The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly
An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read

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Synopsis

In an age when deleted scenes from Adam Sandler movies are saved, it’s sobering to realize that some of the world’s greatest prose and poetry has gone missing. This witty, wry, and unique new book rectifies that wrong. Part detective story, part history lesson, part exposé, The Book of Lost Books is the first guide to literature’s what-ifs and never-weres.
In compulsively readable fashion, Stuart Kelly reveals details about tantalizing vanished works by the famous, the acclaimed, and the influential, from the time of cave drawings to the late twentieth century. Here are the true stories behind stories, poems, and plays that now exist only in imagination:

·Aristophanes’ Heracles, the Stage Manager was one of the playwright’s several spoofs that disappeared.
·Love’s Labours Won may have been a sequel to Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost–or was it just an alternative title for The Taming of the Shrew?
·Jane Austen’s incomplete novel Sanditon, was a critique of hypochondriacs and cures started when the author was fatally ill.
·Nikolai Gogol burned the second half of Dead Souls after a religious conversion convinced him that literature was paganism.
·Some of the thousand pages of William Burroughs’s original Naked Lunch were stolen and sold on the street by Algerian street boys.
·Sylvia Plath’s widower, Ted Hughes, claimed that the 130 pages of her second novel, perhaps based on their marriage, were lost after her death.

Whether destroyed (Socrates’ versions of Aesop’s Fables), misplaced (Malcolm Lowry’s Ultramarine was pinched from his publisher’s car), interrupted by the author’s death (Robert Louis Stevenson’s Weir of Hermiston), or simply never begun (Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, America, a second volume of his memoirs), these missing links create a history of literature for a parallel world. Civilized and satirical, erudite yet accessible, The Book of Lost Books is itself a find.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Stuart Kelly

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Stuart Kelly studied English language and literature at Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a first-class degree. He is a frequent reviewer for Scotland on Sunday and lives with his wife in Edinburgh.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published December 18, 2007 by Random House. 370 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Book of Lost Books

Publishers Weekly

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Homer's first work, alluded to by Aristotle, was supposedly a comic epic poem. Byron's memoirs were posthumously destroyed, and Ben Jonson didn't live to complete his final play, a past

Feb 06 2006 | Read Full Review of The Book of Lost Books: An In...

The New York Times

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The books in Stuart Kelly's clever and highly entertaining new book are works of literature that have somehow been lost to posterity.

May 05 2006 | Read Full Review of The Book of Lost Books: An In...

The New York Times

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Stuart Kelly digs up history's missing literary masterpieces, including a sequel to the "Odyssey" and Sylvia Plath's second novel.

Apr 30 2006 | Read Full Review of The Book of Lost Books: An In...

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