The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Fourth Edition
Princeton University Press (Footprint), $231 hb, 1675 pp, 9780691133348 $101 pb, 9780691154916
It’s not just history that is written by the victors, but the encyclopedias, too. The eighteenth-century encyclopedias, such as Diderot’s Encyclopédie, were the projects of emergent superpowers, evidence of both the Enlightenment dream of universal knowledge and burgeoning colonial impulses. (That the Encyclopedia Britannica was an initiative of the Scottish Enlightenment only supports this idea, Scotland having been part of the British Union since 1707.) In our own time, the relationship between nation and knowledge remains present. Even Wikipedia, for all its open, global nature, is an American venture, with most of its servers in Florida.