Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

PAPERBACKS

December 29, 1991|Charles Solomon

BREWER'S DICTIONARY OF PHRASE AND FABLE, edited by Ivor Evans (HarperPerennial: $20). Originally issued in 1870 by British author/educator Ebnezer Cobham Brewer, the 14th edition of the "Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" remains a useful literary reference. Brewer explained unfamiliar terms that his readers would find in the Victorian canon of classics: the Bible, the major Greek and Roman writers and the most respected English authors, including Milton, Keats, Dickens and Tennyson. At a time when the American educational system appears to be inculcating only the barest rudiments of Western culture, Brewer's erudite definitions, which range from "Aaron's serpent" to "Zounds" ("a minced oath, euphemistic for God's wounds "), seem valuable and refreshing. In addition to a number of recently added terms (Zoot Suit, Atlantic Charter, Wizard of Oz), the book explains such delightfully obscure idioms as "to lead apes in hell"--a phrase that's supposed to describe the fate of old maids.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|