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The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books… (2005)

av Stuart Kelly

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
6941624,186 (3.33)13
A "clever and highly entertaining" look at books through history that were stolen, went missing, or just never got written (The New York Times).   In an age when deleted scenes from Adam Sandler movies are saved, it's sobering to realize that some of the world's great prose and poetry has gone missing. This witty and unique new book rectifies that wrong. Part detective story, part history, part exposé, The Book of Lost Books is the first guide to literature's what-ifs and never-weres.   In compulsively readable fashion, this book reveals details about tantalizing vanished works by the famous, acclaimed, and influential, from the time of cave drawings to the late twentieth century. Here are 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, 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, satirical, erudite yet accessible, The Book of Lost Books is a real find.… (mer)
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» Se även 13 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 16 (nästa | visa alla)
Interesting premise, but an extremely dry book. I usually like reading books about books and reading, but this one did not really engage me. The idea of looking at "missing" books (i.e. books mentioned in other books but that did not survive) is an interesting one. However, this book mostly lists things, which after a while does get a bit tiresome. An ok book, but not one I would really recommend unless you are some hardcore bibliophile or history buff. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
This book turned out to be completely different than I expected. It doesn't mean it is bad, not at all. But I am still a bit disappointed.

I have recently read several non-fiction books although I usually stick to fiction. I generally liked those books. And then I came across this book and I liked the idea of it. A book about books that have been lost and which we will never read. Cool.

And that's what this book is about. It consists of short, several-page chapters devoted to different writers in chronological order. Great idea and nice execution. One can see the author's fascination with the whole topic and the very detailed research he conducted.

So why am I disappointed? Because I was expecting to sit down and just read this book quickly just as I do with my fiction (and as I did with my non-fiction books recently). The topic definitely interested me, the chapters are short. Nothing should stop me. But it did not happen.

I wonder what exactly is wrong and it seems to me that this book simply lacks some unique charm. That lightness and humor that you find for example in the books of Bill Bryson. I read one short chapter, sometimes no more than four pages, and I didn't feel the need to start another one. What's more, when I tried to read a few chapters one by one, I lost my concentration, I stopped focusing on the text. I wasn't able to sit down and read 40 or 50 pages at once. Is it bad? No. It's just not a book you read all at once. Rather, one that you read for two, three months, several pages a day with breaks for some other readings. That’s all.

And I just wasn't in the mood for something like that. I try hard for it not to affect my overall rating of this book. But the truth is I read better books. This one is not bad, just not for me I think. Still, love the whole idea. ( )
  Sarielle | Jan 15, 2020 |
What's funny is that this would be the perfect blog/twitter feed, but it's almost overwhelming as a book. After a certain point, it's hard to focus on the litany of famous authors who may or may not have even written a book, who lost their juvenilia at a train station (okay, that was Hemingway), who we only know exist because Francis Meres who wrote about Shakespeare wrote about them, et cetera. As a blog where one can pick the people one cares about to read about what works were lost, it would be a lot less overwhelming. Now, if you care about lost works, this is the perfect book and if you're not reading all the way through, it's fun and funny, just hard to read in one sitting. ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 24, 2018 |
i miei occhi sono al lumicino; quindi drastiche scelte caudine: o si passa alle prime trenta pagine o si viene scartati.Questo libro ricade nel secondo caso. Troppo fragile e un po' scontato: sarà per la prossima vita, Amen.
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
I tried, I really did. 6 weeks and 3 library renewals, but ultimately I just ended up skimming through the last half, flipping through and reading bits about certain authors.

I was hoping for something more anecdotal, but this book is much denser and much more targeted at people who take literature Seriously. The writing is dryer than I like and almost academic.

The book deserves a higher rating; it's obvious the author is passionate about his subject, I'm just not the proper audience for it. ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 10, 2016 |
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Hence, perpetually and essentially, texts run the risk of becoming definitively lost. Who will ever know of such disappearances?
—Jacques Derrida
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This book is for Sam, who found me
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My mother claims it started with the Mr. Men series of children's books.
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A "clever and highly entertaining" look at books through history that were stolen, went missing, or just never got written (The New York Times).   In an age when deleted scenes from Adam Sandler movies are saved, it's sobering to realize that some of the world's great prose and poetry has gone missing. This witty and unique new book rectifies that wrong. Part detective story, part history, part exposé, The Book of Lost Books is the first guide to literature's what-ifs and never-weres.   In compulsively readable fashion, this book reveals details about tantalizing vanished works by the famous, acclaimed, and influential, from the time of cave drawings to the late twentieth century. Here are 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, 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, satirical, erudite yet accessible, The Book of Lost Books is a real find.

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