A book that ought to be placed in the hands of any person who shows the slightest interest in serious reading or in hearing a good, practical defense of high culture. Wall Street Journal
From one of our premier literary scholars, here is a learned and witty introduction to the sheer vitality of literature and the satisfactions of a close, informed engagement with it (New York Times). Robert Alters illumination of the unique power of reading literature is especially valuable at a time when we are surrounded by electronic texts that distract more than engage and when the special claims of literature are disparaged by the high priests of literary theory. Alter explores the strategies that distinguish literaturethe resources of style, the dynamics of allusion, the formal design of structure, the play of perspective in narrative. He draws on copious examples from the great works of literary artfrom the Book of Genesis to Shakespeare, Conrad, and Nabokovto illustrate his analysis of what makes reading a source of complex pleasure and insight.