Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

rec.arts.books Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Zip codes ]
Archive-name: books/faq

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Last change:
Tue Dec 26 16:02:27 EST 2000

Copies of this article may be obtained by anonymous ftp to
under /pub/usenet-by-group/news.answers/books/faq.Z.  Or, send email to with "send usenet-by-group/news.answers/books/faq"
in the body of the message.

This FAQ is in digest format.

Questions include:
    1) Where can I find book X by author Y?
    1A) What are the (good) bookstores in city X?
    2) What is BOOKS IN PRINT?
    2A.) Is "Books in Print" available on the Internet?
    3) What is the answer to the Lewis Carroll riddle, "Why is a raven like
       a writing desk?"
    4) What Sherlock Holmes novels (stories) are there besides the ones by
       Arthur Conan Doyle?
    5) What is Project Gutenberg?  How can I access various electronic
       information databases?
    6) Who wrote the horror story "The Monkey's Paw"?
    7) Where can I find books on audio tape?
    8) What English-language authors learned English as a second language?
    9) What books or plays have been written about scientists?
   10) Is there really an S. Morgenstern, listed as the author of THE
       PRINCESS BRIDE and THE SILENT GONDOLIERS?  And what is the reunion
   11) Does anyone have a list of female mystery writers?
   12) What is the difference between the male and female editions of
       DICTIONARY OF THE KHAZARS by Milorad Pavic?
   13) What is the short story by Jorge Luis Borges in which a Chinese
       taxonomy is discussed?
   14) Where do ISBNs come from?
   15) What are the "Penguin 60s"?  Does anyone have a full list?
   16) What is KIRKUS REVIEWS?
   18) Which is the best translation of Dante's DIVINE COMEDY?

[There are also several other FAQs posted separately: bookstore lists for
various cities, Arthurian lists, Holmesian lists, catalog lists, and
probably lots more.  --Evelyn Leeper]

There is a rec.arts.books home page <A HREF=></A>
with links to all known home pages of r.a.b. regulars.  If you consider
yourself a r.a.b. regular and you're not on the r.a.b. page, let Robert
Teeter ( know.  Also on the r.a.b. page are links to
archives of the FAQs and to other pages where you can find more book and
literature links.

                  Frequently Asked Questions List
               (Quarterly Posting to rec.arts.books)

First of all, a few suggestions: 

DISCUSSIONS: If you want a discussion on a particular topic, start one
by posting something yourself.  Asking "Why isn't anyone talking about
books here" is not likely to get you much (useful) response.  Asking
"Why isn't anyone talking about the latest book by I. B. A. Writer"
is slightly better, but posting your opinions and asking for comments
would probably be more successful yet.

However, some topics come up so frequently that people are sick of them.
So here's a re-cap of them (much thanks to Mark Taranto

Q.	What do you think of Thomas Pynchon?
A1.	Love him.
A2.	Hate him.
A3.	Who? <TM SubGenius>
A4.	His books are too long.

Q.	Can you get me the phone number for <insert publishing company
	or bookstore name> in <insert city>?
A.	Yes, I probably could, because I know how to use the phone,
	how to use phonebooks, and how to call information.

Q.	I have a paper due on <insert book title>, what can you tell
A.	I can tell you that if you have some ideas about the book,
	many r.a.b.ble will be happy to discuss them with you, but if
	you are fishing for ideas, you will probably get a response

		Read the book, 
		look up criticism, 
		and think for yourself.  

Q.	Who/What is/are your/the favorite/best:
		Author?			A.  E.M. Forster
		Book?			A.  HOWARDS END
		Poets?			A.  Yeats, Eliot, Auden
		Living Poets?		A.  Cope, Kumin
		Movie from book?	A.  A ROOM WITH A VIEW
		Trilogy?		A.  Davies' Deptford Trilogy
		S. F.?			A.  Bobby Bonds

Q.	Is Kingsley Amis Funny?			
A.	Yes.

Q.	What do you think of the books in the Canon?
A1.	Love 'em.
A2.	Hate 'em.
A3.	Not enough women/blacks/non-western/Latin American/
	non-(dead-European-white-dudes) on the list.
A4.	Not enough Romance novels on the list.

Q.	How do you kill bugs in a book?
A1.	Grab the book by the spine, shake out all of the bugs onto a
	flat surface, smash bugs with book.
A2.	Put book into a microwave, zap.
A3.	Invite Meg Worley over for dinner, hand her a book.

Q.	How many books do you own?
A1.	I go to the library.  <TM Meg Worley>
A2.	Less than 100.
A3.	100-300.
A4.	300-500.
A5.	500-1000.
A6.	1000-3000.
A7.	Enough so that Meg Worley borrows my books.

Q.	What is the best bookstore?
A.	Powell's <TM William Sburgfort Smith -- 
		  and anyone else who has been there>

Q.	What do you think of Barnes & Noble verses Borders?
A.	Borders has better cappuccino.

Q.	What do you think of censorship.
A1.	It sucks.
A2.	Oddly, nearly everyone agrees on the issue of censorship, yet
	it seems to be *the* hot topic on the net.

SPOILER WARNINGS:  Many people feel that much of the enjoyment of a book
is ruined if they know certain things about it, especially when those
things are surprise endings or mysteries.  On the other hand, they also
want to know whether or not a book is worth reading, or they may be
following a particular thread of conversation where such information may
be revealed.  The solution to this is to put the words SPOILER in your
header, or in the text of your posting.  You can also put a ctl-L
character in the *first* column, though this only works if your readers
are using rn.  Some people think that spoiler warnings are not necessary.
We don't understand why, and do not want to discuss it.  Use your best

REVIEWS:  Many people seem to be interested in reading book reviews.
Unfortunately, not nearly as many people are interested in writing them.
If you do review a book, please try to say more than, "THE RETURN OF
AHAB THE SAILOR was a great book!"  Unless you are a well-known
net.personality, this sort of comment tells the reader little about
whether s/he would like the book.  Reviews may also be found in and  Which brings us to...

