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Faulks on Fiction

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  23 reviews
he British invented the novel, with the publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 marking the arrival of a revolutionary and distinctly modern form of art. But it's also true, as Sebastian Faulks argues in this remarkable book, that the novel helped invent the British: for the first time we had stories that reflected the experiences of ordinary people, with characters in whic ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by BBC Books
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183rd out of 275 books — 26 voters
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Community Reviews

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Lisa
I really enjoyed listening to Faulks chatting about books I'd read. He's an unabashed fan of the character driven novel and this book traces how fictional characters have traced the evolution of the modern Briton.
umberto
I found this 'companion' interesting, inspiring and informative since Sabastian Faulks, an illustrious novelist himself (I'm sorry I haven't yet read his famous "Birdsong") has portrayed different views regarding the four major characters, that is, Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Vallains based on those twenty-eight great British novels, seven in each category. In other words, each character presumably deserves readers' similar attention, my motive is that I should read any character at random accordi ...more
Mark
Having no doubt that Sebastian Faulks is better read, more intelligent and certainly better qualified than myself to comment on the novel I feel a tad reticent about holding forth but I shall. I did enjoy this trawl through British novels ranging from the gargantuan (and in my case severely unread) 'Clarissa ' by Samuel Richardson to the gross and foul 'Money ' by Martin Amis. Twenty eight novels by twenty six novelists are divided into seven books for the four themes of Hero, Lover, Villain and ...more
Jelliebeans
This was a real pleasure to read, and its a book I may return to in a few years when I've read more of the books Faulks covers here. I found it thought-provoking in a number of places, and it has sparked my interest in reading or re-reading some of these classics of British literature. Faulks neatly places each book in its historical and literary context, reflecting on connections and broader cultural meaning. The most pleasurable thing, though, is that the treatment remains essentially human, e ...more
Phil
A wonderfully insightful book by someone who obviously loves fiction.

For anything you have read you will find lovely descriptions of your thoughts, placed in context of so many books you are yet to be acquainted with. My appetite has been whetted for every discovery in this book and few old enemies may get a re-read.

My aha moment with this book came when he got on to Hardy who I have always found hard to place in reading, many of his books where tried and given up in my youth, and he puts his f
...more
Tweedledum
I really enjoyed the interesting way in which Sebastian Faulks explored the development of the novel through comparing heros, villans, snobs and lovers. The relaxed but informative discussion made me want to revisit some old favourites... Robinson Crusoe and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, helped me decide definitely against Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady and The Golden Notebook and encouraged me to seek out Mr Norris Changes Trains. Faulks analysis of Jeeves and James Bond as ...more
Maya Panika
Though ostensibly a tie-in with the BBC series of the same name, this 11 hour long audio book delves much deeper into the heart of the history of the English novel than the television programmes, and the tone is far dryer and more academic.

Focussing firmly on plot, character and writing (rather than writers), Faulks on Fiction is pretty much what it says on the tin. It is a highly personal look at what makes a great novel. No one with an opinion is likely to agree with all - or indeed, any - of
...more
Nikki
This book explores 4 types of literary characters (heroes, lovers, snobs and villains) by discussing 7 examples per type. Faulks limited himself to British novels from the 18th century till now because otherwise the selection would have been even more impossible to make.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. When he analyzed a book I had already read, his thoughts helped deepen my understanding of the novel and offered new insights. For example, his view of the love between Eliza
...more
Lily
As there were some books that I didn't know anything about I had to skip those chapters: (I shall come back and read them when I have!)
Robinson Crusoe - read
Tom Jones - skipped
Becky Sharp - skipped
Sherlock Holmes - read
Winston Smith - read
Jim Dixon - skipped
John Self - skipped
Mr Darcy - read
Heathcliff - skipped
Tess Durbeyfield - skipped
Constance Chatterley - skipped
Maurice Bendrix - skipped
Anna Wulf - skipped
Nick Guest - skipped
Emma Woodhouse - skipped
Pip - skipped
Charles Pooter - skipped
Jeeves
...more
Ruby (Feed Me Books Now)

Accessible and engaging literary criticism, just not groundbreaking.

Or, in other words: I'd heard a lot of these thoughts and speculations before.
Hannah
Faulks on Fiction was a great read, particularly for an english major like myself. He provides the perfect balance of summary and analysis of some of the greatest British characters and novels. The book is divided into sections - Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains, and contains an assortment of our favourite fictional people - Mr Darcy, Heathcliff, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Emma Woodhouse, Jeeves and Becky Sharp, to name but a few.

Furthermore, the selection was particularly diverse - female
...more
Paula
Based on a BBC 2 series, the main interest of this book is dependent on the reader having read the novels in question. Having said that, some of the characters are so well-known (Mr Darcy and James Bond, for example) that their respective chapters are worth reading about, even if you haven't read the books in question. That being said, for me the most satisfying aspect of the book was to read about the individuals from less well-known books (Steerpike and Ronald Merrick come to mind). In this wa ...more
Charlotte Eeles
An interesting take on classic literature. However for me this reads a little like the York Notes edition. Ideal reading if you're studying English Lit, but quite hard going as a piece in its own right. For me its all a little too clinical, and a commentary of each story rather then a discussion of the principal characters.
Ppyett
I really enjoyed this well-informed discussion of 28 novels through each of their main characters. It's like a private book club with a chatty friend and makes you want to read just about all the books again (if you've already read them) or go and find a copy of the ones you haven't read.
Sarah Lee
I enjoyed this book, although it was very like reading some of the literary theory books I read for my degree. I didn't read it in one go, just kept dipping in and out of it.
MyBookAffair
Mar 01, 2011 MyBookAffair is currently reading it
I am SOOO excited to have been given a copy of this book as a present! Bliss!!! So far I've just been carrying it around with me all day and dipping into it whenever I get a minute. It's going to be a huge favourite of mine. :)
Martin Tyrrell
Particularly liked: "in the world of 'theory', returns diminish rapidly; the ratio of insight to verbiage is discouraging after a page or two."
Jodie
A study of characters I already love, and of characters I can’t wait to get to know.
Venuskitten
Intelligent clear and perceptive reviews and assessments of English classic novels.
Maxine
Good intersting read did not see the Television seris that the book is from
Peter


quite enjoyed this
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Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independe ...more
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