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The Oxford dictionary of literary quotations
Kemp, Peter.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xix, 479 pages ; 24 cm
Subject Term:
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PN6081 .O89 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Here is a delightful and instructive compendium of the most memorable utterances of the world's most quotable writers. The Oxford Book of Literary Quotations covers all aspects of the literary life, from careful assessments of the relative value of literature ("The world must be all fucked up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight," Gabriel Garcia Marquez) to the modest wish for an attentive audience ("The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole LIFE to reading my works," James Joyce) to appreciative remarks about their fellow writers ("Gertrude Stein and me are just like brothers," Ernest Hemingway), to reflections on the thrill of publishing ("Being published by the Oxford University Press is rather like being married to a duchess: the honour is almost greater than the pleasure," G.M. Young), and much, much more.
Celebrating over 3,000 years of writing, the dictionary's 4,000 quotations are arranged thematically, allowing the reader to dip easily into a chosen topic. Within each topic, the entries are arranged chronologically by author. So, for the section of Earning a Living, we begin with Horace, writing in the first century B.C. and end with A. S. Byatt, writing in 1995. Full keyword and author indexes ensure that a favorite quotation or author can be located quickly. From Drink and Drugs to Writer's Block, from Love to Literary Theory, from Admiration and Praise to Rivalry and Rejection, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations brings us the wittiest, most profound, most surprising, and most memorable words of the world's greatest writers on all aspects of their lives and work.

Author Notes

Peter Kemp has long been involved with the literary world as an academic, critic, and journalist. He is Fiction Editor of the Sunday Times, a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford, and a Visiting Professor at Kingston University

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

What is literature? Depending on whom one asks, it's "a drug" (George Borrow); "the question minus the answer" (Roland Barthes); "the orchestration of platitudes" (Thornton Wilder); or "a splendid mistress, but a bad wife" (Rudyard Kipling). These bon mots and over 4,400 others (one-fifth of them new to this edition) are gathered here by Kemp, the fiction editor of the (London) Sunday Times. The quotes, as before, are organized by theme, which include Writer's Block, Morality and Tools of the Trade; Collaboration, Graffiti and Epitaphs are among several themes also new to this edition. An author index makes it easy to find out what Nabokov said about art ("Beauty plus pity-that is the closest we can get to a definition of art") or what Barbara Pym thought of poetry anthologies ("What a bad sign it is to get the Oxford Book of Victorian Verse out of the library"). All in all, this is an edifying and highly diverting resource for any student of writing and language. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Celebrating over 3000 years of writing, this expanded edition is chock-full of literary gems. Open it anywhere, and vignettes of literary life in different eras spring into view. The book contains 4000-plus quotes, 20 percent of them new; readers will find an impressive selection of writers ranging from familiar favorites like Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Frost to lesser-known authors like dramatist Michael Frayn and Scottish novelist Margaret Oliphant. Kemp, fiction editor of the (London) Sunday Times and a Times Literary Supplement critic, worked diligently to sift out dated or repetitive material while adding new finds. The full author and keyword indexes assist the reader in finding a favorite quotation or author quickly. Quotations reflect recent developments in the literary world, as with J.K. Rowling's observation about being falsely accused of plagiarism: "I felt as if some woman had come out of nowhere saying she was my daughter's mother." The quotes are great for emphasizing a point, spicing up a speech, or lending credibility. This comprehensive listing will be handy for teachers, writers, toastmasters, interested browsers, researchers, and librarians. As Winston Churchill observed, "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations." Recommended for academic and public libraries.-Bobbie Wrinkle, McCracken Cty. P.L., Paducah, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Of making quotation dictionaries there is no end. In this outing, famous and not-so-famous writers expound on all things literary, a subject endlessly fascinating for lovers of the written word. Quotations are arranged alphabetically by subject ("Diaries," "Fame," "Grammar," "Writer's Block"). Writers themselves also become the subjects of comment, as with Clifton Fadiman's quip that Gertrude Stein was "the mama of dada." Quotations are impeccably documented, placed in context, and cross-referenced; keyword and author indexes round out the volume. This second edition adds several hundred quotations to the original, although not all are new in a historical sense. The "Libraries" section, for example, adds two quotations from the ancient world. Some quotations from the first edition (CH, May'91) are omitted, on no discernible pattern. Overall, the well-chosen quotations make amusing reading, and bibliophiles will find much to love, but in the glut of quotation dictionaries, this will be optional for most libraries, particularly those that already own the first edition. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General and academic readers. S. Magedanz California State University--San Bernardino

Table of Contents

Preface to Second Editionp. vii
Introductionp. ix
How to Use the Dictionaryp. xvi
List of Themesp. xviii
Dictionaryp. 1
Author Indexp. 343
Keyword Indexp. 381