ADVANCE PRAISE FOR 'CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE' 'It is hard to think of another writer who loves books so passionately, who has such broad tastes and impeccably high standards--and who writes about literature with such intelligence, generosity, and enthusiasm. Michael Dirda is a cultural treasure.' --Francine Prose 'Michael Dirda's honest and careful perceptions have been crafted for people who read. He has the wonderful ability to make us feel as intelligent as he is.'--Guy Davenport'This book is full of short, sharp loving Shocks of Appreciation, cunningly arranged in sequences we would have never dreamed up--I doubt George Meredith, C P Cavafy, Georgette Heyer and Anna Akhmatova have ever been juxtaposed before--but which add up to a vision far greater than the sum of its parts..'--John Clute'Michael Dirda is the best-read person in America. But he doesn't rub it in.'--Michael Kinsley, 'Time' columnist and former editor of 'Slate' 'Classics for pleasure? To some readers this may seem an oxymoron. Aren't classics supposed to be difficult, esoteric, and probably a little boring? . . . I sympathize with this common view, even if it is largely wrong. Classics are classics not because they are educational, but because people have found them worth reading, generation after generation, century after century. More than anything else, great books speak to us of our own all-too-real feelings, confusions and daydreams 'This is not, your father's--or your mother's--list of classics. In these delightful essays, Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda introduces nearly ninety of the world's most entertaining books. Writing with affection as well as authority, Dirda covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as of biography and history, poetry and children's literature. Organized thematically, these are the works that have shaped our imaginations and inspired our dreams and adventures. Here are Sappho's yearnings and the Arthurian romances, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the ghost stories of M. R. James, the classic fairy tales and the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer. Dirda approaches each of his chosen titles as a passionate reader rather than as a critic or scholar. He points us to new authors, less familiar classics, and genre titles often excluded from the canon. Whether writing about Petronius or S. J. Perelman, H. P. Lovecraft or the Icelandic sagas, Michael Dirda makes literature come alive. Full of surprises and wit, 'Classics for Pleasure 'is a perfect companion for any reading group or lover of books. In these essays, Dirda introduces nearly 90 of the world's most entertaining books. Writing with affection and authority, he covers masterpieces of fantasy and science fiction, horror and adventure, as well as epics, history, essay and children's literature.