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Disposable elements? Indications of genre in early modern titles.

The marks of elite forms such as the ode or the tragedy are retained when a title is cited. Historians of the book have considered every marginal element of the early modern title-page: typeface and compositors' marks; printers' scrollwork and frontispiece design; authors' names and imprint. When it comes to the self-descriptions of vernacular prose, however, we casually dispose of such tags as 'A grand repoof ...', 'A pious remonstrance ...', 'A quiet rebuke ...'. This essay argues that title-page markers of this kind have generic force, and that we would do well to acknowledge a taxonomy of subgenres not recognized before.

'What are you going to call it?'

She knew that intellectuals always made a great fuss about the titles of their books [...] Had not Victorian Vista, the scathing life of Thomas Carlyle, dropped stone cold last year from the presses because everybody thought it was a boring book of reminiscences, while Odour of Sanctity, a rather dull history of Drainage Reform from 1840 to 1873, had sold like hot cakes because everybody thought it was an attack on Victorian Morality. (1)

What, then, to make of Matthew Sutcliffe's choice of a title fort briefe replie to a certaine odious and slanderous libel, lately published by a seditious Fesuite, calling himselfe N.D. in defence both of publike enemies, and disloyall subjects, and entitled A temperate wardword, to Sir Francis Hastings turbulent Watchword wherein not only the honest, and religious intention, and zeale of that good knight is defended, but also the cause of true catholike religion, and the justice of her Majesties proceedings against popish malcontents and traitors, from divers malitious imputations and slanders cleared, and our adversaries glorious declamation answered, and refuted by O.E. defendant in the challenge, and encounters of N.D. (1600)? In this polemic title, typical of the early modern period, Sutcliffe directs a reader's attention to the form of the text as carefully as to its content: his is a brief reply. He also preserves the form of N.D.'s title (N. Doleman, the pseudonym for Robert Persons, SJ); Persons wrote A temperate ward-word, to the turbulent and seditious wach-word of Sir Francis Hastinges knight who indevoreth to slaunder the whole Catholique cause, & all professors therof, both at home and abrode (1599). Sutcliffe even keeps the formal elements of the title used by Persons's opponent, Sir Francis Hastings, in Hasting' s4 watch-word to all religious, and true hearted English-men (1598). Thus, in Sutcliffe's title a 'briefe replie' answers a 'slanderous libel' which calls itself a 'temperate wardword' to a 'turbulentWatchword', taking successively the form of a 'defence', an answer to a 'declamation', which 'refute[s]' the 'encounters'. A lot of effort has gone into keeping elements we usually drop when quoting the title as Sutcliffe's Replie to Persons'.

This essay asks whether we should treat early modern prose titles quite as cavalierly as we do. Most early modern English polemic tracts have several lines before and after what we regard as the substantive title. These are generally regarded as irrelevant. By contrast, markers of elite forms such as the ode, the tragedy, or the romance are accorded the status of generic indicators in our discussions and so retained when a title is cited. When it comes to the self-descriptions of vernacular prose, however, we casually dispose of such tags as 'A grand reproof of ...', 'A pious remonstrance to ...', 'A quiet rebuke for ...'. Yet should we always go for the bottom line? Does the rhetoric of the title give a description of its meaning? Is there a taxonomy of subgenres not recognized before? Historians of the book have already turned to every marginal element of the early modern title-page. We have looked at the physical evidence of typeface, paper, and compositors' marks. We have thought about the meaning carried by visual elements such as printers' scrollwork or the frontispiece. We have meditated on the information the title-page gives about the publishing history: the printers' and author's names, and licensing information. Now it may be time to fill in the great hole we have left in the centre of the page, and ponder on the title itself.

The issue of whether to cite in full or truncate early modern titles has come to the fore as a result of changes in three areas: in bibliographical practice, in the history of ideas, and in the history of the book. The first change is the widespread use in the last five years of Early English Books Online (EEBO) rather than the Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640 (STC) for searching for texts. The move has made most of us more aware of full titles, partly because we can now do title and keyword online searches and so can be more independent about which words we will search for in a title, and also because now, even if carrying out author searches, the full title comes up. The plain text citations of EEBO have also changed our perspective since the typeface gives equal weight to all words, including what we would normally think of as non-substantive words. By contrast, the STC's citations focus on substantive words. Its original compilers in 1926, A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave, declared that they regarded 'the opening words of every title [... ] as sacred; in the rest of the title abridgement has been drastic and (except for special reasons) without any indication of omission' (2). Admittedly, the policy of its revisers between 1976 and 1991, W. A. Jackson, E S. Ferguson, and Katharine F. Pantzer, was to make transcriptions slightly more expansive 'for the purpose of indicating the contents'. The editors said that they generally regarded the first five words of a title as 'essential'--but, they added, sometimes ellipses are used or 'a bracketed word is substituted for a lengthy phrase, as in "treatise [showing] that" for "treatise wherein is plainly demonstrated that"', while subtitles are largely omitted. (3) The impatient emphasis in a plain demonstration (none too subtly nudging the reader into agreement) becomes a neutral showing.

