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Marie de France

Before I added more, there was only one of Marie de France's lais in the database, "Il Lai du Bisclavret," which was there because translations of it were in modern anthologies. I have now found two more in anthologies, "Lanval" and "Chievrefueil," and so I have added records for the 13th-century texts of all twelve on the basis of Warnke's 1885 edition. Are these lais something you know anything about, so that I could ask you some questions? Most notably, "Bisclavret" was previously in the DB as a short story, with the note "Versified text, as nearly all French medieval literature." I wondered if it was you who wrote that note. For the moment, I have changed its type to POEM. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 13:06, 6 January 2019 (EST)

Yes, I wrote that note, to explain why I had tagged Bisclavret as a short story, not a poem. The problem is that some editors systematically call "poem" anything versified, whereas poetry and versification are two different things (there are poems in prose, and versified didactic texts). Note this db calls "novels" long epic poems in verse, and "short fiction" a versified play. Note also that most of Charles Perrault's tales are in prose, a few in verse, but they are all tagged as "short fiction" (to complicate matters, some translations of versified tales are in prose, not in verse).
To answer the other question, yes, I am acquainted with the lais of Marie de France, and medieval French literature in general. Linguist 05:13, 7 January 2019 (EST).
The point of view that stories in verse should have the type SHORTFICTION is compelling, and I agree with it in principle, but it does present considerable practical difficulties which may prevent it being adopted by most editors. One problem is that it requires distinguishing between narrative and lyric verse (personally, I'm uneasy about including any verse in this db that doesn't have a strong narrative element, but there's plenty of it in anthologies and magazines, so needs must). Secondly, we'd have to decide exactly which narrative verse should be SHORTFICTION. As you say, it's pretty clear that medieval and early modern writings just use verse as the medium for stories; but that isn't true nowadays, so are we going to draw a chronological dividing line? Try to judge according to "genre"? For example, are 17th-century ballads SHORTFICTION? Before I start changing records from POEM to SHORTFICTION I would like to get a better understanding of the matter.
With regards to Marie de France, I decided, on second thought, to omit from the database the five of her lais that have the fewest magical elements, as being unlikely to show up in modern speculative-fiction anthologies. After all she is not a "genre" writer in the sense of writing fantasy fiction--all of her stories belong to the same genre but not that one.
Question: why did you use, as the standardized title for the story you entered, "Le Lai du Bisclavret"? Warnke just titled it "Bisclavret" and that seems to be the commonest practice.
Finally, I have posted a [query at Rules & Standards, about the dates of works from manuscripts, that you might have an opinion about. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 16:38, 7 January 2019 (EST)
Actually, I should have not used the article in the title — can't figure why I added it. Like most medieval texts, this one is known under different variants and variant titles : Lai du Bisclaveret (see here for instance) or Bisclavret (see here), etc. I just chose one of them, but indeed, since there aren't any pubs linked to this particular title yet, it might as well be suppressed.
I agree that the distinction between SHORTFICTION and (lyrical) POEM can be somewhat subjective at times, but in my opinion, if doubt arises, then this distinction is not that important, and should probably benefit to POEM (but another choice would not be dramatic). Take Poe's Raven, for instance : despite its initial structure in rhymed stanzas heavy with alliterations, Baudelaire's famed translation consists of a succession of prose paragraphs, which might easily pass for a short story with a poetical twist.
As for the technical aspect of the problem, I wonder if it would be possible — and practical or useful — to dispose of a PROSE / VERSE option, which could be used independently of the others (NOVEL / SHORT FICTION / POEM / ESSAY…) : this would easily account for verse vs prose poems, verse vs prose stories, etc. The PROSE option would of course be the one to be automatically used by default. Furthermore, the translation in prose of a versified story, which is a rather common practice, should allow a prose text to be a variant of a verse one, without being red-flagged (or, rather, yellow-flagged) by the system. This, as far as I am concerned, would be ideal, but of course this is just my way of seing things. Linguist 05:16, 8 January 2019 (EST).
Distinguishing poetry from other literary forms is DIFFICULT. I just spent an hour mentally cataloguing all the intermediate and marginal cases, and I will not bore you with repeating this, but the conclusion I came to is that no set of guidelines could possibly capture the distinction. Where guidelines are of little use, it's better not to have guidelines, so I think the current state of anarchy in the database will have to continue, with each editor using their own instincts to recognize which is which. This will be easy for the majority of modern works; and having uncertain cases misclassified is not the worst thing that could happen to the database—a less serious problem than incorrect bibliographical data. (Nonetheless, I really appreciate it when editors of anthologies and magazines tell me which of their contents they consider to be poems!)
Does this anarchy extend to your argument that some verse narratives should be classified as SHORTFICTION? Should editors who feel that a lai, a romance, or a ballad is SHORTFICTION simply enter it as such? I hesitate to say so, since the classification would come as a surprise to the great majority of people consulting the database, who would be unfamiliar with anything but the modern norm that if it's verse, it's poetry. If we were to adopt this counterintuitive practice, explanations would be needed, and the best thing would be to have a standard explanation that could be linked from every applicable record. Would you be willing to write a wiki page explaining the reason for the classification? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 14:52, 8 January 2019 (EST)
OK, I'll try and do that — although it might take a bit of time. As can be seen from my scanty editing these days, I have little free time at the moment. But I think it could be done this week or next. Linguist 08:57, 9 January 2019 (EST).
That's great, thanks! --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 21:20, 9 January 2019 (EST)


