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A Handbook to Literature (Handbook to Literature) 11th Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0136014393
ISBN-10: 0136014399
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This comprehensive text is the definitive reference text on literature and literary criticism in English. The text itself is an alphabetical listing of the terms that pertain to literature in English. Now in its seventh edition, it has been used by more than one million students. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Preface to the Seventh Edition o For more than ten years now, I have given part of every day to the fifth, sixth, and seventh editions of this handbook, and, even before the seventh is technically finished, I have started to make notes for the eighth. I have little to add to what has been said in earlier prefaces, except to report something I had not expected: this kind of work has been more to me and of me than creative writing. One of the improvements in the world since the first edition sixty years ago, as far as I am concerned, is such expansion and relaxation of literary studies that we may now pay to works of biography, history, philosophy, and social science the same kind of critical attention that was once austerely reserved for poems, plays, and novels. And, since the idea of "text" has been enlarged much beyond the realm of print, one may look at an objective work, like this handbook, as a personal text not too different from a poem. For what it may be worth, I can testify, after twenty-five years of publishing books of poetry, that verse is of my life a thing apart, but that the making of reference works like anthologies and handbooks is my whole existence. That exaggerates things somewhat, but it registers my sense of being on even in my dreams. With every conscious experience of a text television production, magazine, bumper sticker, tattoo, overheard conversationI can feel the gears grinding. And probably even more so with casual and unconscious experiences. My wife asks, "Is that a spoof?" and I immediately wonder if the handbook needs an entry for "spoof." TV Guide calls things "soap noir" (Twin Peaks) or "gender-bender" (a film in which a break-dancer with ESP solves a murder), and the machinery starts to hum. People who know me have probably learned to spot changes in my expression that mean "Hes handbooking." I want to thank them for their forbearance when I ask them about the meaning of "soap noir," "gender-bender," "spoof," "pseudomorph," or any of a thousand other things. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Valerie Matthews and Julia Stockton for help with proofreading and much else. Thomas Inge, George Kennedy, Roy McGalliard, Christoph Schweitzer, Mark Wallace, and Joon Yoon came through with advice about specific items. Reviews of larger scope were provided by Joseph W. Creech, Lucy Fischer, Martin Gardner, Russell Graves, Jacqueline Henkel, James G. Janssen, Dale Kramer, Marc Manganaro, John Ney Rieber, Joseph Rudman, Ellen J. Stekert, and Susan Wanlass. My failure to follow all of their recommendations does not mean that I am rejecting or ignoring them. Only so much can be done, and, as I say, there is already a file labeled "8e." William Harmon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 11th edition (March 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0136014399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0136014393
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you have a question about English or American literature, chances are you'll find the answer here. William Harmon, professor of English at the University of North Carolina has revised and updated this handbook, long popular in academia. He's added more than 100 entries which reflect current trends in literature and criticism.
If you don't have a student at home, get this book anyway. Read it. Just the outline of English and American literary history in the back of the book is worth the price. You undoubtedly will find books here you never knew existed. I thought I'd read all of Eudora Welty, for instance, but I found a "new" title listed here -- new to me, at least. I also discovered a James Gould Cozzens book I'd never heard of.
The handbook is actually an encyclopedia of words and phrases pertaining to the study of literature. Listings are defined, explained and often illustrated. There are cross references. Appendices include complete lists of Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction, poetry and drama. The index of proper names in the back lists over 2,300 authors and prominent literary figures.
This book is a must for the home library. Also, it's entertaining as well as informative reading. You may well find yourself curled up with it, unwilling to tear yourself away.
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Format: Paperback
With the possible exception of my Roget's Thesaurus, this was the most useful reference in my pursuit of a BA in English Lit and Art History. This was recommended by one of my professors and it served me very well.
Easy-to-use alphabetical format allows reader to look up terms essential to the analysis of literature, and is highly useful to students of other humanities. The definitions are easy to digest but are quite thorough and supply sufficient context. Take this to college and use it often. An excellent tool for your research and writing.
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By A Customer on May 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I love this book because it has complete, concise definitions of every literary facet you can think of. I have used it as a study tool for my certification tests, as a quick look up tool before tests, and as a way to explain difficult literary terminology to my students. I cannot stress how badly English teachers (and anyone else who loves literature) needs this book!
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Format: Paperback
If your teacher/leader for the University Interscholastic League for literary criticism has not clued you in yet, this is the book to get! It's got everything you never knew you didn't know about English literature. The "Knowledge of Literary Terms and History" section of the exam is based on this text, so whether you're hitting the books or just expanding your horizons, be sure and check it out!
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Format: Paperback
The original compiler/editor, Hugh Holman, had created a classic--probably the best handbook to literature (almost exclusively English and American) available. The latest edition (10th) has everything that Holman had, with some modifications and additions. One of best features of Handbook is its invaluable time-line at the end, covering every major book and author in every major period of English literature, side-by-side with a chronology of American literature.
2 Comments 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This is the newest edition of the book I first used in sophomore lit. classes. I used it all the way through grad school and still use it constantly as a college professor. My old 1962 antique edition is falling apart. I'd never consider replacing it with anything besides this newer edition!
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Format: Paperback
Recently received desk copy of 8th edition. Impressed by the fact book covers both traditional literary terms *and* terms from contemporary theory. Some gaps, but that's to be expected of any handbook. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Easily one of the best handbooks on the market, and an indispensable reference for English teachers of literature and researchers at all levels. After thirty-seven years in teaching, I still make certain my copy of AHTL is readily accessible.
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