Curiosities of Literature

John Sutherland, Martin Rowson (illus.)

Curiosities of Literature

How much heavier was Thackeray's brain than Walt Whitman's? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And, while we're about it, who wrote the first Western, is there any link between asthma and literary genius, and what really happened on Dorothea's wedding night in Middlemarch? 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
Curiosities of Literature

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Reference, Literary Studies & Criticism
Format Hardback
Pages 224
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication September 2008
ISBN 978-1905211975
Publisher Random House
 

How much heavier was Thackeray's brain than Walt Whitman's? Which novels do American soldiers read? When did cigarettes start making an appearance in English literature? And, while we're about it, who wrote the first Western, is there any link between asthma and literary genius, and what really happened on Dorothea's wedding night in Middlemarch?

Reviews

The Guardian

Steven Poole

Mysterious stylistic blips aside ("The waiters were circulated with his photograph" - probably not), it is a highly civilised entertainment, climaxing in a fiendish quiz. I scored three out of 10 before knocking off to indulge in the vices of Fleming and Dumas.

11/10/2008

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The Scotsman

Allan Massie

...a volume – despite Sutherland's reliance on the internet and the fact that he teaches at the California Institute of Technology – agreeably old-fashioned, a book for the bookish. What we have is pleasantly inconsequential and light-hearted literary gossip. Sutherland sets out to amuse and mostly succeeds, even when touching on sudden death, suicide (grisly stuff on "the Hemingway solution"), TB and asthma... [A] thoroughly enjoyable book

23/08/2008

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The Financial Times

Emily Stokes

...his detective work ranges from an exposé of why JK Rowling’s station platform 9¾ cannot be in King’s Cross to an analysis of the reading lists of soldiers in Iraq .He is at his best when allowing an obstinate eye for the literal to turn interpretation on its head. Some readers might criticise such research for relying a little too heavily on “Messrs Google” but Sutherland’s literarywunderkammer proves that the internet is far from spelling the end for dusty old books; it only increases our “Johnsonian gulosity”.

22/09/2008

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