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Competitive examinations have no prescribed text books. Only the syllabus of the examination comes along with the notification. Thus, the reference goes in infinity. But with regards to English Literature, few books might help the candidate to get an idea of what they are learning and why the author does states this. There is no guarantee that success can be attained easily with a book. To taste success, one must have interest and passion and the process of learning must be stable and in depth. Turning a page of two is a complete waste of time, but getting to know what is stated in those pages makes the candidate gain confidence on qualifying the examination.

Books Out comes
The Routledge History of Literature in English
Britain and Ireland
The learner will find the growth of genres, themes and development of Language. The works of the major writers and their specific pattern of writing are dealt in the Book. Most significantly, the context of a particular period is explained in an elaborate manner.
A Critical History Of English Literature – Volume I ,II (David Daiches)


This huge two volume book is a treasure for Literature students and a must have book for Literature passionates. The book has stitched each and every peculiar and intricate detail of the age, writer, works, sub-title, themes in a unique manner. The major reason to go through the pages at least once is because the book encloses both major and minor writers of the age.
An Outline History of English Literature 

(Hudson or William J. Long)


It is advised to read minimum of Three books dealing with British History. The books of Hudson and Long are easy to read and cover an overall view of the respective time period. As the language of the text is easy, it sounds like a tale and it is promised that Literature learners who are in Stage 1 will like the book. It is a primary level text that does not leap immediately into Literature. Instead, it moves slowly from pages to pages talking widely about prominent works of the age.

Beginning Theory (Peter Barry)


Literary Theory and Criticism is emerging as a huge area in Competitive exams, often kept aside by individuals. Peter Barry’s book gives and outlines about Literary Movements and their contribution to the field of Literature. It also deals largely about Legendry figures and their unique ideas which are still an object of study in Literature.

A Glossary of Literary Terms (M.H. Abrams)


The book covers a vast range of terms in alphabetical order, to make the learners easy to find a word. Major terms which are studied remain as a term without a proper understanding. The book in a very common language explains a word in a paragraph with a simple example, for better understanding

An Introduction to English Criticism (B.Prasad)


Ancient criticism has never faded, but finds a place in examinations. B.Prasad’s book provides an outline of criticism from ancient to modern with enough proofs from the authentic text and chapters.


Apart from these primary textbooks for better idea, questions are asked from the Plays of Shakespeare, Subtitles, Indian Aesthetics, Literature beyond boundaries, year of publications, who published and where, Pen names and characters.

How to learn?

Creating own notes helps a lot during the examination, as the brain has the memory of what is being written. As an individual prepares notes a constant cross check of memory is required.

For example: If you create notes about Hamlet

Step 1: Read a basic summary

Step 2: Read the prominent quotations with enough knowledge about the act number and scene

Step 3: Get to know the speaker and listener

Step 4: Attempt an online quiz on Hamlet

Penning down notes and attempting online quiz can guarantee a good result. Listening and Writing mush be emphasized as these two skills play a major role in competitive examinations. Writing down notes, researching on maximum number of topics, creating codes to remember and test in which answers can be accessed must be done on regular basis.

Books do not equal success. But reading a book and preparing notes and working on it is a definite success that can be proclaimed.

Vineet Pandey

2 JRF,8 NET, and 17 SET

(Ex Asst. Professor of the University of Delhi)

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