LITERATURE

Literary Geography: An Encyclopedia of Real and Imagined Settings

Greenwood. Aug. 2019. 381p. ed. by ed. by Lynn M. Houston. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781440842559. $97; ebk. ISBN 9781440842542. REF
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Informed by the work of Yi-Fu Tuan (known as the originator of humanistic geography), Houston (Sacred Heart Univ., CT; Reading Joan Didion) and 17 colleagues explore the role of place in more than 100 literary works, chosen because of their frequency on high school and college syllabi and English literature advanced placement exams over the past ten years. Essays on novels, from Gulliver’s Travels and Crime and Punishment to the Harry Potter books and The Kite Runner; plays, from Antigone to Macbeth to The Glass Menagerie; a few nonfiction titles, such as Michael Herr’s Dispatches and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, are interspersed with essays on a more than two dozen poets (e.g., William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams). Each essay includes a brief synopsis of the work (or a poet’s collective output), an analysis of its geographical dimensions (for instance, in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations the British countryside vs. London), and a substantial bibliography.
VERDICT High school and college students will find excellent examples of how to study the geographical components of literature, while book clubs will discover fresh approaches to old and new classics.

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