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Click here to open a printer-friendly version of this article.A CATALOGUE OF THE

Anthony Mandal

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The Corvey Microfiche Edition (CME) represents one of the most significant and useful resources available to researchers in the field of Romantic studies. The English Language collection of belles lettres in the Corvey library, which Cardiff University purchased in March 1997, consists of around 3,290 separate titles housed on over 10,000 microfiches. The CME was published in 1987, and in the ten years between the release of Edition Corvey much new information about its titles has come to light, including such things as accurate authorial ascriptions, which makes a new catalogue highly desirable.

     Since receiving a three-year studentship at Cardiff University, part of my role has included the development of an Access 97 database to store details of each title of the CME. The long-term aim of preparing the catalogue directly as a database is to make it available (either externally through the Internet, or internally within the campus network) as a fully searchable application. The advantages of using the feature-rich set offered by Access means that searches do not have to be limited to simple Author-Title queries, but can be made in a number of ways, including Boolean searches, statistical queries (with graphical representations), different levels of data output per record, and so forth. By developing the catalogue dynamically, I hope to make the finished application a tool which will be more substantial than than a linear checklist or an electronic card-index file.

My methodology has been quite simple (if a little haphazard at the moment). The first wave of checking has been based on going through existing material from the 1810s (which happens to coincide with the period I am studying for my doctoral research). The reasons for this are three-fold:

  I have been lucky enought to have access to material covering the period 1800–1829 based on the work of my supervisor, Professor Peter Garside, and his colleagues. In association with Professors James Raven and Rainer Schöwerling, Dr Garside has been compiling English Novels: A Bibliographical Survey of Fiction Published in the British Isles, 1770–1829, contracted to be published by Oxford University Press. The completion of research towards the second volume (1800–29) coincides with my studies at Cardiff, and I have already done some minor research work towards the bibliography in my previous two years at Cardiff.

  Based on this raw bibliographical data for 1800–29, I have already constructed a database of fiction (again in Access 97), which covers various aspects of the literary marketplace of the time, such as gender, volume prices, publishing concerns, and so forth.

  As the nine years or so of this research is coming towards its conclusion, my collation of the CMEs will enable a twofold checking process to take place: ensuring the accuracy of the bibliographical entries against source texts (e.g. title details, publishing information, pagination, etc.), and the identifications made in the bibliography will allow me to correct any errors of ascription made in previous catalogues of the CME.

     While beginning with fiction of the 1810s, however, I have availed myself of recording details of any other titles which have come my way in the course of either my own research or that of my colleagues. This will therefore explain the variation in dates of the 100 sample entries which form the second section of this article. Once I have made my way through the 2,256 entries from these first three decades of the nineteenth century, my aim is to continue cataloguing the remaining fiches by working from first ISBN to last.

Because of the rather unwieldy nature of the microfiche form, I concluded that perhaps one advantage of a recataloguing of the CME might be that I can record particular details on a fiche-by-fiche basis, as well as on per-title terms. This means that a querent wishing to search for a particular passage to which they have found an oblique reference will be able to easily locate the appropriate page with a minimum of trouble. Again, the advantages of using a database for this process are more than obvious—searches can be constrained to something as simple as an author-title query, or expanded to locate a certain page on a particular fiche.

     My initial policy as far as the whole text is concerned has been to record fullest details wherever possible: extraneous data can easily be hidden or removed at a later time. To this end, I have accurately recorded the full title and publication details as given on the title-page of the first volume, as well as counting the number of chapters and pages (including advertisements for other works) in each volume/fiche. Whether this amount of detail will be necessary in the final application remains to be seen, but in the first stage of cataloguing it is far better to have unambiguous (if ponderous) data before deciding what to do with the catalogue in its final entirety. Certainly, at a later date further ‘summarising’ data will be added to each record, to address gender, short titles, publishers’ details, and so forth.

     In addition to these essential bibliographical details, I have recorded the type of work which is being catalogued, with broad classifications being: Poetry/Drama/Fiction/Non-Fiction, which then are divided into various sub-types, such as Tales, Novel, Ephemera, Travel-Writing, and so forth. Finally, I have also recorded any significant variations, inconsistencies, and qualities which are immediately noticeable in the text (obviously, in a project of this scope, one can never hope to identify the more subtle aspects of a text).

     With these aims in mind, therefore, I have broken the cataloguing into a number of identifiable masks or fields, divided into two segments: Text and Fiches.