Hi Dominique,

Do you know if the NooSFere's numbers (numlivre) are stable? We already have them recorded anyway so I was thinking that we may as well pull them in external identifiers. What do you think? Annie 17:02, 14 January 2019 (EST)

I do think they are quite stable. At least, I've never had any problem with them so far. It might be indeed a good idea to add them to the list. Linguist 08:07, 15 January 2019 (EST).
I am yet to find an invalid one and some of our records are as old as 2011 so I think we should be fine. Annie 11:42, 15 January 2019 (EST)

Les grottes de Gom

Hi, You verified this pub. Note says: "original Anticipation series number appearing as «425» in lower part of spine." But the original number was 465. Is that an error? --Zapp 07:38, 15 January 2019 (EST)

The funny thing is that the number at the bottom of the spine is actually 485, not 425 (I must have misread it the first time), but it is still a misprint on the part of Fleuve Noir. The original number, 465, is correctly indicated on copyright page. I'll update the record and make things clearer. Thanks for the notification ! Linguist 08:18, 15 January 2019 (EST).

Пять кругов ужаса


Can you look at this one that has both "Apparently no record of this book in WorldCat" and an OCLC verification (as opposed to a N/A for example). Thanks! Annie 13:18, 16 January 2019 (EST)

Corrected (must have clicked the wrong button or whatever it is called…). Thanks, Linguist 04:38, 17 January 2019 (EST).

Les premiers feux: Penser le futur en Russie d'Alexandre Ier à Staline

A quick note re: your verified Les premiers feux: Penser le futur en Russie d'Alexandre Ier à Staline. It lists "L'Antéchrist" as a translation of Vladimir Soloviev's "Краткой повести об антихристе".

As near as I can tell, the Russian title is "Краткая повесть об Антихристе". It originally appeared as part 4 of a longer work, which is presumably why the title may have been inflected in some secondary sources. Ahasuerus 16:11, 16 January 2019 (EST)

Yes, that's very probable. Yet the original title was thus indicated in the bibliography. I have updated the Russian title. Thanks for the notification. Linguist 04:48, 17 January 2019 (EST).

OCLC verifications

Hello, I'm wondering about some entries in the Cleanup Report Publications with an OCLC Verification, an ISBN and no OCLC External ID. That publications have a note "No record in OCLC" but a positive secondary verification. For example: Piège sur Zarkass. I thought in those cases the button should be made for "Marked N/A"? --Zapp 08:12, 27 January 2019 (EST)

I must have found the OCLC record afterwards, and forgotten to update ours. Notes corrected and OCLC number added, thanks. Linguist 08:14, 1 February 2019 (EST).

