The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
The fourth edition of J.A. Cuddon’s The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory has been completely revised and updated to be useful to teachers, students and general readers. This edition contains many new entries and contains traditional critical terms and topics as well as various terminologies of literary theory, which are so important for readers to understand. This particular dictionary has been heralded as a “superlative work of reference” for the more than twenty years that it has been in print. The author, J.A. Cuddon was a renowned expert in linguistics and literature and wrote extensively in many different areas of work including essays, libretti, novels, plays, short stories, and travel narratives.
The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory Features:
- Recommended for ages 18 and up
- This book is paperback
- This book contains 1024 pages
- English is the language of the book
- ISBN-10: 0140513639
- ISBN-13: 978-0140513639
- Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.8 inches
Most of the comments reviewers have made concerning this literary work are on the positive side though there are a few weak areas that have been mentioned. In order to illustrate what buyers think of this book snippets have been taken and are shown below:
“What I found most interesting were the lengthy sections on genres. There are pages devoted to specific types of novels, dramas, and poems. There are luxuriously long sections on science fiction novels, crime fiction, pastoral writings, short stories, gothic fiction, comic drama, and a host of other such topics. When you go to the short story section, for instance, you will find 12 pages dedicated to coverage of authors and their works dating from biblical times to the present (1998).”
“The wiring and plumbing of the book, its cross-referencing system, is admirably done and very helpful, luring the reader into a roller coaster ride across centuries.
Another notable quality is the rich number of examples, especially of the titles of a legion of important / interesting / fascinating / demented literary works often buried in the sands of time.”
“This comprehensive dictionary of literary terms covers much, much more than any other book I've found. It concisely defines literary periods, critical schools, artistic movements, techniques, genres, structural elements, and the derivations of each. No term is too obscure for this volume.”
In regards to any weaknesses:
“This book has a single author, unlike many reference works that have a group of contributors. This can lead to weak sections that are outside the solo author's expertise.”
“My only complaint is that it should have more examples of literature from outside the United States, Britain and France.”
“The two times I consulted the book trying to find a concise definition of a rather common term (the first one being simulacrum and the second one being metaphysics), I was disappointed by absence. There is a definition of "metaphysical," but it only refers to a British literary movement, and not to the term used in philosophy. I am sorry to be the first reviewer to give this dictionary less than three stars, but a so-called dictionary of literary theory that doesn't contain terms that aren't exactly uncommon in the field deserves no more.”
Obviously not everyone agrees on how valuable this book is but the overall consensus according to Amazon is that there are more 4 and 5 star reviews than less than 4 star reviews. The negative comments may not apply to all readers in need of a literary terms and literary theory reference book. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory is still thought of to be an excellent buy if you are looking for a better literary understanding.