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Arthur Ransome

Legacy Libraries

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Jul 29, 2013, 5:57pm Top

I've started work on Arthur Ransome's library. I'm beginning to come across books for which I've already added Ransome's published reviews, some wearing my Ransome and some wearing my personal hat, eg Morgan in Jamaica and Uffa Fox's Second Book. There are likely to be quite a few reviews before I'm finished, as Ransome was a prolific reviewer.

What are other Legacy Libraries doing with reviews written by their principals?

From the standpoint of the individual work, the obvious place for the review is under 'Published reviews'. However putting them under 'Member reviews' has the advantage that they are pulled together on Ransome's profile page, between 'Collections' and 'Tags', eg Thorstein of the mere.

Is there a way of pulling published reviews together on the profile page?

I'd like to work out a consistent approach before I get in too deep.

Jul 29, 2013, 10:07pm Top

I'll try to find examples, but I've seen other LL's with Member reviews. I've enjoyed them quite a bit, for the reasons you mention.

Are Ransome's reviews always from a published source, or were any from his private notes, or personal letters / other correspondence? If from a published article or the like, I see your point about the "obvious" place being a Published review. That said, unless you can link to an online source of the entire work from which the review is taken, I still prefer the Member review. Not only is it easier to access, I find it more in the spirit of the LL: to showcase the Member. I find the Published review to be a means of showcasing the work.

Of course, they could be in both places, perhaps one simply linking to the other. But that's a lot of redundant work, and again I prefer the Member reviews as the best location for this project.

Edited: Jul 29, 2013, 10:18pm Top


Arthur Conan Doyle:

Thomas Jefferson:

Frankenstein's Monster:

Helene Hanff:

W.H. Auden

Jefferson's & Doyle's reviews especially, provide good citations for the "review". Auden's are published reviews, and simply link to the NYRB.

Jul 29, 2013, 10:11pm Top

The James Boswell Legacy Library might be an example as they've been sorted under 'Member reviews'. For the purposes of a legacy library, personally I would think it's important to have them visible on the profile page.

Though I'm interested to hear what others might suggest as I'm hoping to do this with Woolf's once I've accumulated enough material.

Jul 30, 2013, 9:13am Top

Thanks for the replies. Member's reviews it is.

However, as far as I can see, you can only create a member's review if you have a copy of the book.

So, next dumb question, what do members think of creating a collection of books within a LL, "Reviewed but not retained" or similar, purely so as to add reviews as member's reviews?

By the way, just in case W. H. Auden's librarian is listening in, most of the links to his reviews no longer work.

Jul 30, 2013, 10:57am Top

One of the danger's of providing links rather than the text of the review itself.

I like the idea of a special collection: it's a safe inference he read it, or some of it, if he commented on it.

Jul 30, 2013, 2:29pm Top

Yes, I agree, having them accessible from the profile page is important. Fine, maybe not for all - so, if so, ignore! (No problem with that).

But removing this as a possibility would be bad.

Jul 30, 2013, 6:55pm Top

> 5. Thanks for pointing out the broken links for most of Auden's reviews. It seems as if the New York Review of Books has given their entries new url's. They've all ben corrected.

Jul 30, 2013, 7:08pm Top

Why not put those in the "Read but not owned" collection?

Aug 4, 2013, 9:38am Top

Thanks for all your thoughts. "Read but not owned" it is.

Having received a bronze medal for "Published reviews (40)", I'll be interested to see if I'm stripped of it as I move them all over to member's reviews!

Next question. How would other legacy librarians determine their favourite authors? Of the twenty-four completed LLs, surnames A-B, only Heinrich Bullinger has any favourite authors at all (two), so do legacy librarians perhaps think it's not an applicable field?

You'll see that my provisional rule is six titles in the library, plus a few authors that Ransome is known to have been partial to.

Edited: Aug 4, 2013, 1:20pm Top

I disagree with having favourite authors for a legacy library as it's not based on definitive facts. Most biographers study a single author for decades and still can't claim to know their subjects preferences. The same way care is given to ensure that the work or edition is accurate, you can't assume the subject of a legacy library had a favourite author merely by how many books they owned written by that author.

Another avenue to explore if available is their private letters or diaries and journals which could shed some light. In the case of Joyce and his readings habits, he read Ibsen and D'Annunzio religiously as a child, bringing their books with him from Dublin to Trieste, Zurich and later Paris, but by the end of his life he had almost lost interest in both.

I have some issues with the legacy libraries that claim to know the favourite authors, one example being Oscar Wilde. Since very little care seemed to have been taken over the editions (Wilde died in 1900 but apparently purchased books right up to 2008), I would presume the same could be said for the favourite authors. I'd like to see what references were used to determine Wilde as an avid admirer of Thackeray or Flaubert because I haven't come across them yet. Each library is entirely up to person who catalogues it, but the information should be transparent, backed up with sufficient facts.

Edited: Aug 4, 2013, 1:01pm Top

I diagree with having favourite authors for a legacy library


Sure I've been tempted to create such preference links, but I decided not to. The person in question may have had several works by said author, but thought they all stunk.

Aug 5, 2013, 9:10am Top

Well, no, no amount of study can give someone the insight into another's psyche to decide what their favorites were. However if the person stated on record that they had favorites and who they were that would be a fair use of the field.

Legacy author Rex Stout endorsed many books by mentioning them in his novels. When one of these books was in his personal library the endorsement was noted in the comments section of the book. Here they did not decide to add the other books to a "Read but not Owned" catalog but I think it would be appropriate.

