Literature and Its Writers : A Compact Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama

by ;
  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-08-03
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
  • We Buy This Book Back!
    In-Store Credit: $29.40
    Check/Direct Deposit: $28.00
    PayPal: $28.00
List Price: $101.13 Save up to $89.38
  • Rent Book $11.75
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Literature is a conversation between writers and other writers, and between writers and readers. In Literature and Its Writers, Ann and Samuel Charters complement a rich and varied selection of stories, poems, and plays with an unparalleled array of commentaries about that literature by the writers themselves. Such "writer talk" inspires students to respond as it models ways for them to enter the conversation. In the sixth edition, the Charters continue to entice students to join the conversation, with adventurous and intriguing new literary works, more detailed coverage of literary elements, and more help with reading and writing. This anthology is now available with video! Learn more about VideoCentral for Literature.

Author Biography

Ann Charters received her B.A. at Berkeley and her Ph.D. at Columbia. She first met Kerouac at a poetry reading in Berkeley in 1956, and compiled a comprehensive bibliography of his work in 1967. A professor of English at the University of Connecticut, she is also the editor of Selected Letters of Jack Kerouac and the Portable Kerouac Reader, and the author of Beats and Company: Portrait of a Literary Generation.
Samuel Charters has taught creative writing and published widely in a variety of genres, including eleven books of poetry, four novels, a book of criticism on contemporary American poetry, a biography (coauthored with Ann Charters) of the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and translations of the poetry of Tomas Transtromer and Edith Sodergran. An ethnomusicologist, he produces blues and jazz recordings and has published many books about music, among them a history of New Orleans jazz and a study of bluesman Robert Johnson.



Table of Contents

Introduction: Connecting with Literature

Sample Paper — Raymond Carver's "Creative Writing 101"

Reading Literature

Thinking and Writing about Literature

Part One — FICTION

  1. What is a Short Story?
  2. *Old Testament, The Judgment of Solomon

    Grace Paley, Samuel

  3. Reading, Thinking and Writing about Short Fiction
  4. Close Reading Short Fiction

    Some Guidelines for Close Reading

    Sample Close Reading —Grace Paley, Samuel

    Critical Thinking about Short Fiction

    Writing about Short Fiction

    Sample Paper — Grace Paley's Commentary and "Samuel"

    Other Resources to Help Your Writing

    Sample Paper —Grace Paley's Point of View in "Samuel"

  5. Plot and Point of View
  6. Plot

    *Plot Summary

    *Raymond Carver, Popular Mechanics

    *Questions for Critical Thinking about Plot

    *Writing about Plot

    *Alasdair Gray, Pillow Talk

    Point of View

    *Herta Muller, Workday

    *Dagoberto Gilb, Love in L.A.

