The Western Lit Survival Kit: An Irreverent Guide to the Classics, from Homer to Faulkner

By Sandra Newman

A side-splitting journey that makes it a blast to learn the Western literary canon, from the traditional Greeks to the Modernists.

To many, the good Books evoke angst: the complex Renaissance dramas we bluffed our approach via in university, the dusty Everyman's Library variants that glance stylish at the shelf yet make us think to blame simply because they have by no means been opened. On a project to revive the West's nice works to their rightful position (they have been meant to be entertaining!), Sandra Newman has produced a examining consultant like no different. starting with Greek and Roman literature, she takes readers via hilarious detours and appealing old tidbits at the street to Modernism. alongside the best way, we discover parallels among Rabelais and South Park, Jane Austen and Sex and the City, Jonathan fast and Jon Stewart, uncovering the unique humor and riskiness that propelled nice authors to celebrity.

Packed with popular culture gem stones, tales of literary hoaxes, ironic day jobs for authors, undesirable stories of books that may later develop into classics, and more.

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C H A P T E R 2 Rome: whilst the realm was once governed via Italians R oman literature has fallen out of favor. At one time, all expert humans sprinkled their dialog with Latin and will describe all Julius Caesar’s campaigns with out breaking a sweat. within the sleek international, this has faded to a fuzzy concept that carpe diem is the fish of the day, Opus Dei run the put up place of work, and that habeas corpus was once solid, once we had it, since it intended you couldn’t visit legal in case you have been lifeless. Now if somebody accuses us of constructing an advert hominem argument, we will be able to deflate them totally by means of calling them elitist. actually, the single factor most folks are definite approximately Rome is that Catholic women are effortless. It’s time to halt this pattern. every body is announcing it: Rome is rather like the US, and for that reason its literature is extra suitable than ever. in fact, there are a few superficial ameliorations. The Romans wore ghost costumes to paintings and made judgements of country via cow guts. however, they, like us, bankrupted their executive with overseas wars fought through mercenaries, whereas the electorate moved heaven and earth to dodge the draft, taxes, and telltale indicators of getting older. Romans shared our easy frivolity: there has been no smut too low for them, and no criticism too trivial. They enjoyed sarcasm, gossip, and actors. actually, by the point of the Silver Age, Romans aren't simply americans, yet truly New Yorkers. some of the writers we'll meet in a while, from John Milton to James Joyce, quote Latin freely of their works and make offhand references to Roman generals and early Christian fathers. modern readers navigate those passages with a mix of recommendations, together with footnotes, skipping ahead in disgust, Wikipedia, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. a short repair is to regard all Latin charges as which means that Catholic ladies are effortless. They don’t, however it may possibly cheer you thru the dryer passages of Paradise misplaced. ROME MADE basic Rome as a political entity existed for greater than one thousand years, going from nation to republic to empire to scorching mess. the nice writing all belongs to the imperial interval. in truth, the Golden Age of Roman literature is usually often called the Augustan Age, for Caesar Augustus, who used to be Rome’s first emperor. He used to be via a batch of barking mad tyrants who loved to roast humans in sizeable brass bulls, be worshipped as gods, and visit struggle with Libya. nonetheless someway, a Silver Age undefined, which limped alongside till it bumped into the brick wall of Christianity. Roman Christianity produced Saint Augustine, then closed its eyes, held its nostril, and jumped into the darkish a while. quickly the empire used to be in tatters; struggle and rapine unfold in the course of the land. when you examine this sequence of occasions with an neutral brain, the realization is unavoidable: this is often what awaits the US if we start to supply stable books. take note: those that do not realize background are doomed to copy it. in spite of the fact that, they won’t comprehend they’re repeating it, so a minimum of it won’t ruin the shock. CATULLUS, INVENTOR OF THE female friend (84–54 B.

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