801. Books on the philosophy & theory of literature
M. H. Abrams The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition, 1954.
American literary critic M. H. Abrams examines the Romantic approach to literary criticism and compares it to others that both preceded it and coexisted with it. Before the Romantic period, Abrams says literature was understood to be a mirror that reflected ourselves. But the Romantic theory proposed that literature was a lamp illuminating the contents of the author’s soul.
Barbara Herrnstein Smith Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End, 1968.
Literature professor Barbara Herrnstein Smith studies poems to examine the relationship between a poem’s ending, structure, and overall integrity.
803. Dictionaries & encyclopedias
J.A. Cuddon A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 1977.
J.A. Cuddon’s dictionary was updated in 2013 to include new material from gender studies and queer theory, post-colonial theory, post-structuralism, post-modernism, narrative theory, cultural studies, and historical terms dating to ancient times.
Lionel Trilling The Liberal Imagination, 1950.
Literary critic Lionel Trilling covers all aspects of society in this examination of the promise and limits of liberalism in light of the Cold War. He questions liberal complacency, pointing out where it goes amiss, and acknowledges that tragedy is a part of life.
For more information on the Further Reading series, see Further Reading: Start Here.