Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.
Book 19: Longman Companion to English Literature:
Paperback, 889 pages. Carrying occasional line drawings and black and white photographs, it was first published in 1972 by Longman Group Ltd. Mine is the 1980 edition and I don’t recall what I paid for it in 1982. The book doesn’t appear to have been reprinted or revised and you can now buy a used copy from around £3.48. An edition was also published by Prentice Hall Press in 1978 and can be bought as a used copy for around £3.80.
I bought it because, as a writer, I’m interested in the history and development of writing in my home language, English. The book begins with a large selection of learned essays on topics covering political history and institutions of England, society and the arts, religion, philosophy and myth, narrative literature from romance to the novel, drama in Britain, poetic form since 1350, and the history of English critical thought. This includes sections of history as dated:1066-1485, 1485-1603, 1603-1714, 1714-1815, and 1815-present day (1970).
The second half of the book is the alphabetical reference that deals with so many aspects of writing, books, language etc., that it’s impossible to list them here. Within that section of the book is a lengthy piece entitled ‘Figures of Speech’, which defines the following figures and provides examples: alliteration, anacoluthon, anti-climax, antithesis, apostrophe, assonance, bathos, climax, euphemism, euphuism, hyperbole, innuendo, irony, prejudice, litotes, malapropism, meiosis, metaphor, metaphysical conceit, metonymy, oxymoron, palindrome, paradox, pathetic fallacy, personification, play on words, pun, rhyme, internal rhyme, half-rhymes, simile, syllepsis, synecdoche, transferred epithet, and zeugma. I imagine many readers were unaware there are so many figures of speech!
English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and it borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from those originating lands, which makes it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.