SCIENCE FICTION:  Some people think science fiction should be kept in
the sf hierarchy.  Other people think that "books" includes "science
fiction books."  This is one of those issues that will never be
resolved, so arguing about it is a waste of time and bandwidth.
If you object to reading about science fiction in this newsgroup,
put the string "/rec.arts.sf/hj" in your KILL file.

But for those interested in science fiction, there are archives of
interest currently stored on SFLOVERS.RUTGERS.EDU ( under
the directory /pub/sf-lovers.  The archives are currently available to
anyone with FTP access to this machine.  (These are SF-LOVERS archives.)
Text files of interest to readers include:
	hugos.txt		(awards)
	nebulas.txt		(awards)
	prometheus.txt		(awards)

Also in the archives: the author lists provided and maintained by John Wenn
are available.  The list for each author is contained in its own file with
the filenames being in the form: Lastname.Firstname, e.g. Niven.Larry
(please remember, unix filenames are case sensitive).  Many of the
authorlists have recently been updated.  


1) Where can I find book X by author Y?

The United States's most complete bookstore is the combination of BOOKS IN
PRINT and the U. S. Post Office.  BIP will tell you the price and the
publisher's address.  Send them a check for the price and they will be happy
to send you the book.  We do it all the time.  Some publishers grudgingly
send a note with the book saying "Next time please include N% for postage
and handling," or even a bill for the additional amount.  You can always
call and ask first.  At least once they sent a check with the book because
if ordered direct, they gave a discount.  We rarely order through a
bookstore because it is so much easier to order the book and have it sent to
us directly.  (This is probably not true for mass-market paperbacks where
the handling charges would be more than the book!)

In addition, Cindy Tittle Moore ( maintains a list of
book catalogues and book clubs which is posted to rec.arts.books and
news.answers every thirty-five days.  Copies of this list may be obtained by
anonymous ftp to under
/pub/usenet/news.answers/books/catalogues.  Or, send email to with "send usenet/news.answers/books/catalogues" in
the body of the message.

If, on the other hand, you just want to borrow the book, ask your library
about inter-library loans--chances are good they can find it for you in
a library they have reciprocal agreements with even if they don't have
it themselves.


1A) What are the (good) bookstores in city X?

Check out the following listings of bookstores.                  Boston                New England                Vermont   New York City (NYC)
                                                       (Manhattan)   New York City (NYC)
                                                       (other than Manhattan)    Eastern US      Washington DC     Chicago   Midwestern US   Southern US    Central US    Western US      Southwestern US      Los Angeles   San Diego & Hawai`i   San Francisco Bay Area
                                                       (San Francisco & north)   San Francisco Bay Area
                                                       (Berkeley and East Bay)   San Francisco Bay Area
                                                       (Peninsula and south)      Northwestern US   Eastern Canada   Western Canada and Alaska    UK (Northern Ireland)    UK (Scotland)    UK (England)   UK (Wales)      France      Germany    Benelux    Nordic countries     Europe (various)       Asia (excluding Japan)      Japan  Australia


2) What is BOOKS IN PRINT?

Just about every public library and every bookstore in the country has,
for public use, a multi-volume reference work called "Books in Print."
It is just about what the title claims it is.  It is a listing by
title, by author, and by subject of every book currently listed by
publishers as being currently in print in the United States.  (There
are versions for other countries as well; in Britain it's WHITAKER'S.)
It tells you the list price and the publisher.  It also has a volume of
out-of-print books and a separate volume that lists the mailing
addresses of the publishers.  The local B. Dalton keeps it at the
information desk.  Almost bookstore or public library will have a set
that they would be happy to have you look at.

Also, "Books in Print" is available as file number 470 in Bowker's Online
Databases on DIALOG.  Bowker can be reached at 800-323-3288 and
DIALOG at 800-334-2564.

There is also a similar database on Compuserve.

There is a similar reference set called "Paperback Books in Print."  I am
not sure what it would list that would not be listed in its bigger cousin,
but that reference might also be of interest.  In Britain, there is "British
Books in Print."  At this time, there is no public site that provides "Books
in Print" on-line.

(For used books, there is BOOKMAN'S, the used book trade magazine.  Lots
of books are advertised there that haven't been in print for decades.
You may be able to find the annual bound copy of BOOKMAN'S PRICE INDEX
(the used book dealer's pricing bible) in your local library.  There's
no guarantee that the book you want will still be for sale if you go
that way, but it is a good way to plan your budget.)

One way of getting out-of-print titles is to get in touch with
University Microfilms, Inc. (or other such companies).  They'll print a
copy of a book from microfilm, generally within 3 weeks of your order.
They take care of the copyright issues & royalty payments, and you get
the book (although the printing quality is what you'd expect for a
photoreprint from microfilm).  They're a standard resource for

A 106-page book was recently quoted as US$30.00, with a US$6.00
surcharge for cloth binding.  (The default is paperbound).  And of
course,not all books are available for reprinting--they've obviously
specialized in academic books.

University Microfilms, Inc.
300 North Zeeb Road
Ann Arbor, MI
800-343-5299 (works in Canada)


2A.) Is "Books in Print" available on the Internet?

     The American "Books in Print" is not available for free searching
on the Internet.  "Books in Print", a compendium of basic information
about currently available books from U.S. publishers (excluding Bibles,
government documents, and some small-press titles), is available in
both electronic and paper format.  Its publisher, R. R. Bowker, makes a
lot of money from its database.  Bowker isn't about to give that
information away for free (IMO).

     Bookpages used to have "British Books In Print" up, but when it was
acquired by, that went away.

     If by this question one means "Can I use "Books in Print" for
free?" or "Can I search "Books in Print" via the Internet?" the answer
to both of those questions is yes.

     How to use "Books in Print" for free: Go to almost any bookstore,
public library, or academic library and use it there.  Or, you can
probably call your nearest library and get information over the
telephone, as long as you don't overdo it--for example, asking for
every edition of every work by Mark Twain.

     How to use "Books in Print" on the Internet: It's available for a
fee from online vendors such as Dialog and from commercial online
services like Compuserve (the command is "Go Books" for the British as
well as the U.S. "Books in Print"; the charge is $2 a search).  In both
cases, you will need an account and password, and you will be charged
by the minute or the search.  Using Dialog requires knowing the basics
of online searching and Dialog commands.  (In the U.S., call
1-800-3-DIALOG; on the Internet telnet to "Books in Print"
is also available on CD-ROM from R. R.  Bowker.  It's expensive and
only for the heavy-duty user.

