Summary and book reviews of Vintage Reading : From Plato to Bradbury by Robert Kanigel

Vintage Reading : From Plato to Bradbury

A Personal Tour of Some of the World's Best Books

by Robert Kanigel

Vintage Reading : From Plato to Bradbury
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  • Paperback:
    Mar 1998, 228 pages

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Book Summary

Presents a collection of essays unlike any other stuffy attempt at introducing the modern reader to the Great Books.

In a world beset with the often mindless clutter of television, films, the internet and other distractions, many of us long to renew our acquaintance with the great literature and thought of the ages - to read a book. But what book? Robert Kanigel's Vintage Reading, with its fascinating summaries of books, great and near-great, is the perfect guidepost. Kanigel, a distinguished writer, so effectively conveys his love of great books that one can envision his creating a new generation of readers.

Table of Contents

Introduction

ONE : On Everyone's List of Literary Classics
Look Homeward, Angel Thomas Wolfe
The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
Kim Rudyard Kipling
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Justine
Lawrence Durrell
Oliver Twist
Charles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
A Passage to India E.M. Forster
My Antonia
Willa Cather
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert


TWO : On Many a List for Burning Heretics,
Subversives, Demagogues, Stories
Dorothy Parker
The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli
The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler
Nana Emile Zola
Ten Days That Shook the World John Reed
Native Son Richard Wright


THREE : Books That Shaped the Western World
Essays
Montaigne
Dialogues Plato
The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith
An Essay on the Principle of Population
Thomas Malthus
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon
...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

School Library Journal

These brief essays on Kanigel's personal choice of best books provide a unique point of view to literature students in search of an overview or comments about their favorite work. The author makes no claim to be scholarly or comprehensive, but has written briefly about enduring books and stories that appeal to his "middle-brow" tastes.

Library Journal

Book groups looking for titles would find this a good choice as would library users who want a list to guide their reading. Recommended for public libraries.

Booklist

A professional reviewer, Kanigel occasionally chose books to review for the Baltimore Sun that weren't new. He gathered those columns into this cozy and enlightening book. His divisions are revealing: everyone's classics; title appearing on many a list for burning; one-of-a-kinds; best-sellers; those dealing with the realm of the spirit. Because they were columns, their format and brevity sometimes are of a muchness: a boffo opening sentence and a catchy close. But Kanigel takes another look at titles as varied as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Nana; The Microbe Hunters and A Bell for Adano; and he makes us want to pick them up again and read what he read. He shares the odd little fact, like how caryatids got their name or what a sonata is. He offers a flash, now and then, of spot-on description (Malthus as "intellectual history's Gloomy Gus"). Fun to read and fine fodder for book-discussion groups.

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