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In this remarkable blend of memoir and criticism, James Wood, noted contributor to the New Yorker, has written a master class on the connections between fiction and life. He argues that, of all the arts, fiction has a unique ability to describe the shape of our lives and to rescue the texture of those lives from death and historical oblivion. The act of reading is understood here as the most sacred and personal of activities, and there are brilliant discussions of individual works - among others, Chekhov's story "The Kiss," W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants, and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower. Wood reveals his own intimate relationship with the written word: we see the development of a provincial boy growing up in a charged Christian environment, the secret joy of his childhood reading, the links he makes between reading and blasphemy, or between literature and music. The final section discusses fiction in the context of exile and homelessness. The Nearest Thing to LifeÊis not simply a brief, tightly argued book by a man commonly regarded as our finest living critic - it is also an exhilarating personal account that reflects on, and embodies, the fruitful conspiracy between reader and writer (and critic), and asks us to reconsider everything that is at stake when we read and write fiction.
Examination of the critical discourse on the literary movement of 'realism.'
George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-72) is one of the classic novels of English literature and was admired by Virginia Woolf as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.” The complex main plot and many subplots revolve around Dorothea Brooke, an ardent young woman, and her relationship to three men: Casaubon, a clergyman and scholar twice her age; Lydgate, an ambitious young doctor who shares Dorothea’s enthusiasm for reform but whose flaws compromise his ambitions; and Will Ladislaw, a young man of mysterious origins, romantic temperament, and artistic inclinations. A female Bildungsroman and a study of character and society in the realistic mode pioneered by Balzac, Middlemarch is also an historical novel that offers a panorama of English society in an era of social reform and political agitation. This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a rich selection of contextual materials, including contemporary reviews of the novel, other writings by George Eliot (essays, reviews, and criticism), and historical documents pertaining to medical reform, religious freedom, and the advent of the railroads.
The last sixty years have witnessed a virtual explosion of interest in how modern science and traditional Christianity intersect. This new rapprochement with science has irrevocably altered how we think of God. It constitutes a foundation from which we cannot retreat, but from which we also cannot move forward until we examine the presumptions on which it is based. For the first time, Richard Coleman interprets in a clear and meaningful way the themes and practitioners that make this rapprochement different, and what it has achieved. But this book is more than description--it is an inquiry into whether Christian theology has lost its authentic voice by its singular focus on accommodating modern science.
The life story of the Victorian novelist George Eliot is as dramatic and complex as her best plots. This new assessment of her life and work combines recent biographical research with penetrating literary criticism, resulting in revealing new interpretations of her literary work. A fresh look at George Eliot's captivating life story Includes original new analysis of her writing Deploys the latest biographical research Combines literary criticism with biographical narrative to offer a rounded perspective
A yearbook sponsored by the British Comparative Literature Association asserting that comparative literary studies represent a major direction forwards.
We have all wondered about the meaning of life. But is there an answer? And do we even really know what we're asking? Terry Eagleton takes a stimulating and quirky look at this most compelling of questions: at the answers explored in philosophy and literature; at the crisis of meaning in modern times; and suggests his own solution to how we might rediscover meaning in our lives.

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