• Wonderworks

  • The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature
  • By: Angus Fletcher
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 15 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (82 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This “fascinating” (Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times best-selling author of Outliers) examination of literary inventions through the ages, from ancient Mesopotamia to Elena Ferrante, shows how writers have created technical breakthroughs - rivaling scientific inventions - and engineering enhancements to the human heart and mind.

Literature is a technology like any other. And the writers we revere - from Homer, Shakespeare, Austen, and others - each made a unique technical breakthrough that can be viewed as both a narrative and neuroscientific advancement. Literature’s great invention was to address problems we could not solve: not how to start a fire or build a boat, but how to live and love; how to maintain courage in the face of death; how to account for the fact that we exist at all.

Wonderworks reviews the blueprints for twenty-five of the most significant developments in the history of literature. These inventions can be scientifically shown to alleviate grief, trauma, loneliness, anxiety, numbness, depression, pessimism, and ennui, while sparking creativity, courage, love, empathy, hope, joy, and positive change. They can be found throughout literature - from ancient Chinese lyrics to Shakespeare’s plays, poetry to nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and crime novels to slave narratives.

A “refreshing and remarkable” (Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me: An Encounter) exploration of the new literary field of story science, Wonderworks teaches you everything you wish you learned in your English class, and “contains many instances of critical insight.... What’s most interesting about this compendium is its understanding of imaginative representation as a technology” (The New York Times).

©2021 Angus Fletcher. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about Wonderworks

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

to find them all in one place

this was one of the most intriguing books I ever read. so well done and the way it just lays it all out there. I'll be examining many of these for a long time.

7 people found this helpful

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Buyer beware

Audible has productions you listen to to fall asleep. Fortunately these are usually free sadly this is not one of them

6 people found this helpful

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a useful way of understanding storytelling

this wide ranging book applies scientific findings to help explain how and why every society needs storytelling -- and just how the methodology of storytelling has evolved over time.

4 people found this helpful

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Wow!!!

This is an amazing read. I would recommend to anyone who reads to understand the breadth of emotions that literature from Pulp Fiction to Shakespeare evoke from our souls. A very easy read. Should be required reading in middle school to encourage amazing literature inventions from high school students and beyond. A must read for psychologists to prescribe reading to mend our minds. Well done.

4 people found this helpful

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WOKE BOOK - RETURNED

This book poses as a history of literary devices, but only about 10% of the book covers same. The rest of the book is a woke/feminist reframing of literary history. When classical male writers are not being called misogynist, they're being posited as possibly having been secretly gay. Subordinate clauses are peppered with comments about equity, and the superiority of collectivism. Neuroscience buzzwords and concepts are droned into each chapter just long enough to underwhelm and overbore the listener before linking the literary device being discussed to the author's political message.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing!

As a writer and lifelong student of literature, I had hoped to gain some new insight by listening to this selection.

What I gained was so much more. it will require me to listen multiple times to gain all that I can from this book. In addition to discovering new ways to absorb literature, I was thoroughly entertained.

The writing is beautiful and engaging. I haven't thought this much, and at this depth, about literature since my honors program courses in college...and I don't mean just any of those particular courses -- I mean the best ones I ever took!

I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys the magic of literature.

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Had to return it

I really wanted to like this recording and found the content intriguing, but had to return it because of the narration. It has a repetitive sing-song tone that makes everything sound undifferentiated and bland. I look forward to reading this in print.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book! Horrible sound.

Other Audible titles play great in my car. This one had so much bass it sounded muffled. So I fiddled with the EQ settings and made a slight improvement until I wanted to listen to music and *that* sound sucked! So I fiddled with the EQ again only to go back to the book and had to fiddle with EQ settings yet again. I’ll have to make note of the voice talent and production team and avoid them in the future. After dozens of great Audible titles I finally got a truly crappy one. This book is one I wish I had purchased a physical copy from Amazon.

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Powerful

Start of the book made it's case well enough I bought the Hardcover to follow along.

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Should have been dry and boring— it was not

After you listen to this book (and you should), I think you will agree with me that it is a powerful literary invention itself. Great insights into literature and many, many pointers to books that I now know I need to read.