Angus Fletcher's strikingly original book is a pleasure to read. It offers a wide-ranging reflection on literature's power to heal the human mind's distress and lead it on the path to wise self-assurance. In order to reach this praiseworthy end, Fletcher inspects the three main purposes of literature, to instruct, to delight, and to generate feelings, which had been defined long ago by ancient thinkers—docere, delectare, movere, in Cicero's terms—and are each presented in a new, unexpected and persuasive way.

Usually, books about literature focus on a few texts that share the same topic or come from the same culture or period. Fletcher's arguments, by contrast, rely on a large number of literary works, the older ones coming from a variety of traditions, while the recent ones include renowned grand pieces smartly joined with popular novels, movies, TV shows, and comic books.

Reading Wonderworks, one feels like...

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