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  • Autorschaft und Bibliothek. Sammlungsstrategien und Schreibverfahren Herausgegeben von Stefan Höppner, et al.
  • Ervin Malakaj
Autorschaft und Bibliothek. Sammlungsstrategien und Schreibverfahren. Herausgegeben von Stefan Höppner, Caroline Jessen, Jörn Münkner und Ulrike Trenkmann. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2018. 318 Seiten. €34,90.

To pursue the libraries of authors as objects of study is a tricky business. Not many such libraries are intact and available to scholars through state libraries, literary archives, or other public institutions. Even if access is obtainable, it is not entirely clear what information scholars can discern from such an archive. For instance, authors' private libraries do not yield sufficient evidence to reconstruct reading practices: even if an account of an author's library is in place, documentation of texts read rarely exists. Moreover, reading cultures frequently reach beyond book ownership as evidence of reading: borrowed, shared, or otherwise circulated texts are an important part of intellectual engagement and development over time. Thus, while private libraries of authors can provide some information about authors' intellectual trajectories, the histories to which they point are always incomplete. Autorschaft und Bibliothek. Sammlungsstrategien und Schreibverfahren attends to these and related issues and offers a comprehensive methodology to approach libraries of authors in light of these limitations.

The volume pursues two interrelated topics: it outlines the various strategies authors pursued in collecting books and the libraries' role in the genesis and composition of their texts. As such, it draws on and complements work in media, library, museum, and literary studies. Recent scholarship at the intersection of media and literary studies has rekindled the longstanding debates on the function of authors in literary criticism. For instance, compelling studies examining author estates have documented authors' awareness of their place in cultural history during their lifetime. Authors corresponded about the bequest of their estate and generated documents that reflect their estate awareness (Nachlassbewusstsein). Writing strategies, publication plans, marketing strategies, and professional network building all were part and parcel of authors' self-fashioning of stature that would last beyond their lifetimes. Such studies have been welcome contributions that examine the symbiotic processes between authors' habitus and their written texts, outlining how their estate awareness immediately shaped their aesthetic practice. Autorschaft und Bibliothek is firmly positioned in this line of inquiry.

The volume comprises a foreword, two short introductory chapters, and seventeen contributions. The organization of the volume is not bound by chronology, but rather proceeds by topic, moving from detailed accounts of collection development to how these collections come to inform cultural production. Case studies examine the constitution of the personal libraries of Johann Gottfried Herder, Bettina von Arnim, Paul Celan, Serge Stauffer, Maxie Wander, August the Younger, Johann Christian Gottfried Jahn, Christoph Martin Wieland, August Boeckh, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Stefan George, and Karl Wolfskehl. Each captures various approaches to establish intertextual networks based on lists and usage information where possible. [End Page 531] In some instances, contributors draw on sources such as moving lists, diary entries, or published library accounts to reconstruct author libraries, historicizing and contextualizing the documents by which a rich intellectual life can be reconstructed. Two chapters are of particular note. Sarah Ruppe offers an insightful account of the history of Berlin's first university library, which was expanded based on the acquisition of various personal libraries of scholars. Ulrike Gleixner's chapter is an admirable history of author libraries of women scholars of the early modern era.

Stefan Höppner and Dirk Werle provide two excellent introductions to the volume. The former focuses on approaches to examining book collecting with regard to the genesis of texts from a media-history and library-studies perspective. The latter focuses on examining authorship and libraries from the perspective of literary theory. Werle remarks that libraries of authors are a rich source for reconstructing various intellectual histories informing a given text. As such, even if only partially available, author libraries offer extensive information about the discursive traditions informing the life of an author.

Autorschaft und Bibliothek is based on a conference hosted by the Goethe-Nationalmuseum that was organized by scholars affiliated with the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel research association. These cultural institutions have been central in acquiring and reassembling author libraries...


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pp. 531-532
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