AN -- Biographies

Biographische Informationsmittel: Typologie mit Beispielen; Rezensionen von 836 allgemeinen und fachlichen Sammelbiographien von Anfang der neunziger Jahre bis Ende 1998, samt einem Verzeichnis mit Schlagwortregister aller von 1974-1993 in der Rubrik Ausgewählte Bibliographien und andere Nachschlagewerke der Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie sowie in IFB 1 (1993)-6 (1998) besprochenen biographischen Informationsmittel [Biographical Information Resources: Typology, with Examples. Reviews of 836 general and specialized collective biographies from the beginning of the 1990's until the end of 1998, including a keyword index of all biographical reference works reviewed in the column "Selected Bibliographies and Other Reference Materials" in the Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie (Journal for Library Science and Bibliography) and in IFB 1 (1993)-6 (1998)]. Ed. Klaus Schreiber. Berlin: Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut. 24 cm. (Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken (IFB): Beiheft, 9). ISBN 3-87068-549-2: DM 164.00 [00-1/4-047]

Vol. 1. Typologie, Internationale Biographien, Afrika, Amerika, Asien, Australien, Europa (Nord- und Westeuropa), Deutschland (Allgemein-, Epochen-, Gruppen-, Thematische, Institutionenbiographien, Fach- und Berufsbiographien, Spezialverzeichnisse) [Typology, International Biographies, Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Europe (Northern and Western Europe), Germany (General Biographies, Biographies by Epoch, Groups, and Themes, Biographies of Institutions, Biographies by Field and Profession, Special Indexes]. 1999. 654 p.

Vol. 2. Deutschland (Regional- und Lokalbiographien), Österreich, Schweiz, Ostmittel- und Osteuropa, Rußland, Südosteuropa, Iberische Halbinsel, Italien, Verzeichnis mit Schlagwortregister [Germany (Regional and Local Biographies), Austria, Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Russia, Southeastern Europe, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Keyword Index]. 1999. p. 655-1,252

Biographical publications have proliferated in recent years, and it has become increasingly difficult to gain an overview of what is available. This work attempts to classify and describe some 1,200 biographical works published in the time period 1974 to 1998. This number is comprised of an annotated bibliography of 836 works, as well as a selected index of works reviewed earlier. Aimed primarily at librarians and biographical researchers of all kinds, the publication includes commentary about the content, design, quantity of information, and quality of each work. Because the work focuses on biographical resources, it excludes reference works that offer articles on both topics and people, such as The Grove Dictionary of Art. Not restricted only to print materials, the work also includes microforms and digital media (e.g., CD-ROMs and databases available on the Internet). Although international in scope, its emphasis lies heavily on biographical works from German-speaking countries. Thus, one can expect to find works from specialized spheres in the German world here, for example, the Biographien bedeutender hessischer Forstleute [Biographies of Eminent Hessian Foresters]. All in all, Klaus Schreiber's work is a reliable and valuable reference tool--certainly the most comprehensive work of its kind in Europe to date--providing access to a wealth of information resources for all who need biographical information for their research. One looks forward to the parallel Internet version of the print edition, which would allow updating to keep the work current. [Editors' note: A Reference Reviews Europe edition of this work is in preparation.] [be/akb]

Lexikon der Blondinen: mehr als Traumfrau und Sexbombe, Engel und Vamp, Fee und Witzfigur [Dictionary of Blondes: More than Dream Woman, Bombshell, Angel and Vamp, Fairy and Butt of Jokes]. Siegfried P. Rupprecht. Berlin: Lexikon-Imprint-Verlag, 1999. 351 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 3-89602-215-6: DM 29.80 [00-1/4-049]

Up to now the reviewer has never encountered a biographical dictionary in which the entries were chosen on the basis of hair color. Lexikon der Blondinen is not, as the title suggests, strictly a biographical dictionary, but rather includes many entries under subject terms, in addition to entries under the names of blond women from history and the present, from mythology, art, and literature. Hair care (coloring) terms are particularly numerous, also terms from psychology, sociology, and sexology, all with quotations from the popular literature of those subjects. The biographies are trivial, because blond hair is responsible for the persons' importance only in exceptional cases, so that the selection criterion is worthless. The level is sometimes not far from that of blonde jokes. Someone who is interested in the person will go directly to the many biographies (not well chosen) of famous blondes listed in the bibliography, or to dictionaries of stars in all fields. Electronically oriented fans of individual blondes can find out more (and in color) about the object of their desire on the Internet (a search in Yahoo for Anna Kournikova, who is missing among the other tennis stars in this work, resulted in no fewer than 44 hits). [sh/gh]

Neue deutsche Biographie [New German Biography]. Ed. Historische Kommission of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. 26 cm. ISBN 3-428-00181-8 (set) [00-1/4-050]

