» » The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

Download The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English epub

by Doris Lessing,Ian Ousby

Substantially enlarged and updated for this new edition, The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English is the definitive guide to the vast and extraordinarily rich heritage of literature written in English. It covers all the major novelists, poets and dramatists - from Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens to Conrad and to contemporary writers from all over the English-speaking world - Saul Bellow, Adrienne Rich, Les Murray, Wole Soyinka, and Janet Frame. More than 100 specialist contributors provide detailed biographical and critical articles not only on writers and their works. Substantial coverage is also given to such literary genres as popular fiction, science fiction, detective novels, and children's classics. All literary concepts and movements are described in detail. • Over 4,500 alphabetical entries, cross-referenced throughout • Includes all literature in English - British, Irish, American, Australian, African, Canadian, New Zealand, Indian and Caribbean • Illustrated throughout with over 115 photographs and line drawings
Download The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English epub
ISBN: 0521440866
ISBN13: 978-0521440868
Category: Literature
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Author: Doris Lessing,Ian Ousby
Language: English
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (February 28, 1994)
Pages: 1067 pages
ePUB size: 1527 kb
FB2 size: 1514 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 465
Other Formats: doc lrf mbr lrf

Those two authors share space in this magnificent reference volume on English Literature. The sturdy, oversized Guide presents over one thousand pages of information on authors, novels, poetry, drama, and literary terms. There are interesting biographies of prominent writers and obscure ones, from Mrs. Humphrey Ward to William Faulkner.
Good plot summaries are provided for a wide range of novels. If you are a fan of Anthony Trollope, you will find no less than twenty five of his books discussed. You have to be careful, however, if you are reading the plot of a book in order to decided whether or not you want to read it - the ending is always given away. The Cambridge Guide explores many literary terms: Meter; the Bloomsbury Group; positivism; and post-structuralism. There are also entries on Literary Journals - yes, the New York Review of Books is here as well as Granta.
The Cambridge Guide is written for the average layman and avoids academic jargon. I decided to try the entry on "deconstruction" as the extreme test of explaining difficult concepts. It's hard to say: either they failed the test, or I failed it.
This book has become one of my prized possessions, and I would have been willing to buy it at twice the price charged.
Several things about this book annoy me, but one thing makes me a bit irate. A reference book isn't worth a good deal unless the editors stive to make it objective and accurate and this one isn't consistently either. (Mine is the Head edition, so perhaps I'm being unfair to the others.) I've skipped about reading entries and have thus read that George Gissing had only one friend and that his marriages failed because Gissing felt that his wives weren't sufficiently grateful to him. I've also learned that Isabel Burton burned her husband's writings because he drank a lot and travelled a lot.

These don't seem to me simply sloppy inaccuracies. They're so supremely removed from the factual as to seem, particularly in the Gissing entry, the product of malevolence. Why? Because they're dead white men--or, worse, dead white Victorian men? Because the writer(s) didn't approve of their books? And if I lit upon these porkies by chance, how many more are there in the volume? I'm keeping the book because it has entries on the more modern British writers, but I'm taking it all with a packload of salt--and I'm pitying any student who might be relying on it.

For an infinitely superior reference, get The Reader's Encyclopedia, ed. Benet. Not only does it seem objective and accurate but it has the enormous bonus of covering non-Anglophone literature, mythological figures, literary terms, and the like.

(Edit) I've still not found anything praiseworthy about this book. I've had it nearly a year and it's probably the only reference book I own that I've never been tempted to browse. It hasn't even been of much help with the TLS crosswords.

Before packing it away with books to be traded in, I riffled through it to see whether my perception that there was a strange disproportion in it had any basis. Leaving aside personal taste and considering only reputation/skill/influence I was disheartened to find that the entry for P.G. Wodehouse was longer than that for William Gass and that Agatha Christie's entry was longer than Elizabeth Taylor's. And within these pairs, each writer was given very nearly equal column inches: Mary Shelley and Edgar Allen Poe; J.K. Rowling and William Burroughs; James Thomson (B.V.) and George Orwell; and, sigh, Mrs Humphrey Ward and Oscar Wilde.