Aug 5, 2013, 11:07am Top

Okay, fair enough.

Personally I still wouldn't do it, because (s)he may have only be paying lip service. Favorite author goes beyond "I took notice of this person". But if you feel there is sufficient evidence: fine.

But: "mentioning them" should be seen as an endorsement? - come on... You wouldn't believe the number of books that get mentioned in other books just to get butchered there and then (perhaps more of a problem in non-fiction though).

Aug 5, 2013, 3:09pm Top

When you read Stout's books you can see that he is indorsing them. Stout had no problem putting down what he disliked and he often had Nero Wolfe, his "detective" read the book and lecture his associates on its merits or the plot would play out in support of the book in question. In 1965's The Doorbell Rang the book is an expose on J. Edgar Hoover's abuse of power at the FBI, the plot involves the FBI, spying on Wolfe's client if I recall, and ends with J. Edgar himself knocking on Wolfe's door. Wolfe refuses to let anyone answer it.

I remember at least one more where "Wolfe" preached about the importance of the book he was reading, Under Cover: My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America was mentioned in a WWII era story about domestic sabotage.

These mentions were endorsements. I would never say that David Hackett Fischer was endorsing all the books he mentions in Historians' fallacies: toward a logic of historical thought.

Aug 5, 2013, 3:19pm Top

Ehr, that's why I said if you feel there is sufficient evidence: fine.

I know next to nothing about Stout - merely seen a couple of Nero Wolfe episodes on TV back in the 1980s. So I'm not getting into that.

Aug 5, 2013, 6:06pm Top

> 13 - Sure, if they stated clearly that they had a favourite author, that would be okay. A section detailing that including references in the About my Library would be appropriate.

Though when you mention endorsing a work, are you equating that to favouriting the author? I wouldn't think that praise of a single book is the same as placing that author on a pedestal. At the moment I'm enjoying Gordon Bowker's biography of James Joyce as it's not frugal with details, but I wouldn't include Bowker among my favourite authors.

How about reviews? To cherry pick from the legacy libraries I know inside out, both Woolf and Thackeray approved of dozens of books by giving them favouable reviews in periodicals, but didn't own anything else by that author.

I think we all have varying opinions of what a favourite author should be. I would be on the extreme side. Authors I favourite are ones I know inside out. I've read their books and biographies, and of course, I've catalogued their personal libraries here. Anything else would seem too casual.

Aug 5, 2013, 6:42pm Top

I would agree that in the absence of a Legacy Author clearly stating somewhere (in correspondence or whatever) that someone was a favorite, I would not presume to say someone was a favorite author.

I'm not even sure who my late husband would have listed as a favorite author. I could make a couple of guesses, but not sure about whom he would have felt strongly enough to enter in that field himself. And I knew that guy pretty well.

Aug 5, 2013, 7:25pm Top

For my own library, as a minimum condition, authors are only considered favorites if I have read their works more than once and if I would, without a bit of reluctance, re-read them again, pretty much in their entirety. It's difficult to apply that principle to another reader, unless I had overwhelming evidence that the person did, in fact, regularly re-read a certain author. Diaries and letters could tell me that, as could a reliable biography. Sometimes, the person's library seems to suggest it strongly. For example, I'm currently working on Robert & Elizabeth Barrett Browning's library and it's pretty clear that they both had a passion for Euripedes, owning eight different editions of the complete works in Greek & English, with numerous copies of individual plays. Their books are filled with marginalia by both RB and EBB. For instance, they owned the 2 volume Bohn’s Classical Library edition translated by T.A. Buckley, after whose introduction RB wrote: “If I could but spit in the face of this x*********c (epithet in Greek), adding that he, Browning, could have done a much better job of translating than either “lying Schlegel or lick-spittle Buckley.”

Aug 6, 2013, 10:53am Top

I don't think there is any doubt that EBB approved of "Our Euripides the human — / With his droppings of warm tears; / And his touches of things common, / Till they rose to touch the spheres!" (even though she did write those lines in a poem addressed to her Greek teacher). I think she would have listed George Sand and Balzac among her favourites, too: you've probably seen all the letters where she complains how hard it is to get French novels in Italy. I don't know about RB - he would probably have listed "everyone" as favourite.

But I'd also be inclined to avoid giving LL subjects favourites: it looks a bit strange, and there is the problem of deciding what stage of their lives we're talking about.

Aug 6, 2013, 1:07pm Top

I have a wide variety of reasons to list an author as my favorite, some of them consider the author separate from their works.

Endorsing a book is definitely not the same as saying the author is your favorite but, except maybe for someone employed as a book reviewer, a review or endorsement might be considered reason to list the book as "Read but unowned". Sinclair Lewis wrote a review that was published separately, John Dos Passos' Manhattan transfer. If Lewis ever gets a Legacy Library, and Manhattan Transfer was not listed it might be appropriate to put it in as unowned. We know he read it, or at least the evidence is that he did.

Edited: Aug 6, 2013, 1:20pm Top

I have a wide variety of reasons to list an author as my favorite, some of them consider the author separate from their works.

Okay, that's cool, no problem. For my own library I've done some of that too. But for Legacy Libraries - personally I've decided to simply list the books, and then let people draw their own conclusions from what's there.

Aug 6, 2013, 2:48pm Top

And after thorold comment (#20) about what stage of life was an author a favorite I am having second thoughts about even listing a favorite author for a Legacy Library if the person did say that so and so was a favorite. Did they change their mind? We really have no way of knowing.

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