Cover image for Literature and its times : profiles of 300 notable literary works and the historical events that influenced them
Literature and its times : profiles of 300 notable literary works and the historical events that influenced them
Moss, Joyce, 1951-
Publication Information:
Detroit : Gale, [1997]

Physical Description:
5 volumes : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
v. 1. Ancient times to the American and French Revolutions, (pre-history-1790s) -- v. 2. Civil wars to frontier societies (1800-1880s) -- v. 3. Growth of empires to the Great Depression (1890-1930s) -- v. 4. World War II to the affluent fifties (1940-1950s) -- v. 5. Civil rights movements to future times (1960-2000).





Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN50 .L574 1997 V.5 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
PN50 .L574 1997 V.4 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
PN50 .L574 1997 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
PN50 .L574 1997 V.2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
PN50 .L574 1997 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

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Information about the historical background of over 300 often-studied literary works from around the world. This five-volume set is arranged chronologically by major historical periods, offering students contexts and connections to enhance the learning experience. Entries feature: a brief introduction to the work; discussion of the work's historical setting; an overview of the events of the time that the work was written; and the work in focus. Under these headings information is divided into subtopics to help students find everything they want to know. Other contextual features include: photos and graphics; bibliography of additional sources; and text enhancements highlighting interesting historical issues related to the work.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In recent years, there has been an emphasis on teaching across the curriculum. Gale has applied that concept to this new set, which is arranged chronologically from 3000 B.C. to future times (A.D. 2500 plus), profiling 300 novels, short stories, biographies, speeches, poems, and plays in the context of their historical periods. For example, Ivanhoe and The Scarlet Letter are discussed in volume 1, Ancient Times to the American and French Revolutions, because, although both were published in the nineteenth century, they are set in an earlier era. Whether the literary work was published during the time of its setting or decades later, Literature and Its Times provides insight into both the time in which it takes place and the time in which it was written. More than 80 librarians, secondary teachers, and university professors were responsible for the selection of titles included in this series. The criteria utilized during the selection process were based on the frequency with which the works are studied and their close relationship to historical events. Not only are classics, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, included, so are works by ethnic and female authors, such as Ruthanne Lum McCunn and Mildred Taylor. Entries within each of the five volumes are arranged alphabetically. Each volume begins with an introduction to that volume followed by a chart of the chronology of relevant events and the corresponding literary works set in the period. Also included are an author and a title index. Each volume ends with a cumulative index of all five volumes by subject, author, and title, which makes searching easy. Entries are generally six or seven pages long. Each entry is organized into five sections. The introduction provides brief information about literary work (genre, time, and place of the work and the year it was published or performed), a synopsis of the story or content, and a paragraph introducing the work as it relates to the author's life. This is followed by a section that examines the social and political events of the time and relates those events to the literary work. The next section, "The Literary Work in Focus," describes briefly the plot or contents of the literary work and shows how these reflect upon the times. This section often includes information on the author's sources. "Events in History at the Time the Literary Work Was Written" describes social or political events in the author's lifetime that relate to the plot or content of the work. A list of the sources cited in the entry, as well as sources for further reading, concludes the entry. The publisher notes that if the work was written and set in the same time period, sections 2 and 4 are combined. Primary-source material is provided through quotations within the text and material in sidebars. Sidebars also contain additional historical details related to the main text. The text is enhanced by illustrations and maps. Gale is to be congratulated on the publication of this set. The diversity of the works profiled is impressive, encompassing Shakepeare's plays, Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal, Madame Bovary, Chief Joseph's "I Will Fight No More Forever" speech, Up from Slavery, The Grapes of Wrath, The Joy Luck Club, The Golden Notebook, Silent Spring, President Kennedy's inaugural address, and Dune. The unique perspective enables one to view issues in literature, history, sociology, and politics and to see how those issues are portrayed in literary works. Literature and Its Times is recommended for all libraries whose patrons at the secondary level and above study literature.

Library Journal Review

This five-volume set will help students beginning research on the historical influences and setting of a work, from Greek and Roman authors to current writers. The editors chose the selections (fiction, poetry, short stories, plays, biographies, and speeches) with the input of public librarians and secondary-school teachers, and the information included was reviewed by 15 members of UCLA's English faculty. The 300 works covered here are thus meant to align closely with titles that high school students are seeking out. Each volume covers a time range subdivided by dates and a general description (e.g., Civil Rights Movements to Future Times/1960-2000) and begins with a brief overview of the historical events of the era, with a time-line providing a synopsis of each period. Works are arranged in alphabetical order by title. Each entry, averaging four pages, explores the historical events during the time in which the work is set and written. Some discussion of the content is included, along with sources for further reading. Students will find helpful information on the historical settings of the work and on the author but will not reach full understanding of other aspects, such as literary meaning. Sources like the "Twayne Masterworks" series provide a mix of historical analysis and literary interpretation, but no other beginning reference is dedicated to literature set in its time. Recommended for public and school libraries.‘Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 UpÄThis collection of 300 profiles of frequently studied works, stretching from Homer's Iliad to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, should prove invaluable to reference collections. These poems, plays, short stories, novels, essays, and speeches were selected based on the frequency with which they are studied and their link to historical events. The works are divided into volumes according to their historical setting. Therefore, Arthur Miller's The Crucible is located in volume 1 (Prehistory to 1790) along with works by Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Emily Bront`, while his Death of a Salesman is found in volume 4 (WW II to the 1950s) with works by J. D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, Rachel Carson, and Maya Angelou. This allows for some interesting connections to arise between pieces of literature. Unfortunately, the serendipity of the arrangement is hindered by the alphabetical arrangement within the individual volumes. To view the crisis of World War I and its aftermath by moving from All Quiet on the Western Front to The Waste Land might have offered the opportunity for an epiphany, while locating these works alphabetically (All Creatures Great and Small to All Quiet to The Awakening) seems at best, random, and at worst, somewhat jarring. However, this is just a quibble. The five-to-seven page profiles include a synopsis of the book, an overview of historical events, and a discussion of pertinent social customs (e.g., the article on Anna Karenina not only mentions the Russo-Turkish war and the freeing of the serfs, but also the divorce laws and the rights of women in 19th-century Russia). Entries also look at the time during which the author was writing (e.g., the profile of Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land finds connections between the novel and the counter-culture of the `60s). These essays are concise and informative and best of all, like good booktalks, they bring the eternal ebb and flow of literature in all its configurations into the light of a new day.ÄHerman Sutter, Saint Pius X High School, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Assuming that literature cannot be divorced from the time in which it was written or the time in which it is set, the aesthetically pleasing Literature and Its Times attempts to provide historical background for 300 titles, prehistory to the bimillennium. The choice of titles is based on the frequency with which they are studied or the closeness with which they are tied to important historical events. This selection policy leaves many unexplained omissions--for instance, the Romantic poets receive only brief mentions in essays about Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, yet this collection claims to include poetry. Although the introductions to each volume discuss the texts chronologically, the works themselves are arranged alphabetically in each volume. To further confuse, works are placed in the era in which they are set rather than when they were written. The collection's strong points are the indexing and time lines included in each volume. Questions of inclusion aside, the criticism in the unsigned entries is basic at best, and the history could easily be found in an encyclopedia or a history textbook. Includes illustrations. Lower-division undergraduates. A. Courtney Auburn University