Cover image for The Oxford dictionary of literary quotations
The Oxford dictionary of literary quotations
Kemp, Peter.
[Second edition].
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xx, 490 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6081 .O89 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PN6081 .O89 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This new expanded edition of Peter Kemp's acclaimed collection illuminates the world of the writer, from classical literature to crime fiction and from the quill to the PC. Organized by subject, it includes topics ranging from Tools of the Trade and Writer's Block to Ghost Stories and Critics.Shakespeare, Shaw, and Johnson have their say, but authors also include Alice Munro on Illustration and Pushkin on Earning a Living, A. D. Hope on Fables and Fairytales, Rimbaud on Baudelaire and Harold Pinter on Omission. New themes in this edition include Graffiti and Epitaphs, and there are manymore quotations by writers on other writers: Ben Okri on Cervantes, Walter de la Mare on Lewis Carroll, and Philip Roth on William Faulkner.The long uphill struggle in playwriting is getting to the top of page one. - Tom StoppardI'd love to write a book a year, but I don't think I'd have any fans. - Donna TarttLads don't write novels. They're down the pub. - Martin Amis on LadlitYou reach an age when every sentence you write bumps into one you wrote thirty years ago. - John a strenuous and pleasurable contact sport. - Maureen HowardThere were no innocent blondes in crime fiction. - Ed McBainNever make your publisher pay the postage is the first rule of literary life. - Julian Barnes

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

This latest quotation dictionary lives up to Oxford's high standard. Kemp is the literary editor of the Sunday Times and a Times Literary Supplement critic. His compilation of over 4000 literary quotes fills a gap in reference literature, containing nearly 1000 more entries than Meic Stephens's A Dictionary of Literary Quotations (Routledge, 1990). It also provides the added convenience of listing quotations alphabetically both by theme ("Writers World," e.g., Ballads, Horror & the Gothic) and by author ("Writers and Their Works"). Within both the thematic and author sections, quotes are arranged chronologically, with the source and date of the quote cited. The majority of the quotations are listed in the thematic section; authors in the "Writers & Their Works" section consist primarily of well-known figures from 19th- and 20th-century literature (e.g., Jane Austen, Charles Lamb, William Wordsworth). Two indexes, by author and by keyword, provide additional access. Highly recommended for academic and public reference collections.‘Lois Hope Cherepon, St. John's Univ., Staten Island, NY (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