Friday, August 08, 2008
My guest on Aug 12 5PM will be Suffolk University English Professor Gerald Richman the creator of the online: Annotated Bibliography of Fiction Set in Boston.
In the mid-1980s I inherited the Boston: A City in Fiction course at Suffolk University, Beacon Hill, Boston, from retiring colleague Ed Clark, who, in response to a call for relevance, had started the course in the 1960s along with courses on African-American literature. He passed on to me his reading list for the semester: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Henry James’s The Bostonians, Jean Stafford’s Boston Adventure, Dan Wakefield’s Starting Over, Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah, Dorothy West’s The Living Is Easy, and novels for a term paper, William Dean Howells’ The Rise of Silas Lapham, James Carroll’s Mortal Friends, and Daniel Smith’s A Walk in the City. He also gave me a list including five additional “Novels by Black Writers Set, Wholly or Partially, in Boston.” These books formed the basis of the course I have taught for the last twenty years and for the Annotated Bibliography I compiled in my search for new readings for class and for student papers. By December 2007, Ed’s initial two-page reading list had grown to 40 pages. Since then, thanks to a sabbatical granted to me by the College of Arts and Sciences at Suffolk University for Spring semester 2008, the bibliography has grown to over two hundred pages with the addition of thousands of entries and detailed annotations.
Originally in typescript, with my expanding use of technology, the bibliography became a word processor file and by the mid-1990s a web page. Thanks to the excellent resources provided online by WorldCat, Google Books, Amazon, Internet Archives, Wikipedia, several universities, and many professional scholars and private devotees of romances, detective and suspense novels, and comic books, this bibliography is the most powerful I can imagine, providing for entries (when available) links to the full texts (especially useful for rare 18th, 19th, and early 20th century texts held only by a few research libraries), Library of Congress subject headings, and links to Amazon and Google Books for searchable texts, back covers, reviews and summaries, and scholarly analyses. To those of us who came of age before the Internet, the easy availability of these splendid resources is a modern miracle.
With so many details in a project like this, despite constant efforts, there are undoubtedly hundreds, indeed thousands, of errors. I would be very appreciative if users of this bibliography would email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) corrections,