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Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hitsby Jack Murnighan
Synopses & Reviews
If you’re like most folks, you probably feel guilty for never reading War and Peace, Ulysses, or Moby-Dick. Or maybe you read them in school, but you didn’t exactly enjoy them, right? Writer and professor Jack Murnighan says it’s not the books that put you off, it was the lifeless, uninspiring way they‘re usually taught. Now, with Beowulf on the Beach, you’ll discover not only why these classics deserve another chance, but how to read great books in general.
Balancing humor and expertise, Murnighan picks 50 of the most revered books of all time and explains what the professors never told you: that Moby-Dick is funny, Dante will make you cry, Anna Karenina is a beach read, and James Joyce is great, but only if he’s talking about drinking, sex, or organ meats. Plus you get the juicy tidbits on what you’re supposed to know, what you need to know, and what’s okay for you to skip without feeling guilt. From Homer and Proust to Beloved and the Bible, Beowulf on the Beach is a user-friendly guide through the imposing world of capital-L Literature. In no time at all, you’ll be revved up and ready to tackle Dickens or Woolf—only this time without the test.
From Homer and Proust to "Beloved" and the Bible, "Beowulf on the Beach" is a user-friendly guide through the imposing world of literature.
Feel bad about not reading or not enjoying the so-called great books? Don’t sweat it, it’s not your fault. Did anyone tell you that Anna Karenina is a beach read, that Dickens is hilarious, that the Iliad’s battle scenes rival Hollywood’s for gore, or that Joyce is at his best when he’s talking about booze, sex, or organ meats?
Writer and professor Jack Murnighan says it’s time to give literature another look, but this time you’ll enjoy yourself. With a little help, you’ll see just how great the great books are: how they can make you laugh, moisten your eyes, turn you on, and leave you awestruck and deeply moved. Beowulf on the Beach is your field guide–erudite, witty, and fun-loving–for helping you read and relish fifty of the biggest (and most skipped) classics of all time. For each book, Murnighan reveals how to get the most out of your reading and provides a crib sheet that includes the Buzz, the Best Line, What’s Sexy, and What to Skip.
About the Author
JACK MURNIGHAN has a Ph.D. in medieval and renaissance literature from Duke University. He is the author of The Naughty Bits and Classic Nasty and has written for Esquire, Glamour, and Nerve. He lives in New York City and teaches creative nonfiction at the University of the Arts.
Table of Contents
The Iliad ; The Odyssey / Homer — The Bible: The Old Testament, The New Testament — The Aeneid / Virgil — Metamorphoses / Ovid — Beowulf / Anonymous — Inferno ; Paradiso / Dante Alighieri — The Decameron / Giovanni Boccaccio — The Canterbury tales / Geoffrey Chaucer — The Faerie Queene / Edmund Spenser — Hamlet; King Lear; Macbeth / William Shakespeare — Don Quixote / Miguel de Cervantes — Paradise lost / John Milton — The history of Tom Jones, a foundling / Henry Fielding — Pride and prejudice / Jane Austen — Faust I & II / Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — Eugene Onegin / Alexander Pushkin — Pere Goriot / Honore de Balzac — Jane Eyre / Charlotte Bronte — Wuthering Heights / Emily Bronte — Moby Dick / Herman Melville — Bleak house; Great expectations / Charles Dickens — Madame Bovary / Gustave Flaubert — Crime and punishment; The brothers Karamazov / Fyodor Dostoevsky — War and peace; Anna Karenina / Leo Tolstoy — Middlemarch / George Eliot — The wings of the dove / Henry James — Remembrance of things past / Marcel Proust — Ulysses / James Joyce — The magic mountain / Thomas Mann — The trial / Franz Kafka — To the lighthouse / Virginia Woolf — The sound and the fury / William Faulkner — Farewell to arms / Ernest Hemingway — Tropic of Cancer / Henry Miller — Native son / Richard Wright — The man without qualities / Robert Musil — Lolita / Vladimir Nabokov — Giovanni's room / James Baldwin — One hundred years of solitude / Gabriel Garcia Marquez — Gravity's rainbow / Thomas Pynchon — Blood meridian / Cormac McCarthy — Beloved / Toni Morrison — Tips on reading classics, and good books in general.
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