Summaries in English

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No.15

Svend Bruhns
On the Writing of the History of Bibliography

The article opens with remarks on the usefulness of studying the history of Bibliography. In Europe the field of Bibliography usually is defined as ‘the study and use of bibliographies’, but this is an extremely narrow and ? an in a historical context ? impossible definition. The core concepts should be “bibliographical information (B.I)” i.e. information about documents which is produced to satisfy “bibliographical needs”. These terms were coined by the Russian O.P. Korsjunov and the German F. Nestler. Some historians of Bibliography are briefly appraised, esp. Siegfried Seifert whose work on the history of Bibliography in Germany in the 18th century was a crucial source of inspiration to my own “History of Bibliography in Denmark ab.1700 to 1875” (unpubl.). During the 18th century the learned journals were the vehicles for current B.I. and book catalogues or writers’ dictionaries for retrospective B.I. Thousands of pages of letters, memoirs, accounts of journeys had to be skimmed to find some few pages that mention the handlings of B.I. This painstakingly reading of sources also yielded some spin-offs e.g. the probable dating of the first Danish rental library to about 1760, not 1725 as usually assumed.

Lis Byberg 
"THE NEW BOOK HISTORY"- Library history as part of a research field with two traditions

The article presents the two well established international resarch traditions on books and their readers in earlier times: The English bibliography tradition, and the the French-American History of the book tradition. The focus is on the period of the printed book or the last 500 years.  What unites the two traditions and what seperates them? Are the two today melting together as one? Library historians have mostly chosen to regard their research as something quite apart from both of these traditions. The article argues that library history has its natural place within the new book history, a research field wider than before.

llkka Mäkinen 
Desire for reading as a construction in the discourse on popular education and public libraries during the 18th and 19th century 

The modern man can, among other features, such as rationality and individuality,  be defined also as a reading man possessed by the desire for reading.  The desire for reading is a historically conditioned social construction, adopted by the educated classes during a long period of time.  The present article investigates the process, when the educated people turned their eyes to the uneducated majority and wondered, if they possessed a potential desire for reading.  Two concrete cases are presented. The first is described with the aid of Roger Chartier's study of Abbé Grégoire's questionnaire during the French Revolution, when he gathered information about, e.g., the reading habits and literacy of the peasants. Traces of the problem of the desire for reading are found in the answers that Grégoire got.  The main part of the article is an analysis of the discussion in the Finnish press around mid-19th century concerning whether there existed a desire for reading in the Finnish lower classes, the great majority of whom spoke Finnish,  as genuinely as it existed among the Swedish-speaking educated classes and if it was suitable and safe to activate it.  The final conceptual and terminological change can be placed around the year 1850, when the potential desire for reading in the rural population was generally accepted as a legitimation for producing a greater variety of vernacular literature and establishing popular libraries. 

Henrik Horstbøll 
The format system ? the impact of form on the history of reading

It has been established in the new cultural history of the book and the history of reading that books were printed for popular reading in French, English and German towns from the early seventeenth century onwards. Generally the historical conclusions are drawn from investigations of specialised printers, publishers and pedlars ? investigations of their production, stock and trade-lists. In the case of Denmark the production of books mostly took place in Copenhagen and the printers were few before the nineteenth century. We are left with bibliographical sources, when we want to answer questions about the content of popular reading. Investigation of the use of the system of paper-formats in the process of printing has proved to be helpful:
There is a clear convergence between print format and medium function. Format and appearance signal content, and it is through the format system that the various functions of the medium are made recognizable on the market. Psalm books, news pamphlets, almanacs, and chapbook stories each received a particular form, in which the text’s form defined the genre-group just as much as did the text’s content. There is a clear convergence between print format and language: the smaller the format, the more likely the printed work will be written in the vernacular. Popular print in Denmark can be recognized by the printed medium’s use of the small formats: pamphlets, instructive and devotional literature, chapbook stories, chronicles and history, and almanacs and housekeeping literature.
 There was a tight connection between popular print’s first wave, extending from the end of the sixteenth century and throughout the first half of the seventeenth century, and a new wave in the eighteenth century. The bibliographical sources show that the reading revolution that took place from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century is the culmination of the history of pre-industrial popular print, whose first wave stretched back to the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. To conclude, the development of a specialised repertoire of popular reading in the case of Denmark is in concordance with the comparative European perspective.

Margareta Björkman 
Why translations? On Catharina Ahlgren and two of her translations from the latter part of the 18th century 

Combining a macro- (the different uses of translations in the Swedish context) and a micro-perspective (the trajectory of Catharina Ahlgren, born in 1734), gives an opportunity to give an overarching view of the importance of translations as well as a more detailed description of two Swedish translations from the latter part of the 18th century. Following the life of an individual woman also makes it possible to reflect the conditions for female actors on the bookmarket. Having divorced her first husband Catharina Ahlgren had to support herself and her four children. She tried with no apparent success to convert a rudimentary cultural capital (to use the vocabulary of Pierre Bourdieu) into an economic capital. She translated Christoph Martin Wieland’s epic poem Die Prüfung Abrahams (1753). Abrahams bepröfwelse appeared in 1772. The second translation by Mme Ahlgren, which is discussed, is the French novel La paysanne parvenue by le chevalier de Mouhy (1735). This novel was called Den lyckliga bondflickan. It appeared in twelve parts over a period from 1796 to 1811.

Asborg Stenstad 
Book collections and book purchase around 1790

What did people read some two hundred years ago? What kind of books did they have, how many, and how did they obtain them? What did they cost? How may we get to know about this today? What sources can tell us about it?
These were questions I hoped my study would answer. My main source has been unprinted auction registers. This source has, as far as I know, not been used before in similar studies in the history of books. A basic approach to the problem has been to ascertain what such sources actually can tell us.
My study is based on three auction sales in the city of Christiansand towards the end of the eighteenth century. Did the sources bring an answer to my questions?  Yes, to a certain extent. They confirmed the general tendencies of the time related to authors and titles. Price and popularity turned out to be closely connected. Most buyers were men, and a great many of them belonged to the most prominent and prosperous citizens. The average age of the buyers was 36 years. It proved that the registers do not only give a survey of the seller’s book collection, they also include the buyers, the book prices, both estimated and selling prices. Thus we get a more accurate and complex picture. The weakness of the source is that the auction registrar has not always been accurate enough, thereby making it difficult or impossible to identify the book in question. The conclusion is that auction registers seem to be very important in studying book history, which to a considerable extent answer the questions I asked at the beginning of this abstract.

Trond Søbstad 
‘Der Liebe Gott Steckt im Detail’ ? Aby Warburg as Document Organizer

The article presents by way of a fieldwork the document organization of The Warburg Institute Library, London. The library was founded around 1890 by the German cultural historian Aby Warburg and named Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg. The article argues that the library was an instrument in Warburgs fight for rationality, and that the way physical documents were organized on the shelf was a means to build an external space of knowledge about ratio and irrationality throughout the known European, and also Eastern history of man. It was in many ways a psychological enlightenment project ? carried out by Warburg ‘writing with the documents’. The library is still operative although the ambition of The Warburg Institute in 2001 may not be entirely the same as those of its founder. The article is based on the first master thesis in Documentation Science, University of Tromsø.