The second change affecting our citation of titles is an increased interest in early modern lines of information. Historians of argument are currently thinking about how opinion became fact in early modern political debate,. They consider how the seventeenth century's structures of communication could change what was surmised into what was known. Brendan Dooley and Sabrina Baron, for instance, describe the politics of information surrounding the Long Parliament of 1640-53, where printed speeches from the Commons circulated at the same time as sermons, petitions, tracts, diurnals, and manuscript newsletters. Dooley and Baron argue that the status as fact of any matter discussed in political circles was created by each man's prudent comparison of the validity claims of documents from different people and institutions They became true when trustworthy sources concurred. The title of the seventeenth-century polemic tract asserts the book's truth--or, to be more precise, indicates how the text is to be weighed up-with generic tags. Terms like position, premonition, protestation, performance, pattern, and persuasion negotiate with the reading public, introducing the text rather than the author to the reader. The lengthy titles confirm Joad Raymond's conclusion that the oral style of the printed newsbooks, transcribing laughter, direct addresses, and exclamations, made the tract itself a political actor. (5)

A third though less recent change is how historians of the book became aware of the interlocution of text and title-page. They tend to focus on the visual elements, as does Margery Corbett and Ronald Lightbourn's influential study of the design of significant title-pages, where the frontispiece's architecture, figures, emblems, cartouches, and portraits direct attention to the book's aim. (6) There is no consideration of the title itself by Corbett and Lightbourn, even when dealing with relatively lengthy titles such as John Dee's General and rare memorials pertayning to the perfect arte of navigation (1577). Some historians of the book look at imprint information to gauge what expectations this may have set up in readers accustomed to a certain range of products from that printer, notable, say, for his foreign-language or recusant or algebraic output. Looking at how the titles relate to the text is the next logical step.

We already recognize a number of literary, religious, and scholarly genres which are self-consciously pointed out on the period's title-pages, and we are not likely to drop these genre labels, either when thinking about or when citing the texts. Comedies, satires, and odes get consideration, as do meditations, catechisms, and homilies, as do miscellanies, histories, and essays. Disputatious genres, however, are more rudely treated. The way the self-declared structures of argument are ignored contrasts with the loving discussion of early modern literary titles by critics. Think, for instance, of the fuss made by Shakespearians about how, despite its full title, The Tragedie of Richard the 3 is listed in the 'Histories' section of the 'Catalogue' of the first folio, and gets a running title in historical form, 'The life and death of ...'. The nuanced relationship of a poem and its title is dwelt on by a range of literary commentators, from historicist critics such as Ann Ferry to poets such as John Hollander. Ferry argues that titles, generally assigned after a poem has been written, delicately assert a poet's right to present the poems as his work, and exmines Ben Jonson' s innovative use of possessive pronouns in naming his epigrams and odes (for instance, 'An Epigram to My Jovial Good Friend Mr Robert Dover, on His Great Instauration of his Hunting and Dancing at Cotswold') (7). Hollander also argues that early baroque poems, from the same decades, get titles that attach topics to people. (8) In Hollander's eyes, titles are masters of ceremony, introducing the poem to the reader and intimating the terms on which they should meet. However, when two theorists turn to the topic of prose titles they do so slightly disdainfully. Initially, Harry Levin speaks enthusiastically of the title as 'formulating an enigma and arranging for its decipherment'. He traces its development from a simple marker, perhaps of possession or of a character in the text or of the first words of the text or of where it originated. For instance, the formula which ran possessor-of-genre-on-subject (e.g. Cicero's essay on age) often simply became of-subject (of age). Levin's tone alters when he turns to the lengths that early modern texts go to in flagging up the genre; a 'pedantic affectation' of presenting a volume 'as if it subsisted in a metaphorical relation with its subject matter'. He agrees with Isaac D'Israeli's dismissal of the 'rhodomont title' as a preliminary boast, as in The life and strange surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe. (9) Gerard Genette, pragmatic about the need to shorten seventeenth-century titles (a truncation 'undoubtably planned, if not intended, by the authors'), notes that the long-form titles have generic signals (which he calls 'rhemes'); he does not, however, consider this to be of much interest. (10)

Deprived of their purpose in modern eyes, titles are allowed to wither these days into a short form--and one composed of substantive nouns at that. Early modern readers, however, find the full title useful. An irritated Milton, for instance, notices the 'stall-reader' who cries 'bless us! What a word | A title page is this' on meeting 'Tetrachordon' and so will go no further, and satirizes the arm-chair divine who, pretending to know about divinity and church councils, has merely ferreted about the title-pages and indices of books. Milton has considerable fun at the expense of a refutation of Smectymnuus, getting

a present taste of [the author] from his own title; hung out like a toling signe-post to call passengers, not simply a confutation but a modest confutation with a laudatory of it selfe obtruded in the very first word. Whereas a modest title should only inform the buyer what the book contains without further insinuation. (11)