    *Questions for Critical Thinking about Point of View

    *Writing about Point of View

    *Useful Terms to Remember


  7. Character and Setting
  8. Character

    *Roberto Bolano, Jim

    *Questions for Critical Thinking about Character

    *Writing about Character

    Jamaica Kincaid, Girl


    *Daniel Orozco, Orientation

    *Questions for Critical Thinking about Setting

    *Writing about Setting

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

    * Useful Terms to Remember

  9. Style and Theme
  10. Style

    *David Foster Wallace, Everything is Green

    *Lydia Davis, Blind Date





    *Franz Kafka, I Wish I Were a Red Indian

    *Yasunari Kawabata, The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket

    *Questions for Critical Thinking about Style

    *Writing about Style


    Interpreting the Theme of a Story

    *Naguib Mahfouz, Half a Day

    *Rosario Morales, The Day It Happened

    *Questions for Critical Thinking about Theme

    *Writing about Theme

    *Useful Terms to Remember

  12. Flannery O'Connor

    Good Country People

    A Good Man Is Hard to Find

    On Flannery O'Connor's Fiction

    Flannery O'Connor

    From Letters, 1954-55

    Flannery O'Connor

    Writing Short Stories

    Flannery O'Connor

    The Element of Suspense in A Good Man Is Hard to Find

    Sally Fitzgerald

    Southern Sources of A Good Man Is Hard to Find

    Edgar Allan Poe

    The Cask of Amontillado

    The Fall of the House of Usher

    On Critical Views of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories

    Edgar Allan Poe

    The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale

    D.H. Lawrence

    On The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado

    Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren

    A New Critical Reading of The Fall of the House of Usher

    J. Gerald Kennedy

    On The Fall of the House of Usher

    David S. Reynolds

    PoeÕs Art of Transformation in The Cask of Amontillado

    *Writing about Flannery OÕConnor and Edgar Allan Poe

Sherman Alexie

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

COMMENTARY: Sherman Alexie, Superman and Me

*Dorothy Allison

Jason Who Will Be Famous

Margaret Atwood

Happy Endings

James Baldwin

Sonny's Blues

COMMENTARY: James Baldwin, Autobiographical Notes

Toni Cade Bambara

The Lesson

*Jose Antonio Burciaga

La Puerta

Raymond Carver


COMMENTARIES: Raymond Carver, On Writing

Raymond Carver, Creative Writing 101

CONNECTION: Raymond Carver, Popular Mechanics

Anton Chekhov

The Lady with the Pet Dog

COMMENTARY: Anton Chekhov, Technique in Writing the Short Story

CONNECTION: Joyce Carol Oates, The Lady with the Pet Dog

Kate Chopin

Desiree's Baby

The Story of an Hour

COMMENTARY: Kate Chopin, How I Stumbled upon Maupassant

*Stephen Crane

The Open Boat

COMMENTARY: Stephen Crane, The Sinking of the Commodore

Junot Diaz

How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie

Ralph Ellison

Battle Royal

COMMENTARY: Ralph Ellison, The Influence of Folklore on Battle Royal

William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily

COMMENTARY: William Faulkner, The Meaning of A Rose for Emily

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper

COMMENTARIES: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Undergoing the Cure for Nervous Prostration

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, A Feminist Reading of Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

Susan Glaspell

A Jury of Her Peers

COMMENTARIES: Elaine Showalter, On Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers

CONNECTIONS: Susan Glaspell, Trifles                                       

Lynn Nottage, POOF!  

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Young Goodman Brown

COMMENTARY: Herman Melville, Blackness in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

CONNECTION, Edgar Allan Poe, The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale

Ernest Hemingway

Hills Like White Elephants

Zora Neale Hurston


COMMENTARY: Zora Neale Hurston, How it Feels to Be Colored Me

CONNECTION, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston: A Cautionary Tale and a Partisan View

Shirley Jackson

The Lottery

COMMENTARY: Shirley Jackson, The Morning of June 28, 1948, and The Lottery

Sarah Orne Jewett

*A White Heron

Ha Jin


James Joyce


CONNECTION: John Updike, A&P

Franz Kafka

A Hunger Artist

R. Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz, A Hunger Artist

The Metamorphosis

COMMENTARY: Gustav Janouch, Kafka's View of The Metamorphosis

CONNECTION: Franz Kafka, I Wish I Were a Red Indian

D.H. Lawrence

The Rocking-Horse Winner

CONNECTION: D.H. Lawrence, On Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado

Jack London

To Build a Fire

Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace

CONNECTION: Kate Chopin, How I Stumbled on Maupassant

Herman Melville

Bartleby, the Scrivener

CONNECTION: Herman Melville, Blackness in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Lorrie Moore

How to Become a Writer

Joyce Carol Oates

The Lady with the Pet Dog

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

COMMENTARY: Joyce Carol Oates, Smooth Talk: Short Story Into Film

CONNECTION: Anton Chekhov, The Lady with the Pet Dog

Tim O'Brien

The Things They Carried

COMMENTARY: Bobbie Ann Mason, On Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried

Tillie Olsen

I Stand Here Ironing

ZZ Packer


Grace Paley

*A Conversation with My Father

COMMENTARY: Paley, A Conversation with Ann Charters

CONNECTION: Grace Paley, Samuel

Luigi Pirandello


CONNECTION: Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author

Marjane Satrapi

*From Persepolis: The Veil

*COMMENTARY: Sydney Plum, Reading The Veil by Marjane Satrapi

Leslie Marmon Silko

Yellow Woman

COMMENTARY: Paula Gunn Allen, Whirlwind Man Steals Yellow Woman

John Steinbeck

The Chrysanthemums

Amy Tan

Two Kinds

John Updike


CONNECTION: James Joyce, A&P

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Harrison Bergeron

Alice Walker

Everyday Use

COMMENTARY: Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston: A Cautionary Tale and a Partisan View

CONNECTION: Zora Neale Hurston, Sweat

Eudora Welty

A Worn Path

COMMENTARY: Eudora Welty, Is Phoenix Jackson's Grandson Really Dead?