     Other big databases : Large library catalogs are excellent sources
for bibliographic data if you want to find out who wrote a certain
book, verify a title when you only have some of the words in the title,
or get a list of books on a certain subject.  What they won't tell you
is whether a book is in print and how much it costs.  A on-line
collection of these can be found at telnet site

Library of Congress
				select Library of Congress online
(Note the Library of Congress' online catalog is not complete
for titles published before 1968.)

Other library catalogs
			gopher 7700
			select Library Catalogs World-wide

     Book vendors are another source for book information.  Several
vendors make available large catalogs on the Internet.  These will tell
you whether a book is currently available and what it costs.  See the
FAQ on online bookstores regularly posted to rec.arts.books.

[Provided by Robert Teeter (]


3) What is the answer to the Lewis Carroll riddle, "Why is a raven
like a writing desk?"

According to Martin Gardner, Carroll had no answer in mind which he first
wrote this.  However, Carroll did gave a solution himself, in an 1896
edition of "Alice": "Because it can produce very few notes, tho they are
very flat; and it is nevar [sic] put with the wrong end in front."  Gardner
has recently added another: "Because there is a 'b' in 'both.'"

	In a brief preface that Carroll wrote for an 1896 edition
	of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, he said he had no answer in mind
	when he gave this riddle.  Many answers have since been
	suggested, including one by Carroll himself, some of which
	you will find in my AA note.  In 1989 England's Lewis
	Carroll Society announced a contest for new answers, to be
	published eventually in the society's newsletter,

	Aldous Huxley, writing on "Ravens and Writing Desks"
	(Vanity Fair, September 1928), supplies two nonsense
	answers: because there's a 'b' in both, and because there's
	an 'n' in neither.  James Michie sent a similar answer:
	because each begins with 'e'.  Huxley defends the view that
	such metaphysical questions as: Does God exist?  Do we have
	free will?  Why is there suffering? are as meaningless as
	the Mad Hatter's question -- "nonsensical riddles,
	questions not about reality but about words."

	"Both have quills dipped in ink" was suggested by reader
	David B. Jodrey, Jr.  Cyril Pearson, in his undated
	it slopes with a flap."

	Denis Crutch ("Jabberwocky," Winter 1976) reported an
	astonishing discovery.  In the 1896 edition of ALICE,
	Carroll wrote a new preface in which he gave what he
	considered the best answer to the riddle:  "Because it can
	produce a few notes, tho they are *very* flat; and it is
	nevar put with the wrong end in front."  Note the spelling
	of "never" as "nevar." Carroll clearly intended to spell
	"raven" backwards.  The word was corrected to "never" in
	all later printings, perhaps by an editor who fancied he
	had caught a printer's error.  Because Carroll died soon
	after this "correction" destroyed the ingenuity of his
	answer, the original spelling was never restored.  Whether
	Carroll was aware of the damage done to his clever answer
	is not known.

Another answer is that Poe wrote on both.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes also suggested the variant that both have inky quills.

In chapter 39 of THE SHINING, Stephen King says,
"The higher the fewer, of course!  Have another cup of tea!"

The latest answer is from Martin Graham (B7337@GTE.NET):

in the first biography on Carroll by his nephew Stuart Dodgson
Collingwood, THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF LEWIS CARROLL, we learn of a few
facts regarding Carroll's (Dodgson's) intrest in the occult.  We learn
that "Mr. Dodgson took a great interest in occult phenomena, and was
for time an enthusiastic member of the 'Psychical Society.'"  Also we
learn that Carroll had a specific interest in automatic writing.  We
also learn when consulting any good dictionary of Symbols that Ravens
are believed to be messengers between the land of living and the land
of the dead.  Automatic writing is also used to communicate with the
dead.  Thus, though the answer to the riddle taking these factors into
account is not especially humorous, it seems that the correct answer to
this riddle should be....  A raven is like a writing desk because one
might communicate with the dead through either.


4) What Sherlock Holmes novels (stories) are there besides the ones by
Arthur Conan Doyle?

See accompanying posting of non-canonical Sherlock Holmes works.  The
list includes all known works using Sherlock Holmes as a character,
though the individual stories by Conan Doyle are not listed, just
the book titles.  It includes hundreds of non-Doyle works (many of
which are out of print).  (This list was compiled by me over a period
of years from suggestions from many people.)


5) What is Project Gutenberg?

Project Gutenberg is planned as a storage- and clearing-house
for making books available very cheaply, by freely providing them
in standard electronic formats (usually ASCII).  This can only be done
for books where the copyrights have expired, or when authors have permitted
free redistribution, so that effectively much of the work has focused
on classic literature.

A sample of famous works or authors would include:

Dante:  THE DIVINE COMEDY (in several translations and the original Italian)
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & John Jay:  FEDERALIST PAPERS
Plutarch:  LIVES
Shakespeare:  Works
Robert Louis Stevenson:  A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Mark Twain:  TOM SAWYER; HUCKLEBERRY FINN; and others

But just as important is the ability of an electronic medium
to cheaply convey information that is less known, or regional,
but still worthwhile, such as:

Henry Lawson:  JOE WILSON AND HIS MATES (Australian Lit)
"Banjo" Paterson:  THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER; and others (Australian Lit)
W. D. James / W. G. Simms / M. C. Weems:  3 biographies of FRANCIS MARION

Project Gutenberg has produced over 2,000 etexts, and is releasing 32 new
etexts per month, hoping to double production each year until 10,000 etexts
are finished in 2001.  These vary from classic fiction to nonfiction to
large numerical calculations like the square root of 2 to 10**n decimal
places).  Releases are announced on bit.listserv.gutnberg.  Project
Gutenberg is available by anonymous FTP from in
directory pub/etext/gutenberg, and mirror sites.

One of the best places to find electronic texts (etexts) is:

    The Online Book Page:

where over 10,000 online texts are catalogued by author and title,
in a searchable database, with some subject listings as well.
It is by far the best and most comprehensive site for etexts
presently on the net.