A generic classification, as noted above, is made on a text-by-text basis: this will form the basis of dividing the catalogue into various appropriate sections at the time of publishing in either hard copy or as a software application. The sample checklist already divides into the different genres/types which I have already encountered. Each entry then follows the formula listed below:

  The full ISBN starts each entry, with the first four digits always being 3-628, barring the odd errors made by the publishers of the CME (such as transposition of basic characters). Also recorded with the ISBN is the number of fiche held under that denomination. In the checklist this has been marked off in blue print.

  Author details then follow in bold type, wherever possible noting new and proven ascriptions. Identified parts of an author’s name are given in square brackets <[ ]>, whether these be whole names or parts thereof. Where the CME catalogue differs from my own records, this is denoted by an asterisk <*> and an entry in a separate Notes field (see below).

  The full title then follows in italics, with the following level of standardisation: nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and proper names are capitalised, while prepositions, articles, and conjunctions are lower-case (unless they begin a new sentence or follow a colon).

  Publication details then follow, again with the same system of standardisation for titles. The place of publication, publishers’ imprint, and date of publication are actually divided into three separate fields in the database. These can either remain discrete (for a date/place search for example spanning a number of years) or can be combined in a report or hard copy into one segment of an entry (as has been done in the sample checklist, where they are contained within round brackets <( )>).

  Formatting information for the entry is given, again having been standardised to some extent, with the last applicable page-number of each segment forming the basis for each entry. Volume numbers are given in upper-case roman numerals, while full body-text pages are recorded in arabic. Any other paginated matter occurring within the text, such as prefaces, introductions, subscription lists, dedications, and so forth, are given in lower-case roman numerals. Whenever misnumbering has occurred or pages are unnumbered, the pagination is given in square <[ ]> brackets. This is followed by a record of the actual size of the text, based on the established practice of counting the number of leaves between printers’ signatures to determine the collation of the original sheet. Again, if any variations have occurred, these are noted in the Notes field.

  The remaining text details consist of the edition number (when locatable), and any significant notes, of a bibliographical or textual nature. In the checklist, this section is denoted by an asterisk <*> followed by the edition number in square brackets <[ ]>, with applicable notes if necessary.

The fiche details are presented on separate lines, broken by either a new fiche number, a new volume, or a sectioned break within the text itself (e.g. a new story in a collection of tales, notes to the text, etc.).

  The first sections record the appropriate fiche (abbreviated <F> followed by an arabic numeral) and volume numbers (<Vol> followed by an upper-case roman numeral) for the entry, and each new fiche and volume consistutes a separate entry in the database.

  Following these are the chapter details <Ch>, although any ‘chapter-equivalents’, such as introductions and conclusions, or short-story titles, poem-sections, etc. are recorded here.

  Pagination information <pp> then follows, with the last page of the appropriate type/s given in all cases but that of the body text (which can be split across fiche, hence necessitating a more detailed record).

  1. Body text pagination is recorded in arabic numerals, with any misnumbering or unnumbered pages causing square brackets <[ ]> to be used. This could be the case for the first-page of the text proper beginning with a number other than one, or ending without a marked page number, etc. The only exception to this rule is that of where the page begins with the number ‘1’: as is usually the case with books, the first page number is rarely printed, and it is rather tedious to employ brackets to denote what is a standard printing practice.
  2. As noted above, any matter that forms part of the text, such as prefaces, dedications, subscription lists, and so on, is recorded in lower-case roman numerals. Additional (unnumbered) textual apparatus, such as contents pages, errata, and advertisements for other works are given in arabic numbers. More often than not, these types of pages are unnumbered so that they will generally be surrounded by square brackets <[ ]>. One proviso need be noted: if the text itself numbers an introduction (normally recorded in roman numbers) in arabics, then this practice is followed in the catalogue; similarly, if contents pages are recorded in roman, this is equally reflected in the catalogue.

     Below is a list of abbreviations and terms used in the case of the fiche details (for pagination information generally), although occasionally fuller details might be recorded for the sake of clarity:

adv advertisements for other works (if an ‘Advertisement’ by the author to his/her readers occurs, this is noted in full where appropriate); cont continued; contents contents pages; ded dedication; errata corrections to the text; inc including; incom incomplete; introd introduction; notes textual notes given by author/publisher (i.e., not editorial notes given in present day); p page/s; preface preface; subs subscription list; unn unnumbered.

The entries have been arranged by their genre and then ISBNs for the sake of convenience, although arranging by author, short title, gender, date, etc. is also possible.

ENTRIES #1–25 ENTRIES #26–50
ENTRIES #51–75 ENTRIES #76–100

—— A.A.M., August 1998

Last modified 30 September 1999.
This document is maintained by
Anthony Mandal (Mandal@cf.ac.uk).