The view that the title was integral to a book appears in the Star Chamber decree of 11 July 1637, which specifically included titles in the prefatory matter which was to be licensed. (12)

The habit of disposing of seemingly insignificant elements occurs most often when historians consider the book as a commodity. Genette's most radical intervention in titology is the suggestion that the intended reader of the title (critic, cataloger, purchaser, editor, printer, or bookseller) need not be the intended reader of the book. 'If the recipient of the text is actually the reader, the recipient of the title is the public.' (13) Thus, lengthy titles are now almost universally dismissed as advertisements appealing to people who are not necessarily readers. H. S. Bennett speaks for most in deploring their fullness, 'so distressing to us in their overcrowded display' , and solely there to tempt the purchaser. (14) Often at this point the academic disdain for trade comes into play, and there is no more to be said than that the early and mid-seventeenth-century titles distinguish their books' contents for the reader spoilt for choice. Only Walter J. Ong provides a different, if scarcely more flattering, source for the lengthy seventeenth-century title. His general argument is that as the new technique of printing took over from manuscript and oral transmission of texts, texts became thought of as things in space, not moments in time. Briefly commenting on titles, he maintains that where earlier titles implied a person speaking or perhaps a dedicatee and thus maintained a dialogic flavour (such as 'Chaucer's book of the Canterbury tales'), later titles were divorced from any personal quality and grew 'nervously longer and longer' (though he does not say why they did not just die away instead, which was also an option under his paradigm). (15) Looking back to incunabula and early sixteenth-century books, Margaret Smith also sees a change influenced by printing. Initially, she argues, the multiple unbound sheets produced by print needed a cover sheet for protection; these in turn needed short titles to distinguish one bundle from the many others, and, since such titles were necessary, they might as well be extended as a marketing opportunity. (16) Looking forward to the early eighteenth century, Eleanor Shevlin thinks titles of this period incorporate notions of authorship and commercial property, as in The Works of Alexander Pope (1717). To Shevlin, to speak of a book's 'title' refers both to the text and to its status in emerging copyright law. Her argument depends in part on assuming that earlier manuscripts were orphaned when they left the author's hands, and so were liable to have titles assigned them by the bookseller. Thus, Shevlin can comfortably dismiss the seventeenth-century titles as marketing, quoting George Withers's experience in 1625 of the typical bookseller who 'oftentymes gives books such names as in his opinion will make them saleable, when there is little or nothing in the whole volume suitable to such a Tytle'. (17) Shevlin overstates her prehistory; some earlier authors do comment on their own titles and turn up at their printers to check the work. Complaints about titles which were assigned are in conclusive proof that these were simply printers' blurb (arguably, if this was a usual practice there would have been no complaints). Yet the opposite position should not be overstated. Titles could be given by printers to pirated editions, as Daniel Featley remarked when his The Romish fisher, caught and held in his owne net was pirated, whose 'title was not devised nor prefixed by any of us: we willingly leave the vanity of such affected inscriptions to our Adversaries, who make themselves ridiculous in this kinde'. (18) In 1677 the printer Joseph Moxon recommended that a compositor first consider which words in a title should receive greatest emphasis, and only then think about how to set the 'precedent matter'. (19) Yet choosing a title which includes generic markers or setting these in a particular typeface are evidence of how the book strikes a reader, and are actions that help categorize a text.

