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Full Text Review(s)
“This nicely illustrated reference for junior high and high school students offers 20 page profiles of 93 of the world's most influential writers of the twentieth century. Arranged alphabetically, each profile provides facts about the writer's life and works as well as commentary on his or her significance, discussion of political and social events that occurred during his or her lifetime, a reader's guide to major works, and events, beliefs or traditions that inspired the writer's works. Authors featured include Chinua Achebe, Isabel Allende, Samuel Beckett, Italo Calvino, Chou Shu-jen, J. M. Coetzee, Joseph Conrad, Isak Dinesen, Carlos Fuentes, Gao Xingjian, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Golding, Nadine Gordimer, Vaclav Havel, Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, Yasunari Kawabata, Jamaica Kincaid, D. H. Lawrence, Doris Lessing, Yukio Mishima, Bharati Mukherjee, Iris Murdoch, R. K. Narayan, Pablo Neruda, Salman Rushdie, and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.”
REFERENCE & RESEARCH BOOK NEWS
“Ninety-three authors are showcased in the context of the world in which they lived and wrote about in this companion to R. Baird Shuman's Great American Writers: Twentieth Century (Marshall Cavendish, 2002). Individually authored entries include information on each writer's life and inspiration and offer individual analysis of selected titles as well as the social and political movements that often weighed heavily in the plots and themes. Isabel Allende, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Salman Rushdie are examples of featured writers who became exiled from their native countries for the political implications of their work. Entries for Asian, African, Australian, and South and Central American writers equal the number of British, Canadian, and European notables. Twenty-three Nobelists are featured, including J.M. Coetzee, V. S. Naipaul, Gao Xingjian, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney. There are entries for critically acclaimed female writers, such as India's Bharati Mukherjee and Anita Desai and Pakistan's Bapsi Sidhwa. The articles are enhanced by quality artwork and photographs representing the writer's mood or motives. For example, Angel Ramiro Sanchez's full-page portrait of a blindfolded man (Tiresia) is used to reflect Graham Green's protagonists who often blinded themselves to flaws in moral quandaries. Colored pages separate biographical information from the writer's work and analysis, and inset boxes for chronologies and bibliographies make this set approachable and visually appealing. There are separate indexes for social and political movements, country of origin and Nobelists. This is an exemplary resource for literary-criticism collections.”
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Conceived as a companion to Great American Writers: Twentieth Century (2002), this set surveys the lives and works of 93 distinguished non-American writers of the last century. In selecting them, an attempt has been made to balance the “claims of geography, culture, genre, and language.” Authors from 42 countries are represented. About half are native speakers of English or chose to write in English, while the rest have been translated into English. Only about 20 are women. A partial selection includes Chinua Achebe, Isabel Allende, Italo Calvino, Joseph Conrad, Athol Fugard, Robert Graves, Doris Lessing, Yukio Mishima, V.S. Naipaul, Wole Soyinka, Dylan Thomas, J. R. R. Tolkien, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Virginia Woolf.
These are exciting volumes, intended to attract and hold the attention of young adults, even though some of the writers (Gao Xingjian, André Malraux, and Iris Murdoch, for instance) are far from mainstays of the high school curriculum. The volumes are profusely illustrated with a roughly equal mix of photographs and imaginatively selected reproductions of largely unfamiliar paintings. Pages run the gamut of pastel colors, as well as white, while liberal use of varied text formats and headings facilitates browsing and quick access to key facts and resources. Each of the 10 to 25 page entries begins with a photographic portrait, vital statistics, identification, and significance. Each also has sections on the writer's life and work, a chronology of life highlights, a “Reader's Guide to Major Works,” and a resource section that may include everything from books and films to Web sites and museums. Some entries include lists of film tie-ins and boxed features on a variety of topics. Each volume has its own index, while volume 13 includes a wealth of cumulative indexes, a glossary, and a list of Nobel Prize winners for literature.
Highly recommended for high school and public libraries. Though the set is aimed at students, perusing these volumes is likely to turn on adult readers to some writers new to them.”
“Covering 93 international writers from 42 countries, this delightfully appealing biographical reference will be an outstanding addition for libraries supporting world literature studies. Each extensive entry begins with a brief overview of the author's significance. A detailed biography follows and includes a timeline highlighting major events of the writer's work includes a list of all major works and helpful bibliography. For some authors, there is also a listing of films based on their works. A critical discussion of major works, including sources for further study, concludes the piece. Additional print and Web resources are included. All of this clearly presented information is punctuated by illustrations, such as photos or art, which are intended to reinforce understanding of the influences on the writer's life or works. The use of art work is an especially intriguing device for elucidating the authors' themes, and it works well. The extensive index volume allows the reader to locate writers by name, country, literary works, literary characters, genre, or films. In addition there are indexes for the artworks used in the set and the artists. The literary analysis, through brief, were clear and well explained. The high visual appeal of the frequent photos, fine art, graphics, and extensive use of color is impressive. Highly Recommended.”
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