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Book Reviews Arthur's Web Karl Beckson, Ian Fletcher, Lawrence W. Markert, and John Stokes. Arthur Symons: A Bibliography. No. 5 in the 1880-1920 British Authors Series. Greensboro, NC: ELT Press, 1990. xii + 330 pp. $30.00 Distributed in Europe by Colin Smythe Limited. PROBABLY SYMONS SCHOLARS should stop quoting Oscar Wilde's quip that the byline "Arthur Symons" must stand for a syndicate, not an individual, but the remark is apposite. Karl Beckson and his fellow compilers of Arthur Symons: A Bibliography note that Symons published some 1300 articles, notes, and reviews, and sixty books and pamphlets, and edited or contributed to more than seventy-five books during the sixty years of his known publishing career from 1882 to 1942. The media in which he published range from rare, privately printed books and obscure or ephemeral journals such as Lute, the Dome, and Home Chimes to books issued by major houses such as Heinemann and Constable and journals such as the Saturday Review, Fortnightly, and Athenaeum (where, however, his contributions were sometimes anonymous). The usual bibliographical challenge of verifying and expanding the known canon of a writer's work is, in Symons's case, considerable. Beckson and his colleagues meet the challenge of verifying and expanding the canon of Symons's work with great success, and they take on two other challenges. The first—remarkable in a bibliography—is to be "readable," and in this they are also successful. The final chaUenge is to untangle what Beckson and company describe as the "tangled web" produced by Symons's inveterate practices of republishing essays in toto and more or less verbatim, cutting up old essays and splicing the parts into new wholes, and borrowing old bits in new essays. With due humility his bibliographers describe their work as a beginning and invite aid toward, "Deo volente, a second edition." Their many brief explanatory notes to specific items make significant progress in untangling Symons's web of self-borrowings, but other Symons specialists will indeed see debts to himself that the bibliographers have missed. As a means of measuring the advances which Arthur Symons: A Bibliography makes in expanding and refining the Symons canon, one may turn to Peter Laurence Irvine's 1965 Columbia University Ph. D. dissertation, Arthur Symons: A Biographical Study. Its fifty-eight-page bibliography has been extremely helpful to Symons speciahsts. Irvine 205 ELT: VOLUME 34:2, 1991 lists about 500 periodical pieces—a sharp contrast to Beckson and company's 1300 or so. Of the new additions, sizable numbers come from tapping Symons's anonymous contributions to the Athenaeum and from deep delving into his highly ephemeral theater and music reviews in papers such as the Star. In the area of edited books and contributions to books, the new bibliography hsts eighty-two to Irvine's forty-seven up to his terminal date, 1933, and adds another twenty later items. Beckson and company have added three books translated by Symons, four books or pamphlets of original poetry, and three of prose. Among these books, there are no real surprises. The expansion, though, in the areas of periodical pieces, editorial introductions, and contributions to books solves some long-standing puzzles. One learns at last, for example, that "A Note on Zola's Method" in the 1919 edition of The Symbolist Movement in Literature originated as an unsigned review of Zola's Docteur Pascal and an Enghsh translation of it in the Athenaeum of 5 August 1893, and that "Prosper Mérimée" in the 1919 Symbolist Movement originated as an introduction of Mérimée's The Abbé Aubain and Mosaics in 1903. In addition to expanding the Symons canon, Arthur Symons: A Bibliography corrects dates and other pubhcation data and hsts the contents of his books whenever analysis into chapters, essays, poems, or similar divisions is substantially informative. When the compilers of the new Symons bibliography mention "readability" as an aim, they do so to explain their reliance upon their index, rather than upon intrusive notes in the bibliographical entries for Symons's books, to allow the reader to trace the passage of individual items or parts of items through the web of Symons's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 205-208
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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