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A Dictionary of Literary Symbols


  • Page extent: 273 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.712 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 809/.915
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PN56.S9 F47 1999
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Symbolism in literature--Dictionaries

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521591287 | ISBN-10: 0521591287)

This is the first dictionary of symbols to be based on literature, rather than 'universal' psychological archetypes, myths, or esoterica. Michael Ferber has assembled nearly two hundred entries clearly explaining and illustrating the literary symbols that we all encounter (such as swan, rose, moon, gold), along with hundreds of cross-references and quotations. The Dictionary concentrates on English literature, but its entries range widely from the Bible and classical authors to the twentieth century, taking in American and European literatures. Its informed style and rich references will make this book an essential tool not only for literary and classical scholars, but for all students of literature.

• First dictionary of symbols to be based on literary evidence, rather than universal archetypes or myths • Concentrates on the biblical and classical inheritance of English literature, but cites American and European literatures too • Plentiful quotations, cross-references and bibliographical material


Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Introduction; Dictionary; Authors cited; Bibliography.


'Rich in detail … students, in particular, and other serious readers of poetry, should find the work very useful.' Frank Kermode

'One's admiration for Michael Ferber's alert and ubiquitous eye increases with every page as he proceeds on his richly laden way from 'Absinthe see Wormwood: to Zodiac see Star, Sun'. A Dictionary of Literary Symbols is an anthology of striking images set in their historical context, and thus of general educational value.' D. J. Enright, The Times Literary Supplement

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