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Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice
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Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  407 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Ideal for readers new to the subject, this book presents the eleven basic schools of twentieth-century literary theory and criticism in their historical and philosophical contexts. Unlike other introductions, it explicitly presents the philosophical assumptions of each school of criticism, provides a clear methodology for writing essays according to each school's beliefs a ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 319 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Prentice Hall (first published September 1st 1993)
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This is going to be a long post, so get ready, gentle reader!

I have never studied literary theory before. But I have always been interested. So I picked up a book that looked like a basic, simple introduction to the dominant schools of literary criticism. This book, geared to those who have no background in theory (like me!) has no primary texts, but instead each chapter (devoted to a particular theory) is divided into introduction, historical development, assumptions, methodology, questions for
So I read this as part of the process of selecting textbooks for a class I'm building which means to be an intro to creative writing, and this has a lot of the features I want for the class' book: namely, it covers a variety of approaches, it has sample essays, and it has a unified authorial voice that can draw contrasts between the schools.

One drawback is that the newer edition of this book appears to be seriously larded up; it's about 200 pages longer, and priced at a little more than I think
Jessie Carty
It is never easy to review a textbook and I really want to give this book more like 3.5 stars because I just can't quite review it as a 4.

The initial chapters on the history and general theory behind literary criticism were great, but I found as more detail was given on the specific genres of literary theory that I was skimming the material. Because of that I wouldn't be able to assign this as a text, but instead I could see having it with me to use as a reference when students want an overview
This Bressler guy is like your all-so-serious, no-funny-business-in-my-class teacher, or I suppose, Professor, but still, I like him, and by him I mean his writing, and by his writing I mean his teaching- he could explain some concepts more, though; like "dialectic materialism" which I'm still not sure I entirely understand.
Anyway, I learned a whole lot, and now it feels like a whole new world is opened up to me.
I couldn't thank you enough, Mr. Bressler!
Stephanie Green
'Literary Criticism' was a very clearly written introduction the theory and practice of Literary Criticism throughout a vast amount of time. Although at times the author did seem to repeat himself and it seemed to drag on. It is very insightful and I recommend it to anyone looking to dive headfirst into Literary Criticism but with no prior knowledge on the topic. Most literary theories are listed in depth in this book, the good, the bad and the ugly :)
This is one of my textbooks for Advanced Literary Analysis and we had to read it in two weeks, and take a long detailed test after each chapter and I want to throw this book in a fire for one, boring me to death every day, and two, making literary theory muddy and unclear. Thankfully I have studied literary theory before because some of the chapters here made even what I already knew seem confusing. This book just bumbled around, giving a roundabout "maybe it's this, maybe it's that" definition ...more
Yusak Lie
A concise introduction of Literary Criticism. The examples are very easy of Literary Criticism. The examples are very easy to understand. It's good for beginners to learn various approches and theory to literary criticism.
A well-paced overview of twentieth and twenty-first century schools of thought.

Russian Formalists: interpreting via form, i.e., components: diction, imagery, etc. Art as artifact

New Critics (1920s to 1960s): Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, John Crowe Ransom. "The text and only the text." Art as artifact--paradigm and irony resolved via organic unity.

Questioning of existence of objective reality and the fixed nature of aesthetic forms. Concern with how perception works rather than t
Good as a survey of various literary theories, this textbook lacks actual examples of criticism in practice. It is very easy to understand, which isn't always true in dealing with theoretical texts, as you quickly discover by reading the Derrida essay in the back. However, the "practice" in the title refers to the practice of the student himself in applying a set of questions for analysis to the early Nathaniel Hawthorne short story "Young Goodman Brown." The story is brilliant, of course, if yo ...more
Joshua Rivera
Bressler’s introductory book is aimed to show the reader the different processes or criticisms to interpret a book. Bressler has plenty of criticisms, including: Russian Formalism and New Criticism, Reader-oriented Criticism, Modernity/Postmodernism, Psychoanalytic Criticism, Feminism, Marxism, Cultural Poetics or New Historicism, Postcolonialism, African-American Criticism, Queer Theory: Gay and Lesbian Criticism, and Ecocriticism. I felt it was pretty interesting learning how to decipher any s ...more
I strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in the subject at hand to read this book. I closely read, taking copious notes of the different schools' assumptions, methodologies, and histories. In terms of clarity, Bressler writes in a very clear, succinct fashion, and it's never hard to understand what he's elucidating or expounding on. You'll gain a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the gist of each school of criticism, which will in turn lead you to read more in depth about specifics. He ...more
Jan 10, 2011 lulzcannon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone looking for a solid foundation in the basics of literary criticism
Shelves: college-reading
A good foundational book for undergrads that may seem overly simplistic at times but delivers a decent amount of historical and applicable information concerning different schools of literary criticism. It even includes step by step bullet points on how to analyze a text based on particular perspective. While the grad students in my class often joked that this text was about on par with a "For Dummies..." type book, they agreed that it was helpful in establishing a basic understanding which woul ...more
This is a gem of a book. I used it as a guide along with Barry's Beginning Theory. I'd read Barry first and then dip into Bressler's ideas on the same topic. I was having a lot of trouble with Post Structuralism and Deconstruction and this one offered light where only darkness seemed possible. One complaint though. It clubs post structuralism and PoMo together and although they share ideas, yet I felt they should have been dealt separately.
I read this as a student. It certainly has its merits, but it has a major drawback. For certain schools it's not well focused and well organised, it seems as if there was so much material around that the author couldn't finally make up his mind and decide what he wants to put in the book and what he wants to leave out, so he just decided to start writing and see what happens. Gets confusing sometimes.
Jan 08, 2013 Ellen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ellen by: Dr. Ruiz-Velasco
This was the first book on literary theory and criticism that I've consulted. Even though the book was required for my Modern Critical Theory class, I found it very helpful and very comprehensible even though theory is very hard to understand. If you're new to theory, I would highly recommend this book. It's also a great supplement for Richter's The Critical Tradition.
I don't much care for reading about literary criticism--had enough of it in college. I did get this book for reference material when I had to teach a literary criticism course. It was a bit of a help, but I was trapped by a syllabus and a text that did not necessarily follow standard criticism.
I hated this book when I had to read it, but the information and presentation in it are hard to fault. :) The literary criticism class that used it as a textbook was a worldview changing experience so I'll always think of it fondly (now that the class is over).
I read this book for class, it is very helpful if you want a good introduction to literary criticism. I only rated it so low because i still have painful members from all the work the Dr. Bressler had us do in class.
This book helped me more than anything else in college to improve my writing and critical thinking skills. I probably wouldn't have passed my upper English courses without it.
Another book I read to be fully prepared to teach literary criticism. Good information, but not an interesting topic for me personally.
Myra Khan
Very, very boring and extremely difficult to read. This book was enough work to just skim through, much less read chapter by chapter.
Den Slader
This is a nice overview of all the different types of theory and includes a helpful glossary
A great introduction for those who wants to read and know about literature and related issues.
Bressler does a great job of breaking down the key components in literary theory.
Structuralism, Deconstruction, and New Historicism are well reviewed in this book.
Tafan Kareem
Jun 30, 2013 Tafan Kareem rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tafan by: M.Soran
the part about psychoanalytic criticism was quite impressive and appellation.
Jonathan Cavett
Comprehensive and enjoyable introduction to literary theory
awwo342010 Kh
If it were not for this book I would have failed my Criticism class!
Very informative, but that's about it.
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