Vol. 19. Nauwach-Pagel. 1999. xvi, 816 p. ISBN 3-428-00200-8 (cloth): DM 198.00; ISBN 3-428-00288-1 (half leather): DM 228.00

The newest volume of the Neue deutsche Biographie (NDB) appeared in the same year as the last text volume of the Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie (DBE) (see RREA 6:39 below). That the latter published the entire alphabet in five years, while the NDB proceeds only very slowly, is understandable, because the two works are fundamentally different. It would be foolish to emphasize the (certainly useful) DBE at the expense of the NDB. The NDB is not conceived as purely the product of a commercial publishing house, but rather is supported by the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. This is the sense and purpose of such institutions, a phenomenon not limited to Germany. On the other hand, it is fascinating to see how the new large national biographies for the United States (American National Biography in 24 volumes, 1999) and Great Britain (New Dictionary of National Biography, announced in 50 volumes and in electronic form for 2004) are being published all at once. Since these are already processed in digital form, publication on CD-ROM or online is possible, even if the primary form is still print. For the NDB, electronic publication would be extremely expensive, because the early volumes (the first appeared in 1953) would have to be digitized after the fact. However, offering those volumes already in digital form online could be considered. An index made available on the Internet would facilitate access to all volumes, and would not impair the sale of the print edition. [sh/gh]

Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie (DBE) [German Biographical Encyclopedia]. Ed.Walther Killy and Rudolf Vierhaus. München: Saur. 25 cm. ISBN 3-598-23160-1 (set): DM 3,600.00 [00-1/4-051]

Vol. 10. Thibaut-Zycha. 1999. xxiv, 711 p. ISBN 3-598-23170-9: DM 448.00, DM 398.00 (pre-payment price)

Vol. 11,1. Nachträge, Personenregister A-Ha [Supplemental Entries, Name Index A-Ha]. 2000. xxiii, 644 p. ISBN 3-598-23171-7: DM 398.00, DM 298.00 (if vols. 1-10 purchased, as well)

Vol. 11,2. Personenregister He-Z [Name Index He-Z]. 2000. p. 645-1,323. ISBN 3-598-23171-7: DM 398.00, DM 298.00 (if vols. 1-10 purchased, as well)

Das große biographische Lexikon der Deutschen: über 2000 Persönlichkeiten aus dem deutschsprachigen Kulturraum, auf der Grundlage der "Deutschen biographischen Enzyklopädie" hrsg. von Walter Killy und Rudolf Vierhaus [Comprehensive Biographical Lexicon of Germans; Based on the Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie edited by Walter Killy and Rudolf Vierhaus]. Ed. Toni Meissner and Jürgen Lotz. Rev. ed. Rheda-Wiedenbrück; Gütersloh: RM- Buch-und-Medien-Vertrieb, 1999. xxxvi, 788 p. 25 cm. DM 34.90 (only for Bertelsmann Bookclub members) [00-1/4-052]

A very thorough and critical review of the Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie appeared in 1999 (see IFB B09-300) for volumes 1 through 9. The set of biographies is available in final form now that the 10th volume has been published. This is an impressive accomplishment that was primarily possible because only around 1,000 of the advertised 60,000 articles are complete biographies. The rest are mainly more or less successful abstracts from other sources. Volume 11, in two half-volumes, contains--in addition to the Index of Often Used Works and Index of Abbreviations for Literature Cited that are familiar from the main set--four very differently sized parts: (1) Supplemental entries, i.e., articles for more than 1,200 persons who died during the compilation of the work or who had not been included at first. These entries are mainly unsigned short biographies, although many of them are more thorough than the average entry in the basic set. In actuality, the final total of biographies comes to between 55,000 and 56,000 entries. The previously non-included individuals were probably entered in this volume thanks to the analysis of new biographical reference works. (2) Errata to the main set. This includes corrections of mistakes as well as the addition of data provided since publication of earlier volumes, with the first category by far in the majority. The number of entries supplying death dates could be higher if the editors had processed all the data reported to them. (3) Author and article indexes. In both cases these refer to the signed full articles. (4) The personal name index, which comprises most of the first half-volume and all of the second. Included are cross-references for varying name forms and pseudonyms.

