Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature

S. & S. Mar. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9781982135973. $30. LIT
In this latest work, Fletcher (English, The Ohio State Univ.; Evolving Hamlet) has produced an orderly account of literary inventions throughout the centuries. The author skillfully draws attention to a number of inventions from global contexts and language backgrounds such as Zhuangzi’s un-training of un-yin and un-yang in 5th century China, the invention of the psychedelic reading of “wonder” in 20th century England, and Plato’s “serenity elevator” in 4th century BC Greece. A surprising element is the book’s real-life application of the inventions, or, how does this work for one in real life? The missing piece in Fletcher’s book is its lack of explicit statement-of-worldview under-girding the analysis. Specifically, the focus on the brain and literary allusions as well as references to deity as evidences of invention seems to portray there is no truth to the statements under examination. That being said, readers will be impressed by Fletcher’s scope and inclusion of literary invention.
VERDICT Wonderworks is for those readers who like to consider the history of literature, yes, but also those who like to think about the technical aspects of literary devices used across that history.
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