If the history of the book is viewed as one of mass printing, it is reasonable to end here. Shift the history of the book to one of mass reading--following David Cressy's pioneering work (20)--and one needs to go a little further. Lengthy title-pages were as much part of the new information technology as indices and diagrams of a book's positions. A reader trained to read actively across a range of books skimmed titles just as he did the other summary structures: he looked for swift information on content and attitude to that content. Studies of early modern genre theory endorse this position. Three decades ago Rosalie Colie asked 'what kinds of "kind" did writers recognize, and why? (21) She and her respondents have repeatedly answered that genre formulates reality for the writer and the reader; it is a frame which enables recognition rather than an enforced categorization. Similar situations allow cross-recognition, even when the resemblance is not exact (indeed, Alastair Fowler pointed out that imprecision is key to getting a new genre recognized). (22) Meeting a term like 'confutation' on the title-page would hail a reader into an area, somewhat fuzzy, which was slightly different from where he went when the author hailed him by a 'refutation' or a 'manuduction'. The full title, as Cormack and Mazzio note briefly, reflects 'on itself by imagining the social and intellectual spheres to which it contributed and belonged'. (23) When such spheres are changing shape, say at times of fast economic growth or civil war, peculiarly full information would be needed to persuade the reader of the book's credentials. Early modern titles take us through stages of attitude to the topic. For instance, a discovery will be propounded as a question, its answer proved then expounded by divines, then applied to exhort us to good and direct us on how to do it in Elnathan Parr's The grounds of divinitie plainely discouering the mysteries of Christian religion, propounded familiarly in diners questi[o]ns and answeres: substantially proved by scriptures; expounded faithfully, according to the writings of the best divines, and evidently applyed by profi:able vses, for the h[e]lp: and benefit of the unlearned which desire knowledge. To the which is prefixed a very profitable treatise, contayning an exhortation to the studie of the word, with singular directions for the hearing and reading of the same (1619). Here genre can be considered not as a classification of the text by the reader for its formal qualities but as an instruction to the reader to take up a series of appropriate positions before the text as it progresses. An early modern reader was accustomed from his schooldays to being similarly 'placed' by the rhetorical dialogues of Cicero, as he practised defending Milo or Roscius. He was not used to a text that argued omnisciently in utramque partem or that pretended it could present its contents without a determining frame (modern titles like Modern Language Review would have been considered unhelpful). Ong, I think, was too hasty in deleting the vocal and personal element from the early modern title. The non-substantive tags do surround the text with what we today would call attitude. In argument we tend to hear what we expect to hear-and genre, everyone agrees, is an effect of expectation. Thus, the internal rhetoric of a title needs to be seen as a response not only to other specific pamphlets (Eikonoklastes to Eikon basilike, say), but also to other instances of the same genre. This is not a startling thing to say about fiction (where the form of a history or comedy is so conventional that the genres can be teased in titles such as If you know not me you know nobody or As you like it); it is not generally said about the prose tracts. In fact, our own experience could probably supply the adjective which habitually accompanies the declared genre of much early modern vernacular writing. Tracts are mostly brief, ballads new, translations faithful, history exact or illustrious, reports true, sermons godly or profitable, and so on. When a specific description is used frequently it hardens into a genre, with attendant expectations of what form the text will follow. In this, titles are as bossy as most prefaces to early modern prose tracts; both tell the reader how to approach the text: read with pleasure, determination, care, in pious mood; mark this or that passage; answer in such and such a way.

Of course, all this argument merely opens up the possibility that there may be generic force behind the title-page markers. I cannot prove that a genre exists, by this or any other method, but I can give enough examples to make it a thinkable proposition. I took three routes to this point. The first was to look for which terms were most often used, examining the long-form titles of all books published every fifth year from 1600 to 1650; a brief indication of the range of non-substantive tags used appears below. I then chose six popular terms and looked at all texts using them from 1600 to 1650, trying to see if these texts were signalling genre in their choice of term. Turning to the area where evidence is less easily found or interpreted--the reader's response--I had to content myself with looking at citation practices in seventeenth-century catalogues, reading diaries, and commonplace books, and comparing these with the long-form titles. To get a random sample of reading notes I used all commonplace books from 1600 to 1650 held by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Catalogues were drawn from booklists already printed by the Private Libraries in Renaissance England project, other printed catalogues where available, and some manuscript booklists and catalogues from the same period held at the Folger and Cambridge University Library.

Prose-text titles appear in the following rough bands, though most entries could appear in at least one other band. Well-known forms such as letter, table, or abridgement are omitted since my interest is in how the reader is placed in an argument by the generic indicators:

* a neutral description of a group speaking peaceably: conference, dialogue, discourse, harmony, commendation, reflection;

* a neutral description of a subject: school, relation, explication, reason, exposition, commentary, articles, ground, instruction, concordance, review, examination, expression, anatomy, registry, exhibition, theatre;

* a neutral summing up of a subject: summary, conclusion, directory, digestion;

* a gentle exhortation to a group already persuaded: premonition, admonition, exhortation, persuasion, assurance, comfort;

* a neutral description of a passionate discussion: disputation, argument, encounter, trial, offer, arraignment, summons;

* a setting out of one's own position: demand, position, gradation, preparation, advertisement, testimony, performance, consideration, direction, declamation, proof, manifestation, rule, alarm, expounding, augmentation, enlargement, motive, exclamation, confirmation;

* a detection of what the other side hoped to keep quiet: discernment, discovery, detection, opening, revelation, deciphering, mystery;

* a rebuttal of another's position: censure, exception, caveat, counterpoison, reply, antidote, answer, justification, eviction, replication, opposition, warning, defence, justification, apology, defensative, remedy, remonstrance, refutation, protestation, confutation, recovery, manuduction.

