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Literary Taste: How to Form It

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Literary Taste: How to Form it is a long essay by Arnold Bennett, first published in 1909, with a revised edition by his friend Frank Swinnerton appearing in 1937. It includes a long list of recommended books, every item individually costed.

Both the essay and the list were very influential, although Bennett's decision to include only books originally written in English (along with a handful of Latin works) makes it extremely insular compared with most other attempts at compiling a literary canon.[citation needed]


  1. The Aim
  2. Your Particular Case
  3. Why a Classic is a Classic
  4. Where to Begin
  5. How to Read a Classic (using Charles Lamb's Dream Children)
  6. The Question of Style
  7. Wrestling with an Author
  8. System in Reading
  9. Verse (Hazlitt's On Poetry in General, Isaiah ch. 40, Wordsworth's The Brothers, E. Browning's Aurora Leigh)
  10. Broad Counsels


Period IV only appears in the second edition by Swinnerton.

The symbol * denotes first edition only. The symbol † denotes second edition only.

Period I (to 1700)[edit]



Period II (1700-1800)[edit]



Period III (1800-1900)[edit]




Period IV (1900-1935)†[edit]

Novelists and dramatists[edit]

Other prose[edit]


Appendix (Penguin edition)[edit]

The Penguin edition of 1938 included an appendix of books they were offering in paperback for sixpence a volume. Those not already appearing above were:

External links[edit]