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The Oxford companion to English literature /

Other Authors: Birch, Dinah.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University, 2009
Edition: 7th ed.
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Review by Choice Review

The interval since publication of the sixth edition (CH, Apr'01, 38-4211) was a busy one in the world of English literature, with increased focus on emerging genres, nonmainstream writers, and interdisciplinary research. This seventh edition aptly reflects those changes, with over 2,000 new or substantially revised entries. New entries include many non-British writers--mainly American and Asian--along with genres, works, and authors of science fiction and fantasy, postcolonial literatures, and travel writing. The "rebalancing" led to some cuts in content; entries without literary associations have been removed, as have most individual character entries, and plot summaries are shorter. This edition features entries for terms not normally associated with literature (television) and for some newer genres (graphic novels, alternate history) previously not recognized. The two-page essays on genres that debuted in the sixth edition are slightly revised here and incorporated into the general text.New to the seventh edition are four substantial introductory essays: "Literary Culture and the Novel in the New Millennium," "Cultures of Reading," "Black British Literature," and "Children's Literature." Appendixes include a chronology of literary and related historical events, poets laureate, and literary award winners. Users looking for substantial coverage of literary theories and movements will find a better option in the second edition of The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (CH, Jun'05, 42-5598; 1st ed., CH, Jul'94, 31-5782), ed. by M. Groden, M. Kreiswirth, and I. Szeman.The brief entries on writers and individual works and the comprehensible definitions of literary terms are The Oxford Companion's strengths. In a nod to the outstanding core of entries in previous iterations, current editor and Victorian scholar Birch shares credit on the spine and jacket flap with Margaret Drabble, editor of the fifth and sixth editions. Summing Up: Recommended. All libraries; lower-level undergraduates and above, and general readers. H. C. Williams University of Washington

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

For nearly eight decades since Sir Paul Harvey edited its first edition, The Oxford Companion to English Literature has offered a de facto delineation of the canon of English literature and the critical, theoretical, and sociopolitical issues that surround it. The seventh edition, edited by a professor of English literature at Liverpool University, takes a cosmopolitan view, accommodating more about literature in English from throughout the world. Great Britain's colonial past planted the seeds for that literature in cultures as disparate as Canada and the U.S., Nigeria, Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Trinidad. Thus, articles on individual writers with roots in these locations take their place in alphabetical rank with articles on notable works, concepts (Realism), topics related to literature (Translation for children), organizations (Early English Text Society), institutions (Coffee houses), awards (Hugo Award) and more. The seventh also welcomes Neil Gaiman, Cormac McCarthy, J. K. Rowling, Tobias Wolff, and other contemporary authors. Most author profiles stick to reportage about authors' lives and published works. Some, however, manage succinct critical evaluations. What undergraduate would not take solace in reading that Henry James analysed English character with extreme subtlety, verging at times on obscurity ? The chief competitor, The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (3d ed., 2006), has a narrower scope, emphasizing authors and landmark literary works, thus complementing the more succinct Companion entries. Cambridge largely leaves to the Companion contextual information such as articles on Censorship; Gothic revival; Machiavelli, Niccolo; Marx, Karl; and Pamphleteering, origins of. Libraries where the Companion is heavily used, especially if they did not acquire the 2006 revision of the sixth edition, will want this update of a standard source. Those libraries subscribing to Oxford Reference Online: Premium Collection already have access to the seventh edition's contents.--Rettig, James Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

This revision of the sixth edition of The Oxford Companion to English Literature, published in 2000, is edited by author and English professor Birch, with help from a panel of distinguished editors and contributors. It includes numerous revisions and more than 1000 new entries whose coverage is not limited to the literature of England or Great Britain but also encompasses European, American, Asian, and African writers and works. Although major works and authors are given longer treatment (e.g., The Canterbury Tales entry is approximately two-and-a-half pages long, as is the entry for Shakespeare), the entries are generally short (five to eight entries per page). Four introductory essays give room for a lengthier exploration of literary topics. The subjects of the entries include literary works, authors, themes, archetypes, journals, and forms. Appendixes include a chronology, a list of literary awards, and a list of the new and heavily revised entries with contributors. Bottom Line This companion is a highly authoritative resource, with clear, concise, and approachable entries on literary topics of high interest to students and scholars of English literature. An essential reference for most public, high school, and academic libraries.-Denise Johnson, Bradley Univ., Peoria, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-This work clearly explains erudite concepts and literary and philosophical jargon (from deconstruction to structuralism, etc.), while offering informative and piquant entries on a wide variety of topics (authors, works, movements, characters, historical events) of interest to students and other curious readers. Thoroughly revised since the 2000 edition, the title has much to recommend it; the four introductory essays (especially those on the culture of reading) and the four appendixes add a great deal of value. Information on children's literature has been revised and beefed up: there are now entries on J. K. Rowling and Phillip Pullman, for example, as well as separate entries on some of their works ("His Dark Materials") and characters (Harry Potter). Though lacking some of the inclusiveness and serendipity of Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia (Collins, 2008), this volume provides a great collection of plot summaries and informative essays that range in length from a few dozen words to more than 2 pages. Important authors, such as Frank Bidart, John Guare, and Lanford Wilson, are neglected to make room for plot summaries of mediocre works, but any book expansive enough to contain both Ferdinand de Saussure's theory of structuralism and Richard Scarry's elegant everyman, Lowly Worm, is an essential purchase.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.