AN -- Biographies

Handbuch Gelehrtenkultur der frühen Neuzeit [Handbook of Scholarly Culture of the Early Modern Period]. Herbert Jaumann. Berlin [et al.]: de Gruyter. [05-1-018]

Vol. 1. Bio-bibliographisches Repertorium. 2004. xv, 721 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-11-016069-2: EUR 128

In comparison with the other three well-known German bio-bibliographical dictionaries of scholars (Ch. G. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750; Gert A. Zischka, Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1961; and Kürschners deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender, 2005), apart from the time periods they cover, this dictionary uses basically the same criteria for selecting those scholars to be included. The author’s definition of scholar is "a person who has attended an institution of higher learning and thereafter taken up a position of influence in his or her field and produced significant writing." This dictionary distinguishes itself from the others in its increased inclusion of scholars from Scandinavian and Slavic countries; its particular attention to jurisprudence, medicine, natural sciences, economics, and other non-linguistic disciplines; and an intentional lack of emphasis on literary authors. The time frame extends from the late Middle Ages to the French Revolution, or from the Renaissance/Humanism to the Enlightenment. Each article includes a brief biography with references to the person’s major works and influence, a selection of the scholar’s works and editions, and secondary literature.

The work achieves the purpose of its author, which was to bring together the various scholars of the Early Modern period cited in other reference works and thus provide in this one resource an orientation to biography, works/editions, and research literature for each person. The reader will certainly reach for this work first for the most important information on the scholars included. It is intended to serve as a collection of materials to support volume 2, which is planned to be a handbook of brief articles on the basic principles of European scholarly culture. [sh/mjc]

Gegen Hitler: Deutsche in der Résistance, in den Streitkräften der Antihitlerkoalition und der Bewegung "Freies Deutschland"; Kurzbiografien [Against Hitler: Germans in the Résistance, in the Forces of the Anti-Hitler Coalition and the "Free Germany" Movement: Brief Biographies]. Ed. Gottfried Hamacher for the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. Berlin: Dietz, 2005. 229 p. 21 cm. (Manuskripte / Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, 53). ISBN 3-320-02941-X: EUR 9.90 [05-1-020]

There is no lack of biographical reference materials dealing with the Third Reich. For information on both the perpetrators and the victims of National Socialism one can choose from multiple titles. Most, however, do not cover those so-called "Anti-Fascists," mainly avowed Communists or Communist sympathizers, who met together on July 12, 1943, to form the "National Committee for a Free Germany" (NKFD). Many of them sought asylum in the Soviet Union, served in the Soviet army, or became Soviet prisoners of war. It remains to be seen whether this gap in coverage is due, as the unsigned, rather over-emotional foreword claims, to a "concealment agreement, in part among scholars" in Germany, as entries concerning the most important members of this group are included in the monumental International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Émigrés 1933-1945 (München, 1983, reprinted 1999). But in any case, before the Wall fell there had been a kind of tacit understanding that West German historians would cover the other civil and military resistance groups, and their East German colleagues would cover the NKFD, including its anti-Fascist activities.

Gottfried Hamacher, born in 1916, is one of the few remaining contemporaries of those who were members of the NKFD. He spent years collecting biographical materials, and after the fall of the Wall founded an organization to keep alive the memory of these persons. Although the foreword promises coverage of participants in the military anti-Hitler coalition, the French Résistance, and partisans in other countries, the book actually functions chiefly as a guide to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) elite, who mostly spent the war in Soviet (or, less frequently, Western) exile and after 1945 gradually built up an independent state in eastern Germany under Russian supervision.

The work covers a total of 1,635 persons. While the biographies of politicians (e.g., Wilhelm Pieck, Walter Ulbricht), authors (e.g., Johannes R. Becker, Stephan Hermlin, Stefan Heym), military men, professors, journalists, filmmakers, and others prominent in the GDR (including dissidents and those who left, such as Alfred Kant and Hans Mayer) are fairly complete, the entries for others often contain only their name and a brief description of their career (e.g., "Lewandowski, Lisa: Social Democratic union organizer, emigration to France, CALPO in southern France"). An introduction by Stefan Doernberg (p 9-14) describes clearly the difficulties involved in data collection and analysis: it might have been possible to obtain more information, but only by means of extensive archival research (if even then).

