Monday, March 4, 2013

A Carlyle Bibliography

As I work through this period of studying the works of Thomas Carlyle, a period that I'm not really sure how long it will last, I've been troubled by the lack of a bibliography of his works. A quick Internet search didn't turn one up, except for a listing of works on biography sites. I used them to put together a blended list, along with the table of contents of his Critical and Miscellaneous Essays. This gave me something I felt good about.

As I went on, however, reading something at a website here or in one of Carlyle's letters there, I discovered my blended bibliography wasn't complete. I more complete Internet search turned up a Google book of The Bibliography of Carlyle, by R.H. Shepherd. This was published in 1881, just after Carlyle's death. In this I found most of what I had, though some that I didn't. I also had a couple of things not in Shepherd, which is not very reassuring.

More searching, in on-lie used book sites, resulted in finding Thomas Carlyle: A Descriptive Bibliography by Rodger Tarr, from the 1980s. It's under copyright so is not on-line as of yet. I found it for a reasonable price, so I ordered it and expect it to arrive Monday or Tuesday.

I'm not really sure what I'll find in the Tarr book, nor where I'm going with this. One interesting thing is how the Shepherd bibliography is based mostly on publications, not on writing. So Carlyle's works are listed based on when they were published. So for example Carlyle's Reminiscences, which was published in 1881, contains memorials he wrote from 1832 to 1867. But since they were never published until 1881, that is where they are listed. Something like Reminiscences of My Irish Journey, which he wrote while on the journey in 1849 aren't listed in Shepherd, because they weren't published until after Carlyle's death. I'll be interested in how Tarr handles this.

I'm more interested in a list of Carlyle's writings in chronological order of when they were written, not when they were published. The published date is of interest also, but not as much as the writing date. Perhaps bibliography refers to publishing and there is another term I should be using for writings. I'll have to research that.

Another curious factor, at least for Shepherd and the on-line bibliographies is to not include any works that the writer produced that weren't published, as well as to ignore (or be unaware of) writing from early in the career, especially those items not included in the complete works compilation. I suppose that sort of makes sense. If Carlyle thought some of his early writings were not of good quality, he wouldn't want them in his collected works. But that then makes those writings harder to find.

Ah, well, lots of work ahead. I haven't yet run out of steam in this area of interest. I'll see where it takes me.

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