Best book to study literary theory and literary criticism? Beginning Theory by Peter Barry!
Yes, today I am deviating from my path just a little to accommodate a very important question that many of my friends who are the students of English literature eight have in their minds. I have been through this phase as well. As soon as literary theory jumps into the scene, the otherwise easy study of literature becomes a little tough and students, who are the beginners, begin facing problems. The problems mainly occur because they don't know about any book that can help them understand literary theory from the beginning or the basics. Moreover, by mistake, if you purchase any advanced books like that by Patricia Waugh or Raman Selden, you are likely to be perplexed even more.
An ideal book to study this part of English literature should be a book that begins right from the beginning itself. For instance, a book that directly ventures into the most advanced parts of theory might confuse the beginners. Peter Barry's Beginning Theory begins right from the beginning itself and it starts with the very basic argument – what is literary theory?
I am suggesting this title by Barry because I have personally studied this book and I can vouch for its authenticity and usefulness for the beginners into the studies of literary criticism and theory. The book has been simplified with the details that anyone studying literary theories would like to know. For example, the book takes you to understanding what does a critic indulged in ecocriticsm do? It will not take you into the depth of philosophical of psychological ideas surrounding theory itself. It will sail you across by feeding you the knowledge that you need and the knowledge that can help you understand what you MUST.
The book by Peter Barry, Beginning Theory, does not fall for the idea of overly perplexing things by getting into the jargon and jugglery of intellectual ideas. It is simple and it means very simple business. And that's the reason why Peter Barry is very popular author among the professors, students and even literary critics themselves. You cannot miss this authors contribution into the study of English literature if you are a beginner. The book has been recommended by many Indian literary influencers and notable by Alok Mishra, the founder of open-access English literature study platform English Literature Education. So, you can trust this book if it has been recommended by such personalities. Yes, once you understand the basics, you can go into the depths and begin picking up the books by authors who indulge in post-mortem of theories rather than explaining the basics of the readers.
So, guys, these are the reasons that make sure Beginning Theory is the best book to understand critical theories. Any student of English literature must have this book on his or her table once the classes begin to bell for theory. Once you have it, and you begin reading it chapter by chapter, you will understand what theory is without complicating yourself any more. All the best!