This timely volume presents a rich and absorbing selection of extracts from over two hundred leading literary critics of the last several decades, writing on many of the most widely studied literary texts in English, from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison.

Structured chronologically, working through familiar literary periods, this book presents illuminating and stimulating examples of critical readings of familiar texts, demonstrating a variety of methods and approaches to critical practice. The range of critical voices represented – from Abrams and Adelman to Zimmerman and Žižek – provides students with eloquent and insightful models of how to read, think and write about texts so that they can form their own critical responses and develop as independent readers. The book also shows how criticism has developed over time and how it has always been intimately involved in wider cultural, social and political debates. Connections between criticism, culture and politics are explored in the book’s wide-ranging first chapter.

In his warm, clear and engaging style, Richard Jacobs provides the perfect introduction to literature and criticism. Literature and the Critics is a book to which students will want to return throughout their courses as they read more widely and encounter new texts and critical voices.

chapter |8 pages


ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 1|33 pages

Literature, criticism, culture, and why they matter

ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 2|25 pages


ByRichard Jacobs, Sean McEvoy

chapter 3|30 pages

Early modern literature 1590–1690

ByRichard Jacobs, Sean McEvoy

chapter 4|22 pages

Early romantic writings 1750–1800

ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 5|23 pages

Later romantic writings 1790–1830

ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 6|21 pages

Realist fiction in England and America 1840–70

ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 7|21 pages

Realism towards modernism

English and American fiction 1870–1900
ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 8|28 pages


British, Irish and American literature 1890–1970
ByRichard Jacobs

chapter 9|24 pages

Postmodernity and the contemporary novel 1970–2020

ByRichard Jacobs, Sam Cutting, Joel Roberts