How did Frederic Jessel arrange his bibliography?

How did Frederic Jessel arrange his bibliography?

It’s a question I have not really thought much about in the past, and I suppose it is not a question of prime importance, since the book does have a certain flow to it which makes it easy to use without conscious analysis of its method of organization.

But recently I looked at parts of the book (on the Hathi Trust Digital Library) in an effort to discern Jessel’s method. After all, it appears that he does not expressly state his method anywhere, so I suppose that the best one can do is to look at what he did, and work backwards from that.

I am sure that there are some nuances and complexities that I am not addressing here, but I will try to hit the highlights.

The fundamental overarching sequence is alphabetical, by the author’s last name. Where a work is anonymous, the title is inserted alphabetically among the names. Where a work was written under a pseudonym, the author’s real name is used. Thus, books by Cavendish are listed under “Jones, Henry.” But if the real name was unknown, the work might be listed under the pseudonym (e.g., Kid), or under the title (e.g., two books by “An Adept,” probably by different authors). Translations are listed under the author’s name.

The difficulties arise when one looks at authors with many works represented. Professor Hoffmann’s books represent a fairly complicated, yet fairly clear group of books. They are listed (that is, the ones relevant to the area covered by Jessel) according to year of first publication, but all editions of a book are considered together, in chronological order. A major exception to the general method is that all of Hoffmann’s rule booklets are treated in a separate sequence.

Hoffmann’s contributions to periodicals (well, one periodical) are treated under the periodical’s title (which is listed in the grand alphabetical sequence). His translations are found under the names of the authors (Hertefeld and Robert-Houdin).

The foregoing method (regarding Hoffmann) is not necessarily followed punctiliously as to all authors. If you look at the listings for Lowis Jackson D’Aguilar, there are so many revised editions and combined volumes and so forth, that the listing appears rather jumbled, and though overall it seems to follow an organized arrangement, I seemed to find exceptions. Not only that, as to D’AGuilar, it seemed as though an effort was made to deal with all works on a game before moving to the next work.

As to Cavendish, the method seemed to be something like a combination of the Hoffmann arrangement and the Jackson arrangement.

I have a feeling that in many cases Jessel applied a certain amount of subjectivity in determining the exact place for the listing of a work.

There are a few other little possible anomalies that I noticed, and maybe sometime I will go into them, but the foregoing probably covers the basic arrangement.

—Tom Sawyer

March 13, 2017

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