What is striking is how familiar and yet invisible these terms are to present-day readers--we see them and yet we don' t. If we lose these markers we lose the assumption that the reader will enter into a dialogue with the writer (one which, as the lists show, gets increasingly cantankerous). Most of the terms are not exhausted metaphors (such as posy, theatre, or pathway), but drawn from logic, from rhetoric's inventio, or from the classical divisions of a speech (exordium, narratio, partitio, confirmatio, refutatio, and peroratio). An anonymous mid-seventeenth-century commonplace book at the Folger shows how rhetorical positions slide into disputatious genres; for instance, monitio is defined then exemplified from Philip Sidney's Arcadia as 'a most loving and friendly admonition of Musidorus to his friend Perocles' and defensio as 'in defence of woman kynde reade the oration of Perocles'. (24) Some titles also take their force from Protestant homiletics, running through the uses and applications of a text in strict order. Another Folger comonplace notebook instances this: William Garnon's 'Treasure of Christian doctrine' of 1637 aims to classify each quotation as one of information, instruction, caution correction, admonition, direction, consolation, conviction, examination, exhortation, dehorartion, vindication, confutation, reproof, or terror. (25) Running titles in printed books tend to keep the genre labels, as do quotations of another book's title within a title-page. The labels often appear energetically as present participles, 'discovering' rather than 'discovery', for instance. Sometimes the process by which the genre will be unfolded is listed, as in William Attersoll's Continuation of the exposition of the booke of Numbers [...] wherein the text is interpreted, the method is opened, the questions are answered, the doubts are dissolved, the doctrine saare [sic] handled, confirmed, and applied to the conscience (1610), or Peter Gunter's sermon against a heretic, whose title promises that the book is A plaine and manifest resolution of the said point, as also a answere unto the objections used and produced, to maintayne the said dangerous position. And lastly, a three-fold reflection of the text, according to the present occasion (1615). These are different processes, however convenient it is to shuffle them under the one heading of 'exposition' or 'sermon'. Occasionally, the rhythm of the title is self-consciously changed, flagged up by 'intitled' or 'wherein is contained', words which usually mark a move from a metaphorical summary to an amplification on the argument's stages (for instance, John Smyth's A paterne of true prayer. A learned and comfortable exposition or commentarie upon the Lords prayer: wherein the doctrine of the substance and circumstances of true invocation is evidently and fully declared out of the holie Scriptures (1605)).

Six of these labels were chosen at random to find out whether they were merely phatic terms. The number of texts using them (or their cognates) between 1600 and 1650, drawn from the 'hit rate' on EEBO, is only an estimate. There will be understatement since EEBO is still in the process of adding texts to its database, and overstatement where titles repeat the word themselves. None the less, the results from a search in January 2006 are notable: 'discovery' occurs 1340 times, 'remonstrance' 556, 'exposition' 475, 'conference' 342, 'exhortation' 182, and 'arraignment' 77.

The positions taken by the books bearing these labels show a relatively high correlation between tag and content, with a range of implied positions for the reader. Discoveries, speaking to a general audience, tend to focus on bringing to light another side's points, and play with the metaphors of lies and veils as they bring down equivocations. Their prefaces usually address the reader directly, showing him the correct perspective to take on what will be uncovered. Remonstrances, whose numbers soar after the Grand Remonstrance of the House of Commons to the Crown of 1641 (another indication of the period's awareness of generic fashions), take a grave and restrained tone, are short and factual, speak specifically to a person or group with influence, and assume their good will and reasonableness in learning of an abuse or problem that they were not fully aware of before. Though remonstrances assure the the addressee of their humility in matters of state, they habitually end with a request for specific action; this is unaccompanied by any peroration, for the man of good will does not need to be urged to do what he sees to be right. Expositions boast of their plain, direct, and factual style, and forbear to address any reader. These engage with a subject (often another text) without seeming to take an adversarial position. Conferences mostly maintain a dialogic form throughout, sometimes with a sketchy dramatic situation, attempting to give some weight to both sides; the most usual interlocutors are divines (where formal moves are recognized between colleagues) or families (where model responses are given). Here the fiction is that the reader overhears a conversation. Exhortations strip away that gentle distance: the actual persuasion to act is generally separated out at the end of a text, after a number of reasons have been given for the course of action recommended. Exhorations see themselves simply as consequences of the conclusion of the previous argument, and have no need by this point to suggest alternatives. They are mostly in a fervent style, always directly addressing the reader, often joining the author to the reader as 'we', and can end with a prayer. Arraignments come closest to being metaphors: some simply 'charge' another side with a point, others maintain the fiction of a legal situation. Their tone tends to be bitter, since they directly address their opposition (once again, the reader is overhearing this exchange), and their positions are unsupported by extensive proofs.

