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Literature and Its Times
     

Literature and Its Times

by Gale, George Wilson (Joint Author)
 

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
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.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 UpThis 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.Herman Sutter, Saint Pius X High School, Houston, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780787606060
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
09/26/1997
Pages:
2375
Product dimensions:
11.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 7.63(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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