William Carlos Williams

The Use of Force

Tobias Wolff

Say Yes


8. What is a poem?

Marianne Moore, Poetry (1935)

*Pablo Neruda, Poetry

Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica

Ann Menebroker, A Mere Glimpse

*Fred Voss, How Many Times Can We Follow Dante Down Into Hell?

*Victor Hernado Cruz today is a day of great joy

*Commentary: James Tate, "Like it or not we are a part of our time."

9. Reading, Thinking, and Writing about Poetry

Reading Poetry

Close Reading


Guidelines for Reading Poetry

Sample Close Reading — Linda Pastan, To a Daughter Leaving Home

Critical Thinking about Poetry

Writing about Poetry

Sample Paper A Moving Lyric: Pastan's "To a Daughter Leaving Home"


Emily Dickinson, A word is dead



Walt Whitman, A Farm Picture



A. E. Housman, Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

*Georgia Douglas Johnson, I Want to Die While You Love me

A Range of Rhyme

Stevie Smith, Not Waving but Drowning

Connection: Anne Sexton, An Obsessive Combination of Ontological Inscape, Trickery and Love

Rhymed Poems for Further Reading

Sir Thomas Wyatt, They Flee from Me

Ben Jonson, On My First Son

Robert Herrick, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

*Robert Browning, A Woman's Last Word

*e. e. cummings, when God lets my body be

Theodore Roethke, My Papa's Waltz

*Anne Sexton, And One for My Dame

*Dana Gioia, Summer Storm

Rhyme and Popular Songs

Lou Reed, Chelsea Girls

*Natalie Merchant, Jealousy

*Writing about Rhyme

*Useful Terms to Remember


*Edgar Lee Masters, Petit, the Poet

Accent and Meter

*Mary Coleridge, A Clever Woman

*Ralph Waldo Emerson, from The Humble Bee

*Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from The Song of Hiawatha

*Christina Rossetti, What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow

Blank Verse

*Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Books, books, books!

The Stanza

*Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Life

Poems for Further Reading

*Thomas Hood, from The Bridge of Sighs

*Mary Coleridge, Eyes

*Thomas Hardy, I need not go

*Robert Hayden, A Road in Kentucky

*Writing about Poetic Meter

*Useful Terms to Remember



*Carl Sandburg, Grass

Edwin Arlington Robinson, Miniver Cheevy

Edwin Arlington Robinson, Richard Cory

Words and Their Meaning

Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky

Denotative and Connotative Meaning




Elizabeth Bishop, The Bight

A Close Reading of The Bight

Figurative and Literal Language

Simile and Metaphor

*William Carlos Williams, To Waken an Old Lady


John Keats, To Autumn

Rolf Aggestam , Lightning Bolt

*Les Murray, The Cows on Killing Day

* Other Figures of Speech

Symbol, Apostrophe, Metonymy, Synecdoche, Paradox, Oxymoron, Hyperbole, Understatement

Poems for Further Reading

*Sylvia Plath, Metaphors

*Louis Gluck, The Wild Iris

*Kate Gleason, After Fighting for Hours

*Writing about Tone and Figurative Language

*Useful Terms to Remember


*The Structural Elements: The Couplet, Stanza, Quatrain, Octave, Tercet

Narrative Poetry

The Ballad

Ballads for Further Reading

Anonymous, The Daemon Lover

Anonymous, Barbara Allan

*Amy Lowell, Evelyn Ray

The Ode

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

The Elegy

Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

*Theodore Roethke, Elegy for Jane

The Sonnet

William Shakespeare, That time of year thou mayst in me behold

Sonnets for Further Reading

Francisco Petrarch, Love's Inconsistency

*Lady Mary Wroth, When last I saw thee, I did not thee see

John Donne, Death, Be Not Proud

William Wordsworth, Upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How Do I Love Thee?

