The New Psalmanazar reminds us of catalogues of lost or imaginary books compiled by Sir Thomas Browne and François Rabelais, which in turn reminded me that for some time I have been planning an exhaustive catalogue raisonné of the out of print pamphlets of Dobson. This would be an inestimable boon to the amateur Dobsonist, unable to gain access to the official archive because they haven’t got either a ticket or a key or indeed a clue as to which high Alpine pass it is situated in.
Many, many, many of Dobson’s pamphlets have been mentioned in these pages over the years, but even that fragmentary list has never been cobbled together into a coherent whole. Mr Key himself has avoided the task, sad to say, forever devising new and ludicrous excuses, such as flint in the heart or reruns of Daktari. A while ago, there was a suggestion that a team of feral teenagers could be taken off the streets and locked in a bunker until they had compiled a complete list, but it was rightly objected that they could not be trusted to resist appending “innit” to the end of each title. Judicious Tippexing could expunge such desecration, but who would wield the Tippex?
Sir Thomas Browne
Alas, it seems the Dobson catalogue raisonné may have to join a list of lost or imagined catalogues, alongside such magisterial lists as The Map Reference Points Of 400 Duckponds Mentioned In Binder’s Lieder and All Pebblehead’s Cravats, Illustrated And Itemised.
I have great empathy for Mr Key: my own attempts to index all the people and books featured in my literary journal Underneath the Bunker continues to hit a succession of brick walls (otherwise known, as you so wisely put it, as ‘new and ludicrous excuses’). I tried a gang of feral teenagers for a few days, only to discover – as you note – a distinct lack of critical elan in their findings. Their entry on Johannes Speyer was especially disappoiting (‘He’s like some wise bloke right, innit?’)
P.S. Having released my own inner feral teenager with that misspelled ‘disappoiting’, I think I should add a brief word in their defence. Some of their indexing was remarkably succint. ‘Miserable git, innit’, I thought, was a wonderfully clever summary of Pyetr Turgidovsky’s life and work.
Here endeth my defence of feral teenagers…
It’s a shame that so many of today’s ‘youffs’ fall into the feral way of life..
Perhaps you should look beyond the teenage and focus the search toward a younger candidate…
This young fellow seems to have the ‘right stuff’:
G Riecke : Very succinCtly put.
OSM : What is it with these four-year-olds?