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Literature Book

Big Ideas Simply Explained

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1: Introduction
2: Heroes and legends 3000BCE - 1300CE

1: Only the gods dwell forever in sunlight, The Epic of Gilgamesh
2: To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance, Book of Changes, attributed to King Wen of Zhou
3: What is this crime I am planning, O Krishna? Mahabharata, attributed to Vyasa
4: Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles, Iliad, attributed to Homer
5: How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be when there's no help in the truth! Oedipus the King, Sophocles
6: The gates of hell are open night and day; smooth the descent, and easy is the way, Aeneid, Virgil
7: Fate will unwind as it must, Beowulf
8: So Scheherazade began... One Thousand and One Nights
9: Since life is but a dream, why toil to no avail? Quan Tangshi
10: Real things in the darkness seem no realer than dreams, The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu
11: A man should suffer greatly for his Lord, The Song of Roland
12: Tandaradei, sweetly sang the nightingale, "Under the Linden Tree", Walther von der Vogelwelde
13: He who dares not follow love's command errs greatly, Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, Chretien de Troyes
14: Let another's wound be my warning, Njal's Saga
15: Further reading

2: Renaissance to enlightenment 1300 - 1800

1: I found myself within a shadowed forest, The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
2: We three will swear brotherhood and unity of aims and sentiments, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Luo Guanzhong
3: Turn over the leef and chese another tale, The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
4: Laughter's the property of man. Live joyfully, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Francois Rabelais
5: As it did to this flower, the doom of age will blight your beauty, Les Amours de Cassandre, Pierre de Ronsard
6: He that loves pleasure must for pleasure fall, Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe
7: Every man is the child of his own deeds, Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
8: One man in his time plays many parts, First Folio, William Shakespeare
9: To esteem everything is to esteem nothing, The Misanthrope, Moliere
10: But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near, Miscellaneous Poems, Andrew Marvell
11: Sadly, I part from you; like a clam torn from its shell, I go, and autumn too, The Narrow Road to the Interior, Matsuo Basho
12: None will hinder and none be hindered on the journey to the mountain of death, The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, Chikamatsu Monzaemon
13: I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good family, Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
14: If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others? Candide, Voltaire
15: I have courage enough to walk through hell barefoot, The Robbers, Friedrich Schiller
16: There is nothing more difficult in love than expressing in writing what one does not feel, Les Liaisons dangereuses, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
17: Further reading

3: Romanticism and the rise of the novel 1800 - 1855

1: Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge, Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
2: Nothing is more wonderful, nothing more fantastic than real life, Nachtstucke, E T A Hoffmann
3: Man errs, till he has ceased to strive, Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
4: Once upon a time... Children's and Household Tales, Brothers Grimm
5: For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn? Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
6: Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
7: All for one, one for all, The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
8: But happiness I never aimed for, it is a stranger to my soul, Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin
9: Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes, Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
10: You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
11: I am no bird; and no net ensnares me, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
12: I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul! Wurthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13: There is no folly of the beast of the Earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men, Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
14: All partings foreshadow the great final one, Bleak House, Charles Dickens
15: Further Reading

4: Depicting real life 1855 - 1900

1: Boredom, quiet as the spider, was spinning its web in the shadowy places of her heart, Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
2: I too am a child of this land; I too grew up amid this scenery, The Guarani, Jose de Alencar
3: The poet is a kinsman in the clouds, Les Fleurs du mal, Charles Baudelaire
4: Not being heard is no reason for silence, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
5: Curiouser and curiouser! Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
6: Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart, Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
7: To describe directly the life of humanity or even of a single nation, appears impossible, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
8: It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view, Middlemarch, George Eliot
9: We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
10: In Sweden all we do is to celebrate jubilees, The Red Room, August Strindberg
11: She is written in a foreign tongue, The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
12: Human beings can be awful cruel to one another, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
13: He simply wanted to go down the mine again, to suffer and to struggle, Germinal, Emile Zola
14: The evening sun was now ugly to her, like a great inflamed wound in the sky, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
15: The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
16: There are things old and new which must not be contemplated by men's eyes, Dracula, Bram Stoker
17: One of the dark places of the earth, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
18: Further reading

5: Breaking with tradition 1900 - 1945

1: The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
2: I am a cat. As yet I have no name. I've no idea where I was born, I am a Cat, Natsume Soseki
3: Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin, Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
4: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, Poems, Wilfred Owen
5: April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, The Waste Land, T S Eliot
6: The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit, Ulysses, James Joyce
7: When I was young I, too, had many dreams, Call to Arms, Lu Xun
8: Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself, The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
9: Criticism marks the origin of progress and enlightenment, The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann
10: Like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars, The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
11: The old world must crumble. Awake, wind of dawn! Berlin Alexanderplatz, Alfred Doblin
12: Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
13: Dead men are heavier than broken hearts, The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
14: It is such a secret place, the land of tears, The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
15: Further reading

6: Post-war writing 1945 - 1970

1: Big Brother is watching you, Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
2: I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen, The Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger
3: Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland, Poppy and Memory, Paul Celan
4: I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
5: Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
6: Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful! Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
7: It is impossible to touch eternity with one hand and life with the other, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Yukio Mishima
8: He was the beat - the root, the soul of beatific, On the Road, Jack Kerouac
9: What is good among one people is an abomination with others, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
10: Even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings, The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass
11: I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
12: Nothing is lost if one has the courage to proclaim that all is lost and we must begin anew, Hopscotch, Julio Cortazar
13: He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, Catch-22, Joseph Heller
14: I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing, Death of a Naturalist, Seamus Heaney
15: There's got to be something wrong with us. To do what we did, In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
16: Ending at every moment but never ending its ending, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
17: Further reading

7: Contemporary literature 1970 - present

1: Our history is an aggregate of last moments, Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
2: You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Italio Calvino
3: To understand just one life you have to swallow the world, Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
4: Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another, Beloved, Toni Morrison
5: Heaven and Earth were in turmoil, Red Sorghum, Mo Yan
6: You could not tell a story like this. A story like this you could only feel, Oscar and Lucinda, Peter Carey
7: Cherish our island for its green simplicities, Omeros, Derek Walcott
8: I felt lethal, on the verge of frenzy, American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
9: Quietly they moved down the calm and sacred river, A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
10: It's a very Greek idea, and a profound one. Beauty is terror, The Secret History, Donna Tartt
11: What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
12: Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are, Blindness, Jose Saramago
13: English is an unfit medium for the truth of South Africa, Disgrace, J M Coetzee
14: Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories, White Teeth, Zadie Smith
15: The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn't one, The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
16: There was something his family wanted to forget, The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
17: It all stems from the same nightmare, the one we created together, The Guest, Hwang Sok-yong
18: I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
19: Further reading

8: Glossary
9: Index
10: Acknowledgments