The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read

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The Secret Life of Stories from Penn State University literature professor Michael Berube is a compelling exploration of the history of how literary narratives with characters with intellectual disabilities have been depicted in literature. The subtitle “From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read” gives the reader a general sense of what he is trying to achieve. Not every reader is capable of achieving this goal, and the book becomes more complicated and academic as one goes along.

The book to it’s credit does focus on a lot of famous books people have likely encountered. Berube spends a lot of time referencing and discussing these books, but his treatise is not necessarily for the general public or those who have intellectual disabilities. Rather, he seeks to engage those with an advanced interest in literature and disabled characters in literature. The book also has some literary jargon, but those not widely used words and literary schools can be looked up on the internet. The treatise does end with achieving an easier but more important goal of showing us what our understanding of intellectual disability has to say about the responsibilities of society and literature.


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Author Michael Bérubé
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher NYU Press
Publish Date 02-Feb-2016
ISBN 9781479823611
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2016
Category Books About Books
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