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BOOK REVIEWS mysterious, but that it is rooted in the same Victorian backward-looking nostalgia as that of the Pre-Raphaelites. Contradiction, richness, mystery and nostalgia—these words go far toward explaining the appeal to the imaginations of recent scholars not only of Doughty and Burton, but of all of the Anglo-Arabian writers. It is an appeal that is likely to last well into the future. Stephen E. Tabachnick ____________ The University of Oklahoma An 1890s Encyclopedia G. A. Cevasco, ed. The 1890s: An Encyclopedia of British Literature, Art, and Culture. New York: Garland, 1993. xxi + 714 pp. $95.00 EXAMPLES are plentiful. Suffice it to say that an ever-increasing array of handbooks, guides, glossaries, and references tools of this or that kind for nineteenth- and twentieth-century studies multiply year in and year out. Most are alike in the lackluster quality of the information they contain and their limited scope. Exceptions to this commonplace come to mind: John Sutherland's The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction (1989), Paul and June Schlueter's An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers (1988), David Grote's British English for American Readers (1992). Then there are a few in a class alone, one of the very best being Sally Mitchell's Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia from Garland Publishing in 1988. Garland now offers another distinguished volume, The 1890s: An Encyclopedia of British Literature, Art, and Culture. As that remarkable curiosity called the 1890s is coetaneous with the reign of Victoria, so Cevasco's and Mitchell's books work together as an ensemble to cover nearly a century of British literature and culture. It is The 1890s that readers of ELT will want to turn to most often, of course. While Cevasco says in his introduction that "it would be presumptuous to suggest that such a tremendously important period can be brought between the covers of any volume," in a sense this is what occurs in The 1890s. However we try to characterize the 90s—as home to the "tragic generation," as a "thousand movements" or a "period of transition" (to use Holbrook Jackson's terms), as a mood, as a decade (or less), or with a dozen other appellations—many would agree it was so engagingly various and wide-ranging in its interests and authors that it gives the word "turbulence" an agreeable connotation. And so I mean no impertinence when I say that this book is as sundry as the literature 251 ELT 37:2 1994 and art it tries to safeguard in the scheme of a reference tool. Clearly one of the strengths of The 1890s is ite broad coverage of subjects. We can take Cevasco at his word when he says "more than 800 topics" are cataloged here. From Absinthe to The Victoria Cross, from Libraries and Librarians to The Newlyen School, a host of familiar and uncommon subjects are discussed. Each entry is followed with a brief bibliography for further reading. Just as useful is the cross-referencing feature that accompanies many subjects. For example, Socialism is supplemented with a list of other references: Fabianism, Stewart Headlam, the Independent Labour Party, William Morris, the Social Democratic Federation , and Oscar Wilde. A particularly interesting facet of the subject category is the inclusion of discussions about journals and magazines. J. Reginald Tye's "Periodical Literature" offers a good overview, and then there are numerous entries on everything from the Anglo-Saxon Review to The Yellow Book. Emphasis on the coverage of subjects should not detract from the authors the volume catalogs. For decades two standard reference sources have been Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft's British Authors of the Nineteenth Century (1936) and Twentieth Century Authors (1942). Cevasco's book now gives us up-to-date bio-critical evaluations that concentrate on authors, major and minor, of the 90s and encompassing years. These are not one-paragraph listings of literary credentials. They often run several thousand words, and important novels or plays are featured as separate entries. Again, all of this is conveniently cross-referenced. So after the entry on Wilde the reader is directed to six works by Wilde. A first-rate index also helps in this regard...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 251-253
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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