Order Nr. 119820 ESSAYS IN BIBLIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY. G. Thomas Tanselle.


  • Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2013.
  • 6 x 9.25 inches
  • hardcover, dust jacket
  • 546 pages
  • ISBN: 9781883631147

Price: $40.00  other currencies

Order Nr. 119820

In this new collection of essays, G. Thomas Tanselle illustrates the importance of bibliographical scholarship as an integral part of intellectual and cultural history. The first section's six broad retrospective pieces, which cover bibliographical history from the vantage point of several institutional anniversaries, provide context for the sixteen essays in the second section, each of which is more narrowly focused.

Two of the sixteen essays deal with individual periodicals, Studies in Bibliography and the Bibliographical Society's News Sheet, and two more with the development of descriptive bibliographies (of American authors and eighteenth-century books). One takes up the production of a major reference work (the ESTC), and another the role of a single locality (Indianapolis) in book history. Further essays cover the writing of publishing history, the theorizing about the scientific nature of bibliography, the recording of copyrighted books, the indexing of bibliographical periodicals, and the preserving of booksellers' catalogues. The Grolier Club is the subject of two contrasting styles of history: a journalistic account of current events (the Club's centenary festivities) and a retrospective investigation of a bibliographical activity (the mounting of exhibitions as practiced at the Club). The fiftieth anniversary of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia also receives journalistic treatment. Textual criticism and scholarly editing have a place here because they are so intimately tied to the study of the physical objects that transmit texts. The two essays on textual matters explore, first, the traditions of scholarly editing and, second, how those traditions have been applied or misapplied to visual and aural works.

A final essay, serving as an epilogue to the volume, discusses bibliographical history as a field, defining it, surveying previous work to build on, and suggesting the value of producing more such work.

G. Thomas Tanselle, former vice president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and adjunct professor of English at Columbia University, is president of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia and co-editor of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of the writings of Herman Melville. He has previously served as president of the Bibliographical Society of America, the Grolier Club, and the Society for Textual Scholarship. His books include Royall Tyler (1967), Guide to the Study of United States Imprints (1971), A Rationale of Textual Criticism (1989), Textual Criticism and Scholarly Editing (1990), The Life and Work of Fredson Bowers (1993), Literature and Artifacts (1998), Textual Criticism since Greg (2005), Bibliographical Analysis (2009), and Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms, and Use (2011).