Dictionary of British Literary Characters: 18Th- And 19Th-Century Novels (Vol 1)

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9780816021796: Dictionary of British Literary Characters: 18Th- And 19Th-Century Novels (Vol 1)
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Identifies hundreds of characters from notable works of British fiction, from The Pilgrim's Progress to contemporary novels

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This is the first volume in a projected two- volume set. It covers fictional characters that appear in British novels beginning with The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) to the year 1890. Volume 2, which is slated to appear this fall, will include the works of authors who published the bulk of their work after 1890 through the early 1980s. Together these volumes will cover more than 1,000 novels and 10,000 literary characters.

Entries are arranged alphabetically by the character's last name. In the absence of a surname, a first name is used. Some characters have no names and so are listed by their major attribute. For example, the unnamed medical man who treats Tom Jones' wounded temple in the novel of the same name is listed simply as Surgeon. Characters whose last name begin with a prefix, such as de or van, are most often listed under the first letter of the prefix but occasionally are listed under the initial letter of the last part of the name. For example, Captain Jack de Baron is under D, but William de Mowbray files under M.

Entries are brief, usually only four to five lines. Each contains as much of the following information as is available for the character: occupation, family relations, relationship with other characters, class, gender roles, and contribution to the novel's plots and themes. All the major characters in a novel are included, as well as those secondary characters who play an important role in the development of the theme or plot. Characters who appear in more than one novel are listed only once, but all of their appearances in the various novels are detailed. Characters mentioned by name in another character's entry have entries of their own. The title and author of the work in which the character appears is at the end of each entry.

Novels were selected for inclusion based on the following criteria: the novelist or novel has achieved a degree of permanence; the novelist or novel has received scholarly or critical attention; or, the novel was popular in its own time or in later times. The editor has also tried to include a representative sampling of lesser-known writers, particularly women authors.

A complete list of the authors and titles from which entries are drawn comprises the index. All of the characters included in the main portion of the volume are listed under the title of the work in which they appear.

Despite minor inconsistencies in the way some of the characters are listed, this will be an extremely useful volume for students and librarians seeking information on literary characters. Dictionary of Fictional Characters [RBB Ag 92] lists 50,000 characters but gives only the author, title, and publication date of the books in which they appeared. Cyclopedia of Literary Characters II describes 5,000 characters in greater depth but is arranged by title rather than character name, necessitating the use of the character index. Dictionary of British Literary Characters will be a valuable addition to the reference shelves of public and academic libraries.

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