Sunday 5 January 2020

Book Review: Literary Landscapes by John Sutherland (Non-Fiction/Literary Commentary/Travel)

Title: Literary Landscapes
Author: John Sutherland
Black Dog & Leventhal

Publication Date: 2018
Historical Fiction
Xmas Gift


The anticipated follow-up to the book lovers' favorite, Literary Wonderlands, Literary Landscapes delves deep into the geography, location, and terrain of our best-loved literary works and looks at how setting and environmental attributes influence storytelling, character, and our emotional response as readers. Fully illustrated with hundreds of full-color images throughout.

Some stories couldn't happen just anywhere. As is the case with all great literature, the setting, scenery, and landscape are as central to the tale as any character, and just as easily recognized. Literary Landscapes brings together more than 50 literary worlds and examines how their description is intrinsic to the stories that unfold within their borders.

Follow Leopold Bloom's footsteps around Dublin. Hear the music of the Mississippi River steamboats that set the score for Huckleberry Finn. Experience the rugged bleakness of New Foundland in Annie Proulx's The Shipping News or the soft Neapolitan breezes in My Brilliant Friend.

The landscapes of enduring fictional characters and literary legends are vividly brought to life, evoking all the sights and sounds of the original works. Literary Landscapes will transport you to the fictions greatest lands and allow you to connect to the story and the author's intent in a whole new way. 

Literary Landscapes is a fun read for lovers of literature. I enjoyed the blend of text and image, and the interesting, brief discussions on the role of place in a number of key literary works. I did scratch my head from time to time, such as when the author claimed the opening of Bleak House was one of (if not the) most memorable openings in English literature. I personally can't imagine anyone quoting it as such, but I guess that's a subjective matter. Other opinions, too, seemed a tad farfetched. My main gripe with this book, though, was the appalling lack of editing and/or proofreading. Every few pages I came across another typo or a sentence with incorrect punctuation. Some of the typos were so obvious and bad it made me wonder if the manuscript had been proofread at all. It is a shame as it lets down a book otherwise nicely presented. As such, my rating for this one is 3.5, which I will round up to 4 stars in light of the work's entertaining quality.

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