UPSC English Literature Optional Books for IAS Mains

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : April 18th, 2022

UPSC English Literature Optional Books is the most sought topic by the English Literature Optional candidates. The UPSC English Literature Books covers both the optional papers of the subject. The optional has a good success rate among the students and is popular literature optional.

If an aspirant is genuinely interested in taking the English Literature Optional, he/she can frame a good answer, provided that the aspirant has read all the UPSC English Literature Books with understanding and critical analysis.

Table of Content

Best Books For English Literature for UPSC

The UPSC English Literature Books contains the prescribed poem, stories, novels, and drama from the core books. Reading from the original source texts always helps in the UPSC Mains because it is helpful in quoting direct sentences and instances. UPSC offers 48 Optional Subjects for the UPSC Mains Exam, out of which, 23 are the literature of languages. If a candidate has a genuine interest in the English Literature Optional, he/she will surely enjoy the preparation journey.

The English Literature Syllabus for UPSC consists of two papers, designed to test a first-hand and critical reading of texts prescribed. The paper can be divided into two time-span, consisting of:

  • Paper 1: 1600 CE -1900 CE (start of modernism)
  • Paper 2: 1900 CE –1990 CE (post-modernism)

Both the papers are divided into sections A and B. Section A deals with drama and poetry while Section B deals with prose, in both papers.

Other than this, there will be two compulsory questions in each paper:

  • A short-notes question related to the topics for general study.
  • A critical analysis of unseen passages both in prose and verse. 

UPSC English Literature Books- Study Plan

The syllabus of the English Literature optional is very specific and defined. As it is a conventional Literature Optional, it does not need to be updated every year. Although UPSC English Literature Books do not directly overlap with the GS papers, they can help as a value-added resource in understanding the history of Europe and can be beneficial in writing answers for GS 1.

The following study plan must be followed along with the preparation of UPSC Mains, so that the preparation remains streamlined. The study plan guides:

  • To read the prescribed texts one at a time, not exceeding over the week. Each and every book prescribed in the syllabus is to be read cover to cover. No selective study is recommended for the English Literature Optional in UPSC.
  • A candidate is expected to know the entire history of English Literature right from the origin of literature till the contemporary times, i.e., from the time of Geoffrey Chaucer to Post Modernism.
  • Once a basic understanding is developed, and one is acquainted with the fundamentals of the subject, proceed with the literary theory. For example – Cultural Studies, Feminism, Deconstruction, etc. 
  • Try writing the concepts or theories in the simplest language possible.
  • One should also go through the last five years' question papers of the optional subject.
  • A good glossary is considered a Bible for literature students. For English Literature, A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrahams is very much needed to understand any complex terms relates to the English Literature Syllabus for UPSC.
  • Researching and complimenting from other verifiable sources is always suggested. It makes the answer more presentable.
  • A good understanding of figures of speech, such as figures of speech, imagery, symbolism, etc. is desired because it helps in the compulsory question in the unseen passage where an aspirant needs to critically analyze the given text.

☛ Also Read:- How to Choose Optional Subjects for UPSC Exam

List of English Literature Books for UPSC Exam

The literature of English language optional has a reasonably good success rate. Individual clarity along with critical analysis of the questions helps in answering most of the questions. Below mentioned are the most trusted UPSC English literature Optional Books for both Paper 1 and Paper 2. Prepare them well, and you are good to go! While preparing for the optional subject, also ensure that you have prepared the UPSC Prelims Syllabus before the exam.

