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Edited by Boris Ford Review
Being the seventh volume of Penguin s Guide to English Literature, The Modern Age is an excellent source of information. It is a successful attempt to sketch an ordered account of writings, concerned with offering criticism rather than a standard history of literature. Its editor, Boris Ford, revealed that even if this last volume does not uncovers any new masterpieces or master-writers, it has done its critical best not to take a narrow or unsympathetic view of things . And it succeeds, in my opinion. There are four kinds of related material, which we are helped to comprehend by the presence of some questions formulated by the editor: an account of the social context of literature in the period, for which there are some questions like What has been the relationship between writer and public? . This segment of the volume offers an account on contemporary society at its interference with literature. The second related material speaks about the general characteristics of this literary period. The reader is helped to understand by the formulated question: What kind of literature has been written in this period? . The third part contains detailed studies of some of the chief writers and works in this period. Its aim is to facilitate the close and perceptive reading. At the end, in the fourth section, there is an appendix of essential facts for reference purposes. Above all, I find Frank W. Bradbrook s essay on Virginia Woolf, The Theory and Practice of Fiction, to be very useful. But, as Ford suggested, one should read this volume as a hole in order to discover its full potential. Even if contemporary literature has later offered much more than what this volume captures, The Modern Age must be read as a first step in comprehending the insides of modern writings.