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Curiosities of Literature A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition by John Sutherland

Curiosities of Literature A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition


Curiosities of Literature A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition by John Sutherland

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? In Curiosities of Literature, John Sutherland contemplates the full import of questions such as these, and attempts a few answers in a series of essays that are both witty and eclectic. His approach is also unashamedly discursive. An account of the fast-working Mickey Spillane, for example, leads to a consideration of the substances, both legal and illegal, that authors have employed to boost their creative energies. An essay on good and bad handwriting points out in passing that Thackeray could write the Lord's Prayer on the back of a stamp. As for Mary Shelley, a brief recital of the circumstances in which she wrote Frankenstein stops off to consider what impact the miserable summer weather of 1816 had on the future path of English literature. Of course, it is debatable whether knowledge of these arcane topics adds to the wisdom of nations, but it does highlight the random pleasures to be found in reading literature and reading about it. As John Sutherland rightly asks, 'Why else read?'

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About the Author

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is a father of three, who lives with his wife and children in south London. For the best part of twenty-five years, he has served as a Metropolitan Police Officer. He won the Baton of Honour as the outstanding recruit in his training school intake and rose through the ranks to become a highly respected senior officer. Over the course of his career, in which he has been awarded several commendations, he has worked in seven different London boroughs, in a variety of different ranks and roles, and he has also been posted to Scotland Yard on three separate occasions. His most recent operational job was as the Borough C ommander for Southwark. John can be found on Twitter and Wordpress as 'policecommander'. Blue is his first book.

Author photo © Zac Crawley

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Book Info

Publication date

5th November 2009


John Sutherland

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Arrow Books Ltd an imprint of Cornerstone


304 pages


Literary studies: general
Literary reference works
Trivia & quiz question books



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