However, there is less evidence that early modern readers valued the generic labels. If one turns first to citation, booksellers' catalogues vary in practice. William London, in 1657, gives a familiar reason:

that the Titles of all books in this Catalogue are at large [...] is easily reduc't to reason, if we consider the very native use, and primitive intent of Titles themselves, as placed to their Books; nay, the general defect of this in Catalogues, makes many good profitable Books strangers to the World [...] here they have all books brought to you lying open; shops open'd in your studies; and to me it lookes like a walking Library. (26)

Note, however, that he considers that the genre labels are one of the pieces of information a prospective purchaser needs before catalogue shopping. Thus he criticizes the miserly information provided by entries such as 'Parr on Rom. Sibbs on Corr' in rival catalogues. London's list, like the anonymously compiled Catalogue of certaine bookes, which have been published [...] in England (1631), gives full titles. The Catalogue of [...] English bookes printed by William Jagggard in 1618 collates lists of books with large stocks still available from printers across London. The entries vary accordingly, most being in full form ('An Amulet, or preservative against sicknesse and death' by A.M., 'defence of the way to the true Church, against the reply of A.D.'), but some simply given in short form ('Hoptons Topographicall Glasse'). (27) The bookseller who originated this type of market surveys in 1595, Andrew Maunsell, regards the genre labels as so integral to the books that his catalogue uses them as a kind of heading to group books: 'abridgement', 'admonition', 'anatomy', 'answer' , 'apology', 'comfort', 'communication', 'confession', 'conference', 'dialogue', 'dietary' appear as categories. Thus the entry 'Philip Stubs Gentleman, his Anatomie of Abuses. Vid Anatomie' leads to the item 'Anatomie of Abuses: containing a discovery of such notable vices and imperfections, as now raigne in [... ] a famous Iland called Ailgna', but there are no entries under 'England', 'Anglia', or ' Abuses' such as we might give. (28)

The Stationers' Register tends to give titles in full also, presumably as a matter of identification for legal purposes (for instance, 'Certen experyments concernynge ffysshe and ffrute practised by John Taverner'). (29) Conversely, the eleven probate lists from Cambridge between 1600 and 1650 listed by Elizabeth Leedham-Green retain the tags for only a fifth of the books; generally the format is author-on-subject, such as 'Kinge uppon Jonas'. (30) Presumably this was because the lists were designed to identify books for valuation rather than indicate their contents.

Published library catalogues and manuscript catalogues (either private or institutional) intended for more than one person's use also usually give full titles. Where they do not, they tend to omit all titles rather than just give the subject (equating to our substantive short title). For instance, the 1605 Bodleian catalogue compiled by the library's first Keeper, William James, retains such tags as 'defence', 'challenge', 'reply', and 'answer': not 'Cartwright against Whitgfit' but 'Tho. Cartwrights reply against Do. Whitgift' and 'Jo. Whitgifts Defence of the Answere to the Admonition against the Replie of T.C.'. (31) The manuscript catalogue from c. 1630 of St John's College, Cambridge, gives the tags for two-thirds of the English books it lists: 'Anthony Cades justification of ye Church of England', 'Thomas Cartwrights confutation of ye Rhem', 'Downhams guide to godliness', 'Ambrose Fyges Defence of the English liturgie'. (32) In the case of the Cartwright text the substantive noun (the 1582 Rheims New Testament translated by Gregory Martin) has been dropped, even though the action Cartwright takes on it has been retained. A private library catalogue of some ten years earlier at Cambridge also gives the tags ('a report of ye kingedome of Congo translated out of Italian by Abraham Hartwell', 'A defence of the innocencie of ye testimonies of the church of England'), (33) as does the mid-century catalogue LL v 7, though not catalogue Dd 8 45 (dating from around the 1660s) which uses the' author on subject' formula ('Cudworth on the Lords Supper', fol. 31).

Private booklists can be equally detailed. The library of John, Lord Lumley, was catalogued by a household servant in 1609, fairly fully: 'Stephen Gardiner his confutation of George joy his doctrine', 'His detection of the devels sophistrie touchinge the sacrament of the Aulter'. (34) Sir Robert Cotton, listing books lent to other bibliophiles in the first half of the seventeenth century, retains the full form in about half the cases: 'An answeare to the libel of English justice', 'A discovery of the unnatural and traitorous conspiracy', 'An Apologie or defence. etc. of Brownists'. (35) One booklist from c. 1611 in the Folger collection also does so, even omitting the author's name in preference to the genre: 'an ans: to a serm: preached at Lambeth by Dr Downham. an examinacon of ye London ministers declaracion. a dialogue about ye ceremonies of ye Church of England'. (36) Three others in the collection, from c. 1602, 1625, and 1626 respectively, merely use the author and substantive noun formula. (37) This is what Captain Sibthorpe used when he listed his wife's books between 1630 and 1649: 'Felthams Resolves [...] Dr. Kings Lectures [...] Mornay, of the trueness of Christian Religion'. (38) Sir Roger Townsend's careful household servant followed suit in 1625 ('the reformed Catholike [...] Christian Exercise perteyng to resolucion'), as did Sir Edward Dering, noting the books he owned in the 1630s ('Expositions, sermons, and meditations upon severall textes of Scripture, per Arthur Lake [...] Of eclesiasticall polity per Richard Hooker'). (39)