  1. Bleaney - Philip Larkin
  2. She dwelt among untrodden ways- William Wordsworth
  3. A Prayer for my daughter- William Butler Yeats
  4. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce
  5. Ode on Intimations of Immortality- William Wordsworth
  6. Lord Jim- Joseph Conrad
  7. Lay your sleeping head, my love- W.H. Auden
  8. Resolution and Independence- William Wordsworth
  9. In Memory of W.B. Yeats- W.H. Auden
  10. On his Mistress going to bed- John Donne
  11. Kanthapura- Raja Rao
  12. Tom Jones- Henry Fielding
  13. Journey of the Magi- T. S. Eliot
  14. Musee des Beaux Arts- W.H. Auden
  15. Burnt Norton- T. S. Eliot
  16. Tintern Abbey- William Wordsworth
  17. The Routledge History of Literature in English
  18. Paradise Lost, I, II, IV, IX- John Milton
  19. The Good Morrow- John Donne
  20. A Passage to India- E.M. Forster.
  21. Three years she grew- William Wordsworth
  22. Leda and the Swan- William Butler Yeats
  23. Death be not proud- John Donne
  24. The Second Coming- William Butler Yeats
  25. Hard Times- Charles Dickens
  26. Mundus Et Infans- W.H. Auden
  27. Tess of the d’Urbervilles- Thomas Hardy
  28. Afternoons- Philip Larkin
  29. Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour- William Wordsworth
  30. Consider- W.H. Auden
  31. Look In Anger- John Osborne
  32. The Tower- William Butler Yeats
  33. Please- Philip Larkin
  34. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  35. Introduction to English Literature- W. H Hudson
  36. The Rape of the Lock- Alexander Pope
  37. Easter 1916- William Butler Yeats
  38. Waiting for Godot- Samuel Beckett
  39. The Tempest- William Shakespeare
  40. The World is too much with us- William Wordsworth
  41. Mrs. Dalloway- Virginia Woolf.
  42. Meru- William Butler Yeats
  43. Gulliver’s Travels- Jonathan Swift
  44. Michael- William Wordsworth
  45. Obituary- A.K. Ramanujan
  46. Sons and Lovers- D.H. Lawrence
  47. Days- Philip Larkin
  48. Deceptions- Philip Larkin
  49. The Mill on the Floss- George Eliot
  50. The Unknown Citizen- W.H. Auden
  51. Looking for a Causim on a Swing- A.K. Ramanujan
  52. A House for Mr. Biswas- V.S. Naipal
  53. King Lear- William Shakespeare
  54. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
  55. Lapis Lazuli- William Butler Yeats
  56. The Shield of Achilles- W.H. Auden
  57. Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House- A.K. Ramanujan
  58. Love Poem for a Wife- A.K. Ramanujan
  59. The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock- T. S. Eliot
  60. A River- A.K. Ramanujan
  61. A short History of English Literature- Pramod K. Nayar
  62. The relic- John Donne
  63. Next- Philip Larkin
  64. Among School Children- William Butler Yeats
  65. Sailing to Byzantium- William Butler Yeats
  66. Partition- W.H. Auden
  67. Upon Westminster Bridge- William Wordsworth
  68. Canonization- John Donne
  69. Of Mothers, among other Things- A.K. Ramanujan

English Literature Optional UPSC Books PDF 

There are two optional papers in the IAS Exam Pattern. Both the papers are 250 marks each, making the total optional marks 500. The UPSC syllabus for English literature, to be precise, includes:

  1. 5 plays
  2. 60 poems 
  3. 14 novels
  4. Basic understanding of the history of English literature

Download UPSC English Literature Optional Booklist PDF

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FAQs

  • The syllabus of the English Literature optional is very specific and defined. UPSC English Literature Books do not directly overlap with the GS papers, they can help as a value-added resource. Some of the basic books that can be covered for the preparation are Introduction to English Literature by W. H Hudson, The Routledge History of Literature in English, A short History of English Literature by Pramod K. Nayar, etc.

  • The English Literature Syllabus for the UPSC Mains covers literature from and during the medieval and early modern period as well as upto modern English used from 1900 CE onwards. Since the optional does not overlaps with the GS papers, it does not require frequent uopdation. Moreover, the questions are somewhat on the same line-length. Practicising mocks and previous year questions makes the candidate accoustomed with the UPSC Exam Pattern very well.

  • English Literature Optional helps and improves essay/report writing ability as well as in summery and comprehension questions. A good understanding of figures of speech and language makes the answer more presentable.

  • English Literature is a good optional for those who have deep interest in Literature or are graduated in English Literature, and have a good reading skill. The optional is scoring, because of less competition and gives the candidate the liberty of expression. 

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