Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: "Curiosities of Literature"

Modeled on Isaac D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, John Sutherland's Literary Curiosities (Skyhorse, 2009) is a loose compendium of short pieces about literature and its characters. Sutherland writes in the introduction "Some of the pieces may be considered too unserious for even unserious readers; some boring; some already stale; some codswallop. Most, I hope, will divert. Driving the enterprise is less the intention to instruct, or inform, then to communicate the random pleasures which may be found in reading literature, and reading about literature."

Fair enough. If one takes Sutherland at his word, and sees this book as a bit of brain candy, to be amused (and possibly intrigued) by, it does the job. The essays are generally interesting, and there are some intriguing questions examined. There are no references cited, which of course always bothers me (at least a bibliography would be helpful, in case anyone is struck by the need to delve further into a topic).

Overall - fine for the occasional browse, or an afternoon's diversion.

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