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Thread: Which one?!

  1. #1
    Two Gun Kid Idril's Avatar
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    Which one?!

    Although this is about authors, I'm putting this here because it is not even remotely a serious literary discussion and seems better suited to the light-hearted discussions here.

    I organize my library by country of the author and while most of the time, this is an easy classification, there are those authors that leave me doubting the wisdom of this choice. Case in point: Arthur Koestler, he was born in Hungary, educated in Austria but eventually became a naturalized British citizen...where the heck do I put him?! I had this quandary with Milan Kundera, he was born and raised in Czechoslovakia but emigrated to France, half of his books were originally written in Czech, half in French, but really, he is and will always be Czech to me so I didn't hesitate too long with that one. And then there was O.E. Rolvaag, born and raised in Norway but emigrated to the US in his early twenties. His books, I think, were all written after he moved here, they are largely about the immigrant experience and take place in the Dakotas and Minnesota but yet in the end, I stuck him with the Norwegians because his 'voice' is so Scandinavian and I believe he actually wrote them in Norwegian and were then translated, it just seemed wrong to stick him with the Americans. But this Koestler guy...I have no idea! The book I'm reading is actually about the Stalinist purges of the old regime from the '30s so that doesn't lead me one way or the other so what do I do? Go with where he was born? Where he went to school? Or where he eventually ended up? Opinions please! I need to be guided!
    the luminous grass of the prairie hides
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  2. #2
    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    You organize by country of Author??
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papayahed View Post
    You organize by country of Author??
    Actually that makes sense to me. One groups authors in one's mind by that, at least I do.

    But Idril why don't you use my method: complete and utter chaos and disorganization.
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  4. #4
    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Actually that makes sense to me. One groups authors in one's mind by that, at least I do.
    How do you keep them straight? Especially the modern authors? Granted the bigger names are fairly easy.


    My CD's are arranged alphabetically however my books are thrown in a bookshelf willy nilly.
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  5. #5
    Two Gun Kid Idril's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papayahed View Post
    You organize by country of Author??
    Yeah, I do. I do realize it's a bit odd but it makes perfect sense in my mind. Actually, I used to have them organized alphabetically by author and then chronologically within an author...I am anal, I admit that freely ...and it worked but it occurred to me that when my son would come in and peruse my library, as he does sometimes, and ask how many Russian books I had or what have you, that it would be so much easier to answer that question if they were all together. I have my own odd system within the country grouping thing, like my Scandinavian books are all together under 'S' ( did I mention that the countries are arranged alphabetically?) for Scandinavia because I want them all together but then within that context, they are separated by specific country...but still alphabetically... Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. And the Russian and Soviet stuff is all together too under 'R' for Russia and It's Former Republics. I do recognize each country as a completely sovereign entity but a large majority of them were written during the Soviet era so I want them together, again, they are arranged by specific country within the 'Russia and It's Former Republics' context, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, etc...complicated but yet not without a certain logic.

    I can't help but notice that neither of you have expressed an opinion yet as to where I should put this Koestler guy.

    Oh, and I would probably hyperventilate if my books were all willy nilly because, as the 2 above posts prove, I am a freak.
    Last edited by Idril; 01-15-2010 at 11:32 PM.
    the luminous grass of the prairie hides
    feet lovely and still as sleeping doves,
    porcelain bones strong enough to carry a life,
    but weighty and unmovable
    As black Dakota hills.
    ~ Riesa

  6. #6
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    You guys are way too organized for me.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    ok, I read a little on wiki and my vote is for British.
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


  8. #8
    Two Gun Kid Idril's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    You guys are way too organized for me.
    And you know what the really great thing about that is, Virgil? You can ask me about any book in my entire library and I'll know exactly where it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by papayahed View Post
    ok, I read a little on wiki and my vote is for British.
    Ok, one vote for British...
    the luminous grass of the prairie hides
    feet lovely and still as sleeping doves,
    porcelain bones strong enough to carry a life,
    but weighty and unmovable
    As black Dakota hills.
    ~ Riesa

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    But Idril why don't you use my method: complete and utter chaos and disorganization.
    What a coincidence! That's basically my method now, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Idril View Post
    Actually, I used to have them organized alphabetically by author and then chronologically within an author
    That was my original system before I discovered the far better system that Virgil described.

