an everyday realm which does not always comply with the plans made inside the
ivory tower. In my case, this meant that renovating one room to make it into a
third children’s room went a bit out of control and took far longer than I had
planned – which caused me to skip the post that would have been due last week
already. I’m sorry, but I can promise with a clear conscience that this will
not happen again. I don’t have got any other rooms to renovate. But since I’m
done with that room now, here’s what I’ve found since then.
forests and up into the Mountains
Well, I went back into the paper forest of learned journals, this time tackling the only one left to do for my comparative study, the Nova Acta Eruditorum, appearing in Leipzig in continuation of the Acta Eruditorum from 1732 until 1776 (technically until 1782, but there were no more issues since 1776). And to my surprise, I discovered a significant peak. I’m not sure yet if it really qualifies as a towering mountain, but at least it appears to be one if put into a diagram properly. What becomes visible here is that the Nova Acta Eruditorum took quite a liking to Adriaan Reland, who is referred to on 57 pages in the 25 years between 1732 and 1756 which you see to the right of this paragraph, dwarfing all my other protagonists. This is more than four times the number of references to the next in line, Eusèbe Renaudot, who is referred to 14 times during this period, and more than double the number of the references to all the other three combined, which total 27 for these years: Renaudot’s 14 plus 9 for Thomas Gale and 4 for Johannes Braun.
The high time of references to Reland in the Nova Acta Eruditorum thus are the 1740s, and this is interesting because this is precisely the time when the patterns of references to my protagonists in all the other Journals I have surveyed so far fall into the on-and-off mode of mentioning them now and then every few years which I have labelled ‘intermittent referencing’ and which I take to indicate being structurally forgotten within the frame of the medium in question. And until 1737, when references to Reland begin to multiply again, the same pattern could be observed concerning him in both the Acta Eruditorum up until 1732 and the Nova Acta Eruditorum since then. So this might be the specific difference which I have been searching for, the difference which explains why Reland’s posthumous remembrance career has been so much more successful than those of my other three protagonists.
difference is one thing; declaring it relevant another; and both are neither
equal nor conductive to explaining, which again is a totally different thing
altogether. So having encountered and labelled the phenomenon, how am I to
explain it? Why were the people writing reviews for this Middle German learned
journal so much more fond of Reland than of my other three protagonists – whom they
knew, but were not really interested in – at this particular time?
The specific context the interest in this particular book stems from was a decidedly Protestant one. The writers of the works in the reviews of which the references to Reland were made in the Nova Acta Eruditorum were either Lutheran ministers or Theologians employed as university or high school professors. The scholars in the reviews of whose works Reland was mentioned in 1740 and 1741, for example, were
and, as the only scholar from a non-German speaking and non-Protestant country, Étienne Fourmont (1683-1745), also known as Ismaël Ben-Abraham and 傅爾蒙 (Fu Er Meng), a French orientalist studying Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, and Chinese, and thus working within a shared disciplinary context.
They were interested in Oriental studies because such studies seemed useful to better understand the linguistic, cultural, and geographical setting of the Old Testament, ancient Israel or Palestine, the Holy Land. The Northern and Middle German Protestant universities of the time thus fostered the respective studies – of Hebrew, of Arabic, Persian, and other languages ‘Oriental’, of Biblical geography and history – and to do so, they built upon the results achieved by the scholars of the Dutch universities, among them Reland, with whom they shared much of the preconceptions of what godly scholarship and learning should be like. It surely was no coincidence that the Nuremberg publishing house of Monath in 1740 chose to reprint its 1716 pirated copy of Reland’s Palaestina Illustrata, thus providing fresh copies for the German market.
In the middle of the 1750s this fascination for Reland’s Palaestina Illustrata waned in the Nova Acta Eruditorum, which might be connected with the shift from a theologically based Orientalism to a more secularized discipline within the German universities; but this is something to be explored further. But as it seems, this decade of interest may have been crucial to fix Adriaan Reland within the emerging discipline of German Orientalism, and thus to pull him from structural forgottenness for a while.
Conrad Monath (ed.), Adriaan Reland: Hadriani Relandi Palaestina ex monumentis
veteribus illustrata; in tres libros distributa, tabulis geographicis
necessariis, iisque accuratis exornata, et a multis insuper, quae in primam
editionem irrepserant mendis purgata, Nuremberg: Monath 1740.
