Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 4: No 2) >> Some Current Scholarly Desiderata in the Simms Field >> Page 33

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Page 33

Secondary Scholarship | 1996
Transcription comprehensive familiarity with his work. And few scholars have the travel
funds and time to make possible the extended visits that would be necessary
to do such reading at one of those university libraries that do have such
collections.
I think it is very clear that the unavailability of a significant portion of
Simms's writings in most libraries has been a major -barrier to the, better
understanding of Simms. Of the approximately eighty books and other
separate publications that appeared during his lifetime, less than a quarter
are available in their original editions or in reliable reprints at such libraries
as Columbia University, Princeton, Yale, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Harvard is only a little better; the Newberry Library, the New York Public
Library, and the American Antiquarian Society are worse. There are major
university libraries that do not even have all the important new editions of
writings by Simms that have been published since his death. Indeed, there is
only one relatively complete collection of his separate publications
(even counting photocopies and microform reproductions), that at the
University of South Carolina's South Caroliniana Library. And even there, a
comprehensive collection of his contributions to periodicals, and of the
various periodicals which he edited, is lacking.
But the bibliography must come first. There is no good bibliography
of Simms's writings; indeed, it can be said that there is no Simms
bibliography at all. Simply to call attention to the great need for a carefully
researched and compiled Simms bibliography, let me note the fact that the
lists of separate publications–books, pamphlets, and broadsides–in the
various bibliographies and checklists of Simms published so far all differ
significantly from one another in giving the total number of works in this
category, or these categories. And all, I believe, are wrong, including what
ought to be the most carefully researched and reliable of them, that in
volume seven of the Bibliography of American Literature.
The Simms section is the BAL at its worst–incomplete, occasionally
inaccurate, and inconsistent in following its own principles of inclusion, and
exclusion and annotation. Many of its errors would not have been made had
the compilers consulted the Simms volumes at the South Caroliniana Library
of the University of South Carolina, known to have by far the best Simms
collection in the world. But even here the BAL is inconsistent: for example,
a note indicates that they made an attempt, presumably by mail, to obtain
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