Advisory books in the area of disputation or preaching which give bibliographies tend to cite full titles. William Chappell's The preacher, or the art and method of preaching (1656) gives lists in the form of 'N. Bifields Direction for reading Scripture' and 'Dr Jacksons Treatise of the Divine Essence'. (40) Here, Chappell retains the genres even though he truncates the rest of the title. Peter Fairlambe, confusedly reading his way through the major controversies of the period, does so also: 'Udals Demonstration A treatise of the church, by Phillip Mornay. The Complaint of the Commonaltie.' (41) John Gee, hunting for Catholic books in London, gives full titles: 'The Author and substance of Protestant religion', 'An antidote against the pestiferous writings of English sectaries'. (42) So does John Ley's Discourse of disputations chiefly concerning matters of religion (1658): 'The Scourge of Sacrilege', 'The Anatomy of Ananias, or Gods censure against Sacrilege'; (43) and John Rothwell's Catalogue of approved divinity-books (1657): 'Ainsworth Marrow of the Bible [...] Communion of Saints [...] Arrow against Idolatry'. (44) John Wilkins's advice on preaching in 1646 is exceptional, merely citing the author's name and a substantive noun. (45)

Private note-takers vary in practice. Contemporary advice on compiling commonplace notebooks does not deal with how to give titles. (46) Commonplace books were not generally designed to send the reader back to the original text, so full titles are less necessary. Sir William Drake notes his reading over three decades from the 1630s in the short form of author's name and one substantive noun. (47) The eight commonplace notebooks from c. 1600-50 in the Folger Library do so also, on the rare occasions where they attribute their quotations. (48) The sole exception is Vb 214, an anonymously compiled proto-Catholic commonplace book, which gives full titles before equally full extracts. Lady Margaret Hoby's reading notes from the early seventeenth century generally give only the author's name and perhaps the topic. (49) A commonplace book of 1657 by Thomas Grocer in the Huntington Library does the same, as does Milton's commonplace book from the 1630s. (50)

To conclude: while catalogues and advisory texts tend to give full titles, sometimes in preference to what we would see as substantive elements, private readers rarely attribute their quotations. When they do so, they tend to cite author and topic. None the less, it would be dangerous to conclude that the generic indicators in titles were ignored by readers as being publishers' spin, though it is difficult to prove exactly how the tags affected those readers. The number and ingenuity of the labels suggest that genre in disputations is thought of by writers as less to do with the form of the text and more to do with how to position the reader. The tags encourage an attitude of mind in approaching the work. Pragmatism may force us to shorten titles, but we should hestitate a bit over what to throw out.

I am grateful to the Folger Shakespeare Library for a fellowship that allowed me to investigate some of the issues explored in this article, and to Tony Claydon, Stephen Colclough, Tom Corns, and Tiffany Stern for suggestions and references in relation to their own work.



(1) Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm (1932; London: Penguin, 1994), P. 104.

(2) A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland [...] 1475-1640, 2 vols (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1926), I, xii.

(3) A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland [...] 1475-1640, 2nd edn, 3 vols (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1976-91), 1, xxxv-xxxvi.

(4) The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Brendan Maurice Dooley and Sabrina A. Baron (London: Routledge, 2001), ch. 1.

(5) The Invention of the Newspaper (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 5, 156.

(6) The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-Page in England 1550-1660 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979).

(7) Ann Ferry, The Title to the Poem (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996).

(8) '"Haddocks eyes": A Note on the Theory of Titles', in Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), ch. 10.

(9) 'The Title as a Literary Genre', MLR, 72 (1977), pp. xxiv (citing Roland Barthes), xxvi. D'Israeli's was a popular six-volume literary history published between 1791 and 1834.

(10) 'Structure and Functions of the Title in Literature', Critical Inquiry, 14 (1988), 692-720.

(11) Sonnet 11, 'Of reformation', and 'An apology aginst [...] the remonstrant against Smectymnuus' in The Works of John Milton, ed. by F. A. Patterson and others, 18 vols (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931-38), 1/1, 62; III/1 (1931), 289; see also 111/1, 35.

(12) A decree of Starre-Chamber, concerning printing made the eleventh day of July last past (London, 1637).

(13) 'Structure and Functions of the Title', p. 707.

(14) H. S. Bennett, English Books and Readers 1603-1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970),P. 216. This etiolated function reappears in, for instance, Bradin Cormack and Carla Mazzio, Book Use, Book Theory 1500-1700 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp. 48-49; Ferry, The Title to the Poem, p. 142; Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 97; A. W. Pollard, Last Words on the History of the Title-Page (London: Nimmo, 1891), p. 33.

