Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature

Angus Fletcher. Simon & Schuster, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3597-3
Fletcher (Cosmic Democracies), professor of story science at Ohio State’s Project Narrative, delivers an innovative take on storytelling that shows how stories “plug into different regions of our brain.” Each chapter examines a literary invention, such as “The Empathy Generator” and “The Fairy-Tale Twist,” and shows how engaging with various authors and thinkers can shed light on the way modern works of literature and pop culture are received. One chapter focuses on the “Valentine Armor,” meant to ward off heartbreak, and begins with Cervantes’s Don Quixote, which inspired the mock romance of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and led to themes in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. This blending of love and irony, Fletcher writes, is especially powerful because the two are processed in different parts of the brain, and “open our heart to other people without duping us into mistaking our own desires for the laws of reality.” The “Stress Transformer,” meanwhile, shows how Frankenstein led to such modern horror films as The Cabin in the Woods and considers the “physiological rush” from the fight-or-flight response and fictional scares. Fletcher proves that understanding the classics brings new life to the craft of literary creation. The result is a fresh take on the history of literature and a testament to the enduring power of reading. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/22/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2018-8
Book - 978-1-9821-3598-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-2020-1
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