New resources for d’Holbach scholars

When was the last time you checked the ‘Digital d’Holbach’ page on the Voltaire Foundation website? More than two months ago? Well, in that case you may want to go back – and soon! – for quite a lot has changed as of late.

Paul Thiry, baron d’Holbach, by Louis Carmontelle.

D’Holbach aficionados and habitués of our blog may remember a post of mine from May 2021 in which I presented my Selected bibliography of d’Holbach-related publications. Well, to begin with, that bibliography has now been considerably enlarged thanks to the suggestions of various scholars who very kindly responded to my desperate call for addenda – special thanks to Gerhardt Stenger and Emmanuel Boussuge for their helpful suggestions! But that is but the tip of the iceberg!

On the ‘Resources for authors’ page, our followers will find a full list of pre-1789 editions of d’Holbach’s works, which is based on Jeroom Vercruysse’s seminal Bibliographie descriptive des imprimés du baron d’Holbach (rev. ed. Paris, 2017) and provides links, for every volume of every single edition, to digitised copies on Google Books, HathiTrust, and Gallica. This file, I hope, will be of use to anyone working on the Digital d’Holbach project and facilitate both the establishment of the base text and the collation of variants. (Well, when I say ‘for every volume of every single edition’ that is admittedly a bit of an overstatement… Some editions, marked in yellow in my file, are regrettably not available online. Should your university library own them and should they be willing to digitise them, please do let us know!)

Colleagues working on the Digital d’Holbach project will also be pleased to know that a first draft of the Digital d’Holbach Editorial Guidelines is now available on the Voltaire foundation website. These guidelines will take you through all the different, exciting phases of the editorial work, from the choice of the base text all the way down to penning the introduction. Like any human undertaking, however, they are also susceptible of improvement. Should you have any suggestions, please do get in touch. A Sample Treatment of the Base Text has also been uploaded as a separate file and should serve as a model for any English-language editions to come (We’ll upload a French counterpart shortly, ne vous inquiétez pas!)

Dulcis in fundo: a catalogue of d’Holbach’s library! Thanks to generous grants from the Leverhulme Trust, St Edmund Hall, and the University of Oxford, I have been able to hire three wonderful research assistants to work on the Tout d’Holbach project – more on that shortly. One of them, Gabriel O’Regan, has provided us with a fully searchable and very accurate transcription of the inventaire après décès of d’Holbach’s library, a tool which will be of enormous help to anyone trying to reconstruct the origins of d’Holbach’s ideas and pin down exactly the sources he used when penning his works. We now have great plans for taking this catalogue up a notch and turn it into an even more useful resource, but more on this another time!

Ruggero Sciuto

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