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Michael Dirda: The Classics for Pleasure

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Published on Feb 13, 2009

"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." Thus Pulitzer prize-winning critic Michael Dirda introduces his new book, "Classics for Pleasure," a volume of short essays that "point readers to new authors and less obvious classics."

"Classics for Pleasure" is divided into 11 sections, each with seven to eight essays. The sections, with two examples cited from each, are: Playful Imaginations, S. J. Perelman and Edward Gorey; Heroes of Their Time, "Beowulf" and James Agee; Love's Mysteries, Arthurian romances and C. P. Cavafy; Words from the Wise, Lao-tse and Samuel Johnson; Everyday Magic, the classic fairy tales and Walter de le Mare; Lives of Consequence, Plutarch and Frederick Douglass; The Dark Side, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker; Traveler's Tales, Jules Verne and Isak Dinesen; The Way We Live Now, Anton Chekhov and Zora Neale Hurston; Realms of Adventure, H. Rider Haggard and Agatha Christie; and Encyclopedic Visions, Robert Burton and Philip K. Dick.

Michael Dirda, who holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University in comparative literature, started writing for the The Washington Post in 1978; in 1993, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his literary criticism. He is the author of the memoir "An Open Book," as well as several collections of essays, most recently "Bound to Please" and "Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life."

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