I'm looking for a pair of reference books that covers plots of English literature. I imagine if you have seen them or used them you'll know what I'm talking about. I don't remember the title or the author. Any assistance or guidance is appreciated.

  • Are you talking about Coles Notes? (I suspect not, but I thought I'd throw that out.) – Jason Bassford Feb 7 '19 at 14:06
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    I don't know about "unclear what you're asking", but I'm pretty sure "help me find this book" falls under our rules prohibiting questions about existing literary works. – F1Krazy Feb 7 '19 at 18:54
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    Hi Lewis, welcome to this site. If this gets closed here, you might try our sister site literature.stackexchange.com – Chris Sunami supports Monica Feb 7 '19 at 20:22
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    Asking for a reference book isn't the same as asking about existing literary works. Also, it's not a list question "name all the novels that do XYZ". It's a question with a specific answer. That said, I don't know if it's allowed here or not. I'll vote to leave open until someone can clarify. – Cyn says make Monica whole Feb 7 '19 at 21:27
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    time-sink warning I would think tvtropes.org covers the range of common plots fairly well, in literature, movies, TV shows, video games, and anime. – Ed Grimm Feb 8 '19 at 3:55

I'm not sure this is the exact work you're looking for, but there's a well-known series that does plot summaries called Masterplots.

I also have a pair of similar reference books on my own shelf that are specifically for speculative fiction ("The Encyclopedia of Fantasy" and "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction," both co-edited by John Clute, and published by St. Martin's Griffin), but it doesn't sound like you're looking for something that specific. If you are, the most recent edition came out in 2011, and is apparently now available for free, online.

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  • Thank you Chris! Exactly what I was looking for. Turns out I was looking for the early edition. Just made the purchase, thanks again! Would you share your other references? – Lewis Feb 9 '19 at 4:26
  • @Lewis I edited the details into the answer. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Feb 9 '19 at 4:43

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