What do you look for in a classic literature review ?

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Answered by: Robert, An Expert in the Classic Literature - General Category
When a classic literature review is necessary in order to enhance a learner's understanding of a specific text, it is imperative that the source has the utmost credibility. Other important factors include having researchers who are able to use cross-curriculatory information as well as background information from related texts. In order to gain an even greater understanding of a classic literature review, the author's background and perspective will help the learner comprehend why it was written.

Knowing the events that took place in the world surrounding George Orwell in the 1940's for example, is a mandatory step in understanding why he wrote 1984 and Animal Farm. Without this background information, the reader would have trouble understanding the nazi influence as well as the totalitarian government issues which were the basis of these novels.

Gaining this information would require cross-curriculatory knowledge and research from the fields of history, social sciences, law and government. This knowledge would also require research on the author's life. Understanding where the author lived, during what era, and what influences from the world led to his perspective on these issues helps the reader understand the novel holistically.

Classic literature has been time tested and proven to be works which in most cases define an era.

Why is it important for a classic literature review to include such deep and intimate detail rather than a plot summary? If the novels are reduced to mere entertainment induced stories rather than an embodiment of historical influences, their power and place in history become effervescent. Consider the notion that many high school and college students today hear the word "slavery" but can't grasp the concept of how cruel and evil that era in history really was.

When we take it a step further and hand them a copy of the classic autobiography The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, they can now get some insight from a former slave's point of view concerning just how devastating it was. To take it a step further and assure their understanding, a review of the book must include how many printings of the book took place prior to the latest one which is commonly read today.

When the reader understands that Frederick Douglass' education didn't end when he wrote his first copy of his autobiography, but continued to grow through seven more revisions, they will understand his notion that "knowledge is power". It will be at this point that the reader will realize what Douglass wanted his audience to take away from his book- not only that slavery was a monstrous evil, but that education and life-long learning is the key to freedom in every aspect of life.

What should someone look for in a classic literature review? In a word, depth. Without delving into the facts surrounding the writer, the time and place in which he or she lived, and the circumstances surrounding and influencing their writings- the classics, as well as our history as a whole, not only becomes just a boring old story about pigs taking over a farm, but turns our future into a painful re-run.

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