Re: What things are called (was Non-ascii string processing)

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Tue Oct 07 2003 - 11:40:21 CST

On 07/10/2003 08:42, Doug Ewell wrote:

> ...
> The Book of Genesis would be an awfully thin "book" if it
>appeared on the shelf individually. ...
Not that thin, actually - 85 pages in my Hebrew Bible. But some of the
"books", e.g. Obadiah and 2 and 3 John, fit easily on one page. So your
point stands.

> Likewise, many great (and
>not-so-great) literary works have been divided into "Book I" and "Book
>II" by their authors.
This was I think based on the custom in classical times when a "book"
had a fixed maximum size rather smaller than it is today, based on the
size of a scroll or whatever, and so authors were forced to divide
their works into separate books. Of course many authors still do it even
though we now have printed books large enough. Well, actually books have
been large enough at least since the 4th century CE when the first one
volume copies of the full Greek Bible were produced. Three of these
4th-5th century copies survive, two of them in the British Library.

>This overloading of the word "book" can indeed lead to confusion and
>misunderstanding, as when a high-school student with an assignment to
>read and compare two books chooses "Book I" and "Book II" of the same
>jointly bound work. When the Springfield Public Library takes an
>inventory, they will probably continue to count each copy of the Bible
>as one book, not as dozens.
Then there is also the confusion of whether a multi-volume work counts
as one book or several. How many entries in the inventory for a ten
volume encyclopedia? Ten or one? What if one volume is missing? What of
a supposedly multi-volume work whose volumes are published at wide
intervals? Some Bible commentary series are presented as multi-volume
works but volumes have been published in an arbitrary order, by various
authors, and sometimes replaced one at a time, in extreme cases for as
long as a century (the International Critical Commentary series). So the
concept of "book" becomes even more slippery than the concept of

Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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