This Dictionary is a guide to the literary terms most relevant to students and readers of English literature today, thorough on the essentials and generous in its intellectual scope. With terms as wide-ranging in theme as 'emphasis', 'ekphrasis', 'ecocriticism' and 'epithalamion' the definitions are always lively and precise in equipping students and general readers with a genuinely useful critical vocabulary. Above all, it directs readers to make full use of terms, in navigating the confusing world of literary criticism and discovering the concepts behind terms. It does this with the help of fresh examples, literary timeline and up-to-date bibliography (with recommended websites). Extensive cross-referencing is linked to a thematic index that makes it simple to find related terms (e.g. technical terms for repetition; names for six- or seven-line stanzas) and is explicit about the exact distinctions between such terms as 'metonym' and 'synecdoche', or 'couplet' and 'distich'.
In addition to teaching key terms, the Dictionary identifies the thinking and unresolved controversies surrounding them, and offers fresh insights and directions for future reading. It seeks to challenge as well as complement the reader's own ideas about literature. It is a Dictionary for the twenty-first century, both in its broad view of literature in English and its emphasis on readers enjoying poetry, prose and drama.