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Sunday, February 24, 2013

The history of the scholarly citation

I've never come across this in early modern books before (not that I've read all that many), but in Bodin's Methodus, there are citations of the sort that are supposed to guide the reader not just to the book or author mentioned, but to the passage in question. Hours of delight for the modern academic! (Not me; I just read the footnotes.) The major obstacle seems to have been the lack of consistent page numbering in a world of manuscripts, but Bodin compensates thusly:
As Modestinus said in the title "About prisoners" starting at "I do not hesitate"...
Moreover, there are even acknowledgments of the "I am obliged to the pedantic brilliant Librarian Bob at Big National Archive for bringing this obscure datum to my attention" variety. From Bodin:
"This alliance, copied with all the early history of the French from the originals of the treasury, was shown to me by Charles Le Voisin, my colleague, a man famous for erudition and integrity."
Lest we suspect him of forging the thing.

Almost as delightful as the travails of manuscript production with cats.

3 comments:

Withywindle said...

This is your cue to read Anthony Grafton's history of the footnote. Entitled helpfully, I think, The Footnote.

Miss Self-Important said...

But is it relevant to my dissertation? That is the selection principle of my life at present.

Withywindle said...

"Poor Richard's Citation: The Ordering of Educational Ambition"