We mentioned a few weeks ago that we had decided to discontinue updates to the Tips section of the Dewey web site in favor of sharing advice through this blog instead. To get things off the ground, we have a bumper selection of three tips for you today. 1. Wear a hat: it's getting cold. 2. Glenisla Mist (12-1) in the 1:30 at Sedgefield. 3. Class Richard Wilbur's Collected poems, 1943-2004 (Harcourt, 2004) at 811.54. The third might require some explanation, so (courtesy of our resident expert, Giles), here goes.
Literary works in the DDC are classed first by language, not by country of origin. However, literary works in English originating in North America, South America, Hawaii, and geographically associated islands are classed in the development for American literature in English at 810, not 820 English literature. Richard Wilbur is a United States poet, and his comprehensive number therefore begins with 811 -- where the 8 indicates the main class of Literature, the first 1 indicates the language (English) and national affiliation (American), and the second 1 indicates the literary form (poetry). To complete the number, we must determine the period in which Wilbur flourished, taking account of this Manual note on Literary periods to be found among the notes on Table 3A (Subdivisions for Works by or about Individual Authors):
"Use only one literary period for an author and all of the author's works, including works that may have been published earlier or later than the dates covered by that period. Determine the literary period in accordance with scholarly consensus about when an author flourished. For example, class an author commonly regarded as an early-19th-century writer as such, even if the author published literary works at the end of the 18th century. In the absence of scholarly comment, use the weight of bibliographic evidence to determine when an author flourished. For example, class an author who published one novel in 1999, one novel in 2000, one in 2001, and one in 2002 in the literary period beginning with 2000. If the period when an author flourished cannot be determined, use the date of the author's earliest known separate literary publication, disregarding magazine contributions, isolated student works, and juvenilia."
When did Richard Wilbur flourish? From the table of periods for United States authors given under 810.1–818 Subdivisions of American literature in English, we have three choices: 1900-1945, 1945-1999, and 2000-. Wilbur's first book, The beautiful changes and other poems, was published in 1947. He's had several collections published with a date range in the title starting with 1943 -- for instance, as well as Collected poems, 1943-2004, there's Poems, 1943-1956. And the latest such collection was published in 2004. But, given the three periods that are available for selection, there wouldn't seem to be much question that the one in which Wilbur flourished is 1945-1999. The notation for 1945-1999 is 54, so 54 can be added to 811 to give the comprehensive number for Richard Wilbur: 811.54.
The comprehensive number is the number for all collected works, critical evaluation, or biography of Wilbur. Should it also be applied to individual works by Wilbur, even if those works are published outside the period indicated by the number? The answer is "Yes," but only in the case of works of poetry that were written in English. From the Table 3A Manual note on Comprehensive numbers for authors, and numbers for individual works:
"Use the same national affiliation and literary period for comprehensive works and for all individual works of an author; however, use the language and form appropriate for each individual work, even if different from the language and form selected for the author's comprehensive number."
So both Collected poems, 1943-2004 and Mayflies (Harcourt, 2000) should be classed at 811.54 rather than 811.6, even though both were published in the period 2000-.
Thanks to Elizabeth Erlich for her original question!