E.A. Bucchianeri's Reviews > The Atlas Of Literature

The Atlas Of Literature by Malcolm Bradbury
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If you love reading all the classics and wish to learn more about their importance within modern history, or want to view the other side of the spectrum and see how the progress of western culture influenced the greatest writers through the ages, this volume should be included in your personal library.

Bear with me: I know this introduction sounds as if I were lauding some ponderous academic tome that would bore any casual reader to death, but do not be fooled, this book is actually a pleasant surprise and an entertaining read from cover to cover despite its informative nature. Well, I find learning new things to be very entertaining.

This book is filled with concise but intriguing chapters from two to four pages long, each chapter focusing on an important period of history, beginning with the Middle Ages / Renaissance and ending with culture and the world after the fall of the Berlin wall. Famous authors and their history-making masterpieces of literature are discussed in each chapter, some authors, cities, countries and geographical areas receive special attention for certain centuries or epochs, like the sections entitled “Cervante’s Spain”, “Washington Irving’s Europe” or “London in the 1890s”. It is quite useful if you have just bought a copy of 'Gulliver’s Travels' or 'Wurthering Heights', to cite a few examples, and want to understand their general background, the authors who wrote them, the cultural history of the times, and how these works may have influenced the creativity of other writers.

This beautifully produced work is filled with interesting colour maps and graphs, not only pictures charting historical events, but special illustrations marking out sites in various cities where a famous scene in a novel occurred, plus charts plotting the travels of fictional characters. Plans of cities showing where authors loved to ‘hang out’ and discuss their ideas are also included, places that may still be found today or that no longer exist are clearly marked. There are also numerous illustrations, sketches and artworks that help evoke a ‘feeling’ of each period, such as paintings, artworks, photographs, book covers and illustrations not to mention authors’ portraits. The reader will find that this work really is an “Atlas of Literature”, my only complaint—it’s a shame that the publisher did not delve deeper and include chapters on ancient civilizations and their literary culture, like the epics and dramas of ancient Greece and Rome. How could the ´Illiad´ by Homer and the ´Aeneid´ by Virgil not be included in this book? These great classics influenced more writers than can be imagined. The contributors certainly missed out on the charts they could have included of ancient Troy plus the wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas. Never mind, the book is still enjoyable, so I’m giving it the full five stars.

Last but not least, there is an informative appendix with an alphabetical listing of authors and their works, more lists featuring interesting international places to visit that are associated with the literary world such as museums dedicated to specific writers, book clubs, homes of famous authors, also cemeteries where they are buried to name few sites. There is also a suggested list of books for further research, and a useful index for quick referencing if you do not feel like reading this volume straight from beginning to end. This “atlas” is a treasure for literature lovers.


Contents:

Introduction

Part One: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance
“Dante's Worlds”
“Chaucer's England”
“Shakespeare's Stratford and London”
“Montaigne's France”
“Cervante's Spain”
“The Discovery of the New World: Arcadia and Utopia”

Part Two: The Age of Reason
“The France of the Enlightenment”
“The Journeys of the Age of the Novel”
“Eighteenth Century London”
“Eighteenth Century Dublin”
“Eighteenth Century Edinburgh and Scotland”

Part Three: The Romantics
“The Lake District of the Romantics”
“The Romantic Abroad”
“Jane Austen's Regency England”
“The Paris of the French Romantics”
“Weimar and the German Romantics”
“Washington Irving's Europe”
“James Fenimore Cooper's Frontier”

Part Four: The Age of Industrialism and Empire
“The Sleeping Giant: Pushkin's, Gogol's and Dostoevsky's St Petersburg”
“Stendhal's, Balzac's and Sand's France”
“Dicken's London”
“Steaming Chimney's: Britain and Industrialism”
“Wild Yorkshire: The Brontës of Haworth”
“Emerson's and Hawthorne's New England”
“Dreaming Spires: Nineteenth Century Oxford and Cambridge”

Part Five: The Age of Realism
“Mark Twain's Mississippi”
“The South, Slavery and the Civil War”
“Paris as Bohemia”
“The European Apple: Henry James's International Scene”
“Thomas Hardey's Wessex”
“Scandinavia: The Dark and the Light”
“Precipitous City: Robert Louis Stevenson's Edinburgh”
“London in the 1890s”
“Dreams of Empire”
“The Irish Revival”
“Chicago's World Fair”

Part Six: The Modern World
“Wittgenstein's Vienna”
“Kafka's Prague”
“James Joyce's Dublin”
“Writers of the Great War”
“Paris in the Twenties”
“The World of Bloomsbury”
“Berlin: The Centre of German Modernism”
“Greenwich Village”
“Harlem's Renaissance”
“Main Street, USA”
“William Faulkner's New South”
“Writer's Hollywood”
“Depression America”
“Depression Britain”
“The Spanish Civil War”
“Writers go to War”

Part Seven: After the Second World War
“Existentialist Paris and Beyond”
“Germany After the War”
“Post-war Italian Fiction”
“Scenes From Provincial Life”
“Broadway”
“Dylan Thomas's Wales”
“The Beat Generation”
“Cold War Tales”

Part Eight: The World Today
“Russia and Eastern Europe After the Second World War”
“The Fantasywallas of Bombay”
“Japan: Land of Spirits of the Earth”
“Campus Fictions”
“Divided Ireland”
“The Writing of the Caribbean”
“Australian Images: Sydney and Melbourne”
“Contemporary Israeli Writing”
“In Search of Andalusia: Arabic Literature Today”
“South African Stories”
“Latin American Writing: A Literary Heritage Explored”
“The Writing of Africa Today”
“Canadian Images”
“Everywhere the Wind Blows: African-American Writing Today”
“Manhattan Tales: Who's Afraid of Tom Wolfe?”
“ ´This Grey But Gold City´ The Glasgow of Gray and Kelman”
“London: The Dislocated City”
“The World After the Wall”

Appendixes:
Authors and their works
Places to visit
Further reading
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message 1: by Jowayria (new) - added it

Jowayria Rahal Sounds like one of those books that any literary-oriented person must read! I will definitely look for it ! Thanks for writing such a comprehensive review.


E.A. Bucchianeri Jowayriah wrote: "Sounds like one of those books that any literary-oriented person must read! I will definitely look for it ! Thanks for writing such a comprehensive review."

You're welcome, Jowayriah. It is not only informative, but a beautiful book to own.


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