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PCCLIST  December 2017

PCCLIST December 2017

Subject:

Re: LRM, RDA, and attributed authors

From:

Kathie Coblentz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 6 Dec 2017 18:39:24 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (19 lines)

Belatedly, I would like to add the case of Voltaire to this fascinating discussion.

Voltaire used literally hundreds of pseudonyms. Actually, "Voltaire" itself is a pseudonym—his family name was Arouet, but that's another story, since he never published anything under that name. But in his writings, to evade the draconian French book trade/censorship laws, he might have called himself anything from the fanciful ("le docteur Goodheart") to the barely plausible (Candide, in its earliest editions, is said to be "translated from the German of Mr. le docteur Ralph") to the mystifying, as when he hides behind the names of well-known people, often with their names slightly askew, and usually conveniently dead and thus immune from being thrown into the Bastille for lèse-majesté. For instance, the author on the title page of "Le dîner du comte de Boulainvilliers," published in 1768, is "Mr. St. Hiacinte," and the work purports to be a dialogue among several historical figures, all deceased, namely Henri, comte de Boulainvilliers; the comtesse de Boulainvilliers; Bernard Couet; and Nicolas Fréret, as recorded by Thémiseul de Saint-Hyacinthe in 1728 (which is also the date on the title page), but it is actually a new work by Voltaire. The alleged host of the dinner had died in 1722, and the purported author, whose name is usually spelled with a "y" and "th," in 1746.

These ruses didn't fool anyone (Voltaire was always shocked, shocked to learn he might be considered the responsible party behind various and sundry seditious pamphlets; he once claimed that a pirated edition, published with his name on the title page, was plainly not his work BECAUSE it had his name on the title page), but of course ... they present problems to present-day catalogers. I decided early on that I didn't have to worry about establishing separate "alternate identities" for the names that worked like traditional pseudonyms, since all of Voltaire's works have been published under his name many times over, if not separately, then in various collected editions. But the real or almost-real names present other problems, such as we have been discussing in this thread. Before RDA, and as a makeshift solution under RDA, I assigned Voltaire as author and made an added access point for the title page name in its authorized form (adding a VAP for Voltaire's spelling to the NAR if necessary) and used the MARC relator term/code "Attributed name [att]"—though the scope note isn't quite on point: "An author, artist, etc., relating him/her to a resource for which there is or once was substantial authority for designating that person as author, creator, etc. of the work." Though I guess the author's choice at the time of publication might be considered "substantial authority."

Voltaire used these names for a reason. Usually something they wrote or some controversy they had been involved in had a bearing on the issue he was taking up in his own work. In my mind there is a need to relate the real people (or agents) to the works published under their borrowed names (or nomina). Again, because it's Voltaire and everything has been frequently republished under his name, there would be no reason to create a NAR for "St. Hiacinte, Mr. " or "Saint-Hyacinthe, Thémiseul de," qualified by "(Pseudonym)" or by Voltaire's dates, though a variant access point on the NAR for Voltaire could be advised. But what about the purported author? 

But wait, there's more: Title page attributions to Voltaire for things that he didn't actually write are not uncommon. For instance, "La mort de Caton" was originally published in 1768 with no author named on the title page, but two 1777 editions were published under the name of Voltaire. The actual author is Henri Panckoucke. Another example is "Le cathécumène," now generally given to Charles Bordes. Theodore Besterman wrote that it was "generally attributed to Voltaire, and was more than once included in his works, even by himself; but it seems clear that he was not its author, and that Bordes was." Here, the MARC term "attributed name" seems definitely applicable, but we still lack a comparable RDA-sanctioned term.
--------------------------------------------------------
Kathie Coblentz | The New York Public Library
Rare Materials Cataloger
Special Collections/Special Formats Processing
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
476 5th Avenue, Room 313, New York, NY 10018
[log in to unmask]

My opinions, not NYPL's

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