2003

A3 -- Biographies by Groups


Almanach de Gotha: Genealogy. Ed. John Kennedy. 182d ed. London: Almanach de Gotha Ltd., 1998. x, 671 p. ill. 15 cm. ISBN 0-953214-20-6: EUR 60 (Boydell & Brewer, PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK, fax [44 1394] 411 477) [99-B09-038]

The 1998 publication of the 182d edition of the Almanach de Gotha resumes the title published by Verlag Justus Perthes of Gotha, Germany, from 1764–1944. Despite its French title and the fact that the majority of the noble families listed are of German descent, it is now published for the first time in English. Publication of the Almanach passed from Perthes, a long respected firm that has chosen to focus on its core areas of geographical and cartographical materials, to John Kennedy (Managing Director and Publisher) and Charlotte Pike (Editor and Publisher) of England. Kennedy has many contacts among the nobility, and Pike has eight years of experience “updating and compiling family genealogies.”

Volume 1 consists of two parts: (1) reigning and formerly reigning royal houses of Europe and South America and (2) genealogies of the mediatized sovereign houses of the Holy Roman Empire. Between the two parts lies a clarification of the term “mediatized houses,” and the volume closes with a name index to both parts. Volume 2, covering genealogies of non-sovereign princely and ducal houses of Europe, was not scheduled to appear before 2000. Seemingly the sole source consulted for the Almanach was the Genealogisches Handbuch der fürstlichen Häuser [Genealogical Handbook of Princely Houses], vol. 15 (Limburg an der Lahn: Starke, 1997). Volume 1 of the Almanach corresponds to parts 1–2 of the German handbook, and the forthcoming volume 2 will correspond to part 3. Much more detailed information about the Vatican is available in the Annuario pontificio (Vatican City, 1998). The 183d edition of the Almanach de Gotha was published in 1999. [Ed. note: A new editon of volume 1 was published in 2004, as was volume 2, Almanach de Gotha: Nonsovereign princely and ducal houses of Europe (ISBN: 0953214265).] [sh/rm]

Frauen der Antike: kleines Lexikon antiker Frauen von Aspasia bis Zenobia [Women of Antiquity: A Concise Dictionary of Ancient Women from Aspasia to Zenobia]. Bernhard Kytzler. Frankfurt am Main; Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1997. 190 p. ill. 18 cm. (Insel-Taschenbuch, 1898). ISBN 3-458-33598-6: DM 16.80 [Ed. note: Paperback ed. published 2001: ISBN 3-491-69043-9: EUR 9.95] [99-B09-043]

Although now first published in a paperback edition by Insel-Verlag, this work is a reprint of the author’s 1994 Frauen der Antike: von Aspasia bis Zenobia (Zürich, 1994). The author presents 300 short biographies of women from Greek and Roman antiquity, as well as some literary characters. Women from the Early Christian period, as well as mythological figures, are excluded. This work is intended for pleasure reading as well as for reference information.

An important advantage of this work is the inclusion of a bibliography of primary and secondary literature at the end of each article, containing, where appropriate, references to later literary and musical treatments of these classical figures. [sh/baw]

Frauen des Mittelalters in Lebensbildern [Medieval Women in Biographical Sketches]. Ed. Karl Rudolf Schnith. Graz: Verlag Styria, 1997. 504 p. ill. 24cm. ISBN 3-222-12467-1: DM 58 [99-B09-044]

With this volume, the editor has returned to the period and biographical style of his 1990 collective work, Mittlelalterliche Herrscher in Lebensbildern, von den Karolingern zu den Staufern [Medieval Rulers in Biographical Sketches: From the Carolingians to the Staufer] (Graz, 1990). The present work presents 20 lengthy biographies of women from ruling and princely families important in Romance and Germanic studies by 10 German and Austrian academic historians. Included are not only familiar figures such as Eleanore of Aquitaine, but also important royal consorts, as well as rulers less well known to German-language historiography, such as Queen Urraca of Castile-Leon. The chronological period covered extends from Queen Mathilda (ca. 890/895– 968) to Queen Isabella of Spain (1451–1504). Each biography is accompanied by a black-and-white portrait and an overview of biographical dates, burial place, and genealogical information. A selective bibliography of primary and secondary sources is included in an appendix, along with an index of personal names. [sh/baw]

Gelehrte Frauen: Frauenbiographien vom 10. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert [Women of Learning: Biographies of Women from the 10th to the 20th Centuries]. Ed. Ilse Korotin. Wien: Bundesministerium für Unterricht und Kulturelle Angelegenheiten, Abt. für Mädchen- und Frauenbildung, 1996. 297 p. ill. 30 cm. ISBN 3-900922-96-9: EUR 17.90 (Bundesministerium…, Postfach 65, A-1014, Wien) [99-B09-046]

The 69 biographies in this volume, published in commemoration of the Austrian millennium, include women active in the arts, politics, and scholarship. These criteria are generously applied, with coverage of such women as the “Muse” Simonetta Vespucci, who may have been the model for Botticelli’s Venus. Although Austrian women are in the majority, they are not the only women profiled here. The biographical information and citations to additional material found in this compilation with many contributors are, as might be expected, variable in scope and quality, but they tend to be familiar and from almost exclusively German-language bibliographical sources. Thus the suggestion in the work’s introduction that these biographies will further feminist research seems less likely than the notion, also presented there, that they may serve to make women’s lives interesting to the general public and thus strengthen women’s self-awareness. In general, this is a book of readings, not a reference resource. [sh/baw]

