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Masterplots Literary Encyclopedia

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Akolouthos View Drop Down

Joined: 24 Feb 2006
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    Posted: 12 Jan 2010 at 09:41
So is anyone familiar with the set. It looks like the version that came out in 1996 had 12 volumes, while the one that came out in 1964 had 15. I assume that the '96 version is simply an updated version of the '64 set? So I had a few questions about them, if you guys would be so kind:
1) Are they intellectually stimulating, with summary as well as critical analysis? In other words, do they have depth?
2) Do they cover almost every essential literary work in Western History, or are there gaping holes? In other words, do they have breadth?
3) Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Are they worth the substantial investment? Wink
Thanks for any information you guys and gals can come up with.
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KayKatz View Drop Down

Joined: 08 Jan 2012
Location: Portland, OR
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KayKatz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2012 at 17:24
I have several copies of Rose Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, which I love (hence the acquisition of more than one edition). It is a truly impressive assembly of world literature. Also the Penguin encyclopedia of literary terms is amazing. There is an incredibly funny entry for the word "literary prize" which ordinarily I would not reproduce because of it's length, but which delighted me so thoroughly that I feel obligated to share its mirth. So here it is:

"Literary Prize: The prize system in general is a 20th c. phenomenon, the product obsessed with competitions and material gain and reward. The system pervades all classes of Western society and a wide range of activities from show-jumping, to art, from ballroom dancing to the growing of vegetables. The absurd proliferation of medals and orders is an aspect of the obsession....It may be argued that the need and desire to assess, judge and grade and reward human effort and attainment is a malaise of decadent humanism which perceives worldly success and its recognition to be an essential part of this life."
-- Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory Ed. J.A. Cuddon, Published by Penguin in 1991.

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