2008

AL General Encyclopedias


Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon: oder kurzgefaßtes Handwörterbuch [Brockhaus Concise Encyclopedia]. New type-setting and facsimile of the 1809-1811 1st ed. 1 CD-ROM. Berlin: Directmedia, 2005. (Digitale Bibliothek,131). ISBN 3-89853-531-2: EUR 45 [08-1/2-017]

Damen-Conversations-Lexikon [Ladies’ Encyclopedia]. Ed. Carl Herloßsohn. New type-setting and facsimile of the 10-vol.1834-1838 ed. Berlin: 1 CDROM. Directmedia, 2005. (Digitale Bibliothek, 118). ISBN 3-89853-518-5: EUR 45 [08-1/2-018]

Herders Conversations-Lexikon [Herder’s Encyclopedia]. New type-setting and facsimile of the 1854-1857 1st ed. 1 CD-ROM. Berlin: Directmedia, 2005. (Digitale Bibliothek, 133). ISBN 3-89853-533-9: EUR 90 [08-1/2-019]

Pierer’s Universal-Lexikon [Pierer’s Universal Encyclopedia]. New type-setting and facsimile of the 1857-1865 4th ed. 1 DVDBerlin: Directmedia, 2005. (Digitale Bibliothek, 115). ISBN 3-89853-15-0: EUR 240 [08-1/2-020]

These CD and DVD editions of four major encyclopedias from the first half of the 19th century were published by Directmedia Publishing in 2005 in its Digitale Bibliothek, a series that makes older works no longer in copyright available inexpensively. The group also includes the Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon [Illustrated Encyclopedia], published by Brockhaus (1837-1841), which is not reviewed here. All of these are also available free on the Internet at http://www.zeno.org.

The following table gives an overview of the four encyclopedias:

Brockhaus Herloßsohn Herder Pierer
Edition 1st 1st 1st 1st
Place Amsterdam; vol. 8: Leipzig Leipzig; from vol. 3: Adorf Freiburg Altenburg
Years 1809-1811 1834-1838 1854-1857 1857-1865
Publisher Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus Carl Herloßsohn Herder (ed: Joh. Bumüller) Heinrich August, later Eugen Pierer
No. of Volumes 6+2 suppl. 10 5 19
No. of Articles 6,992 7,112 39,773 212,132
Pages on CD/DVD 10,738 11,700 43,216 262,828
Illustrations None 10 steel engravings None None
New Edition Berlin, 2005 Berlin, 2005 Berlin, 2005 Berlin, 2005
Price of New Ed. 45 45 90 240

Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus bought an unfinished encyclopedia begun by Renatus Gotthelf Löbel and Christian Wilhelm Franke in 1805 and issued the finished work in 1809. Two supplements followed by 1811 and are included in the CD-ROM and the index. The work became a bestseller in subsequent editions, and the 21st edition of Brockhaus-Enzyklopädie came out in 2006 in 30 volumes.

A symposium volume published in 2002 tells about the development and cultural role of encyclopedias, Populäre Enzyklopädien: von der Auswahl, Ordnung und Vermittlung des Wissens (see RREA 9:14). The original Brockhaus in the first decade of the 19th century marks the beginning of a series of popular encyclopedias that are directed to the information needs of the educated middle class, in contrast to the huge scholarly encyclopedias of the 18th century, such as Zedler (online at http://www.zedler-lexikon.de/), Krünitz (http://www.kruenitz1.uni-trier.de), or Ersch-Gruber (http://gdz.sub.uni-goettingen.de/IDDOC141451/toc). The afterword to the 10th edition of Brockhaus (1855) summarizes its purpose in a few sentences. The effort for timeliness cannot be ignored in all four of these encyclopedias and is part of the concept of this genre. Supplements and annual volumes are part of the publishers’ efforts to keep the information current—a challenge in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Pierer and Herder followed the pattern of Brockhaus. Brockhaus was the forerunner of an international development, with translations and encyclopedias modeled after it.

Herlosssohn, in his foreword, explicitly defines his concept of a feminine readership and emphasizes the areas of religion, history, geography, mythology, and music. Women are preferred among the biographical entries, and anthropological articles include a section on women. Bartholomäus Herder founded his publishing house in Freiburg as an explicitly Catholic enterprise. Herder’s encyclopedia was only one of the comprehensive reference works it published. Its smaller size and its Catholic orientation put it into competition with Brockhaus and Pierer.

Pierer’s Universal-Lexikon was based on Encyklopädische Wörterbuch der Künste, Wissenschaften und Gewerbe, [Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Arts, Sciences, and Trades], which Johann Friedrich Pierer, a physician, bought from the bankrupt publisher Hahn in 1823. The first edition (1824-1836) comprised 26 volumes, the second (1840-1846) 34 volumes and six supplements. The CD-ROM edition is based on the 4th edition with its 19 volumes and 200,000 entries, still an impressive compendium. Pierer is known for its precise language, concise and clear presentation, and objectivity and is not tied to a particular world view. It has a systematic system of references in articles. Pierer was in competition with Brockhaus and with the Grosser Meyer (published from 1839 on). It was felt to be the most significant of the three big German encyclopedias of the mid 19th century.

These encyclopedias belong to a common cosmos, reflecting the world of 150 to 200 years ago and making it accessible to the user. They represent the world of knowledge of their time, much as the Internet does now.

The software that changes the original Gothic typeface to antiqua is not free of errors, such as missing lines in the transcriptions. Because of this it is useful to be able to compare the Gothic and antiqua versions. For the history of books and printing, it is imperative. [wh/gh]


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