Nonetheless, this is an informative book from which one can garner important insights, even though it lacks a list of sources and a bibliography. It cannot be denied that almost the entire GDR elite were active in the resistance, in multiple locations both inside and outside of Germany. In contrast to the Federal Republic, only a few former Nazis in the GDR were able to resume their careers after the war. The feeling in the East of a moral superiority over the West was not unjustified, and one can understand why the GDR disclaimed responsibility for the moral and material consequences of the Third Reich and its crimes. [frh/nb]

Kürschners deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender: bio-bibliographisches Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Wissenschaftler der Gegenwart [Kürschner’s Directory of German Scholars: A Bio-Bibliographical Register of German-Speaking Scientists and Scholars of the Present Day]. 20th ed. München: Saur, 2005. xiii, 4,486 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-598-23612-3: EUR 738, EUR 699 (subscription price) [05-1-022]

The most recent review of Kürschners deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender in these pages was of the 18th edition, in 2001 (see RREA 7:32); at that time, the famous lexicon had just moved from the publishing house of De Gruyter to Saur. The two-volume format used in the 17th edition was abandoned at that point, along with the previously announced CD-ROM edition. The present edition contains 70,818 entries, compared to 66,582 in the 18th edition. Compared to the 19th edition, 5,900 of these entries are new. The scope of the directory is described as follows: persons with doctoral degrees or the title of professor and active as teachers or researchers at a German-speaking academic or research institution. Holders of honorary degrees, such as librarians and publishers, have also been included, although not comprehensively.

The information in the entries was acquired in one of two ways: either through the scholar’s own response to a questionnaire or through the editors’ research in other sources. Having sampled a number of entries, it appears that more than half of the entries were compiled through the latter method, i.e., without a personal contribution from the subject of the entry. These editorially compiled entries are generally much less informative than those submitted by the scholars themselves; they tend to be limited to name, title, addresses, and area of research. Only occasionally do entries of this second type include any information on the subject’s publications. The personally submitted entries tend to be much more generous in providing such lists, which are organized into the following sections: monographs; contributions to references works and Festschriften; journal articles; editorial contributions; translations; unpublished essays; publications about the person. It is unfortunate in this day and age that so few of the entries include e-mail addresses or URLs for personal or institutional web pages.

The appendix contains a necrology for the period 2003-2005; a list of persons celebrating "milestone" birthdays in 2005-2007; an index by area of research; a list of ca. 400 German-speaking universities and technical schools, by place; and a list of ca. 500 academic publishers, with their addresses. [sh/crc]

Harenberg, Das Buch der 1000 Frauen: Ideen, Ideale und Errungenschaften in Biographien, Bildern und Dokumenten [Harenberg Book of 1,000 Women: Ideas, Ideals, and Accomplishments in Biographies, Images, and Documents]. Ed. Ulrike Issel and Christine Laue-Bothen. Mannheim: Meyers Lexikonverlag, 2004. 1,055 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-411-76099-0: EUR 24.90 [05-2-276]

[Ed. note: other Harenberg biographical dictionaries, all published by the Harenberg-Lexikon-Verlag, Dortmund, cited in this review include:

Harenberg-Personenlexikon [Harenberg Lexicon of Persons]. Rev. ed. (see RREA 7:27)

Harenberg-Lexikon der Nobelpreisträger: alle Preisträger seit 1901; ihre Leistungen, ihr Leben, ihre Wirkung [Harenberg Dictionary of Nobel Prize Winners: All Winners since 1901; Their Accomplishments, Lives and Impacts]. 2d rev. ed. (see RREA 6:47)

Harenberg-Komponisten-Lexikon: 760 Komponisten und ihr Werk, mit 1060 Meilensteinen der Musik … " [Harenberg Dictionary of Composers: 760 Composers and their Work, with 1,060 Milestones of Music …] (see RREA 8:163)

Harenberg-Malerlexikon: 1000 Künstler-Biografien aus sieben Jahrhunderten [Harenberg Dictionary of Artists: 1,000 Biographies from Seven Centuries] (see IFB 02-2-357)

Harenberg, Das Buch der 1000 Bücher: Autoren, Geschichte, Inhalt und Wirkung [Harenberg Book of 1,000 Books: Authors, Stories, Contents, and Impacts] (see IFB 02-2-297)

Following the takeover of the Harenberg Verlag by the Bibliographisches Institut & F. A. Brockhaus, this biographical encyclopedia was published under the imprint "Meyers Lexikonverlag," though it retains the trademark of Harenberg in the title.

This volume introduces the life, ideas, and accomplishments of 1,000 famous women throughout history. With a fascination for this round number and a focus primarily on Western culture there is an "unavoidable subjectivity in the selection," as the editor states in the foreword. The number of currently living women is especially high and includes numerous figures from contemporary culture, e.g., pop stars and sports figures.

