Pre 1850 Modern Edition Comparison Paper

Quintus Horatius Flaccus.jpg
Quintus Horatius Flaccus” by Anton von Werner – Scan by User:Gabor from the book Bibliothek des allgemeinen und praktischen Wissens. Bd. 5 (1905), Abriß der Weltliteratur, Seite 51.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A recent class assignment asked us to compare a printed book from before 1850 with a modern edition of the same title.  After spending time exploring the stacks of Mullen Library, pulling out various books to examine the dates, I came across two editions of the works of Horace. Though these items are not the same translation, printed in the same country, or printed by the same publishing company, the works of Horace have weathered time for over 2000 years and can thus surely be of value in this paltry paper.

The first book I will examine is the pre-1850 work.  This edition is OEUVRES COMPLÈTES D’HORACE. This is the 1834 “ÈDITION POLYGLOTTE” that was “publiée sous la direction de (published under the direction of)” J.-B. Monfalcon in Paris and Lyon France. This is not the original binding, at least not in the front. The front case is a piece of cardboard, while the back case is more aged than the front cover but is perhaps also a later rebinding than the original.  The two sides are held together with muslin cloth.  The book was bound together from three smaller sections. I believe that this is a quarto because at the bottom of every fourth page there is a number, growing in a sequential pattern, delineating the grouping of pages. Once a new book is met, one of the major three, then the page numbers at the beginning start over.

The paper of the Oeuvres Complètes d’Horace does not feel like linen, nor does it have the same clothey structure when examined via backlighting.  For the most part, it appears to be in good condition, though time has been more burdensome to some pages more so than others. When examining the book there appears to be some deckle edges, but this is not the case.  What appears as deckled edges is actually pages that have been re-taped back into place by a later fix.

There are numerous print components in the work, and I will briefly go over a few of them.  Around each page is a double line box allowing for wide margins to permeate the edges of the work. As we have established earlier, there are a few different languages within the work; these appear to be latin, french, english, german, and spanish. Not all pages have every language, and I was unable to determine if there is a pattern to the publication.  I believe that it is explained in the prèface gènèrale, but my french is not fluent. There is nothing that states a particular font type used in the text that I can see, but I am able to tell that it does have serifs. Judging by the fact that it is a french work from the early 19th century and contains serifs in like fashion, it is fairly safe to induce that the book has been typed using Garamond type.

The intended audience for this book was french academic, or at least a well educated audience.  I imagine, due to it’s size, that it was quite expensive. It is possible that it did not come with an original case, but I have know way to determine that in this setting. A French university could have used this book for a variety of subjects to educate their pupils.

The second book up for examination is The Complete Odes and Satires of Horace translated with introduction and notes by Sidney Alexander. This is a paperback edition that was published by Princeton University Press in 1999. From looking at the gutter of the book, we can see that a series of leafs were folded together and then sewn to hold them together.  Once all of the series of the book were stacked in place, the book was glued together. The first and last page of the book had extra glue applied to help hold the more durable covering to the paper within.

The Complete Odes and Satires of Horace was printed on alkaline (acid free) paper (p. v).  Also on the copyright page we learn that the book “has been composed in Bembo” font (p. v).  Throughout the book, the publisher chose to use wide margins and no illustrations.  At the bottom of the page is a pair of lines with text in between that provides the page number and the title and number of the work (e.g. 256 Satire II.II).

This edition was published with the modern day everyman academic in mind.  It is easy enough to carry around and add to any home library, but still contains the intellectual underpinnings worthy of advanced studies: supplemental notes and an accompanying bibliography.  There are no illustrations in this work.

There are numerous differences as we have seen between the two editions, in that they served different purposes for slightly similar, but still different, audiences. The 1834 work has held up really well, and I  would expect the 1999 edition to hold up similarly if it were taken care of.  Neither of the coverings help preserve the durability of the leaves in any substantial way. Both of the print fonts reflect the period in which they were written.  The Garamond font fits well with the early 19th century french audience as does the Bembo font for a more contemporary audience.


Horace, ed. The Complete Odes and Satires of Horace . Translated by Sidney Alexander. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Monfalcon, J. -B, ed. Oeuvres compleÌetes d’Horace. Paris ; Lyon: Cormon et Blanc, 1834.


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