Friday, July 22, 2011

Probably the best book index ever

This work of genius is the author's index from Samuel Butler's Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino (1881).

Click for big.









27 comments:

Radagast said...

That's the first time, I think, that an index has made me want to read a book.

Tim said...

That is beyond marvellous

The Modesto Kid said...

Full text of the book is available at archive.org.

Bill said...

A world where it was apparently controversial to assert that Bach was as good a musician as Handel. Terrifying.

Dr. Psycho said...

This is an index on a par with short stories I have read in the form of glossaries of alien languages which hint at a remarkable culture.

It surpasses the very funny "dirty book index" which ran in an early issue of the National Lampoon, which included such memorable references as, "Ukelele, used as purveyor of erotic music--page 86", "Ukelele, used as contraceptive device--page 87" and ends with "Zelda, loses her virginity--page 2", "Zelda, reaches depths of depravity--page3", "Zelda, repents, gets married, finds true meaning of happiness--page 160".

Tom Hardy said...

Wonderful!

Anekeia said...

It's a rare index that doesn't need a book. I'm not sure the book can be anything but disappointing by comparison, so I'm in no hurry to look.

Old Scrote said...

"Bullocks, how I lost my" 154
Ouch.

Tristram Brelstaff said...

The Falcon and the Hawk by Helen Macdonald, BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play, 2011 September 15.

strangetruther said...

Caught the Radio 4 prog; will blog coolly in due course!

On BBC Parliament (Sky Channel 504) a bloke just said (not sure who but it was in a discussion that mentioned Erskine May if it's of any use) something Jonathan Swift said, and Googling brings up, (at: courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i103/s10/SLIDES/HOFIknowl2-18GN.pdf ) :

"The most accomplished way of using books at present is
twofold. Either, first, to serve them as men do Lords,
learn their titles exactly and then brag of their
acquaintance :—or, secondly, which is indeed the choicer,
the profounder, and politer method, to get a thorough
insight into the Index, by which the whole book is
governed and turned, like fishes, by the tail. For to enter
the palace of Learning at the great gate requires an
expense of time and forms ; therefore men of much haste
and little ceremony are content to get in by the back-
door. … Thus men catch knowledge by throwing their wit
on the posteriors of a book, as boys do sparrows by
flinging salt upon the tail."

Jonathan Swift, "Tale of a Tub," 1704


"…How Index-learning turns no student pale,
Yet holds the eel of Science by the tail."

Pope, "The Dunciad," 1728

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Steve Bodio said...

VERY late: looks like where Norman Douglas got the idea for HIS indexes (Indices?) at least one of which covers the same geography* - which is also where my paternal ancestors hail from. Check in for New Year's?

XS

* My copy belonged to TE Lawrence and has his bookplate.

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Margaret said...

Another lovely index, a new one, is that of Robert McFarlane's 'The Old Ways.' It is in topics from
Animals, Fish & Insects, Artefacts & Artworks ...on through Ideas and Practises Islands Rocks, Minerals & Streams, Songs & Music... Trees Woods & Forests and everything in between.