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31. REVIEWS THOMAS J. WISE: CENTENARY STUDIES. Ed. William B. Todd. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1959. $3.00; also pub. as THE SUPPLEMENT: THOMAS J. WISE: CENTENARY STUDIES. Ed. William B. Todd. TEXAS QUARTERLY, Il (Winter 1959), following p. 195, with separate pagination. $1.00. Thomas J. Wise and his forgeries have fascinated scholars and bibliographers since John Carter and Graham Pollard gave their expose of his nefarious activities in AN ENQUIRY INTO THE NATURE OF CERTAIN NINETEENTH CENTURY PAMPHLETS in 1934. A hundred years after his birth, the University of Texas, chief repository of Wiseiana, celebrated the centenary of V/ise's birth with appropriate ceremonies on April Fool's day and a volume containing essays by John Carter, Graham Pollard and William B. Todd, and a handful of documents by Wise himself. The contents of this collection vary in quality and interest, for the essays are really a series of footnotes and addenda to the original ENQUIRY, and the electrifying thrill of revelation which caused the contents of that volume to reach the headlines of British newspapers is not repeated. These addenda merely reinforce what is now common knowledge about Wise. John Carter introduces the centenary studies with an informal, brief survey of Wise's activities and Wise scholarship in "Thomas J. Wise in Perspective." In this essay, an unrevised address, Carter becomes somewhat precious, referring to himself and Pollard as "the enquirers" and to other scholars as "Wiseians," almost as if they constituted a club like the Baker Street Irregulars or the Droodians. Though devoting a footnote to explaining a poor pun, he fails to give a precise reference to the latest discoveries concerning Wise's theft of leaves from Prerestoration plays. William B. Todd and Graham Pollard edit and comment on letters written by Wise, which show his techniques of disposing of his wares and of hiding his trail. In "The Case of THE DEVIL'S DUE" Pollard examines and condemns another Wise forgery, and in the process clears Edmund Gosse of any complicity in the production of forged pamphlets. And Todd demonstrates neatly once again in an analysis of V/ise's "Introduction to the BROWNING LIBRARY," how Wise's letters and printed statements contradict themselves. The most important contributions to the collection are Todd's "A Handlist of Thomas J. Wise" and Pollard's "The Scope for Further Typographical Analysis." The handlist of Wise publications is the most thorough record to date of Wise's artistry, and the chronological tables that follow indicate the dates when he was at the height of hi s achievement. Pollard points out that it is not hard for a compositor to copy a page arrangement so carefully that an ordinary bibliographical description (t-p and collation) cannot be used to distinguish between a spurious and an authentic book. Wise attempted a few of these "binary" editions, but had to abandon them when one or two were detected early in his career. Pollard also demonstrates that an examination of a printer's layout and display type is not enough to prove he did or did not print a piece of work: "It is the careful and tedious examination of text types, and the state of a printer's founts rather than their design, which alone can lead to any certainty." — E. S. L. I D. F. Foxon, THOMAS J. WISE AND THE PRE-RESTORATION DRAMA: A STUDY IN THEFT AND SOPHISTICATION, London, The Bibliographical Society [Supplement to the Bibliographical Society's Publications: No. I9], 1959. ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
p. 31
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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