Countee Cullen, Yet I Do Marvel

*Edna St. Vincent Millay, What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

*Gwendolyn Brooks, The Rites for Cousin Vit

*June Jordan, Something Like A Sonnet for Phillis Miracle Wheatley

The Sestina and the Villanelle

Elizabeth Bishop, Sestina

Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Dramatic Poetry

*William Shakespeare, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow", from Macbeth

The Dramatic Monologue

Robert Browning My Last Duchess

The Pattern Poem

George Herbert, Easter Wings

*Guillame Apollinaire, Hail World

*Guillame Apollinaire, It's Raining

*The Epigram, the Aphorism, and the Limerick

Dorothy Parker, from A Pig's Eye View of Literature: The lives and Times of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and George Gordon, Lord Byron

*James Richardson, from Vectors: Five Hundred Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays

Dylan Thomas, The last time I slept with the Queen

Wendy Cope, "The fine English poet, John Donne"

J. Walker, On T. S. Eliot's Prufrock

Richard Leighton Green, Apropos Coleridge's Kubla Khan

A. Cinna, On Hamlet

*Poems for Further Reading

Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress

William Wordsworth, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

*Christina Rossetti, A Birthday

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses


Erica Jong, Devouring Time: Shakespeare's Sonnets;

Percy Bysshe Shelley, from A Defence of Poetry;

* Writing about Poetic Forms

*Useful Terms to Remember


*H. D., The Pool


Imagist Poems for Further Reading

Ezra Pound, In a Station at the Metro

T. E. Hulme, Images

*D. H. Lawrence, The White Horse

H. D., Oread

*Amy Lowell, Meeting House Hill

William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow

Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

*Classical Chinese Verse and Japanese Haiku

*Li Ta'I Po, A Song of Changgan

*Ezra Pound, The River Merchant's Wife, A Letter

*Charles Wright After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard

*An Introduction to Haiku

*Yone Noguchi, "Bits of song . . ."

*Matsuo Basho, The summer grass —

Down this road

It's spring

Old pond

*Lafcadio Hearne, Old Pond

*Taniguchi Buson, On the anniversary of Basho's death

The sparrow chirps

*Kobayashi Issa, Sitting with my father

Children's imitations of cormorants

*Masaoka Shiki, A thawed pond

Night and again

Some Contemporary Haiku

ert Spiess, an aging willow

Ronald Baatz, as though the whole earth

*Matsuo Allard, an icicle the moon

*Alexis Rotella, just friends

*John Carley, buoyed up on the rising tide

*Cheryl Savageau, Department of Labor Haiku

Poetry in Open Form and the Lyric Poem

*The Lyric Poem Today

*Philip Levine, The Lost Angel

*Confessional Mode

*Anne Sexton, The Fortress

*Connections: See Marilyn Chin, Audre Lorde, Sharon Olds , Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Alicia Suskin Ostriker

The Prose Poem

Marcia Southwick, A Star Is Born in the Eagle Nebula

*Eve Wood, Recognition

*Claribel Alegria, Carmen Bomba: Poet

Poems for further study

*Judith Ortiz Cofer, Quincineara

Li-Young Lee, Eating Alone

Nick Carbo, American Adobo

Marisa de los Santos, Because I Love You,

*Luis J. Rodriguez, Carrying My Tools

Commentaries: Ezra Pound, On the Principles of Imagism

*Amy Lowell, Vers libre (free verse), a verse/form based on cadence

*Writing About Other Poetic Forms

*Useful Terms to Remember


John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer




Samuel Charters, A Man Dancing Alone on an Island in Greece



Leigh Hunt, Jenny Kissed Me

T. S. Kerrigan, Elvis Kissed Me


*Philip Larkin, This Be The Verse

*Carol Rumens, This Be The Verse (Philip Larkin)

Address and Tribute

Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California

Commentary: Marilyn Chin, On the Canon

*Writing about Poets' Responses to other Poets

16. POETS and THEIR WORLDS: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes, and Tomas Transtršmer

The World of Emily Dickinson

*Commentary: Emily Dickinson, on Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I think I was enchanted

*Elizabeth Barrett Browning, When our two souls stand up

*Emily Bronte, Last Lines

*Christina Rossetti, Remember

*Christina Rossetti, from Sing-Song


You love me — you are sure —

I'm "wife" — I've finished that —

I taste a liquor never brewed

Wild Nights — Wild Nights!