[Provided by Alan Light (]

Another similar directory is held at, in directories under
inforM/EdRes/ReadingRoom/Fiction.  Found there are books by 14 authors
including Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, and F. Scott Fitzgerald .  They also
have the Bible, Book of Mormon and Koran in ASCII format.  Also available
from is a collection of economics time series data from the
Federal government, as well as daily and long-term weather forecasts.

(I am told allows you to telnet in and use an intelligent
front end to browse the files on line, and transfer them back using
ftp, tftp, or kermit?  Simply telnet, and login as "info",
then follow the instructions on the screen.) has the Bible, the Book of Mormon (and other Mormon
texts), and the Koran available via anonymous FTP. also has a lot of texts; check ~ftp/obi/ls-lR for a list.

The Eden Etext Archive is at or via FTP

And someone else says, "Probably the best available Bible depository and
concordance type program that I've seen on the net is the Online Bible,
available in the doc/bible subdirectory on  This is
freeware and includes several different English translations of the Bible
as well as Greek and Hebrew texts, concordances, etc.  I spoke to one of
the developers yesterday, and a major upgrade is coming (in August, I
believe).  There are also plans for foreign language Bible editions in
the works."

There is also a huge archive available from Oxford, but most of the
texts here require a physical letter of request be sent to England --
still cheap, but anyway -- if you want the address/catalog, send a
'help' message to

And if you're looking for general electronic information, try telneting
to and logging in as 'gopher'.  It is
menu-driven and you can access the library catalogs of many
universities, as well as lots of other neat stuff.

Other sources for etexts include the Online Book Initiative at (available through Gopher or FTP), and the Internet Wiretap
Gopher server at

Users of the World Wide Web can find pointers to these and other
collections at and there is
also a page of pointers at
which partly overlaps the page above.  It's less "official," but does have
some pointers the other page doesn't have.

There is also the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts on the World-Wide Web,
at, indexes over 1800 books
and shorter texts by author and title, incorporating texts from Project
Gutenberg, Wiretap, the On-line Book Initiative, the Eris system at Virginia
Tech, the English Server at Carnegie Mellon University, Project Bartlesby,
CCAT, the on-line portion of the Oxford Text Archive, and many others.

[Thanks to John Ockerbloom ( for updating this info.]


6) Who wrote the horror story "The Monkey's Paw"?

William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943), an English writer of sketches of
seafaring and rural life, mostly comic.  He wrote a few other horror
stories, notably "The Toll-House."  For more information see E. F.
Bleiler's THE GUIDE TO SUPERNATURAL FICTION, Kent State Univ., 1983.


7) Where can I find books on audio tape?

Duane Morse (duane@anasaz) suggests several sources (much of this is
*very* old):

Books on Tape
P.O. Box 7900
Newport Beach, CA 92658
To order: 1-800-626-3333
Comment: very large selection of unabridged books on tape.  Rentals
available for just about everything in the catalog.  Good readers.

Recorded Books
270 Skipjack Rd.
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
FAX: 1-301-535-5499
Comment: unabridged books on tape.  Rentals available for just about
everything in the catalog.  Not nearly as large a selection as Books on
Tape, but rentals are cheaper.  Generally outstanding readers.  Can be
ordered via their web site.

Audio Editions
P.O. Box 6930
Auburn, CA 95604
To order: 1-800-231-4261
Comment: primarily abridged books on tape, but some poetry and plays;
readers usually professional actors or acting companies.

The Olivia and Hill Press
905 Olivia Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
To order: 1-313-663-0235
Foreign language tapes, primarily French, German, and Spanish, but some
Russian, including stuff for kids.

Reddings Audiobook Superstores
2302 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, Arizona 85257
To order: 1-800-REDDING
Comment: Produces nothing of its own, but rents and sells what they have
purchased from Recorded Books, Books on Tape, and others.

Dercum Press
P. O. Box 1425
West Chester, PA 19380
Comment: Has some unabridged short stories on cassette under the label
"Active Books," notably some SF collections.  Readers are average.

Blackstone Audio Books
P.O. Box 969
Ashland, Oregon 97520
Comment: lots of unabridged classics on tape.  Narration is done in a
different style (less transparent) than some other companies.

Dove Audio
301 N Canon Drive
Suite 207
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

Audio Book Contractors
P.O. Box 40115
Washington D.C. 20016-0115

Some libraries have audio tapes available for loan as well.

The United States federal government also has a (free) program to
provide tapes to people who are blind or who cannot physically
manipulate a book.  Contact the reference librarian in your public
library for information.

And now there are on-line sources, including such general (book)stores
as  You can also rent from such specialized dealers such as  And lastly, there are companies specializing in
other fields (religion, self-help, etc.), but they are too numerous for
me to list here.


8) What English-language authors learned English as a second language?

	Achebe, Chinua			Ibo*
	Arlen, Michael (Dikran Kouyoumjian) Armenian?
	Asimov, Isaac			Yiddish*
	Bellow, Saul			Yiddish, French?
	Brodsky, Joseph			Russian
	Bronowski, Jacob		Polish
	Broumas, Olga			Greek
	Budrys, Algis			Lithuanian
	Codrescu, Andrei		Romanian
	Conrad, Joseph			Polish
	Cousteau, Jacques		French+
	Dinesen, Isak (Karen Blixen)	Danish
	Heym, Stefan (Helmut Flieg)	German
	Ishiguro, Kazuo			Japanese*
	Kakuzo, Okakura			Japanese
	Kerouac, Jack			French
	Kingston, Maxine Hong		Cantonese
	Koestler, Arthur		Hungarian
	Kosinski, Jerzy			Polish
	Lewis, Saunders			Welsh
	Limonov, Eddie			Russian
	Lin Yu-tang			Chinese (Mandarin?)
	Lowe, Adolph			German
	Lundwall, Sam			Swedish
	Malinowski, Bronislaw		Polish
	Milosz, Czeslaw			Polish
	Mukherjee, Bharati		Bangla
	Nabokov, Vladimir		Russian*
	Narayan, R. K.			Tamil
	Nin, Anais			French
	Rand, Ayn			Russian
	Sabatini, Rafael		Italian
	Seth, Vikram			Hindi
	Skvorecky, Josef		Czech
	Smirnov, Yakov			Russian
	Soyinka, Wole			Yoruba
	Stoppard, Tom			Czech*
	Traven, B.			German?
	Tutuola, Amos			Hausa? (from Nigeria)
	van Gulik, Robert		Dutch
	Vincinzey, Stephen		Hungarian
	Wertenbaker, Timberlake		French
	Wongar, Banumbir		Arnhem Land aboriginal language
	Zukofsky, Louis			Yiddish

