By William Allan
Review by Delia (Classics)
This is a book which I really wish I had read before I came to Oxford! It was published by my tutor this year, and provides a really useful insight into Greek and Latin literature. He covers a huge range of genres, and lets the reader learn about a great variety of topics and authors without being bombarded with too much peripheral information; the book is also fantastic for its handy comparisons to contemporary literature, particularly when dealing with slightly less well known authors. I think one of the perhaps most daunting aspects of Classical literature is the breadth of subjects and genres, but this book is a superb way to gain knowledge and understanding which allows you to feel inspired to read more deeply into the writers who are less frequently studied at school.
This book could also be used as a tool to find out a little more about the tutorial system. As I said at the start, William Allan is actually my tutor and teaches me every week, and his book reflects his teaching style in many ways. The links he draws are of the sort that we discuss in our tutorials, and I think reading this more accessible form of literary criticism is fantastic for appreciating a bit more about how students approach texts at university levels. Overall, I cannot recommend this book highly enough – it would be invaluable for someone thinking of studying Classics, and is not too long so can be easily read in one go, or dipped in to when you like!
Classical Literature: A Short Very Introduction by William Allan