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In this revision of the fifth edition, Drabble has added 59 new entries on contemporary writers; updated previous entries on twentieth-century authors to reflect new publications, deaths, and other events; and corrected many of the errors noted by reviewers of the 1985 volume. Moreover, she has dropped the three appendixes relating to censorship, copyright, and the calendar and inserted in their place an extensive chronological chart tracing English literature from Anglo-Saxon times through 1994, a list of British poets laureate, and lists of recipients of the Nobel, Pulitzer, and Booker prizes and the Carnegie Medal. Interestingly, a number of articles that were added to the concise version (e.g., Foreign Influences, Parody) do not appear in this revision.
Whereas the fifth edition excluded authors born after 1939, Drabble obviously has now abandoned this policy since the subjects of many of the new entries (e.g., Martin Amis, Penelope Lively, Salman Rushdie) were born after 1940. In addition, she has expanded coverage of English-language writers outside Great Britain by adding such figures as Peter Carey, Robertson Davies, Janet Frame, and Toni Morrison. Her continued exclusion of a writer of the prominence of Eudora Welty is difficult to understand, particularly in light of the lengthy new article on Gore Vidal. In most cases, articles on living authors have been revised through 1994, and in some instances, entries note even 1995 publications, such as Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled.
A few other articles also have been updated (e.g., the article on The Oxford English Dictionary now mentions the second edition and the CD-ROM version, and the entry for the Listener notes its cessation in 1991). However, some other entries also could use revision. For instance, Cambridge University Press indicates that "a history of American literature is planned," when, in fact, two volumes have already been published. Also, references from Calendar and Censorship to the now non-existent appendixes have not been deleted.
With more than 9,000 entries, the OCEL is a veritable cornucopia of information pertaining to British literature. While it includes a number of entries on major Commonwealth, European, and American authors, its primary focus continues to be the literature and culture of the British Isles. In this regard, it is significantly different from the Cambridge Guide to Literature in English [RBB Ap 1 94], which has considerably fewer entries but offers better coverage of the English-language literatures of Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, the Caribbean, Canada, and the U.S. However, the OCEL treats many more minor British authors and their works, individuals who have influenced English literature, and literary characters and allusions. Although the overlap between these two works is substantial, the differences are sufficient that most libraries will want both volumes.
It's hard to answer questions about fiction when what you've got is a reference book :) This edition is somewhat outdated but still useful for quick reference, about on the level... Read morePublished 3 days ago by dizzheart
Excellent reference for any serious scholar of English Literature.Published 5 months ago by Charles Ferraro
As a Scottish-American, I must take exception to the very title of this mammoth work, as it should have been titled 'The Oxford Companion to British Literature' seeing as how it... Read morePublished on November 5, 2013 by othoniaboys
The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Edited by Margaret Drabble.
The good thing of this book is shown on its descriptions which are added and edited
by the... Read more
I teach English literature, so this book is invaluable to me, but also for anyone who watches movies based on nineteenth-century. Want to know characters and plot of such novels? Read morePublished on January 27, 2012 by M. Walker
This reference book provides a comprehensive guide to English literature. Authors, book titles and characters from novels are included and the coverage of literature and quality of... Read morePublished on November 2, 2006 by CDG Dunblane