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"These fragments I have shored against my ruin"

The speaker of T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland utters these cryptic words amid the despair of a post-World War I Europe, a war fought according to Ezra Pound for "a botched civilization ... For two gross of broken statues, / For a few thousand battered books."

But what books they were and still are--brilliant, beautiful, painful, provocative, alive in their own time and alive in ours. Our whirlwind survey of three centuries of British literature will provide at best an aerial view of the landscape from eighteenth century satire to twentieth century absurdism, with Romanticism, Realism, and all kinds of strangeness between.

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Last Update: 3/4/2013