Physical (analytical) bibliography: intermediate level (course in French) - Dominique Varry

The largely Anglo-Saxon discipline of analytical bibliography offers an archaeology of the printed book. The course offers a practical introduction to the analysis and description of documents typeset by hand and printed on the common press before 1800. The aim is to familiarise students, already trained in physical bibliography, with the many ways in which books reveal how they were produced, who printed them, and where.

Physical bibliography is an indispensable tool for scholarly editors of rare books, for historians who need to check the validity of printed sources, and for librarians and collectors requiring a full understanding of the books in their collections. It provides the means of reconstituting the genealogy of successive editions of a given text, of identifying forgeries and pirate editions published under false imprints in order to circumvent the censors, and of identifying 'manipulations' by unscrupulous booksellers, and fakes which have been put on the market at various times.

Topics include: the importance of comparing different copies of the same book (variants, press corrections, manuscript or xylographic corrections, cancels, reprintings); the detection of counterfeit copies, false imprints and forgeries; the identification of typical booking styles (common bindings and provenances).

The course is in French.

Dominique Varry is agrégé d’histoire and professor of book history, library history and physical bibliography at Enssib (Lyon) where he trains French librarians. Between 1983 and 1989, he was researcher at the Direction du livre et de la lecture (Ministry of Culture). From 2004 to 2009 he taught physical bibliography at École pratique des hautes études (Paris). His doctoral dissertation (Sorbonne 1986) dealt with confiscated libraries under the French Revolution. He was the editor of volume 3 of Histoire des bibliothèques françaises (1991, second edition 2009) and has published many other books. He is the secretary of the journal Histoire et civilisation du livre and is currently working on the history of printing and of the book-trade in Lyon in the 18th century, and especially on false foreign imprints used by Lyon printers.