The Book of Love: great novels of love and passion

Course Dates: 23/09/24 - 02/12/24
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: Keeley Street
Many of the world's greatest books – as well as many of the worst - have taken romantic love as their theme. Take this opportunity to read some of the very best - novels which explore the complexity, heartbreak and frustration as well as the ecstasy of this most powerful human emotion.
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Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00

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The Book of Love: great novels of love and passion
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  • Course Code: HLT170
  • Dates: 23/09/24 - 02/12/24
  • Time: 10:30 - 12:30
  • Taught: Mon, Daytime
  • Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Julian Birkett

Course Code: HLT170

Full Mon, day, 23 Sep - 02 Dec '24

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

In this in-college literature course we’ll be reading five novels which have become classics of the literature of the past 100 years. These will include Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, a brilliant dissection of New York high society and the passions struggling beneath its glittering surface; The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen , as much about rejection and sorrow as it is about love; The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink, a powerful love story that also addresses modern Germany’s struggle to deal with the monstrous historical crime of the Holocaust; and Norwegian Wood, the bittersweet novel of young love remembered that made an international literary star of its Japanese author, Haruki Murakami.

What will we cover?

The tribulations and the rewards of romantic love have been the staple of the novel since its birth in the 18thC. After a series of setbacks and disappointments, marriage was the characteristic conclusion of the romantic novel in the 19th century. But writers in the 20th century moved away from this formula towards an exploration of love that was more complex, sometimes dangerous, often surprising. We’ll compare the subject matter of the novels we read together, and the different ways in which writers tell their stories, putting them in the contexts – historical, cultural, economic – that shaped them.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- read books you might not have considered before
- focus on key points when discussing a literary work
- express your opinion clearly.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

You will need an enthusiasm for reading and discussing a range of texts in large and small groups.
You will be willing and able to do some reading and preparation outside the class.
You should be interested in listening to, and learning from, the responses of other students to the work discussed, and have a commitment to developing your analytical skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

In each session there will be a brief introduction by the tutor followed by an informal but focused discussion of the novel. Background reading will be provided.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You should buy or borrow the following
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Penguin Classics)
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (Vintage)
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (W&N Essentials)
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (Vintage).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Julian Birkett will also be teaching HLT126 Great European Short Stories in term one. In term two he will be teaching HLT161 The Golden Age of the British Short Story and HLT198 Writing Modern America.
Check out other Literature courses under History, Culture and Writing/Literature at

Julian Birkett

Julian Birkett is a teacher and writer specialising in modern literature. He previously worked in the Arts department at the BBC as a producer of series such as The Late Show, Modern Poets in their Own Words, The Victorians and The Culture Show. He has taught in London and at the University of Mumbai.He aims to create a friendly but thoughtful atmosphere in his City Lit classes and to provide a stimulating variety of activities from tutor input to discussion to group work and video clips.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.