Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Literature and Politics Today: The Political Nature of Modern Fiction and Drama

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Literature and Politics Today: The Political Nature of Modern Fiction and Drama

Article excerpt

Literature and Politics Today: The Political Nature of Modern Fiction and Drama. Ed. by M. Keith Booker. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2015. 377 pages. Acid free $89 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-935-8). E-book (978-1-6106-9936-5), call for pricing.

The editor, M. Keith Booker, Professor of English at the University of Arkansas, has served as editor on many reference works in literature as well as many books on genres and literary movements, specific authors, and other critical works. Booker also edited the last reference work dedicated to literature and politics, Encyclopedia of Literature and Politics: Censorship, Evolution, and Writing, a three-volume set published in 2005 by Greenwood, which is surprisingly the only current reference work dedicated solely to examining the connection between literature and politics. There are many recent book-length critical works on literature and politics, but these monographs typically focus on a genre or other refined topic such as a literary movement or single author. The compact single-volume Literature and Politics Today is a welcome addition to reference work in literature and politics. Certainly, other reference works in literary criticism cover some of the topics related to the intersection of politics and literature, but do not have the political focus of Literature and Politics Today.

The coverage of Literature and Politics Today is intended to be "International in scope," with representation of "authors and literary phenomena from the beginning of the twentieth century forward, with a special emphasis on literature written in English, whether from Great Britain and the United States or from other parts of the world" (xiii). With any brief reference work, there are bound to be gaps in coverage, especially for expansive topics. However, some of the gaps in coverage present issues with the work's usefulness in a High School or beginning undergraduate setting, especially coverage past the end of the Cold War. The coverage of American literature could be stronger, as major events that affected literature and politics in the United States in the twentieth century and twenty-first century aren't covered; specific examples include: literature related to the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, and September 11th. …

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