Each brief article provides name, birth and death dates (where necessary), location, and occupation. The work is richly illustrated and all articles are signed. Author credentials are listed in the author index. There is a subject index (p. 1030-1053). Where women appear in illustrations, their names are italicized; where there is merely a biographical entry, the name appears in normal type. This encyclopedia is best suited for public libraries. [sh/jmw]

Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie (DBE) [German Biographical Encyclopedia]. Ed. Rudolf Vierhaus, Dietrich von Engelhardt. 2d rev. and expanded ed. München: Saur. 25 cm. ISBN 3-598-25030-4 (complete): EUR 2,280 [05-2-277]

Bd. 1. Aachen-Braniß. 2005. xxxiii, 892 p. ill. ISBN 3-598-25031-2: EUR 228

Bd. 2. Brann-Einslin. 2005. xxxiii, 894 p. ill. ISBN 3-598-25032-0: EUR 228

The first nine volumes (1995-1999) of the first edition of the DBE were reviewed in IFB’s 1999 biographical supplement (99-B09-300). This review consisted of eleven pages of detailed and critical observation and so grieved the publisher that relations with the reviewer were strained for a few years. Volumes 10-12 were reviewed in RREA 6:39 and RREA 7:30. Volume 13 was reviewed in IFB 04-1-026. The ten-volume paperback (1st) edition, the CD-ROM edition, and the first volume of the English translation, Dictionary of German Biography (DGB), have been reviewed in RREA 8:22-24. Other journals and newspapers (for example, the Frankfurter Allgemeine) expressed similar critical observations of DBE1, especially compared to the Neue deutsche Biographie [New German Biography]. Noteworthy was the latter’s attention to original sources, in contrast to the former’s predominantly short articles from often lesser sources (which even the editors concede in the foreword to DBE2). That the DBE, with several subject-specific biographies that draw on it, has been a success shows the utility of these short articles in getting quick information to many users.

The 2d edition of the DBE is designated as revised and expanded. It contains some 600 short articles, versus the 1st edition’s 590. Whereas the 1st edition has some 1,000 longer, signed articles; the foreword to the 2d edition indicates a projected growth of 18 percent more. However, considering articles not carried forward and the increase in the number—but a decrease in the average size—of articles, the two editions are quite similar in size. Therefore, the designation "expanded" appears to be an exaggeration in the face of these size-neutral changes. The foreword states that in the DBE2 errors will be corrected, shortcomings and disproportions eliminated, and numerous hitherto missing life dates added. A spot-check of the first 100 articles in the DBE2 reveals that vis-à-vis DBE1 six articles have been substantially revised, 18 significantly revised, 55 slightly or not revised, 19 new articles added, and one article dropped.

Reference departments of public and academic libraries should acquire the substantially improved DBE2 to replace their copies of the DBE1. The 2d edition is especially appropriate for fast reference. However, users may be better served by the Neue deutsche Biographie, even in its as yet incomplete state. That Walford has recommended the English translation, the Dictionary of German Biography [DGB] (München: Saur, 2001- ISBN 3-598-23290-9), over the Allgemeine deutsche Biographie (ADB) or the Neue deutsche Biographie (NDB) is rather a re?ection of the Walford editors’ capitulation to the language barrier of most of their readers. [sh/ga]

Neue deutsche Biographie [New German Biography]. Ed. Historische Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. 26 cm. Index on CD-ROM under the title: Allgemeine deutsche Biographie & Neue deutsche Biographie [General German Biography & New German Biography]. ISBN 3-428-00181-8 (set)

Vol. 20. Pagenstecher-Püterich, 2001. xvi, 816 p. ISBN 3-428-00201-6 (cloth): EUR 102; ISBN 3-428-00288-1 (half-leather): EUR 122

Vol. 21. Pütter-Rohlfs, with ADB & NDB index on CD-ROM. 2003. xvi, 816 p. + 1 CD-ROM. ISBN 3-428-11202-4 (cloth): EUR 138; ISBN 3-428-11202-4 (half-leather): EUR 158

Vol. 22. Rohmer-Schinkel, with ADB & NDB index on CD-ROM. 2005. xvi, 816 p. + 1 CD-ROM. ISBN 3-428-11203-2 (cloth): EUR 138; ISBN 3-428-11291-1 (half-leather): EUR 158 [05-2-278]

Since its first appearance in 1953, Neue deutsche Biographie (NDB) has enjoyed a reputation for solid scholarship and editorial work. But when the competing Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie (DBE) took only five years to finish its first edition (in 1999), at the same time that the NDB had just reached the letter P, observers forecast a premature termination of the project. Instead, the publisher of NDB cut its planned total length from 35 to 28 volumes and the number of articles from over 13,000 to 8,500. Since then, new volumes have appeared regularly every two years, and excessively lengthy entries (e.g., Hölderlin with 20 columns) are a thing of the past.