* Learned English as a child.
+ First book was in English

B. Traven is a pseudonym for someone of uncertain national origin, who
went to great lengths to obfuscate his past.  German was probably his
first language, despite his disclaimers that it was English.  (More detail:
His works were mostly originally published in German, and usually
translated into English by someone else, but the US edition of THE
TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE was edited for word order from B. Traven's
own translation.  (And we know he was faking the bad word order, since
his letters and diaries are in proper order.)  He did sometimes publish
in English first a few times, and that part of a pre-publication English
manuscript for THE DEATH SHIP (originally published in German) is

Other possible candidates include Timothy Mo, who grew up in Hong Kong
and was later educated in England.  There are numerous Indian and
Anglo-Indian writers, like Vikram Seth (Hindi/Punhabi/Hindustani),
R. K. Narayan (Tamil/Kannada), Raja Rao (Kannada), Bharati Mukerji
(Bengali), Gita Mehta (?), Anita Desai (?), Markandaya (?), Tagore
(Bengali), and Salman Rushdie (Hindi/Urdu), for whom English may very
well be their second language.  Some of the modern Soviet expatriates
write in English now (see Smirnov, above).  Also Guneli Gun (Turkish),
Wole Soyinka, Ayi Kwei Armah (?), Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Kikuyu),
Dambudzo Marechera (Shona), many other African writers, Waguih Ghali
(Arabic), Walter Abish (German), Apirana Taylor (Maaori), Albert Wendt
(Samoan).  Other possibilities include a number of Chinese and East
Asian authors.  Also possibly Mavis Gallant, who spoke French as a child
in Montreal.  Jan Willem van de Wetering wrote in Dutch and then
translated his books into English.

How about switches to other languages?  French has Samuel Beckett
(first language English), Camara Laye (Dahomey), Julien Green
(English), Leopold Senghor (Senegalese?), Leon Troyat (Lev Tarassov,
a.k.a. Lev Tarossian) (Russian?  Armenian?), and Elie Wiesel (Magyar and
Yiddish).  Russian has Fazil Iskander (Abkhaz) and Chingiz Aitmatov (a
Central Asian Turkish dialect).  Leonora Carrington wrote several short
stories in French or Spanish, before their translation into English.
Was Paul Celan's first language was Hungarian?

Milan Kundera's first language was Czech, but he now writes in French.

Then there are bilingual-from-birth writers, such as Li&aacute;m &Oacute; Flaithearta
Flann &Oacute; Brien (real name Brian O'Nolan or &Oacute; Nuall&aacute;in), and Sean &Oacute;
Faoile&aacute;n.  Many authors have also written novels in Esperanto.


9) What books or plays have been written about scientists?

(Given that science fiction would expand this list beyond the disk limits
of most systems, this question is restricted to non-SF only.)

Plays or theatrical performances:
Albee, Edward: WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (biologist)
Brecht, Bertolt: GALILEO
Bronowski, Jacob: THE FACE OF VIOLENCE
Darion, Joe and Ezra Laderman: THE TRIALS OF GALILEO (opera)
Duerenmatt,Friedrich: THE PHYSICISTS (physicists in an insane asylum)
Eisenberg, Mike: HACKERS (computer scientists)
Esst, Garrison: UNCERTAINITY (Einstein and Heisenberg)
Heimel, Cynthia: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO CHAOS
Ibsen, Henrik: AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (although main character is a doctor)
Johnson, Terry: INSIGNIFICANCE (Einstein and Marilyn Monroe)
Kaiser, Georg, THE GAS TRILOGY
Kingsley, Sidney: MEN IN WHITE (1930s Pulitzer-prize winning play about a
	young/old doctor)
Leonard, Jim: GRAY'S ANATOMY (about a MD who has to deal with contaminated
	water that kills off a town)
MacLeish, Archibald: HERAKLES (a play in verse about the power of
	scientists--that of a god--and the meagerness of their imagination)
Mighton, John: SCIENTIFIC AMERICANS (physicist and computer scientist)
Schenkar, Joan: FULFILLING KOCH'S POSTULATES (microbiology)
Shadwell, Thomas: THE VIRTUOSO (late 1600s parody of the Royal Society)
Stavis, Barrie: LAMP AT MIDNIGHT (1940s, about Galileo) 
Stoppard, Tom: HAPGOOD (physicist)
Stoppard, Tom: ? (about Stephen Hawking)
Whitemore, Hugh: BREAKING THE CODE (about Alan Turing)
Williams, William Carlos: various short stories about doctors
?: PARTICULAR MEN (about J. Robert Oppenheimer)
?, PICK UP AX (engineers and engineering managers)

Asimov, Isaac: A WHIFF OF DEATH
Baring, Maurice: CAT'S CRADLE
Borges, Jorge Luis: short story in LABYRINTHS about Averroes
Boyd, William: BRAZZAVILLE BEACH (mathematician and social biologists)
Brod, Max: THE REDEMPTION OF TYCHO BRAHE (astronomers Brahe and Kepler)
Chekhov, Anton: (many stories with doctors)
Djerrasi, Carl: CANTOR'S DILEMMA
Levi, Primo: (several semi-autobiographical books)
Lewis, Sinclair: ARROWSMITH
	(professor of physics)
Pynchon, Thomas: GRAVITY'S RAINBOW
Pynchon, Thomas: V.
Rand, Ayn: ATLAS SHRUGGED (physicists)
Shute, Nevil: NO HIGHWAY (structural engineering)
Smith, Kaye Nolte: MINDSPELL (genetic engineering)
Snow, C. P.: THE NEW MEN (building the British atom bomb)
Stone, Irving: THE ORIGIN (a biographical novel of Charles Darwin)
Trollope, Anthony: THE CLAVERINGS (engineers)
Thomas, Walter Keith and Warren U. Ober: A MIND FOR EVER VOYAGING:
Wibberly, Leonard: THE MOUSE THAT ROARED
Yourcenar, Marguerite: THE BLACK WORK

Short stories:
Chappell, Fred: "Ladies from Lapland" (about  Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis)
Chappell, Fred: "Linnaeus Forgets"
Chappell, Fred: "The Snow That Is Nothing in the Triangle"
	(about Karl Wilhelm Feuerbach)


10) Is there really an S. Morgenstern, listed as the author of THE PRINCESS
BRIDE and THE SILENT GONDOLIERS?  And what is the reunion scene?

