Bound to Please
An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education(amazon)
Michael Dirda (View Bio)
Hardcover: W. W. Norton & Co., 2004.
"The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning reviewer, critic, and essayist dares to deliver on his subtitle's outrageous claim.... [There is] the persistent feeling of shared joy in the discovery of moving and majestic literary moments.... It's his ability to drive in and extract themes, patterns, and even sweeping contexts that grip — along with bushels of literary quotes and epigrams, all keepers.... Well worth it, with manifold rewards for any serious reader." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A big collection of essays by a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, written over the last 25 years for The Washington Post's Book World, on authors from Herodotus, Rabelais and Proust to Martin Amis and A. S. Byatt. An enthusiast who doesn't hesitate to highlight the obscure, Mr. Dirda fills in blanks for readers and reading groups alike, though the subtitle leaves open the question of whether the real subject is his training or ours." — The New York Times
"[Dirda] is never less than engaging and informed.... There is an impressive generosity in his presentation of vast and sometimes highly specialized texts to a general readership. He writes authoritatively and entertainingly about Herodotus, the King James Bible, Rabelais and the ARABIAN NIGHTS. He constantly defends complexity as a pleasure to which the ordinary reader might aspire; his essays on Ruskin, Proust, Beckett and Borges are exemplary invitations. And he values scholarship in a way that is rare among critics in his position.... He is a devoted reader and a careful historian of his own reading habits." — Times Literary Supplement