Cover image for A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory
A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory
Cuddon, J. A. (John Anthony), 1928-1996.
Fourth edition.
Publication Information:
Oxford ; Malden, Mass. : Blackwell, 1998.
Physical Description:
xix, 991 pages ; 24 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN41 .C83 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The fourth edition of J.A. Cuddon's classic dictionary has been thoroughly revised and updated to maintain it as the most comprehensive and accessible work of its kind currently available, for students, teachers and general readers alike. Expanded to include many new entries, it has been improved throughout, in places rendered more concise, in others amended and extended, with both major and minor additions. The work of the third edition, to cover the schools and various terminologies of literary theory is continued, without compromising coverage afforded to more traditional critical terms and topics.

At this untimely death in 1996, Charles Cuddon, as he was known, had completed much of the revisory and updating work involved in preparing the edition. That work and other unfinished plans and outlines have since been overseen and developed by C.E. Preston of Sidney Sussex college, Cambridge, helped, as she acknowledges, by several of her academic colleagues. Among the entries extensively rewritten or newly contributed are:

* "CrimeFiction",

* "Dramatic Monologue",

* "Ellipsis",

* "Punctuation",

* "Rhyme",

* "Verse Novel", and

* "Sonnet Cycle".

After more than twenty years in print, Cuddon's Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory remains "a superlative work of reference that will be read for pleasure", just as it was acclaimed to be when first published in 1976. There is now no better memorial to its author's extraordinary polymathy and literary scholarship.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

New edition of a classic, first published in 1976 and last revised in 1991. Among the new or revised entries are crime fiction, punctuation, and sonnet cycle. Cuddon, the original editor, passed away in 1996; this edition was compiled from his drafts and notes.

Choice Review

At his death in March 1996, Cuddon "was far advanced in the revisions . . . contained in this new edition" of his dictionary (3rd ed., CH, Dec'91), revised and augmented by Preston (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge). The terrain for dictionaries of literary theory and literary terms is cluttered. Cuddon's competes with, for instance, Irena R. Makaryk's Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory (CH, Nov'93) and Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth's The John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (CH, Jul'94), both highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. M.H. Abrams's A Glossary of Literary Terms (CH, Sep'93), now in its seventh edition, is an excellent guide to general literary terms and literary theory. But for sheer comprehensiveness and eclecticism, Cuddon serves a useful function. Entries are frequently essays rather than enumerations, are often uneven, are diverse, and cover many languages. They begin with a lengthy paragraph on the Abbey Theatre and conclude with a short one on Zhdanovshchina. Cross-referenced, largely devoid of jargon, well written, and lucid, entries contain within them reading lists and rich literary references. Well bound, nicely typeset, and competitively priced, the latest edition of Cuddon (alas, his last) is highly recommended for general readers and for colleges and universities. Even researchers may find it refreshing. W. Baker; Northern Illinois University