In one of the earlier posts on this blog I said something about Louis-Charles Solvet (1795-1869) and his successful strategies of reference to Adrien Reland. One, and I would say the central, hypothesis that I built from the case of Solvet and his translation of the Dissertatio de jure militari Mohammedanorum contra Christianos bellum gerentium was that such strategies of a re-use of a dead scholar’s products and achievements against the grain of that scholar’s original intentions signal actual structural oblivion of the scholar in question, if they succeed. This dovetails quite nicely with the career and publications of Louis-Charles Solvet, I would say. But the risk incurred with this is of course that this may be a case of circular reasoning. Perhaps the Solvet case fits the hypothesis so nicely because the hypothesis was drawn up by it, and I just found what I wanted to find all along. So how might this be put to the test?
conditions and pre-test assumptions
does not repeat itself, I cannot just re-run Solvet’s career to see if other
patterns would probably account for the same effects in the end as well. But I
might look for similar cases, if possible by people from a shared background
and trajectory, and look for discursive and structural interconnections –
references to the same scholars and the same patterns of reference applied to
similar scholars. The argument that I would like to make is that both are
necessary to establish a convincing test case for the hypothesis framed around
Solvet. If I do find that in a similar case, in similar circumstances, the
patterns are transitive, i.e. if one matches, the other does match, too, this
would indicate that structural oblivion is not the right term to put to the
phenomenon. Because this would – generalized – have to be taken to mean that
every scholar with similar background in similar circumstances would take
recourse to the dead scholar in question in the same way. This in turn would
mean that there was a shared knowledge about this scholar beforehand, and if
this were the case, he or she would be structurally remembered rather than
forgotten. If on the other hand I should find, that the patterns are not
transitive, that is, if one matches, the other does not, structural oblivion becomes
a lot more probable. But – and this is an important caveat to make – only in
the case where there is structural but not discursive transitivity. If the
reference pattern applied in a similar situation by a similar scholar is the
same but targets another person and his or her achievements and/or
publications, the divergence in dead scholars utilized might well point to the
fact that they are, more or less, randomly selected from the reservoir of
structurally forgotten elements of knowledge.
A test case:
Joseph-Touissant Reinaud (1795-1867)
Reinaud was born in Lambesc, between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence in Southern
France, on December 4th, 1795, and destined for a clerical career.
When in 1814 he was sent to Paris to broaden his education, he took to oriental
languages with such fervour that he staid to study them under Silvestre de Sacy
(1758–1838) instead of becoming a priest. As Solvet, who in 1814 quitted
service with the Imperial Guards, Reinaud had dropped out of the career originally
envisioned for him. Both now served for a while with private employers
alongside their studies, Reinaud from 1818 to 1819 as secretary to the Comte de
Portalis on a mission to the Holy See. After returning and completing his
studies, his former employer helped him to gain a post at the Bibliothèque royale
in 1824, three years earlier than Solvet, who entered the French provincial
administration in 1827. Reinaud managed to continue on his librarian post
despite all revolutionary upheavals in 19th century France and to
continually rise within the system. In 1832, he was elected into the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres,
and in March 1838 after de Sacy’s death followed him as professor of Arabic at
the Ecole des langues orientales vivantes.
From 1847 on he was president of the Société Asiatique, and in April 1864
elected as head of the Ecole des langues
orientales vivantes; Solvet had been promoted to the post of Supreme Judge
at the court of Algiers in 1862. Reinaud had, perhaps because of a career
without the interruptions that Solvet had been subject to, managed to enter the
more prestigious posts; he had already in 1836 been admitted into the Legion of
Honour, 14 years before Solvet had been in 1850. In 1858 he was raised in rank
to “Officier de la legion d’honneur”, the rank that Solvet had been denied in
1865. These honorary differences besides, both men seem to be quite comparable
in respect to what I am interested in here. Both were trained in Arabic,
excelled at their studies, were zealous in pursuit of their duties, turned to
philological pursuits in their scholarly endeavours, and translated.
interesting question is whether both men are comparable also in respect to
their treatment of my forgotten scholars. Louis-Charles Solvet had translated
Adrien Reland, but had never referred to Eusèbe Renaudot (as far as I know). So
what about Joseph-Touissant Reinaud?
Reinaud published a corrected, augmented and annotated re-edition of an 1811
translation of an early medieval Arabic manuscript, the “Relation des voyages
faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans l’Inde et à la Chine“.
The 1811 edition itself was already a re-edition, as the manuscript in question
had first been edited in 1718 as “Anciennes relations des Indes et de la Chine,
de deux voyageurs mahometans” by Eusèbe Renaudot.