Lexikon der Rebellinnen: von A bis Z [Dictionary of Women Rebels: From A to Z]. Florence Hervé and Ingeborg Nödinger. Dortmund: Edition Ebersbach, 1996. 276 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-931782-03-4: DM 48 [99-B09-047]

The authors’ intention, stated in the forward to this dictionary of approximately 600 biographies of women, is to begin to redress the insufficient and inaccurate portrayal of women in biographical lexicons. The criteria for inclusion are subjective and not stringent; they include such categories as women who led unusual lives, women who possessed extraordinatry competence, or women who succeeded in the world of both men and women, in addition to the group of of women who rebelled (actually only relatively few of those who are represented in this compilation). Generally, the lives selected for inclusion may be categorized as those who piqued the compilers’ interest. Women from all periods are covered, including living women born before 1945. Articles are generally one column long, at times illustrated with black-and-white photos. Secondary sources are sometimes listed (generally only German-language monographs). Indexes by regions and countries, time periods, and occupations would have increased the usefulness of this dictionary. Conceived as a resource for the home bookshelf, this dictionary is not a necessity in academic libraries. [sh/baw]

Zwischen Narretei und Weisheit: biographische Skizzen und Konturen alter Gelehrsamkeit [Between Folly and Wisdom: Biographical Sketches and Outlines of Earlier Erudition]. Ed. Gerald Hartung and Wolf Peter Klein. Hildesheim: Olms, 1997. 358 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 3-487-10282-X: EUR 29.80 [99-B09-048]

Bio-bibliographical reference works devoted to scholars (Gelehrte) are rarities in these times; only Kürschners deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender now furthers the tradition of C.G. Jöcher’s Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexicon (Leipzig, 1750–1751). Gert Zischka’s Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexikon: biographisches Handwörterbuch zur Geschichte der Wissenschaften [General Lexicon of Scholars: Biographical Dictionary on the History of Scholarship] (Stuttgart, 1961) is the most recent work to relate itself expressly to Jöcher, and it is difficult to place this work in our contemporary information system. At the same time, the concept of the relationship between wisdom or scholarship and unworldliness or folly finds expression not only in the contemporary proverbs and sayings documented under the word Gelehrte in Der Grosse Duden, but has over time found numerous printed examples, not least during the Early Modern period in Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly.

The life of the scholar between wisdom and folly is the subject of these 14 studies, which concern themselves with questions of the social context and understanding of scholarship. Because these studies are devoted to the ideas and concepts of such scholars as Eusebius of Caesarea, Johann Heinrich Alsted, Roger Bacon, Ramon Llull, Ibn Khaldun, Marcilio Ficino, J.G. Gruber, and William Hamilton, representing a geographically inclusive selection of individuals from antiquity through the 19th century, this work may be said to be more a history of erudition than a series of biographical sketches.

Included in each article are citations and references, well as an appendix of selected documentary sources and research literature. A section of short factual biographies would have enhanced understanding of the information presented here. [sh/baw]

Jüdisches biographisches Archiv = Jewish Biographical Archive. Ed. Hilmar Schmuck. München: Saur. ISBN 3-598-33590-3 (microfiche): EUR 9,800 [99-B09-056]

Jüdischer biographischer Index = Jewish Biographical Index. Ed. Hilmar Schmuck. 4 vols. München: Saur, 1998. xiii, 1,491 p. 30 cm. ISBN 3-598-33616-0: EUR 980; EUR 910 for purchasers of the Jewish Biographical Archive [99-B09-057]

The Jewish Biographical Archive (JBA) does not meet the expectations created by its optimistic 1994 subscription advertisements. There are nearly two-thirds fewer entries and names and nearly one-third fewer sources than originally announced. The archive contains 96,000 entries for 65,000 individuals gleaned from 102 sources, a substantial reduction from the 300,000 entries for 150,000 individuals gathered from 150 sources that the publisher announced in 1994. Even with the addition of the expensive 1998 supplement, the work does not come close to the number of entries and sources projected in 1994. The source works for the archive are primarily in Western languages, in German to a large extent, along with a small number of Hebrew-language sources. Most of the sources originate from the first half of the 20th century, although works from the latter part of the century and the from 19th century are also included. Discrepancies exist among the different source lists appearing in the JBA, its manual, and the supplement.

Unlike some other Saur biographical archives, the Jüdischer biographischer Index has an expanded format, including detailed indexes for family names and occupations. [sh/ldb]

Die großen Stifter: Lebensbilder - Zeitbilder> [The Great Philanthropists: Portraits of Their Lives and Times]. Ed. Joachim Fest. Berlin: Siedler, 1997. 493 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 3-88680-610-3: DM 68 [99-B09-060]

This work is an anthology of 20 biographical articles about important European and Anglo-American philanthropists from the 16th to the 20th century. The authors, including scholars such as Paul Raabe and public figures such as Helmut Schmidt, write engagingly about the life, work, and significance of these 20 individuals. It is unclear whether the articles are original or have been previously published, and no selection criteria are given. If the reader seeks information about the sources consulted or suggestions for additional reading, he or she will be disappointed. This anthology is a stimulating book; however, in scope and in composition, it is not an adequate reference tool. [sh/ldb]


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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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