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The New York Public Library Literature Companion
Edited by Anne Skillion
"No other modern literary companion comes close to matching this book's remarkable breadth."
"The New York Public Library Literature Companion is not only scholarly and wide-ranging, it's a good read and addictive."
--Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis
"This is the guide you should memorize before meeting your date at The New York Public Library's lions. You will be quick and amusing, not in the least pedantic, your date will laugh, and the lions have seen too much to eat you."
--Andrei Codrescu, author of Messiah
"The New York Public Library Literature Companion is such a good idea, and so artfully done, that I wonder how I have been able to do without it on my desk all these years!"
--Michael Korda, author of Another Life
"This book could save your sanity."
--Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman Review
Pick up The New York Public Library Literature Companion to check the dates of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or to find out how James Joyce's Ulysses changed U.S. obscenity laws, and hours later you may find yourself absorbed in the imaginary worlds of Camelot and the Matrix or sidetracked by the fascinating history of The New Yorker. Designed to satisfy the curious browser as well as the serious researcher, this exciting new resource offers the most up-to-date information on literature available in English from around the world, from the invention of writing to the year 2000.
Interwoven throughout the more than 2,500 succinct and insightful entries on Creators, Works of Literature, and Literary Facts and Resources are the fascinating facts and quirky biographical details that make literature come alive. You will discover, for instance, that Walt Whitman was fired from his government job after his personal copy of Leaves of Grass was discovered in his desk by the Secretary of the Interior, who was scandalized by it; that James Baldwin remembered listening to blues singer Bessie Smith ("playing her till I fell asleep") when he was writing his first book; and that a publisher turned down the serialization rights to Gone with the Wind, saying, "Who needs the Civil War now--who cares?"
Looking for information about book burning or how many Nobel laureates have come from Japan? You'll find it here. Trying to remember the name of that movie based on a favorite book? Read the "Variations" section--you'll be amazed at the pervasive presence of great literature in today's entertainment. From Aristophanes to Allende, from Bergson to Bloom, the biographical entries will inform you about the men and women who have shaped--and are shaping--the literary world. Look into "Works of Literature" to discover the significance of Beowulf, The Fountainhead, Dr. Zhivago, and nearly 1,000 other titles. Check the "Dictionary of Literature" to find out what the critics and theorists are talking about. And if you wish to delve even deeper, "Websites for Literature" and "Literary Factbooks and Handbooks" are just two of the bibliographies that will point you in the right direction.
Among the special sections, you will find:
Characters. The perfect place to look up "Ichabod Crane," "Ophelia," or "Captain Ahab."
Other Influential Figures. Devoted to critics, biographers, thinkers, and "powers behind the scenes," such as editors, publishers, translators, and television commentators. Entries include Edmund Wilson, Noah Webster, Walter Kerr, Janet Flanner, Maxwell Perkins, Harold Ross, Oprah Winfrey, and others not often found in literary reference books.
Influential Literary Periodicals. Essential information on all the major groundbreaking journals from The Athenaeum and The Atlantic Monthly to The New Yorker and Harper's Magazine.
Literary Reference Sources. Divided by period, country, genre, ethnicity, and gender; here you can find additional resources on anything from ghost literature to the literature of Brazil. Additional bibliographies list quotation books, style manuals, and guides to plots, places, and characters; and biographical reference sources for literature and the best literary biographies.
Dictionary of Literature. Includes up-to-the-minute coverage of literary terms, including widely used, but often misunderstood, academic jargon, which this book clarifies for the general reader. This is also the place to find a perfect example of an allegory or satire, or a description of the surrealist movement.
Variations. A special bonus for today's reader, this section includes film, television, and theatrical versions of great literary works along with dates, director, and casts.
Chronology of World Literature. Highlighting important events from the invention of the first system of writing in 3500 BC to the changes in publishing and bookselling wrought by the Internet.
Websites for Literature. Where to discover everything literary on the web including the best navigators, "virtual reference desks," best sources for literary journalism and academic criticism, print magazine websites and e-zines, organizations and booksellers, and editions of works of literature.
2001, 772 pages, hardcover, $40.00, ISBN 0-684-86890-3
Published by The Free Press
Book-of-the-Month Club, Alternate Selection
B. Bergeron, 12/01