(15) Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), pp. 311-14.

(16) Margaret Smith, The Titlepage: Its Early Development 1460-1510 (London: British Library, 2000).

(17) '"To reconcile Book and Title, and make 'em kin to One Another": The Evolution of the Title's Contractual Functions', Book History, 2 (1999), 42-77, esp. p. 52.

(18) (London, 1624), sig. *3v.

(19) Mechanick exercises, 2 vols (London, 1677), 11, 221.

(20) Literacy and the Social Order: Reading and Writing in Tudor and Stuart England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

(21) The Resources of Kind: Genre-Theory in the Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), p. 2.

(22) Kinds of Literature, pp. 146-48.

(23) Book Use, pp. 48-49.

(24) MS add 774, pt 2, pp. 10, 16.

(25) MS Vb 261, fol. 1r.

(26) Catalogue of the most vendible bookes in England (London, 1657), sig. C1r-v.

(27) 'Jaggard's Catalogue of English Books' [ed. by P. M. Willard], Stanford Studies in Language and Literature (1941), 152-72 (pp. 161, 168, 169).

(28) The first part of the catalogue of English printed bookes (1595; repr. Farnborough: Gregg, 1965), pp. 111, 2.

(29) A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London, 1554-1640, ed. by Edward Arber, 5 vols (London: privately printed, 1875-94), III (1876), entry 10/1/1600.

(30) Books in Cambridge Inventories: Book Lists from Vice-Chancellor's Court Probate Inventories in the Tudor and Stuart Periods, ed. by Elizabeth Leedham-Green, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 1, 540-75.

(31) The First Printed Catalogue of the Bodleian Library 1605: A Facsimile (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 47, 159. The tags are also retained on the rare occasions on which Sir Thomas Bodley writes to James about English books: 'your lesser bookes, as Crowleis answer etc.' (Letters of Sir Thomas Bodley to Thomas Fames, First Keeper of the Bodleian Library, ed. by G. W. Wheeler (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926), p. 3).

(32) Cambridge University Library, MS Dd v 45, fols 20, 21, 27, 31.

(33) Cambridge University Library, MS Dd iv 6, fols 31v, 37r.

(34) The Lumley Library: The Catalogue of 1609, ed. by Sears Jayne and Francis R. Johnson (London: British Museum, 1956), items 861, 862.

(35) The Early Records of Sir Robert Cotton's library: Formation, Cataloguing, Use, ed. by Colin G. C. Tite (London: British Library, 2003), entries 115, 126.

(36) Manuscript booklist on the back page of the Folger copy of William Tooker, Duellum (London, 1611).

(37) Manuscript booklists in the Folger copies of John Willis, The art of stenographic (London, 1602), back page; Seneca, Workes (London, 1620), sewn onto front paper; James I, Works (London, 1616), end paper.

(38) J. C. Cavanaugh, 'The Library of Lady Southwell and Captain Sibthorpe', Studies in Bibliography, 20 (1967), 243-53 (p. 248).

(39) Private Libraries in Renaissance England, ed. by R. J. Fehrenbach and E. S. Leedham-Green, 6 vols to date (Binghamton: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1992-), 1, 79, 270.

(40) (London, 1656), p. 205.

(41) The recantation of a Brownist (London, 1606), sig. C2v.

(42) The foot out of the snare, with a detection of the sundry late practices and impostures of the priests and Jesuits in England (London, 1624), p. 118.

(43) (London, 1658), p. 107.

(44) (London, 1657), p. 2.

(45) Ecclesiastes; or, A discourse concerning the gift of preaching (London, 1646), pp. 2, 6, 52.

(46) Nor do recent historians of the commonplace book; see e.g. Ann Moss, Printed Commonplace-Books and the Structuring of Renaissance Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996); Adam Smyth, 'Profit and delight': Printed Miscellanies in England 1640-1682 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004).

(47) Kevin Sharpe, Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 85.

(48) See MSS Va 281, fol. 15r; Va 260, pt 1, fol. 47v; Add. 774, fols 58v, 60v, 89r; Va 439, pp. 1, 10; Va 381, fol. 167v; Vb 110, pp. 15, 127, 155, 162, 445; Vb 674, fols 2r, 2v, 6r.

(49) The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady: The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby 1599-1605, ed. by Joanna Moody (Stroud: Sutton, 1998), pp. 4, 13, 18, 22, 27, 28, 41, 75, 89, 96, 99, 137.

(50) Huntington MS 93, p. 40; 'Milton's Commonplace Book', ed. by James H. Hanford, in The Works of John Milton, ed. by Patterson and others, XVIII (1938), 128-220 (pp. 132, 133, 144, 151, 161, 175).
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Author:Sullivan, Ceri
Publication:The Modern Language Review
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Date:Jul 1, 2007
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