Building a Bookselling Library

by Craig Stark

9 January 2012

A Review of C. Edgar Grissom's Ernest Hemingway:
A Descriptive Bibliography

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For decades Audre Hanneman's Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography has served as the standard bibliographic reference for Ernest Hemingway, but as most of us know, bibliographies are perpetual works in progress. Hanneman herself published a 393-page supplement to her own bibliography a brief eight years after its release. Given the stature of Hemingway and his enduring legacy, it's of course inevitable that much new information will continue to be uncovered over time and much old information reexamined, both of which will serve to expand and correct previous bibliographies. Late last year Oak Knoll Press released a new Hemingway bibliography that reflects this in spades. C. Edgar Grissom's Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography is a massive, near definitive resource that goes places I have never traveled with any other bibliography.

What I've come to expect from a good descriptive bibliography is a comprehensive, systematic presentation of all the author's primary (those written by the author) and much secondary (those written about the author) materials with detailed bibliographic descriptions of each as physical objects. Preferably this includes collations of first editions and photographs of primary books, dust jackets (if issued) and title leaves, though a competent bibliographer like Hanneman could and did rely exclusively on textual descriptions. Anything above and beyond this is a bonus. Hanneman's bibliography, hereafter referred to as "Hanneman," certainly satisfies the above criteria, and since Grissom's bibliography is a candidate for supplanting it, it will be useful to compare and contrast them.

First, let's look at the books themselves:

Hanneman is not a small book (nor is the supplement), but clearly Grissom is huge. Grissom also features a DVD with over 2,000 color images of covers, dust jackets and spines along with over 50 images of Hemingway's signature dating between 1908 and 1960, the year before his death. Additionally, the DVD contains over 100 pages of text - specifically, blurbs, reviews and epigraphs; interviews; adaptations of Hemingway's work and life; keepsakes; anthologies; and translations. It's a rich resource in itself, not to mention groundbreaking.

Hanneman includes a single 10-page appendix listing newspapers and periodicals cited in previous sections. Grissom includes fully seven appendices - specifically, a lengthy writer's chronology, a chronology of Hemingway's signature, a chronology (titled "interpretation") of Scribner's copyright page; a glossary of terms; references and works cited; research sources for Hemingway and his work; and manuscripts.

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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