Have you ever wondered about the earliest form of storytelling, the kind that endured because it was somehow recorded Or when the transition from oral stories to written ones was Or what the difference between the evolution of "literature" is from Europe to Asia to India to other places Have you ever wondered how many truly ancient words or expressions have endured until today and how they permeated societies they didn't originate from And did you want examples / recommendations for all the different styles and genres, examples for the different eras
Well, then this book might be for you.
Such examinations can often be quite dry so I was delighted to find out that this book had a wonderful and fresh writing style and combined it with great photographs (of stone tablets, tapestries and more) as well as tables and infographics.
I had the distinct feeling that the author is a passionate bookworm but also is very much interested in the evolutionary stages of what we nowadays call literature (which encompasses all, from fiction to poetry).
Through the ages, mankind always needed stories. In caves, tents, under the open sky, in huts and houses, castles or apartment complexes - we always wanted stories because they tell us how to live, that we're not alone, and they entertain us. They are also a great unifier.
Be it fables of gods, comedies, tragedies, poems in all their various forms (haikus for instance), or the myriad forms of fiction (from romance to fantasy) ... we pressed characters into clay tablets to record them, scribbled on papyrus, drew images on cave walls, invented the printing press and now have e-readers. Thus, there is a direct link between humanity, the different culturs on Earth and one of the most important art forms we've ever created.
This book is a nice way of getting an overview, both historically and analytically. Many of the things mentioned here I already knew about but some (especially about India/sanskrit and other Asian facts) I learnt about through this book.
Another cool thing is that you can use it to look up specific topics, as a reference guide, or you can get recommendations as to what to read, or you can read it like a course book or history book the way I did.
Naturally, the references given are mostly very famous examples (there is a reason certain works have become what we call "classics") but there were some I had never heard of as well. The summaries of the books presented are good but not spoilery while still showing why any given book represents a certain genre or era.
No boring slog through analytical data but a comprehensive look at literature, presented in an approachable way that makes you itch to start reading some books. :D
P.S.: Some very attentive readers might be able to see that it took me a looong time to finish this book. That's my fault. I started it after finding it in the bookstore, all excited and stuff, then I got swamped with BRs, put the book on my physical shelf and eventually forgot about it. When I remembered, I couldn't really fit it in anywhere until now. But like I said: that's not a problem since the chapters are self-contained and finding your way back into the respective topic is fast and easy.