A New Handbook of Literary Terms [electronic resource]
Mikics, David Author
New Haven : Yale University Press June 2007 Ipswich : Ebsco Publishing [Distributor]
030013522X (E-Book), 9780300135220
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New Haven : Yale University Press June 2007 Ipswich : Ebsco Publishing [Distributor]
030013522X (E-Book)
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
Annotation A New Handbook of Literary Terms offers a lively, informative guide to words and concepts that every student of literature needs to know. Mikics's definitions are essayistic, witty, learned, and always a pleasure to read. They sketch the derivation and history of each term, including especially lucid explanations of verse forms and providing a firm sense of literary periods and movements from classicism to postmodernism. The Handbook also supplies a helpful map to the intricate and at times confusing terrain of literary theory at the beginning of the twenty-first century: the author has designated a series of terms, from New Criticism to queer theory, that serves as a concise but thorough introduction to recent developments in literary study. Mikics's Handbook is ideal for classroom use at all levels, from freshman to graduate. Instructors can assign individual entries, many of which are well-shaped essays in their own right. Useful bibliographical suggestions are given at the end of most entries. The Handbook's enjoyable style and thoughtful perspective will encourage students to browse and learn more. Every reader of literature will want to own this compact, delightfully written guide.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-11-01:
Based openly on M. H. Abrams's A Glossary of Literary Terms (8th ed., 2005; 6th ed., CH, Sep'93, 31-0002), this volume wants to establish itself as " ... a competitor as well as a companion." Far from striving for pure objectivity, Mikics (Univ. of Houston) is more "essayistic," "expansive and opinionated," while employing "the occasional wisecrack." Reading that Emerson is "more cosmic and less gossipy" than Montaigne demonstrates Mikics's tone. J. A. Cuddon's The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (4th ed., 1999) is a closer comparison, notwithstanding the author's comment about Cuddon being too lengthy for the college classroom.The introduction is especially useful for its list of other similar reference works for interested students. The closing paragraph cleanly delineates the current trend for literary theory, listing entries that encapsulate the field--from "hermeneutics, reception theory" to "gender studies." This reveals the book's focus of being more suited to literary theory than strict literary vocabulary. Although any book will omit certain terms, there are specific, fundamental terms that ought to be included in a basic reference work--e.g., "ibid" is missing from these pages.Books like this, which profess to include comparative literature, should also include "Weltanschauung" (or even "Zeitgeist") as an entry. But this, too, is missing. Discussion of the poetic "foot" is hidden under the entry for "meter"; confusingly, "free verse" looks to be cross-referenced, but has no separate entry. This handbook is an important contribution to the field, but not an essential one--more a bellwether for literary theory than an exhaustive collection of terminology. Entries vary in length from a few lines to a few pages. Cross-references are in capital letters, with numerous examples and suggestions for further reading at the end of each. Summing Up: Recommended. Most lower-/upper-level undergraduate collections. S. J. Shaw Prairie View A&M University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2007-06-01:
Offering more commentary than that found in standard literary dictionaries, this portable, easily read, abridged literary dictionary restricts its selections to those terms that Mikics (English, Univ. of Houston; The Limits of Moralizing: Pathos and Subjectivity in Spenser and Milton) believes are "crucial" for students to know. He also includes personal opinion along with snippets of literary criticism to clarify a definition. For "grotesque," for example, he states that "In Plato's Symposium, the image of Socrates as a Silenus, or foul satyr, is a grotesque. And the traditional figure of the fool offers a defense of the grotesque, signaled by a deformed physique and the distorted perspective that goes along with it, but allied to wisdom." Approximately 600 entries range in length from eight lines (e.g., "agitprop") to three and a half pages (e.g., "comedy"). Drawn primarily from European literature, they include major literary movements and genres as well as brief historical reviews. Most entries feature a minimum of one example plus one resource for additional reading, but there is no formal bibliography. A few entries have See or See also references. Bottom Line While Mikics's book works nicely with such standard titles as Collins's Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (2006. 17th ed.) and Thomson-Wadsworth's A Glossary of Literary Terms (2005. 8th ed.), it is not a replacement. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Lamar, TX Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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