Review by Choice Review
Brosman, editor of three volumes about 20th-century French novelists in Gale's "Dictionary of Literary Biography" series, here edits the second volume in a new series, "Dictionary of Twentieth Century Culture." The book intends to identify achievements of high culture, including art, architecture, poetry, fiction, essays, drama, chamber and orchestral music, opera, dance, and cinema. Elements of popular culture are covered as well. Some attention is given to history, philosophy, criticism, and political and social events, in order not to present culture in a vacuum. Most entries are biographical; others treat institutions, newspapers or magazines, schools of thought, theaters, caf'es, and other significant cultural loci. There are no entries for particular works of art. Entries are signed, but credentials of the authors (a dozen American faculty, chiefly in Romance languages) are not provided. Brief bibliographies at the end of each article cite works in English and French. There are some black-and-white illustrations, mostly portraits, usually without credits. A separate list organizes entries by discipline, and a timeline by year, 1900-75, identifies political and social events, ballets, art works, literary works, etc. Other reference sources provide more detailed information (e.g., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, CH, Feb'81; Emmanuel Benezit's Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs ... , Paris, 1976; and Brosman's own volumes on French novelists), and history, politics, and society are better covered by Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, 1870-1940 (CH, Dec'86) and Historical Dictionary of the French Fourth and Fifth Republics, 1946-1991 (CH, Nov'92). For specialists, the most useful entries in this book will be those not covered by other sources (e.g., newspapers, cinema, dance); for beginning students, it offers one-stop cultural shopping, providing a flavor of French culture over the first three-fourths of the 20th century. A. H. Widder; Michigan State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.