|Summaries in English
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.