"Hope" is the thing with feathers —

*Success is counted sweetest

There's a certain slant of light

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

After Great Pain — a formal feeling comes —

Much Madness is divinest Sense

I died for Beauty — but was scarce

I heard a fly buzz — when I died —

Because I could not stop for death —

A narrow Fellow in the Grass


Thomas Wentworth Higgins, from Emily Dickinson's Letters

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, In Re Emily Dickinson

Richard Wilbur, On Emily Dickinson

The World of Robert Frost

*Commentary: Octavio Paz, Meeting Robert Frost

*Thomas Hardy, An August Midnight

*Edward Arlington Robinson, Eros Tyrannos

*Edgar Lee Masters, Mabel Osborne

*Edgar Lee Masters, Lucinda Matlock

*Edward Thomas, Early One Morning


*In White

The Pasture

Mending Wall

Home Burial


To Earthward

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The Road Not Taken

After Apple Picking


Rose C. Feld, An Interview with Robert Frost

*Carol Frost, From Sincerity and Inventions: On Robert Frost

Philip L. Gerber, On Frost's After Apple Picking

James Wright, The Music of Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The World of Langston Hughes

Commentaries from the Harlem Renaissance

*W. E. B. DuBois, from The Souls of Black Folk

Alain Locke, from The New Negro


Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers

James Weldon Johnson, The Creation

Angelina Weld Grimke, The Black Finger

Angelina Weld Grimke, Tenebris

*Claude McKay, The Tropics in New York

Claude McKay, If We Must Die

*Jean Toomer, Lyrics from Cane

Countee Cullen, From Heritage

Countee Cullen, Incident


Mother to Son


*Love Again Blues

I, Too

Song for a Dark Girl

House in the World


Langston Hughes, A Toast to Harlem

Jessie Fauset, Meeting Langston Hughes

Arnold Rampersad, Langston Hughes as Folk Poet

A Conversation about Tomas Transtromer


W. H. Auden

Musee des Beaux Arts

Stop All the Clocks

Lay your sleeping head, my love

Elizabeth Bishop



The Fish

One Art

Commentary, Brett C. Millier, On Elizabeth Bishop's One Art

William Blake

from Songs of Innocence: Introduction

The Lamb

Holy Thursday

The Little Boy Lost

The Little Boy Found

from Songs of Experience: Introduction

The Sick Rose

The Tyger


A Poison Tree

The Garden of Love

Anne Bradstreet

To My Dear and Loving Husband

Before the Birth of One of Her Children

In Memory of My Dear Grand-Child Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who

Deceased August, 1665, Being a
Year and a Half Old

Gwendolyn Brooks

We Real Cool

The Mother

The Bean Eaters

Connection: Robert Hayden, On Negro Poetry

Marilyn Chin

How I Got That Name

*Sad Guitar

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Kubla Khan, or, a Vision in a Dream

Frost at Midnight

Connection: Richard Leighton Green, Apropos Coleridge's Kubla Khan

Billy Collins

*The Only Day in Existence

Momento Mori


e. e. Cummings

somewhere I have never traveled

Buffalo Bill's

*goodby betty, don't remember me

in Just—

John Donne

A Valediction: Forbidding Morning

The Sun Rising

*The Flea

Batter my heart, three-personed God

Connection: Wendy Cope, That fine English poet John Donne 

Rita Dove


The Pond, Porch-View, Six p.m.,Early Spring

T. S. Eliot

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Commentary: Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, On T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred


Connection: J. Walker, On T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" 

Louise Gluck

First Memory


Seamus Heaney


Mid-Term Break

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Windhover

Pied Beauty

God's Grandeur

Thou art indeed just, Lord

Commentary: Bernard Bergonzi, On Hopkins' The Windhover

John Keats

*Bright Star

Ode to a Nightingale

When I have fears

Robert Lowell

Skunk Hour

For the Union Dead


Commentary: Robert Lowell, An Explication of Skunk Hour

Sharon Olds

Parents Day

*I Go Back to May 1937

Sex without Love

*Commentary: Ann Charters, The Woman in the Dark Raincoat, a Reading by Sharon Olds

Sylvia Plath

Morning Song


*Commentary: Richard Wilbur, "Cottage Street, 1953"

Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

Diving into the Wreck

Anne Sexton

* Obsessive Combination of Ontological Inscape, Trickery and Love

*To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph

*Pain for a Daughter

*Connection: W. H. Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts

Gary Soto

Mexicans Begin Jogging


Waiting at the Curb, Lynwood, California, 1967

Walt Whitman

From A Song of Myself, 1, 6, 50-52

*Commentary: Walt Whitman reviews Leaves of Grass

Commentary: Ezra Pound, What I Feel about Walt Whitman

William Carlos Williams

Spring and All

*Danse Russe

*from March

*The Widow's Lament in Springtime

Connection: A Red Wheelbarrow (p. 000) and To Waken an Old Lady

*Commentary: Spirit of 76, the poet writes to a publisher

William Wordsworth

Ode: Intimations of Immortality

The world is too much with us

Commentary: William Wordsworth, From the Introduction to Lyrical Ballads

James Wright


A Blessing

Lying on a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Connection: James Wright, The Music of Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

*Commentary: Sven Birkerts, James Wright's "Hammock," A Sounding

William Butler Yeats

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Second Coming

*The Wild Swans at Coole


*In Wonder at the Natural World

*Commentary: Henry David Thoreau, from Walden, "It is difficult to begin without borrowing . . ."

*Thomas Lovell Beddoes, A Lake

*John Clare, The Sky Lark

*Robinson Jeffers, Hurt Hawks

*Mary Oliver, Sleeping in the Forest

*John Casteen, Night Hunting

Women's Consciousness, Women's Voices

*Commentary: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Aurora Leigh, "Books, books, books!"

*Ruth Stone, In an Iridescent Time

Alicia Suskin Ostriker, The Change

*Marilyn Hacker, Rondeau After a Transatlantic Telephone Call

*Anne Waldman, Stereo

*Jenny Bornholdt, The Boyfriends

*Daisy Zamora, Precisely

Black Consciousness, Black Voices

Commentary: Robert Hayden, On Negro Poetry

Phillis Wheatley, On Being Brought from Africa to America

*Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Theology

Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Sympathy

James Weldon Johnson, Sunset in the Tropics

Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays

Etheridge Knight, The Idea of Ancestry

Dudley Randall, Ballad of Birmingham

*Allen Polite, Song

Amiri Baraka, Legacy

Audre Lorde, Hanging Fire

Lucille Clifton, to miss ann

*Poetry of Protest and Social Concern

Commentary: David Wojahn, On Political Poetry

Nikki Giovanni, Adulthood

Carolyn Forche, The Colonel

*Pat Mora, Elena

Joan Jobe Smith, Feminist Arm Candy for the Mafia

Fred Voss, I Once Needed a Chance Too

*Sarah Holbrook, Canvassing

*Turning Protest into Song

*Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind

*Country Joe McDonald, I-Feel-Like-I'm Fixin'-To-Die Rag

The Faces of War

*Commentary: Stephen Crane, from The Red Badge of Courage

*Herman Melville, Shiloh

Stephen Crane, War is Kind

Thomas Hardy, The Man He Killed

Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est

Randall Jarrrell, The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

Ed Webster, from San Joaquin Valley Poems

*Forest Hamer, My Father's Vietnam Tour Near Over

19. Contemporary Movements in Poetry

Poetry of the Beat Generation

Commentary: John Clellon Holmes, from This is the Beat Generation

*Bonnie Bremser, Artist Meeting with the Beats, from Poets and Odd Fellows

*Ray Bremser, Blues for BonnieÑTake 1, January 1960

*Allen Ginsberg, Sunflower Sutra

*Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dog

*Frank O'Hara, The Day Lady Died

*Diane Di Prima, Revolutionary Letter #3

Gregory Corso, I am 25

*Edward Sanders, After a Year of Isolation

Poetry of the Chaps and Zines

Commentary: Gerald Locklin, The Small Presses and Little Magazines, A Few Reflections

Ann Menebroker, Repossessed

*Tom Kryss, Things Thrown Away

a. levy, perhaps (#5)

*Robert E. McDonough, Resume

*Susan Grimm, Things I Can Know

Joan Jobe Smith, The Carol Burnett Show

Ronald Baatz, The Oldest Songs

Gerald Locklin, So It Goes

*Gerald Locklin, Friday Night Lights

*Writing about Themes in Poetry


20. What is a Play?

August Strindberg, The Stronger

21. Reading, Thinking and Writing about Drama

Reading Drama

Guidelines for Reading Drama

Sample Close Reading — August Strindberg, The Stronger

Critical Thinking about Drama

Writing about Drama

Sample Paper — A Reader's Response to the Opening Lines of Strindberg's The Stronger

