Bartlett's Quotations updated - Hear and See It Now
By Jo Ann Cahn
July 1997 - Bartlett's Quotations, as one of the drier and harder to search
items in a standard reference collection, was a good candidate for multimedia
transformation. After all, much of modern - and especially postmodern - culture
is indeed quotation of non-text objects, as Thomas Hine points out in his
preface to this edition. Max Ernst put a mustache on the Mona Lisa,
Terry Gilliam put Botticelli's Venus into his Baron Munchausen movie,
pop music snips "samples" of other composers into songs. The
Time-Warner CD-ROM version of Justin Kaplan's updated edition of the classic
reference book misses the boat, however, mainly because it fails to integrate
the multimedia material adequately into the main portion of the work.
The expansion is a new section, a timeline that contains more than 400
"multimedia" quotations, we are told. Some of these, though, do not
appear under the author's name unless the medium is also specified. Two film
excerpts of JFK are not found under Kennedy unless audio is also requested;
Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech is listed under his name
alone, without specifying a medium, but the speech the night before his
assassination ("up to the mountaintop") appears only when audio is
requested. The multimedia "quotation" for Neil Armstrong accompanying
the text of "One small step for man, a giant step for mankind" is not
the audio version but a still photograph of him stepping on the moon. Is a still
photograph of Magic Johnson (with no text) a quotation? What about the famous
OJ Simpson freeway chase? The internationally-known Barbie doll is here too,
although not if you look under Barbie: it can only be found under "object"
if you are curious about the identity of Ruth Handler, who happened to be the
The poor sound quality should be mentioned, as well as the lack of
credits to any artists except occasional photographers (and most but not all
translators), and the failure to provide audio quotations of pop music: yes
John Lennon belongs in Bartlett's text version, but Elvis Presley is quoted not
for his words, but for the sound that we do not hear, for legal and financial
reasons, according to the preface. Doing this project right, though, required
either a bigger permissions budget or waiting until some of the fair-use
questions of multimedia are resolved.
This CD-ROM is a little easier to use than the print version, because
of its fast search features. The unmodernized 1907 9th edition can also be
searched rapidly on the Internet. One of many sites offering this service is
BARTLETT'S FAMILIAR QUOTATIONS EXPANDED MULTIMEDIA EDITION
published by Time Warner Electronic Publishing (an arrangement of Warner Books,
Inc. and Little, Brown and Company).
Available for Mac and Windows.
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