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How do you criticise a book?

Updated: 12/20/2022
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∙ 16y ago

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Depends on the sort of book.

If it's a novel, the traditional way is to consider 4 elements in the making of of it - Plot (or story); Characters (or people); Setting (or time and place); Style (or the way it is written).

To put it another way, you set out to answer four questions;

What? happens;

Who? does it happen to;

Where and when? does it happen;

How? does the writer demonstrate the answers to the above.

Looking at each of these elements allows you to begin an analysis of the work by taking each one separately - well, it's a beginning.

You might like also to bear in mind throughout that a critic once famously said that what a story-writer has to do is to compel from the reader the 'willing suspension of disbelief'. It's a sort of bargain. The writer says, 'None of this really happened - it's all made up. But if you are prepared to suspend your disbelief; go along with me and while you are reading, forget it isn't true, and on my part I will make it as real-sounding as I can.' Consider then if the writer is successful, and if he is, how did he do it.

There's a lot more, but that is a good way to start.

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∙ 16y ago
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