Trying to understand some French binding terms

A 19th century ad (the J. Verne book at bottom of right column) lists the prices for a book as "Volumes gr. in-8° jésus, 10 fr.; cart., 12 fr.;rel., 14 fr.". Other ads indicate cart. is cartonnés and rel. is relié. I assume cartonnés is a basic board cover and relié is also covered (likely nice leather covers people want to collect) but what is jésus?. Would it be a kind of loosley bound copy with a paper cover like the in-18 version or this (same book as the ad is from)? ../Doug H 13:36, 4 February 2019 (EST)

Hello Doug, and sorry about the delay, I haven't been around much lately. Jésus does not refer to binding, but format. In French papermaking, it used to be the name of different paper formats, with a distinctive IHS (Christogram) watermark : basic jésus was 56 × 72 cm, with two main variants : petit jésus (55 × 70 cm) and grand jésus (56 × 76 cm). Thus, gr[and] in-8° jésus means it is a large octavo obtained from such 56 × 72 cm sheets to start with (one sheet corresponding to 16 pages of printed text folded three times to get eight leaves). It is the absence of other specifications for the 10 fr. edition that implies here that it is indeed paper-bound. In other words, a 19 x 28 cm soft-bound volume, i.e. tp. Hope that helps, Linguist 08:24, 8 February 2019 (EST).

Recent Black Coat Press titles

The folks at Black Coat Press have announced two books that I am struggling with. The first one is The Incredible Adventure and Other Interstellar Excursions, which collects 3 novellas by 3 French authors. The second one is The Man Who Could Read Minds, a selection of stories by Paul Gsell. Black Coat Press is usually good at providing information about the original French titles on their Web site, but in this case their pages are of limited use -- the only original fiction title that they list is L'Homme qui lit dans les âmes.

When you have a free moment, do you think you could take a look? TIA! Ahasuerus 17:39, 22 March 2019 (EDT)

Sorry, I haven't been around much recently, and only saw your notice to-day. I'll try and do what I can :o) ! Linguist 09:16, 29 March 2019 (EDT).
Thanks! Ahasuerus 09:59, 29 March 2019 (EDT)
Can't find any trace of Adventures in Prehistoric Times… It might have been published in Nouvelles scientifiques (1896), but I didn't find any ToC anywhere. Apart from that, I think I got them all ! Linguist 10:43, 29 March 2019 (EDT).
Beautiful! Thanks again! Ahasuerus 11:07, 29 March 2019 (EDT)

Sciences et Voyages bogus oclc verifications

Hi, can you please set the oclc verification for all Sciences et Voyages magazines that feature on this maintenance report Publications with an OCLC Verification, no ISBN and no OCLC External ID to n/a (not available)? Thanks in advance.--Dirk P Broer 06:30, 4 April 2019 (EDT)

Right, I'll go and have a look at them. Thanks, Linguist 08:41, 5 April 2019 (EDT).
Done. Linguist 12:12, 5 April 2019 (EDT).
Thanks!--Dirk P Broer 07:40, 6 April 2019 (EDT)

The World of Null-A

Hi, you are PV2 for this publication. I'm trying to establish whether my copy of this is the same as yours. Could you please check your copy against the following as it appears on my copyright page:

"First published in Great Britain in 1970 by Dobson Books Ltd."

"© 1948 by Street & Smith Publications Inc."

"Introduction © A. E. Van Vogt 1970."

"First Sphere Books Edition 1971"

(The page number switching detail is exactly as you have it)

Back cover pricing: United Kingdom (6/-) 30p, Australia 1.00c, New Zealand 1.00c, South Africa 75c, East Africa 7/25.

Front cover is exactly as pictured. "87653" vertically on back cover

At first it seems the same but nowhere in my book is there any reference to "Sphere Science Fiction Classics" (which I infer is on your copyright page). Thanks, Kevan BanjoKev 14:55, 18 April 2019 (EDT)BanjoKev

Hello BanjoKev. Every detail is identical, so it looks like the same copy. However, the reference to "Sphere Science Fiction Classics" comes from the cover itself. If yours doesn't mention it, then we are dealing with two different printings. Cheers, Linguist 08:41, 19 April 2019 (EDT).
Thanks for taking the time to check and, yes, the copies are identical. Is it alright if I edit the record to clarify/complete it? Thanks BanjoKev 12:43, 20 April 2019 (EDT)
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