No, it's really William Goldman.  When you write for the reunion scene, this
is what you get (or what Mary Margaret Schuck,,
got anyway):

Dear Reader,

Thank you for sending in, and no, this is not the reunion scene, because of
a certain roadblock named Kermit Shog.

As soon as bound books were ready, I got a call from my lawyer, Charley --
(you may not remember, but Charley's the one I called from California to go
down in the blizzard and buy _The Princess Bride_ from the used-book
dealer).  Anyway, he usually begins with Talmudic humor, wisdom jokes, only
this time he just says, "Bill, I think you better get down here," and before
I'm even allowed a 'why?' he adds, "Right away if you can."

Panicked, I zoom down, wondering who could have died, did I flunk my tax
audit, what?  His secretary lets me into his office, and Charley says, "This
is Mr. Shog, Bill."

And there he is, sitting in the corner, hands on his briefcase, looking
exactly like an oily version of Peter Lorre.  I really expected him to say,
"Give me the Falcon, you must, or I'll be forced to keeeeel you."

"Mr. Shog is a lawyer," Charley goes on.  And this next was said
underlined: "_He_ _represents_ _the_ _Morgenstern_ _estate_."

Who knew?  Who could have dreamed such a thing existed, an estate of a man
at least a million years dead that no one ever heard of over here anyway?
"Perhaps you will give me the Falcon now,"  Mr. Shog said.  That's not
true.  What he said was, "Perhaps you will like a few words with your client
alone now," and Charley nodded and out he went, and once he was gone I said,
"Charley, my God, I never figured --" and he said, "Did Harcourt?"* and I
said, "Not that they ever mentioned" and he said, "Ooch," the grunting sound
lawyers make when they know they've backed a loser.  "What does he want?"  I
said.  "A meeting with Mr. Jovanovich," Charley answered.

*_The Princess Bride_ was first published in hardcover in 1973 by Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich.

Now, William Jovanovich is a pretty busy fella, but it's amazing when you're
confronted with a potential multibillion-dollar lawsuit how fast you can
wedge in a meeting.  We trooped over.

All the Harcourt Brass was there, I'm there, Charley; Mr. Shog, who would
sweat in an igloo he's so swarthy, is streaming.  Harcourt's lawyer started
things: "We're terribly terribly sorry, Mr. Shog.  It's an unforgivable
oversight, and please accept our sincerest apologies."  Mr. Shog said,
"That's a beginning, since all you did was defame and ridicule the greatest
modern master of Florinese prose who also happened to be for many years a
friend of my family."  Then the business head of Harcourt said, "All right,
how much do you want?"

Biiig mistake.  "_Money_?"  Mr. Shog cried.  "You think this is petty
blackmail that brings us together?  _Resurrection_ is the issue, sir.
Morgenstern must be undefiled.  You will publish the original version."  And
now a look at me.  "In the _unabridged_ form."

I said, "I'm done with it, I swear.  True, there's just the reunion scene
business we printed up, but there's not liable to be a rush on that, so it's
all past as far as I'm concerned."  But Mr. Shog wasn't done with me:
"_You_, who _dared_ to _defame_ a _master's_ characters are now going to put
_your_ words in their mouths?  Nossir.  No, I say."  "It's just a little
thing," I tried; "a couple pages only."

Then Mr. Jovanovich started talking softly.  "Bill, I think we might skip
sending out the reunion scene just now, don't you think?"  I made a nod.
Then he turned to Mr. Shog.  "We'll print the unabridged.  You're a man
who's interested in immortality for his client, and there aren't as many of
you around in publishing as there used to be.  You're a gentleman, sir."
"Thank you," from Mr. Shog; "I like to think I am, at least on occasion."
For the first time, he smiled.  We all smiled.  Very buddy-buddy now.  Then,
an addendum from Mr. Shog: "Oh.  Yes.  Your first printing of the
unabridged will be 100,000 copies."


So far, there are thirteen lawsuits, only eleven involving me directly.
Charley promises nothing will come to court and that eventually Harcourt
will publish the unabridged.  But legal maneuvering takes time.  The 
copyright on Morgenstern runs out in early '78, and all of you who wrote in 
are having your names put alphabetically on computer, so whichever happens
first, the settlement or the year, you'll get your copy.

The last I was told, Kermit Shog was willing to come down on his first
printing provided Harcourt agreed to publish the sequel to _The Princess
Bride_, which hasn't been translated into English yet, much less published
here.  The title of the sequel is: _Buttercup's Baby: S. Morgenstern's
Glorious Examination of Courage Matched Against the Death of the Heart_.

I'd never heard of it, naturally, but there's a Ph.D. candidate in Florinese
Lit up at Columbia who's going through it now.  I'm kind of interested in
what he has to say.

(signed) William Goldman


I'm really sorry about this, but you know the story that ends, "disregard
previous wire, letter follows?"  Well, you've got to disregard the business
about the Morgenstern copyright running out in '78.  That was a definite
boo-boo but Mr. Shog, being Florinese, has trouble, naturally, with our
numbering system.  The copyright runs out in _'87_, not '78.

Worse, he died.  Mr. Shog I mean.  (Don't ask how could you tell.  It was
easy.  One morning he just stopped sweating, so there it was.)  What makes
it worse is that the whole affair is now in the hands of his kid, named --
wait for it -- Mandrake Shog.  Mandrake moves with all the verve and speed
of a lizard flaked out on a river bank.

