Novels Like a Professor shares the keys to this language with readers who want to get more insight, more understanding, and more pleasure from their reading.