Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fortsas Lives!

The day has finally dawned. Today, 10 August, marks the 168th anniversary of the 'Fortsas Sale', the greatest bibliohoax ever perpetrated (and one which is in no danger of losing that honor, I think). On this day in 1840, bibliophiles from across Europe descended in droves on the small town of Binche, Belgium, where they hoped to snap up some of the rarest printed rarities imaginable. But they'd been had, and how!

To mark the occasion, I've brought le Comte de Fortsas and his books back to life through the magic that is LibraryThing. There's a short biographical sketch and introduction to the collection here, or you can go directly to the books by browsing le Comte's catalogue (sorting by the 'entry date' column will allow you to browse in numerical order, starting with Entry 3; if you read the intro you'll quickly learn why 1 and 2 are missing*). In the catalogue descriptions I've included both the original French text from the original printed Catalogue and English translations of the notes (modified from earlier English reprints).**

Capping off the Fortsas data-dump are transcriptions/translations of various documents associated with the hoax (more of these to come), and an annotated bibliography of all things Fortsas (to which I welcome additions; please send along any interesting Fortsas items or mentions you happen to run across).

This has been great fun to work on, and I look forward to adding more transcriptions and materials as I can.

* It should sort like this automatically, but I've found it doesn't sometimes. If it looks wrong, just click on the "Entry Date" column header and it'll correct itself.

**Don't be alarmed that a couple of the books are shared with others - those other copies are, you may rest assured, different and less desirable editions.