An inexpensive, condensed edition of the Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie has been made available for book club sale. The selection of entries did not take place in the original publishing house, as would be expected, but rather Bertelsmann made a selection of "over 2,000 personalities." According to random samples, only 75 percent of the signed articles are included, and the addition of short items more than doubles the total. The only new addition is an appendix with "82 German Personalities of the Present Day." The selections for the latter are very one-sided, with exactly half the biographies going to representatives of the performing arts and music. [sh/rdh]

Who's Who in German: biographisches Kompendium in deutscher Sprache
[: Biographical Compendium in German]. Brigitte Schellmann. Berlin: Schellmann. 23 cm. [00-1/4-053]

1999/2000. 1999. 942 p. ISBN 3-931230-09-0: DM 191.80

When one reads the main title carefully, one realizes this work is not intended to list "who's who in Germany." The books' underlying purpose, and the selection criteria for the persons included in it, are unclear. Many are German (with a disproportionately large number of physicians); the rest appear to be selected prominent people from throughout the world. The biographical sketches vary considerably in length and detail and contain numerous errors in English and Latin usage. This publication would be laughable, if it weren't so expensive. [sh/ldl]

Lexikon deutsch-jüdischer Autoren [Encyclopedia of German-Jewish Authors]. Ed. Renate Heuer for the Archiv Bibliographia Judaica, Frankfurt am Main. München [et al.]: Saur. 25 cm. ISBN 3-59822680-2 (set) [00-1/4-055]

Vol. 8. Frie-Gers. 2000. li, 406 p. ISBN 3-598-22688-8: DM 268.00

Earlier volumes of this encyclopedia of Jewish authors writing in German were reviewed critically and in detail in RREA 1:194 and 2:34. Volume 8, happily appearing within a year of volume 7, is the smallest so far, with only 53 articles, although many of these are quite extensive. So far, volumes 1-8 contain 635 articles. According to the publisher, the Lexikon will comprise approximately 16 volumes plus an index, and will contain around 1,300 German-Jewish authors.

The encyclopedia's strict selection criteria can be ascertained by a comparison with the same editor's and publisher's 1997 volume Die Juden der Frankfurter Universität [The Jews of the University of Frankfurt] (see RREA 6:227 below). Despite its somewhat pedantic approach and fondness for unnecessary details, this is a rich resource, worthy of mention again here. [sh/ga]

Zeitgeschichte in Lebensbildern: aus dem deutschen Katholizismus des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts [Contemporary History in Biographies from German Catholicism of the 19th and 20th Centuries]. Ed. Jürgen Aretz. Münster: Aschendorff. 23 cm. [00-1/4-056]

Vol. 9. 1999. 360 p. ill. ISBN 3-402-06120-1: DM 39.80

Volumes 1-8 were published in slow succession by the Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, (Mainz, 1973-1997). The new publisher has kept the same format--each entry is a bio-bibliography of some 18 pages in length, with an illustration of the deceased subject. Persons selected for inclusion have "out of their Christian convictions made an important contribution to political life, the church, and society in Germany." The biographies are directed primarily to interested laypersons.

Three of the 18 biographical subjects (August Reichensperger, Sebastian Kneipp, and Karl Heinrich, Prince of Löwenstein) in volume 9 belong predominantly to the 19th century, and the most recent three figures (Aenne Braucksiepe, Herbert Czaja, and Carl Klinkhammer) died in 1997. As with previous volumes, relatively few of the entries (only two in this volume) are for women. The personalities come mainly from the Church, state, and scholarship, with a selected few from the areas of art and literature. A name index includes persons both treated and mentioned in the texts. There is a continuing need for a running cumulative index to the 163 articles published so far in volumes 1 through 9. [sh/ga]

Die Grabstätten der deutschsprachigen Dichter und Denker: ein lexikalischer Wegweiser [Grave Sites of German-Language Poets and Philosophers: A Lexical Guide]. Josef Walter König. Meitingen: Corian-Verlag Wimmer, 2000. 372 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 3-89048-316-X: DM 49.00 [00-1/4-057]

This guide to grave sites of German-language poets, writers, and thinkers is arranged alphabetically by name and provides the following information on each individual listed: place of birth and death and dates, location of the grave site (city, cemetery, sometimes exact placement within the cemetery), and the title of one of the individual's major works. Photos of some (about 15 percent) of the grave sites are included. The guide contains an index by city. This guide is based on a rather selective list of 17 guides to cemeteries, including 3 national guides and those for Berlin, Munich, and Vienna. Although the author and other researchers have personally investigated many cemeteries, the guide should have drawn on additional guides to cemeteries in many other important cities. Libraries that hold the national guides to cemeteries will not necessarily need to acquire this volume. [sh/ba]

Nezabytye mogly: rossiiskoe zarubezhe: nekrologi 1917-1997, v shesti tomakh [Unforgettable Burials: Russians Abroad: Necrology 1917-1997, in Six Volumes]. Comp. V. N. Cuvakov for the Rossiiskaja Gosudarstvennaia Biblioteka, Otdel literatury russkogo zarubezhia. Moskva: "Paskov Dom". 30 cm. [00-1/4-058]

