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Edgar C. Grissom. Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography.

Edgar C. Grissom. Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2011. 644 pp. and DVD; US $225.00 ISBN 9781584562788

Good bibliographies of the oeuvre of famous authors are never completed, and they should always be a work in progress, even though the original bibliographer may not live long enough, or have enough time and resources, to complete the work. Thus, the torch, so to speak, is passed on to the next generation who will uncover new references and material, including, perhaps, previously unknown works of the subject of the study. The challenge of a new Hemingway bibliography is that although his output of books was relatively small, only seven novels and three works of non-fiction published during his lifetime, there has been, and continues to be, a vast amount of material written about him as a personality and as an author.

Since the 1960s, the standard and most referenced Hemingway bibliography has been Audre Hanneman's Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography, which was first published in 1967 by Princeton University Press and was last updated in 1975. It was not the first Hemingway bibliography, which was published in 1931 by New York bookseller Louis Cohn, but for the last forty-five years it has been regarded as the best authority on Hemingway's work. C. Edgar Grissom, a retired physician living with his wife and their five rescued cats on the banks of the Mississippi, continues the pattern established by Hanneman: like her, he is a talented and hard-working nonacademic who has produced a thoroughly researched and well-written scholarly bibliography. Grissom has been a Hemingway collector for over forty years, and, with the publication of his magnum opus, must now also be viewed as a scholar whose first-rate bibliography supplants Hanneman's books as the essential Hemingway reference.

What then does Grissom's bibliography offer to the Hemingway scholar, collector, or book dealer? First, he brings together information about reprintings and secondary material, as well as correspondence not covered since 1975 when Hanneman last updated her book. Grissom also covers the two "new" Hemingway works of non-fiction, and four "new" Hemingway novels that were published posthumously between 1964 and 2005. Second, although Grissom emulates Hanneman's work in identifying all first editions and subsequent printings of Hemingway's published material, he goes further in classifying every edition, printing, issue, and state, while providing a classical bibliographical description. Grissom's bibliography is the only one that provides and describes every printing of every edition, as well as offering a comprehensive list of the parent editions of the primary works. He has also attempted to locate all Hemingway dust jackets and to match them with their respective printings.

Additionally, Grissom takes advantage of technology, including a DVD containing more than two thousand colour images of bindings, dust jackets, and title pages of all of Hemingway's major works--as well as the posthumous publications--and multivolume collections. Also, the DVD contains more than fifty images of Hemingway's signature, which is a valuable aid for collectors and book dealers to authenticate an autograph, especially in light of the many forgeries that proliferate in the resale market of eBay and conventional auction houses.

The printed portion of Grissom's bibliography is divided into four sections. The major one is section A, which lists chronologically all separately published books, pamphlets, broadsides, and other publications written wholly, or substantially, by Hemingway, including Hokum, a juvenile play Morris McNeal Musselman supposedly co-authored with Hemingway. Hanneman's section A contains similar material but again the scope of Grissom's work is much broader and, of course, contains material subsequent to 1975. Grissom's section AA describes multivolume collections of Hemingway's works, a departure from Hanneman, who included the individual titles in a multivolume edition as an additional printing of that title. Section B includes first-appearance contributions by Hemingway to books and pamphlets (similar to Hanneman's section B). Section C includes first appearances of Hemingway articles in magazines and newspapers (again, similar to Hanneman's section C). Grissom does not provide separate sections for translations, anthologies, or correspondence because, as he notes, a separate, inclusive multivolume collection of Hemingway's letters is planned.

Descriptions of books throughout are consistent and, for the most part, conventional. Grissom utilizes G. Thomas Tanselle's classifications to describe binding patterns or designs, and he makes use of Pantone's RGB guide for descriptions of colour. The bibliography's introduction includes a useful and concise summary of form, terminology, and methodology. There are eight appendices in total, and one of the most useful is appendix 3, "Interpreting Scribner's Copyright Page." As a dealer, I am forever vexed by the failure of collectors, book scouts, and other dealers who incorrectly describe the points of the first printings by Scribner's of Hemingway's work. This appendix will help to educate the interested in how to read the copyright page.

Overall, as a reference aid, Grissom's bibliography is easy to use and thorough, and the conclusions he offers on debatable points are well documented and persuasive. It has supplanted Hanneman as the single most authoritative and comprehensive work on Hemingway's writings and their appearances in print. Grissom's Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography will retain this status until the next bibliography of the American master's writings comes along, as an author's bibliography is always a work in progress.


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Author:Park, Michael
Publication:Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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