Literary Landscapes Edited by John Sutherland

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My enormous thanks to Alison Menzies for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for Literary Landscapes by John Sutherland. I’m delighted to be involved having so enjoyed Literary Wonderlands. You can read my review of Literary Wonderlands here.

Today I have a little bit from the book that relates to my favourite author, Thomas Hardy, as well as my review to share.

Literary Landscapes will be published by Modern Books on 25th October 2018 and is available for purchase here.

Literary Landscapes

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The anticipated follow-up to the book lovers’ favorite, Literary Wonderlands, Literary Landscapes delves deep into the geography, location, and terrain of our best-loved literary works and looks at how setting and environmental attributes influence storytelling, character, and our emotional response as readers. Fully illustrated with hundreds of full-color images throughout.

Some stories couldn’t happen just anywhere. As is the case with all great literature, the setting, scenery, and landscape are as central to the tale as any character, and just as easily recognized. Literary Landscapes brings together more than 50 literary worlds and examines how their description is intrinsic to the stories that unfold within their borders.

Follow Leopold Bloom’s footsteps around Dublin. Hear the music of the Mississippi River steamboats that set the score for Huckleberry Finn. Experience the rugged bleakness of New Foundland in Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News or the soft Neapolitan breezes in My Brilliant Friend.

The landscapes of enduring fictional characters and literary legends are vividly brought to life, evoking all the sights and sounds of the original works. Literary Landscapes will transport you to the fictions greatest lands and allow you to connect to the story and the author’s intent in a whole new way.

Thomas Hardy’s Wessex

Anyone who knows me well also knows that Thomas Hardy has a special place in my heart, being the first ‘classic’ author I really fell in love with and whose writing prompted my entire adult career. Consequently, I’m delighted to share an image of Hardy’s Wessex from Literary Landscapes and a tiny snippet from the book.

Map of Thomas Hardy's Wessex, 1912 (litho)

Map of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, 1912, the fictional setting of all Hardy’s major novels, described by him as ‘a partly-real, partly dream-country’.

The place-word ‘Wessex’ is indivisible from Hardy’s fiction. It is an Anglo-Saxon name for what weather forecasters blandly nowadays call the ‘south-west’, but Hardy exhumed the word and made it entirely his own to describe the place he was born, lived most of his life, and revered.

The Return of the Native, Hardy’s  sixth published novel, is the subject for one of the essays in Literary Landscapes: the Real-Life Settings of the World’s Favourite Fiction. Hardy’s darkly imagined Egdon Heath in Wessex provides a fulcrum for the tragic love story between the ‘native’ Clym Yeobright and the outsider Eustacia Vye.

My Review of Literary Landscapes

Travel the world vicariously through Literary Landscapes.

This is a book that EVERY book lover must have in their life. I adored it. First I went through all the references to the authors I have read, beginning with Thomas Hardy whose writing launched my entire career. Next I read the sections with books based in places I’ve been to, like Natsushiko Kyogoku’s Tokyo, followed by places I have yet to see in real life but are on my wish list such as Joyce’s Dublin and I still had a wonderful tapestry of delights to dip in to after that. The only negative of reading Literary Landscapes I can find is that it can make the reader feel dissatisfied. I wanted to have read every book featured and to have visited every place described and because of the incredible number of entries in the four sections I know I’m never going to see them all. I will just have to indulge in the delights of the pages of Literary Landscapes instead!

I thought the quality of the book was just wonderful. Pages are smooth under the hand, the book is weighty and the illustrations frequently sumptuous so that Literary Landscapes is a delight for art as well as literature lovers. The depth of knowledge, the incredible detail in each section and the cross referencing with contemporary sociology and history all contribute to making Literary Landscapes a real joy to read.

Not only are the entries about literary landscapes, but they are themselves literary; stylishly penned, accessible and intelligent. There really is enough material in Literary Landscapes to keep a book lover entertained, happy and intrigued for several months. I cannot recommend this book highly enough – even if it has increased my TBR pile dramatically!

Literary Landscapes Giveaway

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For those of you in the UK who would like the chance to own Literary Landscapes for themselves, there is a change to win a copy. All you need to do is follow @modernbooks and tweet your own favourite #LiteraryLandscape for a chance to win a copy of Literary Landscapes.

This giveaway is independent of Linda’s Book Bag and closes on 31st October 2018.

About John Sutherland

John Sutherland is an English lecturer, emeritus professor, newspaper columnist and author.

Now Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, John Sutherland began his academic career after graduating from the University of Leicester as an assistant lecturer in Edinburgh in 1964. He specialises in Victorian fiction, 20th century literature, and the history of publishing.

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