Category: Reviews

What is better than A to Z?

Hollier cover

Denis Hollier’s collective work A New History of French Literature (1989)  has a conventional-sounding title, but is anything but conventional in its arrangement. Instead of a chronological narrative, which is what the title suggests, or an A to Z listing of people and movements, which …

An illustration of how not do to it

Cover of the original edition – the title was later changed from “Glossary” to “Dictionary”

An Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture: sounds like the perfect combination, a book combining text with pictures just when you need it. Compiled by two experienced architectural writers, it looks …

A classic reference work from Philip Thody

Faux amis

Philip Thody and Howard Evans: Faux Amis and Key Words: a dictionary-guide to French Language, Culture and Society (1985) (published in the US as Mistakable French)

Reference books for learning a language include some of the dullest titles ever written. At least the …

Forthcoming reviews

Reviews to be posted in the new few weeks include:

Encyclopedias of the Enlightenment
– there are several; this batch enables a typical French academic reference to be compared with a volume for the US college market.

Dictionnaire de la pensée de Voltaire
You ask …

The great reference books: Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates

Here is the entry for “oak” from Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates, 1873 edition.

There is something marvellous about the Victorian determination to capture everything known in lists, even to the point of providing a chronology for the oak tree. …

A few problems on the track: The Oxford Companion to British Railway History

There are a few rules for compiling reference works, and the utility of the publication is woefully compromised if those rules are not followed.

The Oxford Companion to British Railway History (1997) is a great book, and fascinating reading, but seen from the perspective of …

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