Close reading is the most essential skill that literature students continue to develop across the full length of their studies. This book is the ideal guide to the practice, providing a methodology that can be used for poetry, novels, drama, and beyond. Using classic works of literature, such as Hamlet and The Great Gatsby as case studies, David Greenham presents a unique, contextual approach to close reading, while addressing key questions such as:

  • What is close reading?
  • What is the importance of the relationships between words?
  • How can close reading enhance reading pleasure?
  • Is there a method of close reading that works for all literary genres?
  • How can close reading unlock complexity?
  • How does the practice of close reading relate to other theoretical and critical approaches?

Close Reading: The Basics is formulated to bring together reading pleasure and analytic techniques that will engage the student of literature and enhance their reading experience.

chapter |7 pages


chapter |23 pages

Seven pleasures of reading

chapter |17 pages

The semantic context

chapter |16 pages

The syntactic and thematic contexts

chapter |19 pages

Getting to the crux of things

Hamlet, a case study

chapter |18 pages

The iterative context

Part 1: character and plot

chapter |20 pages

The iterative context

Part 2: sounds and rhythms

chapter |23 pages

The generic context

chapter |18 pages

The adversarial context

chapter |8 pages


Adversarial appreciation and the futures of close reading