The only good thing that's happened in this whole mess is I finally got a
shot at reading _Buttercup's Baby_.  Up at Columbia they feel it's
definitely superior to _The Princess Bride_ in satirical content.
Personally, I don't have the emotional attachment to it, but it's a helluva
story, no question.

Give it a look-see when you have the chance.
						-- August, 1978


This is getting humiliating.  Have you been reading in the papers about the
trade problems America is having with Japan?  Wll, maddening as this may
be, since it reflects on the reunion scene, we're also having problems with
Florin which, it turns out, is our leading supplier of Cadminium which,
it also turns out, NASA is panting for.

So all Florinese-American litigation, which includes the thirteen lawsuits,
has been officially put on hold.

What this means is that the reunion scene, for now, is caught between our
need for Cadminium and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

But at least the movie got made.  Mandrake Shog was shown it, and
word reached me he even smiled once or twice.  Hope springs eternal.

						-- May, 1987



11) Does anyone have a list of female mystery writers?

Adamson, Lydia
Aird, Catherine
Albert, Susan Wittig
Allingham, Margery
Ames, Delano
Babson, Margery
Barr, Nevada
Baxter, Alida
Brand, Cristianna
Braun, Lilian Jackson
Brown, Rita Mae
Butler, Gwendoline
Cannell, Dorothy
Carlson, P.M.
Cau[l]dwell, Sarah
Cheyne, Angela
Christie, Agatha (a.k.a. Mary Westmacott)
Churchill, Jill
Clarke, Anna
Cody, Liza
Cooper, Susan Rogers
Craig, Alisa (a.k.a. Charlotte MacLeod)
Crane, Hamilton
Cross, Amanda
Dale, Celia
Daly, Elizabeth
Davidson, Diane Mott
Davis, Dorothy Salisbury
Davis, Leslie
De La Torre, Lillian
Dominic, R. B. (see Emma Lathen)
Douglas, Carolyn
Duke, Madelaine
Dunlap, Susan
Dunnett, Dorothy 
Elkins, Charlotte
Elrod, P. N.
Emmuska, Baroness Orczy
Evanovich, Janet
Ferrars, E. X. 
Ferrars, Elizabeth
Fleming, Joan
Frankel, Valerie
Fraser, Anthea
Fraser, Antonia
Fremlin, Celia
George, Elizabeth
Gilman, Dorothy
Gordon, Alison
Gosling, Paula
Grafton, Sue
Grimes, Martha
Hambly, Barbara
Hampton, Sue
Hardwick, Mollie
Harrington, Joyce
Hart, Anne (apparently there are multiple mystery authors named Anne Hart)
Hart, Carolyn
Hess, Joan
Heyer, Georgette
Hitchman, Janet
Hogarth, Grace
Holland, Isabelle
Holt, Hazel
Hornsby, Wendy
Hughes, Dorothy
Jackson Braun, Lilian
James, P. D. 
King, Laurie R.
Kijewski, Karen
Kittredge, Mary
LaPierre, Janet
Lang[s]ton, Jane
Lathen, Emma (pseudonym for Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Hennisart)
Laurence, Janet
MacLeod, Charlotte (a.k.a Alisa Craig)
Mann, Jessica
Maron, Margaret
Marsh, Ngaio 
Matera, Lia
McCrumb, Sharyn
McMullen, Mary 
Meek, M.D.R. 
Meredith, D. L.
Michaels, Barbara (see Elizabeth Peters)
Mitchell, Gladys 
Moody, Susan
Morice, Anne 
Moyes, Patricia 
Muller, Marcia
O'Connel (the Mallory series)
O'Marie, Sister Carol Anne
Orczy, Baroness Emmuska
Olliphant, B. J. (A. J. Orde and Sherri Tepper)
Orde, A. J. (Sheri Tepper)
Papazoglou, Orania 
Paretsky, Sara
Paul, Barbara
Perry, Anne 
Peters, Elizabeth (a.k.a. Barbara Michaels) (Barbara Mertz; a now-retired
	archaeologist specializing in Egypt.  Peters is the name she uses
	for stories dealing with Egyptology somehow, and Michaels for the
Peters, Ellis (Edith Pargeter)
Pickard, Nancy
Pirkis, Catherine Louisa
Radley, Sheila
Raskin, Ellen
Rendell, Ruth 
Rinehart, Mary Roberts
Roberts, Gillian
Rowe, Jennifer
Sayers, Dorothy
Sayles, Medora
Scoppetone, Sandra
Shankman, Sarah
Shannon, Dell
Simpson, Dorothy
Singer, Shelley
Smith, Barbara Burnett
Smith, Joan
Smith, Julie
Stacey, Susannah
Tey, Josephine 
Truman, Margaret
Weber, Thomasina
Wells, Tobias 
Wentworth, Patricia
White, Ethel Lina
Wilhelm, Kate
Wilson, Barbara
Wright, L. R.
Yorke, Margaret
Zaremba, Eve

(from,,,,, and others)

Marilyn Wallace has five or so "Sisters_in_Crime" anthologies for folks who
are looking for even more mystery authors who are women.

Cindy Steinhoff ( writes:
"One of the questions included in the FAQ asks for a list of mysteries 
written by women.  The list is very complete.  Thought that you might 
want to add an additional resource to that question.  Just published this 
spring was a guide to mystery fiction by women, called BY A WOMAN'S 
James.  The publisher is Berkeley, ISBN is 0-425-14143-8, cost is about 
$10.00 in paperback.  The book includes only female mystery writers 
currently writing.  It is not intended to be a complete bibliography of 
all works by the authors listed, just a guide to provide basic info about 
the author, name a few of her books (such as the first title in a series), 
and give some suggestions for other writer who are similar."

Carol Wayne ( writes:
"While at the Library Ltd. in St. Louis, I ran across a pocket guide to
Detecting women 2, a reader's guide and checklist for mystery series
written by women, which noted that a full-sized edition was available.
I now have both and find it wonderful reading.  Lists authors, titles,
characters, pseudonyms, etc."


