Study Help: The Best Websites for...

Study Help: The Best Websites for English Literature

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Studying English literature might seem like a very easy thing, with nothing complicated about it. You just pick up a book and read it, right? Reading is a large part of the work, but it can often be more complicated than it seems. Students often need help with understanding what the texts really mean and sometimes even with just finding the texts. A library is always a good source of information in this area, but sometimes students want the convenience of looking online. But how do you find the best and most helpful websites?

When you study English literature, the first thing to do is to read the texts. You might read modern books by authors like Margaret Atwood or you might read ancient texts by authors like the Greek writer Sophocles. Most of the modern books are easy to find in bookstores and libraries, but the older ones might be a bit more difficult to find. You also might not want to spend a lot of money on buying books that you expect to read only for your classes. In many cases, you can solve this problem by finding the books online. If the book was written over seventy-five years ago, you can likely find the full text on websites like Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/), the Literature Network (http://www.literature.org/) or Adelaide e-books (http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/meta/titles/A.html).

Why are only older books available on websites like these ones? It’s because as long as the authors are alive, they or their relatives own the copyright to the work. No one is allowed to reprint it without the author’s or publisher’s permission for at least fifty or seventy-five years after the author’s death. After that, however, the literary works are normally in the public domain, which means that they can be freely republished anywhere, including on the Internet.

Finding places to read literature is the first step, but students sometimes need a bit more help. The Literature Network (http://www.online-literature.com) gives the full texts of many books and poems, but it also includes biographical and historical information. Do you need to know what Renaissance or Victorian literature was like? You can find out about these eras on the Literature Network. The site also includes quotations and many different kinds of information that can help people understand how literature reflects the history and culture of each time period.

Understanding the background to literature is essential to understanding what it is about, but sometimes readers need an even more basic level of help. Writers from previous centuries often used a vocabulary and writing style that modern readers might find difficult to understand. Sometimes, the meanings of words change from one century to another. At other times, writers from different eras wrote very complicated works with advanced vocabulary. However, there is help for people reading difficult texts. The Visual Thesaurus VocabGrabber (http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber) can help translate sections of text into something more manageable for modern readers.

If studying English literature is difficult for you, you might want to check some of these websites for information that can help you.

Leave a comment!