Frans A. Janssen, Gaskell 50 years on

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Gaskell 50 years on

Frans A. Janssen  in De Gulden Passer, vol. 99 (2021), nr. 1, pp. 69–79


For nearly half a century, the classic handbook for what has become known, beginning about 1970, as analytical bibliography (bibliographie matérielle) was An introduction to bibliography for literary students (1927) by the British textual scholar and book historian Ronald B. McKerrow. It describes the discipline of studying the book as a material object, the transmission of a text from copy to print, as well as the technical and organizational activities of publishers, compositors, correctors and printers. An awareness of the stages in the production of books can help solve textual problems, making the discipline an ancillary of textual scholarship. In 1972, now nearly another half century ago, the English librarian and book historian Philip Gaskell published a successor whose title alludes to that of its predecessor: A new introduction to bibliography. The present contribution pays particular attention to the annihilating criticism by the textual scholar and book historian Fredson Bowers that was published in 1973. Since the publication of A new introduction in 1972, some five new handbooks of analytical bibliography have been published (including French-language ones), which provide useful additions to Gaskell but have not reduced the standing of his handbook.