The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 14

The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 14

The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 14

The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 14

Excerpt

Preparing this three-part index has proved one of the most interesting and absorbing of editorial tasks. The staccato character of the daily diary and the vast scope of the topics mentioned in it, in the Cabinet Minutes, and in the correspondence printed in Volumes VII to XIII make the index an integral and essential part of the edition: for many readers, no doubt, their point-of-entry to the edition.

I have tried to make the index entertaining and suggestive, as well as being as comprehensive a coverage as is possible of a text which has itself often the character of an index. Gladstone's terse style as a diarist lends itself admirably to the inclusion of his words in the index; but I have not, except in rare cases, distinguished between my words and his.

In the 'Subject Index' I have tried to include analytical entries as well as the required listings.

'Gladstone's Reading' is a very remarkable cultural document in itself. There are many records of the contents of prominent persons' libraries, but I know of no other major figure who attempted to record, day by day, his or her reading over a life-time, let alone a life-time as long as Gladstone's! Since a part of each day was systematically reserved for reading even when Chancellor or Prime Minister (broken only at moments of exceptional crisis) and since Gladstone read as eclectically as any Victorian, the record of his reading is a tour not only of Victorian high culture--and it is certainly that-- but also of the by-ways of nineteenth-century political, religious and literary life.

Especially striking is the extent of Gladstone's reading of works in foreign languages, in addition, of course, to Greek and Latin. Gladstone spoke and read well in French and Italian, and his knowledge of the past and contemporary literature of those countries is daunting; he had a working knowledge of German and read many books in German on theology and the classics; he got by in Spanish. Serendipity will yield the reader as much reward as it did the diarist. Of course, we can tell from the footnotes of Gladstone's own publications that there are gaps in this record of his reading. He recorded much--about 17,500 book and pamphlet titles, and, in addition to that figure, many periodical titles--but not everything. Nor did he list newspaper reading. It would have been interesting to have marked in this vast bibliography which titles survive at St Deiniol's Library with Gladstone's annotations. Time and money prevented this, but it would be a formidable task worth undertaking (and databases can be updated!). Gladstone annotated books fairly heavily, and he often made a brief index at the end (few nineteenth-century books having an index of the modern sort), so it is not difficult to see from his annotations when he took a book especially seriously. Now that the core-information on Gladstone's reading is so comprehensively assembled, the base has been laid for a full-scale study of it.

The data for the Index Volume was recorded at Oxford University Computing Centre on an Ingres database named 'Gladstone', designed by Ms. Beth Crutch . . .

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