22. The Elements of Drama

Anton Chekhov, A Monologue






Willy Russell, Educating Rita [excerpt]

*Questions for Critical Thinking about Drama

*Writing about the Elements of Drama

*Useful Terms to Remember

23. Plays and Playwrights


Oedipus the King

COMMENTARIES: Aristotle, On the Elements and General Principles of Tragedy

Sigmund Freud, The Oedipus Complex

*Fitzgerald on Translating Sophocles

William Shakespeare

* A Midsummer Night's Dream

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

CONNECTION: CONVERSATION ON HAMLET ÐBullough, Keats, Greenblatt, Stoppard, Gielgud, Lahr, Pennington

Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House

COMMENTARIES: Henrik Ibsen, Notes for A Doll House

George Bernard Shaw, On A Doll House

Joan Templeton, Is A Doll House a Feminist Text?

Liv Ullmann, On Preforming Nora in Ibsen's A Doll House

Susan Glaspell


COMMENTARY: Leonard Mustazza, Generic Translation and Thematic Shifts in Glaspell's Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers

CONNECTIONS: Susan Glaspell, A Jury of Her Peers; Lynn Nottage, POOF!

Luigi Pirandello

*Six Characters in Search of an Author

*COMMENTARIES: Richard Gilman, Thought is a Form of Action: on Six Characters in Search of an Author

Luigi Pirandello, from Preface to Six Characters in Search of an Author

Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman

COMMENTARIES: Arthur Miller, On Death of a Salesman as an American Tragedy

Helge Normann Nilsen, Marxism and the Early Plays of Arthur Miller

Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun

COMMENTARY: Lorraine Hansberry, An Author's Reflections: Willy Loman, Walter Younger, and He Who Must Live

Lorraine Hansberry, My Shakespearean Experience

Lynn Nottage


Commentary: Lynn Nottage, On Writing POOF!

CONNECTION: Susan Glaspell, Trifles

Edwin Sanchez



Geoffery Bullough, Sources of Shakespeare's Hamlet

John Keats, From a Letter to George and Thomas Keats, 21 December 1817

Stephen Greenblatt, On the Ghost in Hamlet

Tom Stoppard, Dogg's Hamlet: The Encore

Sir John Gielgud, On Playing Hamlet

John Lahr, Review of Hamlet

*Michael Pennington, On Hamlet's Madness

*Some Help with Writing about Drama


25. Critical Perspectives and Literary Theory

Formalist Criticism
Biographical Criticism
Psychological Criticism
Mythological Criticism
Historical Criticism
Sociological Criticism
Reader-Response Criticism
Poststructuralist and Deconstructionist Criticism
Gender Criticism
Cultural Criticism
Selected Bibliography

26. Developing Your Ideas in an Essay

Keeping a Journal or Notebook to Record Your Initial Responses to the Text

Using the Commentaries to Ask New Questions about What You Have Read

Generating Ideas for Brainstorming, Freewriting, and Listing

Organizing Your Notes into a Preliminary Thesis Sentence and Outline

Writing the Rough Draft

Revising Your Essay

Sample Revised Draft: The Voice of the Storyteller in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

Making a Final Check of Your Finished Essay

Peer Review

Common Problems in Writing about Literature

Guidelines for Writing an Essay about Literature

27. Basic Types of Literary Papers


Sample Essay: An Interpretation of Langston Hughes's The Negro Speaks of Rivers


Sample Essay: Nature and Neighbors in Robert Frost's Mending Wall

Comparison and Contrast

Sample Essay: On the Differences between Susan Glaspell's Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers

Writing about the Context of Literature

28. Writing Research Papers

Three Keys to Literary Research

Finding and Focusing a Topic

Assigned Topics

Choosing Your Own Topic

Finding and Using Sources

Library Research

Using the Web for Research

Evaluating Print and Online Sources

Your Working Bibliography

Working with Sources and Taking Notes

Drafting Your Research Paper

Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting

Documenting Your Sources

MLA Format

In-Text or Parenthetical Citations

List of Works Cited

Footnotes and Endnotes

Revising Your Research Paper

Student Research Paper: Jennifer Silva, Emily Dickinson and Religion


Glossary of Literary Terms

Index of First Lines

Index of Authors and Titles

Glossary of Literary Terms

Index of First Lines/Authors and Titles


Rewards Program

Write a Review