Signs Taken for Wonders

Signs Taken for Wonders:Essays in the Sociology of Literary Forms

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A compelling account of the relations between high and mass culture, across various genres

Shakespearean tragedy and Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and Ulysses, Frankenstein and The Waste Land—all are celebrated “wonders” of modern literature, whether in its mandarin or popular form. However, it is the fact that these texts are so central to our contemporary notion of literature that sometimes hinders our ability to understand them. Franco Moretti applies himself to this problem by drawing skillfully on structuralist, sociological and psycho-analytic modes of enquity in order to read these texts as literary systems which are tokens of wider cultural and political realities. In the process, Moretti offers us compelling accounts of various literary genres, explores the relationships between high and mass culture in this century, and considers the relevance of tragic, Romantic and Darwinian views of the world.


  • A sheer intelligence animates the pages of Mr Moretti’s work.

    Edward Said
  • Breathtaking ... Moretti’s radiant intelligence can catch you off guard.

    San Francisco Review of Books