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A Short Analysis of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

An introduction to a classic play

The plot of Sophocles’ great tragedy Oedipus the King (sometimes known as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus Tyrannos) has long been admired. In his Poetics, Aristotle held it up as the exemplary Greek tragedy. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it one of the three perfect plots in all of literature (the other two being Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones). Oedipus the King might also be called the first detective story in Western literature. Yet how well do we know Sophocles’ play? And what does a closer analysis of its plot features and themes reveal? Read the rest of this entry

Five of the Best Books about Literary Theory

The best introductions to literary theory

Most English Literature students will encounter, at some point during their English degree, that strange beast known as ‘literary theory’. Whether it’s postmodernism or poststructuralism, feminism or postcolonialism, Marxism or reader-response theory, ‘literary theory’ (or, sometimes, ‘critical theory’) will rear its imposing head somewhere on the average degree course. Below are five of the most accessible and helpful introductions to studying literary theory. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Epicurus

Fun facts about the philosopher Epicurus

1. Much of what we know about Epicurus’ philosophy is wrong. Epicureanism, the name of the philosophy inspired by the teachings of the philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC), is commonly understood to mean seeking out pleasure and then enjoying things to excess – whether it’s drinking too much, eating too much, or having too much sex. But Epicurus himself was, surprisingly, quite a frugal and restrained fellow. A bit of cheese now and then was, by all accounts, the most indulgent his tastes ever got. Read the rest of this entry