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On The Art of Reading   By: (1863-1944)

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In "On The Art of Reading" by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, readers are guided through an insightful exploration of the multifaceted art of reading. Quiller-Couch, a renowned author and academic, shares his passion for literature and offers practical advice on how to approach various genres and styles.

What makes this book truly valuable is Quiller-Couch's deep understanding of the connection between the reader and the written word. He begins by acknowledging that reading is not a passive act but rather an active engagement between the author's text and the reader's interpretation. By emphasizing this dynamic interplay, Quiller-Couch seeks to empower readers to fully immerse themselves in the art of reading.

One of the book's strengths lies in Quiller-Couch's ability to dissect literature across different genres and periods. The author provides invaluable tips on how to approach poetry, novels, and plays, shedding light on the underlying techniques employed by writers. With eloquence and clarity, he breaks down complex elements such as rhythm, meter, characterization, and plot development, inviting readers to deepen their appreciation for the written word.

Moreover, Quiller-Couch's engagement with the historical context of literature is noteworthy. By placing works within their cultural and historical landscapes, he enables readers to grasp the significance of various authors and their impact on society. Through his meticulous analysis, he helps readers gain a more profound understanding of literature as a reflection of humanity's struggles, hopes, and timeless themes.

While the book delves into the technical aspects of reading, it doesn't undermine the importance of the emotional experience. Quiller-Couch frequently mentions the joy and magic of escaping into the world of a good book, reminding readers not to lose sight of the enchantment that lies within literary works. This fusion of intellectual analysis and emotional connection demonstrates the author's ability to engage readers on both an intellectual and personal level.

However, it is worth noting that the book was written over a century ago, and some of the references and examples may feel outdated to modern readers. Despite this, Quiller-Couch's insights remain valuable and timeless. The book's language and style also reflect the era in which it was written, which might not resonate with readers seeking a more contemporary voice.

In conclusion, "On The Art of Reading" is a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their reading experience. Quiller-Couch's passion, knowledge, and reverence for literature shine through each chapter, making this book a compelling read for both aspiring and seasoned readers. By offering practical advice while also delving into the emotional and historical dimensions of literature, the author successfully creates a comprehensive guide that can deepen anyone's appreciation for the art of reading.

First Page:




All rights reserved

Copyrighted in the United States of America by G. P. Putnam's Sons

All rights reserved

On The Art of Reading


Sir Arthur Quiller Couch



TO H. F. S. and H. M. C.

First edition 1920 reprinted 1920,1921 Pocket edition 1924 reprinted 1925, 1928, 1933, 1939


The following twelve lectures have this much in common with a previous twelve published in 1916 under the title "On the Art of Writing" they form no compact treatise but present their central idea as I was compelled at the time to enforce it, amid the dust of skirmishing with opponents and with practical difficulties.

They cover and to some extent, by reflection, chronicle a period during which a few friends, who had an idea and believed in it, were fighting to establish the present English Tripos at Cambridge. In the end we carried our proposals without a vote: but the opposition was stiff for a while; and I feared, on starting to read over these pages for press, that they might be too occasional and disputatious. I am happy to think that, on the whole, they are not; and that the reader, though he may wonder at its discursiveness, will find the argument pretty free from polemic... Continue reading book >>

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