The CD-ROM index is a new feature that enables the reader to locate references not only to biography subjects but also to other persons mentioned in the articles and the genealogies, as well as to the authors of the articles; coverage includes the earlier Allgemeine deutsche Biographie as well as the NDB. The index is also available online. Name searches can be narrowed to women, families, nobles, specific religions or professions, and birth dates or date ranges. An electronic text version of the ADB/NDB is promised for 2007. [sh/gw]

Biographisches Lexikon zur Geschichte der demokratischen und liberalen Bewegungen in Mitteleuropa [Biographical Dictionary on the History of the Democratic and Liberal Movements in Central Europe]. Ed. Helmut Reinalter. Frankfurt am Main: Lang. 21 cm. (Schriftenreihe der Internationalen Forschungsstelle "Demokratische Bewegungen in Mitteleuropa 1770-1850", …). [05-2-279]

Vol. 2.1 (2005). xii, 318 p. (Schriftenreihe der Internationalen Forschungsstelle "Demokratische Bewegungen in Mitteleuropa 1770-1850", 39). ISBN 3-63139263-X: EUR 56.50

Volume 1 (1770-1800) appeared in 1992 (see RREA 9:323) and covered Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Switzerland. Volume 2, part 1, (1815-1848/49) covers only persons from Germany, although the editors state that probably in two years hence persons from the Hapsburg Monarchy and Switzerland will be covered in part 2, with a complete index to volume 2. There is no explanation as to why the years 1800-1815 have not yet been cataloged. The editor already lamented in volume 1 the long delay in preparing the biographies, which among other considerations meant that the literature references do not show the latest research.

The 212 biographies include persons who supported or who undermined the legal-constitutional state. Well-known persons from many walks of life as well as those from obscurity are included. Articles average three columns in length and include names, birth and death dates, places, and genealogies. Primary and secondary works are included. [sh/ga]

Die großen Deutschen unserer Epoche: herausragende Persönlichkeiten deutscher Sprache [The Great Germans of Our Time: Outstanding Personalities of the German-Speaking World]. Ed. Lothar Gall. Erfstadt: Area-Verlag, 2005. 693 p. ill. 22 cm. (Licensed ed. from Ullstein-Buchverlage, Berlin). ISBN 3-89996599-X: EUR 14.95 [05-2-280]

This volume is intended to supplement the five-volume set Die großen Deutschen published in 1935. The original set contained 230 biographical articles. In 1985 a supplemental volume with 39 biographical articles on persons who died between 1956 and 1983 was published. Another supplement was published in 1995 (see RREA 9:315) containing the 39 articles from the 1985 volume plus an additional 14 articles for persons whose deaths occurred from 1984 to 1994. The 2005 volume reviewed here is a reprint of this 1995 volume, with no additional material. Die großen Deutschen and its supplements now include nearly 300 biographical essays published since 1935; but with the recent sale of Ullstein, the future of this endeavor is somewhat in doubt. [sh/gw,rc]

Cuore d’Austria: bedeutende Österreicher des 16. bis 20. Jahrhunderts [Cuore d’Austria: Significant Austrians of the 16th to 20th Centuries]. Günther Berger. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2004. 320 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 3-631-37556-5: EUR 51.50 [05-2-283]

It is difficult to characterize this work textually or topically, even though we do class it under "biographies." In one sense, it seems to aim at reinforcing a positive image, or a confident self-image, of Austria: wording on the book jacket promises that the work will "exemplify the significance of the Austrian national culture … by means of 18 biographies." But the concept of biography seems reduced only to its most general sense. In some cases, quotations by the person overwhelm information about the person. Whether the 18 chronologically presented individuals can be considered "significant"—as promised in the subtitle—is a relative question. In any case, they are not truly "famous," and a reader with an average education will not recognize many of the names. Of greater concern is that the same reader, even after reading the text, will not necessarily be convinced of the subject’s significance. Nor is significance linked to the length of a given text. The author has provided no unified system for the "biographies" and thus loses proportion between presentation and endnotes. The commentary on the East Asian traveler Christoph Carl Fernberger, for instance, takes up seven pages, while endnotes in a smaller font take up sixteen. Though Joseph Orient is called "one of the most significant panel painters of the Late Baroque," the text about him is just over one page, linked to four pages of notes. If length were the key, then Romy Schneider would be the most important Austrian, with 44 pages of text and notes, though the text consists largely of quotes from her memoirs. We read in the credits that this book was subsidized by the Cultural Office of the City of Vienna: they could have invested more wisely. [sh/rdh]

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