Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The last task

My job for this afternoon is to finish the last little task remaining for my forthcoming book Breeding: A Partial History of the Eighteenth Century - checking the proof pages of the index. It certainly looks very nice now that it's all properly typeset! (Click for a larger view.)

I've chosen this page to reproduce partly because it shows one or two of what I think of as "activist" choices, ways of indexing disparate points under a single term that encourage a particular reading (or at least attention to a particular strand) of the book as a whole.

The sub-entries for metaphor, for instance, include at least three different conceptual categories: metaphors for mind that were popular with eighteenth-century writers (the blank slate, the germ); metaphors for the methodology of investigations in the humanities (hearing the dead speak); and metaphor as it figures in (or for what it can tell us about) the workings of non-fiction prose (Boswell, Sheridan). It seemed to me valuable to bring these three things together under a single rubric, and I'm not sure it's a connection the reader would have been likely to make on the basis of the text alone.

The entry for methodology also provides the reader with a handy guide to otherwise scattered discussions about approaches to this kind of investigation.