Review by Choice Review
A magisterial addition to the Oxford companions to literature, this volume goes far beyond its core subject of Italian literature to cover its substrate and context. With more than 2,400 signed substantive entries, OCIL is far more inclusive than Dictionary of Italian Literature, ed. by Peter Bondanella et al. (CH, Jan'97), although the articles in OCIL tend to be briefer and occasionally elliptical, the font smaller, and bibliographical guidance less consistent. The general articles account for a third of the text according to the editor, who provides a handy list of the more important of them under the following rubrics: literary genres and types; literary movements, themes, and issues; cultural contexts and institutions; language; social and political context; non-Italian writing and influences; other arts; and sources for further reference. A useful chronology and four historical maps are provided. There seem to be no significant omissions. The only disappointing article is the one on electronic resources, apparently the fruit of miscommunication between editor and contributor. In sum, an excellent ready-reference companion for readers seeking less an introduction to the summits of the literature--for which Bondanella and other resources are more than adequate--but a reminder of relevant details. Given the importance of Italian literature in Western culture, OCIL will be useful in almost any collection, even in institutions where its subject is not part of the curriculum. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections. J. Larson Yale University Library
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Oxford Companions to English, French, and German literature are now joined by one that aims to present the whole of Italian literature, from the early thirteenth century to the present. Not surprisingly, ample space is afforded to important authors, such as Giovanni Boccaccio, Dante Alighieri, and Francesco Petrarch, from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, to Umberto Eco and Luigi Pirandello, from the twentieth. These are matched by shorter entries on minor, yet significant, figures, including Carlo Collodi, author of the much-loved children's story Pinocchio. Important literary works appear under their English title when extremely well known as such (e.g., Dante's Divine Comedy, not Divina Commedia). Otherwise, one must know the Italian (e.g., Pirandello's Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore, not Six Characters in Search of an Author). Literary genres and movements are presented along with entries on Literary theory, Semiotics, and Textual criticism. The importance of literary magazines and publishers is covered, including individual entries on specific literary journals such as Il Ponte and publishing houses such as Rizzoli. Entries treat Italian literature written in Latin and various dialects as well as the influence of classical and patristic writings on Italian literature. The social and political contexts in which Italian literature has developed are covered in some detail, with entries on important cities, historical events, and political philosophies. The nearly 2,400 entries are alphabetically arranged and were written by a team of international Italianists. Only the lengthier entries include supplemental bibliographies and usually provide no more than one or two references. The prefatory matter includes a nice introduction not only to the Companion itself but also to Italian literature. Two other recent reference works deserve mention. The Dictionary of Italian Literature (rev. ed., Greenwood, 1996) contains 362 entries, the majority of which are devoted to authors. The essays are far lengthier and provide substantial supplemental bibliographies. The Feminist Encyclopedia of Italian Literature (Greenwood, 1997) is not, as the title might suggest, an encyclopedia of Italian women writers. Rather, it examines the Italian literary tradition in a feminist perspective. The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature is the most comprehensive reference tool for Italian literature in English, the brevity of most entries notwithstanding. Recommended for academic and large public library collections. -- RBB Copyright 2003 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.