Cover image for The concise Oxford dictionary of literary terms
The concise Oxford dictionary of literary terms
Baldick, Chris.
Publication Information:
Oxford, England : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.
Physical Description:
246 pages ; 22 cm
Added Author:
Format :


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PN41 .C67 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN41 .C67 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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From Jacques Derrida's différance to Henry James's ficelle, the vocabulary of literary theory and criticism can seem difficult if not opaque. Yet a grasp of these terms can often enhance our enjoyment and understanding of literature. To help clarify the reader's bafflement, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms provides succinct and often witty explanations of over one thousand terms, covering everything from the ancient dithyramb to the contemporary dub poetry, from the popular bodice-ripper to the aristocratic masque, and from the social realism of Stalin's era to the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie.
Baldick provides the clearest coverage available of the newly coined terms of important contemporary theories--such as post-structuralism, deconstruction, semiotics, reader-response criticism--offering lucid, up-to-date definitions of terms such as logocentrism, metacriticism, gynocriticism, narratology, and foregrounding. Of course, he also includes extensive coverage of traditional drama, versification, rhetoric, and literary history, of literary schools from Alexandrianism to Transcendentalism, and of terms from languages other than English, such as samizdat, Grand Guignol, and negritude. Throughout, the author's emphasis is on helping readers use these terms more confidently, whether in writing (he includes plural and adjectival forms, and other relevant derivations) or in speaking (easy-to-use pronunciation guides clarify more than 200 potentially troublesome terms). In addition, the dictionary is thoroughly cross-referenced.
A model reference book, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms will prove invaluable for both general readers and literature students at all levels.

Author Notes

About the Author:
Chris Baldick is Senior Lecturer in English at Edge Hill College of Higher Education in Ormskirk, Scotland.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Of the many recent dictionaries of literary terms, Baldick's is the one most likely to satisfy today's student. Rejecting ``encyclopaedic completeness,'' it omits commonly understood general terms that are not specifically literary (e.g., art, culture, etc.). Included instead are ``many terms generated by the growth of academic literary theory in recent years.'' The explanations are clear and succinct, and often employ illustrative examples. An uncommon feature of this work is its pronunciation guide, applied to some 200 of the 1000 terms here defined. In addition to the attention paid to the terminology of classical rhetoric, there is a distinct emphasis on French deconstructionist terms derived from Derrida, Barthes, et al. Baldick's chief rival is Northrop Frye's Harper Handbook to Literature (1985), which is more comprehensive but lacks Baldick's currency. For larger libraries and academic collections.-- Jeffrey R. Luttrell, Youngstown State Univ., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The operative word in the title is "concise." Having fewer terms than some standard guides, such as the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (enl. ed., CH, Oct'75), this dictionary's strength is its succinctness. It also incorporates more foreign terms than many other guides. One weakness of the dictionary is its failure to provide bibliographies for most of its entries; hence students are not directed to more extensive discussions of the terms. Although entries are generally lucid, the dictionary does contain some abstruse definitions of postmodernist terms such as "deconstruction" and "aporia." In spite of these weaknesses, this work is recommended for all academic libraries. -S. Stebelman, The George Washington University