    I vote for putting Koestler under British, since his most important work seems to have occurred during the time when England was his home. I sympathize with you, though, about the perplexities of categorizing Darkness at Noon. Should it really be thought of as British literature? It was written in German, by a man whose background is hard to pigeon-hole (as you explained), but the original German version is evidently now lost. This is a case where the utter chaos system truly shines.
    Last edited by bluevictim; 01-15-2010 at 11:58 PM.
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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Once you reach a certain number of books some sort of organization is a must. Originally I organized my books in a loose chronological manner because I largely think of writers in a historical sense: Renaissance, Romanticism, 18th century, etc... As my library increased in scale this method became unmanageable and so I broke it down further: chronologically by nationality. In terms of nationality I focus upon the language of the author... thus German, Austrian, and authors of any other nationality who write in German (such as the Czech Kafka or Romanian Paul Celan) are organized under "German". Perhaps the sole exception is within the literature of the English language. I organize all literature of Great Britain and Ireland together, but have a separate grouping for American and Canadian, and Australian (small as that last may be). My main groupings are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Middle-Eastern/Arabic/Persian, Italian, German, French, Russian, Dutch, East European (Polish, Hungarian, Czech, etc...), Scandinavian, British/Irish, American/Canadian, Australian. Within each language, I have organized the books in a roughly chronological manner. As a result... even with some 3000 books... I can rapidly locate Voltaire or Octavio Paz or Heinrich Heine.

    As for difficult authors such as Nabokov or Conrad... I place them under the language in which they wrote the majority of their mature works. Thus Nabokov is shelved with the Americans and Conrad with the British. Perhaps its not a totally fair system... I still place T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound with the Americans and the Sephardic Jewish writers such as Halevi under Spanish largely because just as I think of Eliot and Pound as central to American Modernism, so I think of Halevi and Ibn Gabriol as central figures in the Golden age of Arab Andalusia... or medieval Islamic Spain.
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 01-16-2010 at 12:11 AM.
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    I dunno - just put him in England if he was writing in English, or whatever. As it is though, I sort by language and then by genre, but I only have 150 or so books, and most of them are poetry.

  12. #12
    Registered User Veho's Avatar
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    I would put Koestler under the language the books were originally written in.
    "...You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?..." E. A. Poe

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    Why don't you just have a section for World Literature, but then categorize them alphabetically by author? That's what I've done in my school Library, as there are certain authors, as you've pointed out, who could fit into more than one country, for example, I would have a problem with Patrick Suskind in your method, as I point out to the students that he is German, but now lives in France.

  14. #14
    Two Gun Kid Idril's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluevictim View Post
    I sympathize with you, though, about the perplexities of categorizing Darkness at Noon. Should it really be thought of as British literature? It was written in German, by a man whose background is hard to pigeon-hole (as you explained), but the original German version is evidently now lost. This is a case where the utter chaos system truly shines.
    It really doesn't seem like a British novel at. all! I'm not sure it seems really German either...it seems very Russian but I can't put it there!. English doesn't seem right because while he ended up in England, that is not the country that shaped him or influenced him. Like the whole Rolvaag thing, even though all his books were written after he moved to the US, he will never seem like an American author to me. If I put Koestler with the English, does that mean I have to move Rolvaag in with the Americans? You know...I'm starting to lean towards putting him with the Germans simply because he spoke German, joined the German communist party and wrote the book in German...is that wrong? Or maybe go with Austrian, or maybe I could create an Austria-Hungary-German group so they could all be together...my several German books and this one other one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Veho View Post
    I would put Koestler under the language the books were originally written in.
    And that would be German!

    stlukesguild, I love that there is someone out there with a system even more complicated than me, one that also requires a lot of inner dialogue and bargaining. I don't have anywhere near the books you have, I think I have a little over 300 but it really is wonderful to be able to find any book you want at any time. And another benefit of being freakishly organized is that if my son comes in a takes and book without my knowing it, I can look at my shelves and know exactly which one is missing.
    Last edited by Idril; 01-16-2010 at 12:25 PM.
    the luminous grass of the prairie hides
    feet lovely and still as sleeping doves,
    porcelain bones strong enough to carry a life,
    but weighty and unmovable
    As black Dakota hills.
    ~ Riesa

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    You have no idea how much I have enjoyed reading this thread! As a trained librarian I completely understand the struggles and 'inner bargaining' regarding shelf placement. I have organised my 'home' library of both fiction and non fiction in various manners over the years, although I can't compete with the amazing systems listed above. Eat your heart out Melvil Dewey!!
    Nowadays I have to say that although I keep my non fiction in loose subject order, I have embraced the notion of utter chaos for my fiction, poetry and classics. Having now left the library profession I am enjoying filing my books in a haphazard way. There is just something lovely in being able to randomly rediscover books I have not seen or thought about for some time.

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