This is the Revised American Edition of Brewer's "The Reader's Handbook, edited by Marion Harland. Harland is the psuedoname of Mary Virginia Terhune.This is profusely illustrated with 399 plates, 20 photogravures and etchings, and 306 wood-engravings and typogravures.
Quoted from author's "Preface:"
"The object of this Handbook is to supply readers and speakers with a lucid, but very brief account of such names as are used in allusions and references, whether by poets or prose writers; — to furnish those who consult it with the plot of popular dramas, the story of epic poems, and the outline of well-known tales. The number of dramatic plots sketched out is many hundreds. Another striking and interesting feature of the book is the revelation of the source from which dramatists and romancers have derived their stories, and the strange repetitions of historic incidents. It has been borne in mind throughout that it is not enough to
state a fact. It must be stated attractively, and the character described must be drawn characteristically if the reader is to appreciate it, and feel an interest in what he reads."
Quoted from the editor's "Preface:"
All that Dr. Brewer claims for his book is sustained by examination of it. It is nevertheless true that there is in it a mass of matter comparatively unattractive to the American student and to the general reader. Many of his "allusions" are to localities and neighborhood traditions that, however interesting to English people, seem to us trivial, verbose and inopportune, while he, whose chief object in the purchase of the work is to possess a popular encyclopa3dia of literature, is rather annoyed than edified by even an erudite author when his "talk is of oxen," fish, flesh and fowl. Furthermore, the Handbook was prepared so long ago that the popular litereature of the last dozen years is unrecorded; writers who now occupy the foremost places in the public eye not being so much as named.
In view of these and other drawbacks to the extended usefulness of the manual, the publishing-house whose imprint is upon the title-page of the present work, taking the stanch foundation laid by Dr. Brewer, have caused to be constructed upon it a work that, while retaining all of the original material that can interest and aid the English-speaking student, gives also "characters and sketches found in American novels, poetry and drama."