Review by Choice Review
Imaginary People is a delightful compendium of lively profiles of more than 1,400 fictional characters. The selection is eclectic but emphasizes characters from 20th-century British and American popular culture, including novels, drama, comic strips, and television. Many entries evoke clear and widely disseminated images and profile characters as diverse as Mike Doonesbury, Scarlett O'Hara, James Bond, Miss Havisham, and Rupert Gear of British comic strip fame. Profiles are brief but include major appearances, particularly useful for a character such as Count Dracula, who has appeared in numerous novels, movies, and other works. Included is a creator's index and an extensive bibliography of works consulted. A valuable supplement to standard reference sources such as Larousse Dictionary of Literary Characters, ed. by Rosemary Cooring (CH, Mar'95), Dictionary of American Literary Characters, ed. by Benjamin Franklin V (1990), and Dictionary of British Literary Characters, ed. by John R. Greenfield, (CH, Oct'93). Particularly recommended for public libraries and collections that support popular culture. M. M. Vass; University of Kentucky
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
As the subtitle suggests, this is a catalog of fictional characters from 1719 to the present. Coverage includes characters from novels, poems, plays, short stories, opera, ballet, comic strips, songs, films, radio, television, and computer games. Coverage is limited to English-language characters or foreign characters well known in the English-speaking world. Pringle is a British librarian and the author of reference books dealing with science fiction. Imaginary People was originally published in 1987; this second edition has 100 new entries, raising the total to 1,400 characters. Previous entries have been rewritten, and updated material has been added to the text. The 60 black-and-white illustrations that appeared in the first edition have been dropped, and the format has been changed to smaller type. The text is arranged by name. Rank, titles, and indications of status follow the surname (e.g., Valiant, Prince; Cadfael, Brother). Throughout the text there are helpful see and see under references directing users to the appropriate form of name. This work is unique in that it traces the history of a character through various media (e.g., the entry Superman covers the character from 1938 comics to the 1994 television series Lois & Clark). A 15-page "Creator's Index" notes a field of creativity for each author, and lists characters (e.g., "Parker, Robert B. [Novelist]: Spenser"). Concluding the volume is a bibliography of more than 300 references with full bibliographic information. There are several comparable books. Characters in 20th-Century Literature (Gale, 1990) and Characters in 19th-Century Literature (Gale, 1993) are arranged by author. Short essays cite more than 600 works and highlight the characters within the essay. The Dictionary of Fictional Characters by Seymour-Smith (The Writer, 1992) is a massive work that has gone through several editions. It covers 50,000 characters from novels, short stories, poems, plays, and operas by British and American authors. A typical entry is only one or two sentences in length and notes the original date of publication. Both of these books have more entries than Pringle, but Pringle has more in-depth information and he surveys more genres. Libraries needing additional information on fictional characters will want to consider purchase.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.