12) What is the difference between the male and female editions of

Page 293


And he gave me a few of the Xeroxed sheets of paper lying on the table in
front of him.  As he passed them to me, his thumb brushed mine and I
trembled from the touch.  I had the sensation that our past and our future
were in our fingers and that they had touched.  And so, when I began to read
the proffered pages, I at one moment lost the train of thought in text and
drowned it in my own feelings.  In these seconds of absence and
self-oblivion, centuries passed with every read but uncomprehended and
unabsorbed line, and when, after a few moments, I came to and re-established
contact with the text, I knew that the reader who returns from the open seas
of his feelings is no longer the same reader who embarked on that sea only a
short while ago.  I gained and learned more by not reading than by reading
those pages, and when I asked Dr.  Muawja where he had got them he said
something that astonished me even more.


And he gave me a few of the Xeroxed sheets of paper lying on the table in
front of him.  I could have pulled the trigger then and there.  There
wouldn't be a better moment.  There was only one lone witness present in the
garden -- and he was a child.  But that's not what happened.  I reached out
and took those exciting sheets of paper, which I enclose in this letter.
Taking them instead of firing my gun, I looked at those Saracen fingers with
their nails like hazelnuts and I thought of the tree Halevi mentions in his
book on the Khazars.  I thought of how each and every one of us is just such
a tree the taller we grow toward the sky, through the wind and rain toward
God, the deeper we must sink our roots through the mud and subterranean
waters toward hell.  With these thoughts in my mind, I read the pages given
me by the green-eyed Saracen.  They shattered me, and in disbelief I asked
Dr. Muawja where he had got them.


13) What is the short story by Jorge Luis Borges in which a Chinese taxonomy
    is discussed?

"The Analytical Language of John Wilkins," in OTHER INQUISITIONS (University
of Texas Press, 1964).  It is not, repeat NOT, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius."
I re-read that with a specific eye toward looking for this reference and it
isn't there.  Nor does it appear to be in any other story in LABYRINTHS.


14) Where do ISBNs come from?

Each country has an issuing agency that assigns numbers to publishers, then
the publishers assign numbers to each title.  In the US, it's the R. R.
Bowker Co., publishers of "Books in Print" [see question #2].  Look at the
beginning of the first volume for details.  I'm not sure who does it in
Canada; check "Canadian Books in Print."

Here's how it works:

First digit:
		0 or 1 for English-speaking countries; other numbers 

Second part [varying length]:
		The number assigned to the publisher.  Bigger
		publishers have smaller numbers and vice versa.

Third part [varying length]:
		The number for the individual book and edition.
		(The paperback will have a different ISBN from the
		hardback of the same title, for example.)

Tenth digit:
		0-9 or X.  This is a check digit (we just had a long,
		boring thread about how this is formed from a 
		mathematical formula).  The point is that it allows
		a computer to alert you if you made a typo.

Thanks to Robert Teeter ( for this.


15) What are the "Penguin 60s"?  Does anyone have a full list?

Briefly, they are a set of 60 small books in celebration of Penguin's
60th anniversary.  In Britain they are priced at 60p, but the United
States one are 95 cents each.  A full description and list of the
titles available in in United States can be found at  The set
available in Britain is different.



KIRKUS REVIEWS is a review mostly read by librarians and booksellers.
It's sort of a tip sheet as well as a review, since it reviews books
quite a while before publication.  I've never seen it on sale anywhere,
so if you want to have a look at it, ask your friendly librarian or
bookseller.  (It's looseleaf, so it is hard to display.)

Thanks to Robert Teeter ( for this.



Eleanor Cameron wrote it.  There were four sequels: THE


18) Which is the best translation of Dante's DIVINE COMEDY?

There is no consensus.  Robert Pinsky seems to get the strongest
rcommendations so far as I can tell.  The two best known are Dorothy L.
Sayers and John Ciardi.  People seem to disagree on whether either
preserved the terza rima, with more consensus that Sayers did, but her
translation is quirky, and the "Paradiso" was finished by Barbara
Reynolds after Sayers's death.  Ciardi is more readable, but less
credited with preserving structure.

Others recommend Charles Singleton for a prose translation, or Allen
Mandelbaum for verse.

Other translations recommended by people included Peter Dale, Robert
Durling (accurate and scholarly), and Mark Musa. is a "virtual bookshop" which
lists all these with short descriptions. has more Dante links.

[Random note: The first time I saw it was in a *Spanish* translation
that my father had.  I couldn't follow much, but it had these *great*
illustrations....  I was quite crushed later when I got out of college
and wanted the book for the Dore illustrations to discover that he had
donated all his Spanish-language books to the university library.]


(Contributions for addition to this FAQL gratefully appreciated.
Suggestions for things *I* should write to add to this FAQL are not so
gratefully appreciated.)

Copyright Notice

Information contained in this FAQ is compiled from many sources.  The
compiler accepts no responsibility for the comments contained herein.
The comments are provided "as is" with no warranty, express or implied,
for the information provided within them.

This FAQ is not to be reproduced for commercial use unless the party
reproducing the FAQ agrees to the following:
 1) They will contact the FAQ maintainer to obtain the latest version for
    their collection.
 2) They will provide the FAQ maintainer with information on what collection
    the copy of the FAQ is in, and how that collection may be obtained.
 3) They will agree, in writing, that the FAQ will be included in the
    collection without modification, and that acknowledgements of
    contributors (if any) to the FAQ remain in the FAQ.
 4) They will agree, in writing, that the collection including the FAQ will
    be distributed on either a non-profit basis, or have some percentage of
    profit donated to a non-profit literacy program.  Project Gutenberg

Information contained in the FAQ is compiled from many sources.  No
guarantees are made as to its accuracy.

To support this, this FAQ is Compilation Copyright 2001 by Evelyn C. Leeper
(the FAQ maintainer).

<HR>You are visitor number <IMG SRC=> since 1 Jan 2000.  
Evelyn C. Leeper,
Evelyn C. Leeper,
"We should be as passionately opposed to those who discriminate against
gays and lesbians as we were passionate in our opposition to apartheid."
-- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, February 1999, Brown University

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: ()

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM