The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Penguin Dictionary)

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9780140513639: The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Penguin Dictionary)

The latest installment of this trusted literary companion covers all aspects of literary theory, from definitions of technical terms to characterizations of literary movements. Geared toward students, teachers, readers, and writers alike, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory explains critical jargon (intertextuality, aporia), schools of literary theory (structuralism, feminist criticism), literary forms (sonnet, ottava rima), and genres (elegy, pastoral) and examines artifacts, historic locales, archetypes, origins of well-known phrases, and much, much more. Scholarly, straightforward, comprehensive, and even entertaining, this is a resource that no word-lover should be without.

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From the Back Cover:

The fourth edition of J.A. Cuddon's classic dictionary has been thoroughly revised and updated to maintain it as the most comprehensive and accessible work of its kind currently available, for students, teachers and general readers alike. Expanded to include many new entries, it has been improved throughout, in places rendered more concise, in others amended and extended, with both major and minor additions. The work of the third edition, to cover the schools and various terminologies of literary theory is continued, without compromising coverage afforded to more traditional critical terms and topics.

At this untimely death in 1996, Charles Cuddon, as he was known, had completed much of the revisory and updating work involved in preparing the edition. That work and other unfinished plans and outlines have since been overseen and developed by C.E. Preston of Sidney Sussex college, Cambridge, helped, as she acknowledges, by several of her academic colleagues. Among the entries extensively rewritten or newly contributed are:


  • "CrimeFiction",
  • "Dramatic Monologue",
  • "Ellipsis",
  • "Punctuation",
  • "Rhyme",
  • "Verse Novel", and
  • "Sonnet Cycle".


After more than twenty years in print, Cuddon's Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory remains "a superlative work of reference that will be read for pleasure", just as it was acclaimed to be when first published in 1976. There is now no better memorial to its author's extraordinary polymathy and literary scholarship.

About the Author:

J. A. Cuddon (1928–1996) was a renowned expert in the fields of literature and linguistics. He also wrote several plays, libretti, novels, short stories, essays, and travel narratives.

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J. A. Cuddon, C. E. Preston
Editorial: Penguin Books (2000)
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