Criticism: The Major Texts. Ed. Walter Jackson Bate. Contains the original statements on literary and artistic criticism from Plato to Edmund Wilson.
The Future of the Novel: Essays on the Art of Fiction. Henry James. A series of essays on the novel and its practitioners in James’s time—Dickens, George Eliot, Zola, Balzac, Flaubert, de Maupassant, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Trollope, HG Wells, Arnold Bennett and Joseph Conrad.
The Western Canon. Harold Bloom. Bloom suggests that the goal in our schools and colleges today is no longer intellectual excellence, but achieving social harmony and remedying historical injustice. Bloom explores the problem of no longer reading serious books, the books enumerated in the Western Canon, “what has been preserved out of what has been written.”
The Flowering of New England. Van Wyck Brooks. Tells the story of the New England Renaissance in the period between the Revolution and the Civil War. It was a springtime surge of energy and intellect, a revolution against theology which had crushed the human spirit and confidence.
The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Volume One. James Boswell. The most famous biography in English literature of one of the most quoted people in the English language—other than Shakespeare, of course. Samuel Johnson was “bigger than life” because James Boswell, his biographer, kept voluminous and meticulous notes.