The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read

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Random House Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - History - 368 pages
6 Reviews
In an age when deleted scenes from Adam Sandler movies are saved, it’s sobering to realize that some of the world’s greatest prose and poetry has gone missing. This witty, wry, and unique new book rectifies that wrong. Part detective story, part history lesson, part exposé, The Book of Lost Books is the first guide to literature’s what-ifs and never-weres.
In compulsively readable fashion, Stuart Kelly reveals details about tantalizing vanished works by the famous, the acclaimed, and the influential, from the time of cave drawings to the late twentieth century. Here are the true stories behind stories, poems, and plays that now exist only in imagination:

·Aristophanes’ Heracles, the Stage Manager was one of the playwright’s several spoofs that disappeared.
·Love’s Labours Won may have been a sequel to Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost–or was it just an alternative title for The Taming of the Shrew?
·Jane Austen’s incomplete novel Sanditon, was a critique of hypochondriacs and cures started when the author was fatally ill.
·Nikolai Gogol burned the second half of Dead Souls after a religious conversion convinced him that literature was paganism.
·Some of the thousand pages of William Burroughs’s original Naked Lunch were stolen and sold on the street by Algerian street boys.
·Sylvia Plath’s widower, Ted Hughes, claimed that the 130 pages of her second novel, perhaps based on their marriage, were lost after her death.

Whether destroyed (Socrates’ versions of Aesop’s Fables), misplaced (Malcolm Lowry’s Ultramarine was pinched from his publisher’s car), interrupted by the author’s death (Robert Louis Stevenson’s Weir of Hermiston), or simply never begun (Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, America, a second volume of his memoirs), these missing links create a history of literature for a parallel world. Civilized and satirical, erudite yet accessible, The Book of Lost Books is itself a find.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

A great tour-de-force by Kelly as he spans millennia covering writers, famous and obscure, throughout history that have had their writing misplaced or destroyed for whatever reason. Homer ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dono421846 - LibraryThing

Full marks for research, but at times I felt that his treatment of "lost" wobbled a bit. The core meaning, of course, is that completed manuscripts have gone missing, and vanished from history. But he ... Read full review

Contents

Anonymous
3
Hesiod
15
Sappho
23
Aeschylus
30
Sophocles
40
Agathon
46
Xenocles and Others
53
Callimachus
60
William Slialcespeare
139
Iohn lilton
175
Ilzara Suilculcu
192
Edward Gibbon
208
Iames Hogg
222
lane Austen
235
Thomas Carlyle
244
Charles Dickens
260

Longinus
69
Origen
75
Fulgcntiu
86
rlnnal adDaqiqi
99
lohn Skelton
120
F yodor Dostoyevslzy
275
Arthur Rimbaud 193
293
Kulea
311
Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV
327
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About the author (2007)

Stuart Kelly studied English language and literature at Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a first-class degree. He is a frequent reviewer for Scotland on Sunday and lives with his wife in Edinburgh.


From the Hardcover edition.

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