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July 08, 2008

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Joel Hahn

Problem #1: Until it's known by LC and gets established in an authority file, can a cataloger always quickly and easily determine that an author is actually a pseudonym (and not a joint pseudonym), and what the author's real name is? (For example, when Lemony Snicket's real name was revealed, and what might happen if LC ever adds a cross-reference for the real name of the author currently writing as "Pseudonymous Bosch") For authors whose work crosses DDC time period boundaries, books would have to be reclassed each time this happens.

Problem #2: As mentioned in the article, given the frequency with which pseudonymous books get republished either as "by X writing as Y", with just the author's real name, or under a different pseudonym[1], for such authors whose work crosses DDC time period boundaries, books would have to be reclassed each time this happens.

[1] A recent example of this last case happened when books by "Jenny Carroll" were republished as "by Meg Cabot", since "Meg Cabot" is established as a pseudonym of separately-established "Patricia Cabot".

It is perhaps unfortunate that the literary time periods for American and English literature now split as of the year 2000, but perhaps a good thing in that it forces this issue to be addressed now.

DDC already has the precedent of an author changing "national affiliation" having all of his works reclassified to use the new national affiliation.

On the other hand, DDC already has the precedent to split up an author's work if an author writes literature of multiple forms, as the author's poetry will not be classed with either the author's proseor the author's plays. Likewise for languages, as the author's English-language works will not be classed with the author's French-language works.

Personally, I'd prefer to keep the existing policy and thereby keep a physical person's work together as much as possible, in large part because I think it fits better with DDC precedents. Someone writing a biography or literary criticism of an author with pseudonyms is almost certainly going to write about the author's _entire_ oeuvre, rather than continue the fiction that the pseudonymous work was "actually" written by "someone else"; thus this should use the precedent under the existing decision to class everything by an author in a single literary period (and comprehensive works in a single form, and works written before/after a move between countries in a single country) so that works by an author can be kept together as much as the inherent structure of the DDC literature numbers allows.

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