Literary highlights and sidelights [e-resource of the week: Contemporary Authors]

Contemporary AuthorsMore about Contemporary Authors is sweetly old-fashioned.
No wizzy webpages here; if your favourite author is included, you will be able to read about him/her in a very straightforward entry, detailing the author’s career in terms of books and other writings, along with a potted biography and the charmingly-named “Sidelights” – that is, reflections on the author’s sources and working methods, critical opinion and a bit of trivia if you are lucky.

It is not always bang up-to-date. I looked up a favourite of mine, David Lodge, and the entry did not include his latest novel, A Man of Parts. But the content is so rich and informative that I was glad to read it anyway, supplying my own update. Contemporary Authors is basically an American database, but can claim to be genuinely international in scope.

I noticed a critical nugget from the Lodge entry: “Lodge’s prose is perfectly pleasant to read but neither particularly elegant nor sufficiently idiosyncratic to engage a reader fully”. Ouch! Lodge probably preferred “This is a wonderful novel.”

Edited to add: In keeping with the old-fashioned nature of the beast, the licence allows only a limited number of concurrent users. If you find that you can’t gain access, do try again in a few minutes.



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