Cover image for The New York Public Library literature companion
The New York Public Library literature companion
New York Public Library.
Corporate Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 772 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Stonesong Press book."
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN41 .N49 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

As one might expect of a companion, this is a book you can open at random and see what you find. Within its classified arrangement, entries are provided for authors, critics, literary characters, and works from all times and places, mostly Western. There are also many lists: book awards, literary reference books, a chronology of world literature, great books lists, a dictionary, literary web sites, and more. Sidebars are used to highlight such miscellany as famous opening lines ("Call me Ishmael"), last lines, writers portrayed in fiction, and famous rejection letters. There are even several enjoyable little quizzes (such as matching quotations against a list of authors, e.g., who wrote, "Hell is other people"?). No information is provided for the more than 25 contributors, and their articles are unsigned. Editor-in-chief Skillion has published several other literary reference books, including, with George Plimpton, Introducing the Great American Novel. No other modern literary companion comes close to matching this book's remarkable breadth. Though its dedication to nonjudgmental statements of fact may leave one wishing for more idiosyncrasy, the book is very well done and belongs in every library's literary reference collection. Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The editor claims this volume "offers the most up-to-date information on literature available in English from around the world, from the invention of writing to the age of the computer," and that it is "designed to satisfy the curious browser as well as the serious researcher." The Companion lives up to only part of this large order. It is current (including, for example, Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, 2000) and provides information about a wide range of authors, chiefly those writing in English (but with a satisfying number whose work appears in translation, e.g., Egyptian-born Greek poet Constantine Cavafy). It is as easy to praise the book as a pleasant smorgasbord for curious browsers as it is difficult to recommend it to serious researchers. Nearly a third of the book supplies author biographies, usually 200 to 300 words long. The well-written sketches cite the author's major works but not biography or criticism. Among the work's many sections one finds an annotated list of characters in novels, short stories, poems, and plays; a glossary ("comedy of manners," "interior monologue"); a chronology of world literary history; and a 100-page alphabetical list of titles with plot summaries. Scattered through the volume are one- and two-page features ("Great Lines from Great Poems; A Matching Quiz," "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of the 1990s," "From Achilles' Heel to Yahoo, Literary Eponyms and Allusions)." While W.R. Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia (4th ed., 1998) offers some of the same information in one alphabetical arrangement, NYPL is more up-to-date and includes topics ("Web Sites for Literature," "Adaptations into Other Media") not found in Benet. Well-edited and entertaining, NYPL will be a useful starting point for those who want to identify authors, titles, or a wide variety of facts connected to the world of literature. General and undergraduate collections. D. C. Dickinson emeritus, University of Arizona

Table of Contents

Editor's Note
I Creators
1 Authors
2 Other Influential Figures Biographers, Critics, Editors, Publishers, Thinkers, Translators
3 Authors' Awards
4 Additional Sources Of Information Sources in Literary Biography
II Works of Literature
1 Works of Literature Novels, Plays, Poems, Stories, Essays
2 Book Awards
3 Influential Literary Periodicals
4 Variations Adaptations into Other Media
5 Recommended Reading: Great Books Lists
6 Landmarks in Literary Censorship Additional Sources of Information
7 General Literary Sources
III Literary Facts and Resources
1 Characters
2 Dictionary of Literature Terms, Styles, Movements, Genres
3 Chronology of World Literature From the Invention of Writing to the Year Additional Sources of Information
4 Websites for Literature
5 Libraries with Significant Literary Holdings
6 Literary Factbooks and Handbooks