06 March 2012

The Western Lit Survival Kit: mini-review

I really enjoyed Read This Next so I was looking forward to The Western Lit Survival Kit.

Sandra Newman snarks her way through literature, from the Ancient Greeks to the Modernists.  I enjoyed it greatly.  She name-checks I Spit on Your Grave when discussing Medea.  She calls Ezra pound on the floor:

Nowadays we would say that Ezra Pound had a personality disorder, which is what modern physicians have come up with to avoid saying the patient's an asshole.
(p 255)

I've read probably 80% of the books referenced in this guide.  So I can compare my thoughts to Newman's. I thought it was funny.

On the flip-side, if you haven't read a good portion of the Western literary canon you might have some trouble with The Western Lit Survival Kit.  The snark occasionally makes some books seem unreadable (cf. Medea) if you're just getting into reading classics.  If that's the case, read Beowulf on the Beach.  If you've read BotB and assorted books recommended therein, then give this one a shot.

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