Vol. 1. A-V. 1999. 659 p. ISBN 5-7510-1069-9: DM 140.00

Vol. 2. G-Z. 1999. 647 p. ISBN 5-7510-0170-2: DM 140.00

The Russian state library has produced an unusual dictionary: a collection of obituaries of Russian emigrants who died between 1917 and 1997. The obituaries are supplemented by other commemorative articles. The dictionary includes the names of many White Army officers taken from the military periodical Chasovoi. In addition, 150 other Russian periodicals not easily accessible in the West are referenced in this dictionary. Each entry contains basic information about the individual, listing occupation and relationship to other persons included in this dictionary, and also chronicles, if known, important dates relating to the person's emigration. Entries on famous emigrants are purposely kept brief, because information about them is available in other sources. The dictionary is the work of a few Russian bibliographers who would like to inform Russians about the widespread emigration from their country, which in the past had largely been kept secret by the regime. The set, planned for six volumes, will contain about 50,000 entries, only a very small percentage of the total number of emigrants. No guidelines for inclusion in the set have been established, and the work contains a very low percentage of historically significant individuals. On the other hand, some important persons can only be found in this work, and the set provides additional information on some people listed in other dictionaries. The dictionary could have been printed in two volumes (instead of six), if a different layout and a smaller font had been used. Considering the low use this set will most likely receive, the high price for it is not justified. Before deciding whether to order it, librarians should check whether their institutions own some of the other handbooks on Russian emigration that have been published recently. [wk/ba]

Nemtsy Rossii: entsiklopediia = Die Deutschen Russlands: Enzyklopädie [The Germans of Russia: An Encyclopedia]. Ed. V. Karev for the National Academy of Sciences of Russian Germans. Moskva: ERN. 26 cm. [00-1/4-059]

Vol. 1. A-I. 1999. 822 p. ISBN 5-93227-002-0

Despite its dual-language title, this work is only in Russian. Projected to be three volumes in length, this is the first encyclopedia with biographical and topical articles on the subject, covering not only "Germans of Russia" but also "Germans in Russia," that is, individuals (e.g., Alexander von Humboldt) who have played a role in Russia. Subjects in the over 4,000 articles vary from the first recruitment of Germans to Russia, through their deportation, to legal questions of today (e.g., assimilation of the late emigrants into Germany).

This work is essentially being financed by the German Foreign Office through the German Embassy in Moscow. In the name of cooperation, a Russian was named chief editor. Despite the presence on the editorial board of three German scholars well known for their publications in the field, a Soviet editorial mentality prevails throughout this work: many articles submitted by German scholars, even by the coeditors, have been excluded, and coauthors were forcibly assigned to other authors. The opportunity for a first-class reference work has thus been squandered. Nevertheless, there are also some good contributions and new information in the volume, so that this work is welcome. Under a different editorial team it could have been much better.

All deceased individuals who played an important role and left a notable record in politics, the military, culture (e.g., literature, music, fine arts, religion, education), and commerce in the territory of the former USSR (excluding the Baltic States and Poland) are covered. The Russian editorial policy seems to be one of smoothing over and rendering harmless: in many of the articles written by Russians, German secondary literature on uncomfortable subjects is not even mentioned. In others, for example Detlef Brandes's article on Bessarabia, passages about religious and social conflicts (e.g., the role of Jewish traders in the German colonies, forced russification) were deleted. In Dietmar Neutatz's otherwise balanced article on Germans in Volhynia, the editors added superfluous material and created gaps and contradictions. They also added to Neutatz's bibliography (and to those of several others) titles that the author had excluded on political or qualitative grounds. The article coauthored by Gerd Stricker, a recognized specialist on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, contains false and imprecise formulations he himself would never make. In these and several other cases, protests over the glaring errors came to naught.

The choice (or not) of subject headings and alphabetical order also reflects the irresponsible manner in which the text was edited. One searches in vain for the heading "Late emigrants" or "Requirements for emigration." One can find material on the destruction of the kulak peasantry only under the heading Vyiavlenie (unmasking); articles on the Evangelical Lutheran Church are by the same logic found under the heading Vremennye postanovleniia (provisional resolutions).

This work suffers from an inadequate reference structure and unevenness in the quality, length, and content of the articles. It lacks philological awareness, evidences an apparent lexicographical inexperience on the part of the Russian collaborators, and includes many extraneous articles. The chief editor comes from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, a choice that seems to work against the purpose of a publication that was supposed to deal critically with the Soviet mindset. In a project backed by German money, it is regrettable that German scholarship, and scholarly objectivity in general, are shortchanged. The long-suffering Russian Germans deserve better, and they have received better, for example in Rußlanddeutsche Schriftsteller: von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart: Biographien und Werkübersichten (see RREA 6:118 below).

One hopes that these shortcomings can at least be minimized in the forthcoming volumes. [wk/ga]

Next Section
Previous Section
Table of Contents

Comments, suggestions, or questions
Last update: September 7, 2001 [RD]
© 2005 Casalini libri - VAT no. IT03106600483