Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century

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9781558623736: Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century
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Based on a German work, the second edition of Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century was published between 1982 and 1984 by Frederick Ungar, with a supplement from Continuum in 1993. With 2,300 entries, St. James' third edition is a comprehensive survey of the significant international literary activity from 1900 to the present. Its assessment and appreciation of the growth and variety of world literature are appropriate for both general and scholarly readers.

Every author entry consists of four parts: a headnote that lists vital statistics; the body, which includes both a biographical sketch and a critical assessment of the author's work; a list of further works that are not mentioned in the body of the entry; and, finally, a bibliography of select secondary sources. National literature and literary movements are covered in separate articles that contain uppercase cross-references to the author articles within the four volumes. Authors were selected for inclusion based on an evaluation of critical recognition by an international board of advisors from an impressive list of colleges and universities. Each country represented has its own advisor. To maintain its international scope, many U.S., British, and European writers who are well-known in the English-speaking world are treated as part of national survey articles in order to include more writers from less-familiar literatures.

The amount of revision in the entries varies. Entries for some, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, are the same in both editions. In some cases, such as the entry for Maya Angelou, the essay is unchanged but the bibliography has been updated. Other entries, such as Margaret Atwood and Wole Soyinka, have revised essays. And finally, some entries are entirely new, among them Martin Amis, Russell Banks, Ellen Gilchrist, Jamaica Kincaid, and Arundhati Roy. A nationality index has been added to the last volume.

A significant number of writers included in these volumes have not had their works translated into English, and for them, Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century is the first source of reference for English-speaking readers. This inclusive and authoritative guide is appropriate for all academic and larger public libraries. Those that own the previous edition will probably want the update.

From Library Journal:

Claiming to be completely revised and enlarged, this third edition consists primarily of bio-critical entries about individual authors, but it also includes survey articles about national literatures and literary movements. All essays conclude with secondary sources, and author essays have a "Further Works" section, which lists works by the author not discussed in the text. The set includes a Nationality Index and a General Index (with no cross references), and See Also references are indicated by small capitals in the body of the essays. Comparison to the second edition (Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, 4 vols., edited by Leonard S. Klein, 1981-1993: LJ 8/81, Vol 1) shows, unfortunately, that many of the essays were lifted wholesale from the earlier edition, often without updates to either the secondary sources or the "Further Works." Omissions of new writings by such authors as Derek Walcott and V.S. Naipul, as well as new writings on such famous writers as William Butler Yeats, lead one to wonder how the publisher defines "completely revised." To be fair, this edition does provide information about authors not included in the second edition; updates some, but not all, of the essays that appeared in the earlier edition; and brings together in one resource a way of finding basic information. It is most useful for its coverage of non-Western literatures and authors. However, given the set's hefty price, it is only recommended for those libraries without the second edition or access to sources such as Gale's Contemporary Authors, Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, and Contemporary Literary Criticism.ACynthia A. Johnson, Barnard Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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