Oxford Companion From Booklist 'The publication of the first Oxford Companion to English Literature (OCEL) in 1932 marked the beginning of the Oxford Companion series. Drabble, the noted British novelist and biographer, was responsible for the substantially revised fifth edition, published in 1985, and she also coedited the 1987 abridged version, The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, which contained some additions and corrections to the parent volume. In this revision of the fifth edition, Drabble has added 59 new entries on contemporary writers; updated previous entries on twentieth-century authors to reflect new publications, deaths, and other events; and corrected many of the errors noted by reviewers of the 1985 volume. Moreover, she has dropped the three appendixes relating to censorship, copyright, and the calendar and inserted in their place an extensive chronological chart tracing English literature from Anglo-Saxon times through 1994, a list of British poets laureate, and lists of recipients of the Nobel, Pulitzer, and Booker prizes and the Carnegie Medal. Interestingly, a number of articles that were added to the concise version (e.g., Foreign Influences, Parody) do not appear in this revision. Whereas the fifth edition excluded authors born after 1939, Drabble obviously has now abandoned this policy since the subjects of many of the new entries (e.g., Martin Amis, Penelope Lively, Salman Rushdie) were born after 1940. In addition, she has expanded coverage of English-language writers outside Great Britain by adding such figures as Peter Carey, Robertson Davies, Janet Frame, and Toni Morrison. Her continued exclusion of a writer of the prominence of Eudora Welty is difficult to understand, particularly in light of the lengthy new article on Gore Vidal. In most cases, articles on living authors have been revised through 1994, and in some instances, entries note even 1995 publications, such as Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. A few other articles also have been updated (e.g., the article on The Oxford English Dictionary now mentions the second edition and the CD-ROM version, and the entry for the Listener notes its cessation in 1991). However, some other entries also could use revision. For instance, Cambridge University Press indicates that "a history of American literature is planned," when, in fact, two volumes have already been published. Also, references from Calendar and Censorship to the now non-existent appendixes have not been deleted. With more than 9,000 entries, the OCEL is a veritable cornucopia of information pertaining to British literature. While it includes a number of entries on major Commonwealth, European, and American authors, its primary focus continues to be the literature and culture of the British Isles. In this regard, it is significantly different from the Cambridge Guide to Literature in English [RBB Ap 1 94], which has considerably fewer entries but offers better coverage of the English-language literatures of Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, the Caribbean, Canada, and the U.S. However, the OCEL treats many more minor British authors and their works, individuals who have influenced English literature, and literary characters and allusions. Although the overlap between these two works is substantial, the differences are sufficient that most libraries will want both volumes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.'
Encyclopedia of Religion From Booklist ' A full nine years after its appearance in print, the most authoritative multivolume set on world religions is available in electronic format. The CD-ROM version of the 16-volume Encyclopedia of Religion [RBB O 1 87] offers DOS, Macintosh, and Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 versions all on one disc. The DOS version features pull-down menus and a sidebar offering various retrieval capabilities. The accompanying 19-page manual points out, however, that the DOS version does not offer all of the query functions available in the Windows version, such as the ability to retrieve by entry title. Therefore, this review concentrates on the Windows version. The entire text of the encyclopedia is available on the CD-ROM, as well as the relatively few illustrations that were in the print set. None of the articles were updated for the CD-ROM--an important consideration for any library already owning the print work. The opening screen features three major search buttons: "Synoptic Outline," "Contributors," and "Encyclopedia." The first is divided into two categories: Religions and The History of Religion. The Religions category features hyperlinks to entries on specific religions (Indian Religions, Southeast Asian Religions), while the latter covers more philosophic topics (Art, Science, Society). "Contributors" is a list of all contributors with hyperlinks to their articles, while "Encyclopedia" offers the complete text of the work, literally "cover-to-cover," starting with the prefatory material on through the entries proper. Unfortunately, this method does not allow for specific article lookup but only the ability to click on a letter of the alphabet and then scroll through all the entries until the desired one is found. A toolbelt features options such as the table of contents and the ability to bookmark articles. The search button will be the one used most often. Clicking this button results in a window where one may enter keywords. They can be combined with Boolean operators, truncated, and phrase searched using quotation marks (such as "second great awakening"). There are also some fairly sophisticated features available, including the use of symbols for ordered or unordered proximity operators, followed by the number of words allowed to separate them. Searching luther melancthon/25, for example, retrieves luther within 25 words of melancthon in that order. (Unfortunately, wildcards may not be used in phrase or proximity searching.) Another advanced feature is using the "%" sign to search for word roots. Entering give%, for example, will retrieve gave, giving, etc. Using a dollar sign after a word will retrieve synonymous terms. A search on satan, for example, retrieves 174 hits. Searching satan$, however, retrieves 355 hits, as the search also retrieves occurrences of devil, Mephistopheles, and Beelzebub. These latter two features are excellent enhancements for a full-text database.Most of these options (except for the availability of the NOT operator) are briefly outlined in the search box screen, although there are a variety of help screens available, too. The help system, unlike most Windows-based help systems, does not offer searchable help. Instead, the user must pore through a variety of menu-based help options. The search box features one confusing piece of information. At the top of the box are the directions: "Enter a word or '[' to begin query." If the user enters a bracket as instructed, another message appears: "Which scope: Level, Field, Highlighter, Note, Popup or Group." We could not locate any onscreen help regarding these options, nor are they mentioned in the manual. To further confuse matters, when one chooses search from the pull-down menu at the top of the screen, the very first option is Query, which opens a retrieval window where the only instructions given are: "Enter a word or '[' to begin query" without any indication of the availability of Boolean operators. It is only when one chooses search, then search the Encyclopedia of Religion that the same window pops up that is available by clicking search on the toolbelt. The search pull-down menu does, however, offer options not easily seen from the toolbelt Search option, including the ability to search by article titles or by author. The entries are easily read on the screen and may be printed out or downloaded; illustrations also will print. Cross-references are hyperlinked. A minor annoyance is that every paragraph of text begins with a citation to the volume number and page of the printed work, such as "Encyclopedia of Religion Reason, Vol.12, p.223." Although this is a useful feature for anyone wishing to make an exact citation for bibliographic purposes, it is also apparently the way records are counted as "hits" in any search functions: paragraph by paragraph rather than article by article. For example, performing a search by author on Martin E. Marty retrieves 132 hits according to the search results; Marty wrote only three articles in the work. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.'