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Edward Lear Home Page

Victorian Database

LITIR Database
Compiled and edited by Brahma Chaudhuri, James Mulvihill and Fred Radford
Software by Cameron Stevens

Professor Brahma Chaudhuri kindly sent me a review copy of the Victorian Database on CD-ROM, I have now been using it for a few days and am very satisfied with it. The database contains information on about 60,000 books, articles and research documents published between 1970 and 1995 in all fields of Nineteenth-century studies: from literature, its obvious focus, to art, music, economy, philosophy and science, as well as Law and Education, Military and Naval History, Politics and anything else you may think of.

The software runs on DOS 3.1 or higher and is perfectly compatible with my Windows 95 system, it may be installed to a hard disk or run directly from the CD-ROM; it is very easy to use and fast.

The database can be searched by Author, Title, or Keyword restricting the results by year: you simply type a few words in one, or more, of the fields, choose a date and hit the Enter key to obtain a list of items which match your query.

Victorian Database Search Screen

I could not resist the temptation to begin with Edward Lear (in the Keyword field in order to obtain both editions of Lear works and items on Lear) and I got 61 matches, including several articles I didn't know of (here is the full list). Although Professor Chaudhuri encouraged me to find missing entries on Edward Lear, I admit there is only one - Italian - book which is not included, while I first heard of two Italian articles I should have known.

More complex searches are possible using the standard Boolean operators (AND, NOT, OR); to obtain only items on Lear's painting and travelling activities you might type: "(edward AND lear) NOT nonsense". This is much more useful for authors on whom a very long list is available; Gerard Manley Hopkins, for example, appears in 847 items, so if you are mainly interested in his aesthetic theory you may type "hopkins aesthetic" in the Keyword field and obtain only 5 matches, "hopkins AND (aesthetic OR aestheticism)" and get 7, or, better still, "hopkins aesthetic*" (using the * wildcard) and scan the 9 items the database contains.

The entries, as you can see from the Edward Lear list, are detailed and well indexed, and finding what you want is really easy, you can print the items you are interested in ether individually or as a list (but unfortunately you cannot save the results of a query, or sort them in any way). The only problem I have found is with items whose type is Chapter (meaning presumably an article collected in a book): in these cases there is no way of easily identifying the collection in which it was published, which should be included in the Collation field.

The product does not try to impress the user with multimedia extensions or a rich -- and often confusing -- interface, it does not require a powerful system or a previous knowledge of abstruse search commands; however, the database is very good at doing what it is designed to do: finding a complete list of books or articles on general or specific subjects in a whiff. If you do research on Victorian subjects, you will find this an invaluable tool.

Visit the LITIR Database website to learn more about it.

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There was an Old Derry down Derry...
Edward Lear's Nonsense Poetry and Art

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