The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

by Steven J. Venturino
Alpha Books/Penguin/DK, 2013

Used in colleges and college-prep courses in the US, AS/A2 prep in the UK, and by interested readers and writers everywhere.

Paperback and e-book available at,, Amazon, and your local library.


. . . You’ll see.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

Literary interpretation can be a complex topic. But this lively and entertaining guide takes the intimidation out of it, offering an easy-to-understand examination of literary theory’s central arguments, key figures, and fascinating history. From Plato to ecocriticism, this helpful guide gives you everything you need to know to really understand literature–plus hundreds of references to novels, stories, poems, plays, and more.

“A very readable, and–would you believe it–extremely enjoyable introduction to literary theory. This book presents complex thoughts in easily graspable and quite memorable sentences. Guaranteed to appeal to anyone who loves to juggle with concepts and ideas.” – Monika Fludernik, PhD, Professor of English, University of Freiburg.

“Never more serious than when cracking a joke, Steven J. Venturino banishes dullness and gets to the point of literary theory, which has always been to spark the delight of understanding.” – Haun Saussy, PhD, University Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Chicago.

“Who would have thought that this otherwise forbidding field of study could be presented in such a clear-sighted and above all entertaining manner?  Professor Venturino is clearly master of his domain, dispensing the finer points of Russian Formalism, Post-Structuralism and their ilk as if over a casual meeting of donuts and coffee. That said, after reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, I’ve decided to take my stand with the so-called New Critics:  it’s really all about the text, and a mighty fine one this is. I even purchased additional copies for my writing staff – Saturday morning cartoons may never be the same.” – Duane Capizzi, Writer/Producer (Transformers PrimeSuperman: DoomsdayJackie Chan Adventures).

Note for Instructors
Guide for Book Clubs

My Excellent Twitter Reviews for #TLSAPP

Presented here in all their glory, and in order from first to last, are my losing entries for the TLS tweet-a-book-review contest. A good time was had by all, I think, even though one week’s ringer, I mean winner, actually writes for the TLS. I know!

Here’s to Alex Drace-Francis (@AlexDrace), who was singled out by the TLS for honorable mentions three weeks in a row, and the impressively prolific Basant (@KangriCarrier), whose thumbs by now must be tweeted to the bone.  As for me, I managed to snag honorable mentions for my first two entries (special thanks to @kmziegler for the assist with Middlemarch). All gems, though.

Continue Reading