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Alphabetically arranged entries offer cross-referenced information on world writers, including biographical information, overviews of their works, and critical analyses of some.
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Diamond, Department of Comparative English, Rutgers University.From Booklist:
Students often find it difficult to locate more than surface biographical data on world authors. Finding criticism--especially in English--can be equally frustrating. In addition to entries for genres, movements, and literary terms, this set offers critical biographies on an array of international authors. Coverage encompasses a spectrum of formats, including poetry, drama, fiction, memoir, essays, epics, odes, and sacred texts. The first volume begins with African proverbs dating from 1500 B.C and continues through the end of the thirteenth century. Volume 2 considers 1300 through the 1800s, and volume 3 concentrates on the past two centuries. The focus is on individuals and genres that are underrepresented in traditional resources. As a result, although there are numerous references to early Native American, Anglo-Saxon, and Celtic literature in the first volume, only a handful of English and English-speaking American writers appears in volume 2, and volume 3 does not include any writers from either the U.S. or Great Britain.
Alphabetically arranged articles range from a couple of paragraphs to a few pages. Longer biographical entries include separate sections on critical analysis. Most entries end with a list of English translations and further reading selections. Each tome features a volume--specific preface, introduction, time line, list of writers by geographic region, bibliography, and index.
The text is scholarly but should be accessible to students in grades nine and up. The set lacks some basic user-friendly features that would have enhanced its use as an educational tool. For example, there are no illustrations. There are no comprehensive set geographic listings. Time lines are listed in columns of names and dates, as opposed to layouts that would delineate contemporaries and overlapping influences. Still, academic libraries as well as public and secondary collections that support world literature curricula will want to add this as a supplement to standard references such as Cyclopedia of World Authors (Salem, 2004) and titles in H.W. Wilson's World Authors series. Kathleen McBroom
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