I discovered and picked up a couple of volumes from a nifty little series from Simon & Schuster over the weekend, which sadly doesn’t look to be in publication any more.
The series is called ‘A Crash Course’, and this particular volume is called Literature: A Crash Course [ISBN: 9780823009800 ], which not surprisingly is my favourite.
What I like about this series (I also managed to pick up Art: A Crash Course [ISBN: 9780823002597]) is the straightforward presentation, which chronologically charts the history of the subject it focuses on. The literature one for instance looks at the main periods of development in literature from the Greek period to modern-day, with a focus on the key writer’s who developed particular styles and genres.
Sure it’s nice to get one’s teeth into something a little more academic and technical than this, but as an introductory starting point these look and feel ideal (and they’re miles better than using Wikipedia). It’s just a shame they’re not available any more.