The New York Public Library Literature Companion

The New York Public Library Literature Companion

by Staff of The New York Public Library
Pick up The New York Public Library Literature Companion to check the dates of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or to find out how James Joyce's Ulysses changed U.S. obscenity laws, and you may find yourself hours later absorbed in the imaginary worlds of Camelot and The Matrix or sidetracked by the fascinating history of The New


Pick up The New York Public Library Literature Companion to check the dates of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or to find out how James Joyce's Ulysses changed U.S. obscenity laws, and you may find yourself hours later absorbed in the imaginary worlds of Camelot and The Matrix or sidetracked by the fascinating history of The New Yorker. Designed to satisfy the curious browser as well as the serious researcher, this exciting new resource 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.

Interwoven throughout the more than 2,500 succinct and insightful entries on Creators, Works of Literature, and Literary Facts and Resources are the fascinating facts and quirky biographical details that make literature come alive. Readers will discover, for instance, that Walt Whitman was fired from his government job after his personal copy of Leaves of Grass was discovered in his desk by the Secretary of the Interior, who was scandalized by it; that James Baldwin remembered listening to blues singer Bessie Smith ("playing her till I fell asleep") when he was writing his first book; and that a publisher turned down the serialization rights to Gone with the Wind, saying, "Who needs the Civil War now -- who cares?"

Looking for information about book burning or how many Nobel laureates have come from Japan? You'll find it here. Trying to remember the name of that movie based on a favorite book? Read the "Variations" section -- you'll be amazed at the pervasive presence of great literature in today's entertainment. From Aristophanes to Allende, from Bergson to Bloom, the biographical entries will inform readers about the men and women who have shaped -- and are shaping -- the literary world. Look into "Works of Literature" to discover the significance of Beowulf, The Fountainhead, Doctor Zhivago, and nearly 1,000 other titles. Check the "Dictionary of Literature" to find out what the critics and theorists are talking about. And if you wish to delve even deeper, "Websites for Literature" and "Literary Factbooks and Handbooks" are just two of the bibliographies that will point readers in the right direction.

Unique in scope and design and easy to use, The New York Public Library Literature Companion will be at home on every reader's shelf. Whether you are immersed in Stephen King or King Lear, this book has the insights, facts, and fascinating stories that will enrich your reading forever.

With four major research centers and 85 branch libraries, The New York Public Library is internationally recognized as one of the greatest institutions of its kind. Founded in 1895, the library now holds more than 50 million items, including several world-renowned collections of literary manuscripts and rare books. Among the books published from the library in recent years are The New York Public Library Desk Reference (1998); The Hand of the Poet (1997); Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language, and Loss (1999); A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980 (1998); and Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World (2000).

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
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 Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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from Recommended Reading: Great Books Lists

Books of the Century

To commemorate the New York Public Library's Centennial in May 1995, librarians identified books that played defining roles in history and culture from 1895 to 1995 — the Library's first one hundred years. The resulting list, which first appeared in an exhibition and later in a book, includes great books and landmarks; books that influenced the course of events; books that interpreted new worlds; and books that simply delighted millions of readers. The list is international; the only restriction was "one book per author." Below are the works of literary interest featured on the list, a full account of which can be found in The New York Public Library's Books of the Century, edited by Elizabeth Diefendorf (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

1895 H. G. Wells, The Time Machine
1896 Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
1897 Bram Stoker, Dracula
1898 Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
1900 L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
1901 Anton Chekhov, The Three Sisters
Rudyard Kipling, Kim
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit
1902 Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
1903 Helen Keller, The Story of My Life
1906 J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
1907 Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
1911 G. K. Chesterton, The Innocence of FatherBrown
1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes
Zane Grey, Riders of the Purple Sage
1913-27 Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
1914 Juan Ramón Jiménez, Platero and I: An Andalusian Elegy
George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion
Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons: Objects Food Rooms
1915 Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
1917 Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence and Other Poems
William Butler Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole
1919 Siegfried Sassoon, The War Poems
1920 Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
1920-23 Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Schweik
1921 Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author
1922 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
James Joyce, Ulysses
1923 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
P. G. Wodehouse, The Inimitable Jeeves
1924 E. M. Forster, A Passage to India
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
1926 A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
1927 Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
1928 Federico García Lorca, Gypsy Ballads
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
1931 Willa Cather, Shadows on the Rock
1932 Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
1933 James Hilton, Lost Horizon
1935-40 Anna Akhmatova, Requiem
1936 Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
1937 John Dos Passos, U.S.A.
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
1939 Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust
1940 Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Richard Wright, Native Son
1941 Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon
1942 Albert Camus, The Stranger
Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road
1943 Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
1944 Jorge Luis Borges, Fictions
Lillian Smith, Strange Fruit
1946 William Faulkner, The Portable Faulkner
1947 W. H. Auden, The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue
Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon
1948 Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country
B. F. Skinner, Walden Two
1949 George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four
1950 C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
1951 J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
1952 Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version
E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
1953 Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
1955 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
1956 Grace Metalious, Peyton Place
1957 Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
1958 Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Elie Wiesel, Night
1960 Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
1961 Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Langston Hughes, The Best of Simple
1962 Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day
Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
1963 Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
1965 Truman Capote, In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
1966 Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
1967 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
1969 Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Philip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint
Tayeb el-Salih, Season of Migration to the North
1973-75 Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation
1974 Stephen King, Carrie
1975 V. S. Naipaul, Guerrillas
1976 Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment
Buchi Emecheta, The Bride Price
1977 Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
1982 Alice Walker, The Color Purple
1983 Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979
1984 Marguerite Duras, The Lover
1985 Patricia MacLachlan, Sarah, Plain and Tall
1986 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
1986-91 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor's Tale (2 vols.)
1987 Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

Copyright © 2001 by The Stonesong Press, Inc. and The New York Public Library

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