26 May, 2007

1911 encyclopedia

"One leaps from one subject to another, fascinated as much by the play of mind and idiosyncrasies of their authors as by the facts and dates. It must be the last encyclopedia in the tradition of Diderot which assumes that information can be made memorable only when it is slightly colored by prejudice. When T.S. Eliot wrote 'Soul curled up on the window seat reading the Encyclopedia' he was certainly thinking of the eleventh edition."

The LoveToKnow Free Online Encyclopedia is based on what many consider to be the best encyclopedia ever written: the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, first published in 1911. At a time when many encyclopedias have capsulated and condensed important knowledge, the 11th edition is generally much more in-depth and thorough on its topics.

It is not uncommon for its entries to be 5 to 10 times the length of other encyclopedias. As a research tool, this 11th edition is unparallelled - even today.



"The British Museum never charges for admission. On the other hand, the increase in continental collections is more rapid than in Great Britain, where acquisitions are only made by gift, purchase or bequest. In other European countries enormous collections have been obtained by revolutions and conquest, by dynastic changes, and by secularizing religious foundations. Some of the chief treasures of provincial museums in France were spoils of the Napoleonic armies, though the great bulk of this loot was returned in 1815 to the original owners.

"There are, however, certain disadvantages in securing both building and collection ready-made, and the special care devoted to museums in Great Britain can be traced to the fact that their cost to the community is considerable. Immense sums have been spent on the buildings alone, nearly a million sterling being devoted to the new buildings for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Had it been possible to secure them without such an outlay the collections themselves would have been much increased, though in this increase itself there would have been a danger, prevalent but not yet fully realized in other countries, of crowding the vacant space with specimens of inferior quality. The result is that fine things are badly seen owing to the masses of second-rate examples; moreover, the ample space available induces the authorities to remove works of art from their original places, in order to add them to the museums."

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