A book Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama by John Brereton

A book Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama by John Brereton explores three selected genres of the literature in depth, in order for a reader to understand that despite being seemingly different, fiction, poetry, and drama are still the parts of the literature in general, and therefore are all connected.

The third part of this book is entirely dedicated to drama as a genre of literature. The author plays close attention to the genre, making sure that after reading this part of the book, one will understand all of the possible details that drama has. The book contains a lot of methods, for example focusing on a specific representative of a genre, examining a museum, dedicated to the writer, watching a video, where an author from the 16th century is analyzed in a modern way, or simply knowing an author’s biography, which can help the reader understand and live through the literature, no matter what genre they read, or prefer. There is no wrong way to learn how to understand literature. Therefore, John Brereton (2017) does a significant work making sure that every reader can connect to a genre of his or her choice.

The first element, which authors considers vital to explore is action and performance in the theatrical play. In the chapter “Plays: Action and Performance” Brereton (2017) explains the meaning of the action and performance in plays. It is vital to understand the definition of the two phenomena, as well as examine what is different between them. Performance in theater means what happens on stage during the play. It involves literally everything, which is present on stage: actors, decorations, what actors say, the plot and many other elements. Dramatic action, on the other hand, is what makes the play interesting, in terms of audience engagement. It can be said that without the action, there will be no performance. It will not be interesting to look at the actors, provided they do not create action with their words, emotions, and, action directly.

As a common practice in the Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Brereton (2017) dedicates chapters to exploring the works of the most famous authors. In the third part of his book, he dedicates two chapters to exploring the infamous individuals: Sophocles and William Shakespeare. Both of the authors are one of the best representatives of the drama in their times.  Therefore, Brereton pays much attention to examining the specifics of the theater and drama in Ancient Greece and Shakespeare’s timeline. Greece is always associated with dramatic plays; therefore, exploring those times via Sophocles’s plays is an interesting decision. The chapter is built that way, so the reader understands the Ancient theater, and later gets to see what the author meant in the plays by Sophocles. Analyzing the background of the author is one of the themes in Brereton’s book.

Drama is often associated with the older works, as its best times have been before the cinema was created. Brereton (2017) makes sure to point out in the book that it has not been abandoned and still exists in the 24th chapter “Drama becomes Modern.” One of the works, which plays a big role in this chapter, is Henrik Ibsen’s Dollhouse. As an example of how drama can become modern, the author even includes the information on The Ibsen Museum in Oslo, in order to let the reader understand the play better. It is vitally important to understand the world of the author so that one can live through the written words, as he or she engages in the play. Apart from Ibsen and his notable work, Brereton (2017) includes the information explaining how the drama changes as the times change, as well as the works of other authors, such as Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.

All of the four chapters above are intertwined, just as everything is in literature. Understanding both ancient and modern theaters is important; therefore, after reading the book, the reader will connect all of the pursued information. The chapters, which focus on a specific author, will also help understand the theory, which was learned in the chapters about the most prominent features of the drama. The locales, which Brereton includes in the majority of his chapters also play a significant role in understanding the literature. Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama is the example of the book, which shows the reader that no matter how far apart the genres, times, or authors seem, there will be small details, which eventually tie all of them together. Therefore, taking four chapters out of context and analyzing them has shown that Sophocles, Shakespeare, and modern drama are all parts of the literature, more specific, drama, as a genre. Moreover, after exploring these topics, all of them will start making more sense, than they have before, either on their own or all together. Understanding the basic terms is also, with no doubts, vital. Therefore, after finding out about the difference between the action and performance in a play, and what they bring to the world of drama, one will pay more attention to every play her or she reads. In this way, every time one reads Oedipus the King, or The Tempest: O Brave New World, he or she will unconsciously analyze what exactly creates the performance in this play, and which feature plays the most significant role in creating the dramatic action.

Essay

There are thousands of genres, thousands of literary works, thousands of the cultures in the world, yet when asked about what literature is, the majority of people will answer with the similar words, regardless of their background. Literature is a single organism, in which there are millions of little pieces that contribute to this organism living. All of the little parts are different, when looked at out of context, yet in the significant context of the single organism, they are all connected. Understanding this, John Brereton (2017) created a book, called Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. In this book, the author connects three genres – fiction, poetry, and drama, showing the reader that all of the mentioned is connected.

Most likely, an average person will not name the connection between the three different genres, drama, poetry and fiction, if asked to do so. However, the connection is incredibly simple – all of them are literary genres. Despite not seeming much, it is enough to understand these genres better, in and out of the context of the literature. In every part of the book, the scheme of exploring the genre is the same – all of the possible features are explained. In this way, no matter what genre you pick,  it will be viewed through the prism of the authors, which define the genre, the most significant literary works from this genre, the period, which will help one understand the genre better, and many others. By making a clear connection between fiction, drama, and poetry, Brereton wants people to see that in the case of literature, we all speak the same language. The author states that “cultural conversation in thinking, speaking, and writing about literature is a powerful means of participating in the world around us–of playing our parts as a community and world citizens” (Brereton, 2017).

What is more, the inclusion of the different authors helps to see the connection of three chosen genres better. For example, in the second chapter of the book, which focuses on poetry, Brereton chooses sonnets by Shakespeare as the examples in the context of different chapters. The author uses Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 to understand the image in the 10th chapter, as well as using his love sonnets while exploring the literature of love in the 15th chapter.

Furthermore, Shakespeare is analyzed as an individual author in the third part of the book, called DRAMA, which examines drama as the last, yet not least genre in this book. By choosing Shakespeare as an example of the author in both parts of the book, Brereton (2017) shows that making connections is easier than one may think. It is likely that all of the readers now that Shakespeare is known for this both plays and sonnets, however, not many of us understand that it makes him a notable character in two completely different genres.

Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama is the book, which rather opens the eyes of the reader, instead of telling him or her completely new information. Many of the people, who will start reading this book, will find a lot of similar names and terms while reading it. However, the author intends to teach the reader how to make the connection between all of the literature. We may think that there is little connection between Shakespeare and Sophocles, or Sophocles and Emily Dickinson. However, the connection is clear – they all write, which makes them connected to the literature. To look at the bigger picture is to understand that the world is not something odd.  Moreover, to understand the connection between fiction, poetry, and drama, it is vital to understand the literature.

Works Cited

Brereton, John.  Living Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Pearson, 2007.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]
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