Reinaud clearly acknowledged that in his preface where he detailed the history
of the edited text, where he stated the edition no longer conformed to “les
progrès que la critique orientale a faits dans ces derniers temps” and had to
be redone for the sake of science, correcting both translation and annotations
to purge them of Renaudot’s leniencies.
The prime reason he brought forward for the importance of his re-edition was
that he was convinced that the manuscript provided an early source for the
story which over time had evolved into the story of Sindbad as incorporated in
the Arabian Nights. In
doing so he situated his publication in the scholarly branch of the Orientalist
discourse of the mid-19th century as firmly as Solvet had situated
his Reland translation in its political branch. This catered to their
respective career stations at the point of publication, with Solvet part of the
French colonial administration in Algiers and Reinaud in the center of French
Orientalist learning in Paris.
cases publications were picked which were about 130 years old but could be
adapted to contemporary issues quite easily, even if they became decontextualized
from the oeuvre of the original author in the process, and both Reinaud and
Solvet presented the original authors in the way which suited their aims best –
Solvet praising Reland for use as an authority, and Reinaud downsizing Renaudot
to claim scientific progress. The underlying pattern seems to be the same to
about the cross-connections? These, and that is the interesting part of the
story, really seem to be absent. Reinaud seems not to have mentioned Reland
anywhere in his publications, even when he was working about topics where one
might have expected it, as the religious history of Islam or the geography of
the Near East. But while he refrained from referring to Reland, he owned his works.
At least if the auction catalogue of his personal library can be trusted, among
his possessions were Reland’s De
religione mohammedica (2nd edition of 1717) and his Antiquitates sacrae veterum Hebraeorum
(4th edition of 1741). That was one work more than he owned of
Renaudot, of whom he only seems to have had the 1718 edition from which he
started his translation.
So also this has been a rather quick walkthrough through the test I proposed, I
would like to preliminary assume on this basis that my original hypothesis is
sound, and both publications really testify to the original author’s being
structurally forgotten at their time of publication. To be explored further!
 Joseph-Touissant Reinaud (ed.,
transl.) : Relation des voyages faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans
l’Inde et à la Chine dans le IXe siècle de l’ère chrétienne. Texte arabe
imprimé en 1811 par les soins de feu Langlès publié aves des corrections et
additions et accompagné d’une traduction fran5aise et d’éclaircissements par M.
Reinaud, Paris: Imprimerie royale 1845.
 Eusèbe Renaudot (ed., transl.): Anciennes
relations des Indes et de la Chine, de deux voyageurs mahometans, qui y allerent
dans le neuviéme siecle ; traduites d’arabe : avec des remarques sur les
principaux endroits de ces relations, Paris: Coignard 1718.
 Reinaud (ed.), Relation des voyages
1845, p. v. ; p. xiii–xiv.
 Anon. : Catalogue des livres
des manuscrits orientaux et des ouvrages en nombre composant la bibliothèque de
feu M. J.-T. Reinaud. Membre de l’institut, officier de la légion d’honneur,
conservateur des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque impériale, président de l’école
des ll. oo. vv. de la sociéte asiatique, membre des académies de Vienne, de
Berlin, de Saint-Pétersburg et de plusieurs autres sociétes savantes. Précéde
d’une notice sur sa vie par M. J. Mohl, membre de l’Institut, Paris 1867, cf. pp.
13, 103, 131.
And what does Swinton do around here? Well, to tell this story let me begin anew, this time from another starting point.
My basic assumption was that structural forgetting can be observed by looking atreference patterns. When they fall into an intermitting cycle of referencing and non-referencing, that’s where forgetting comes in. To be able to detect this means browsing through a lot of potential reference sources to unearth patterns of actual references. To provide a not completely random selection, I took my tour through the major learned journals of the 18th century first of all. And that is where today’s story really starts, for in the course of doing so I finally also came to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
A pattern of nothing?
Now the problem with the reference pattern in the 18th Philosophical Transactions was that there simply was none, or so it seemed. In the firstcouple of volumes neither Adrien Reland nor Johannes Braun nor Eusèbe Renaudot nor, to my surprise, even Thomas Gale (the English scholar in the sample) where referenced once. This continued during the 1710s, 1720s, 1730s, and 1740s, until I began to wonder whether it was not simply the case that the Philosophical Transactions just had ignored them, as the journal had only infrequently published humanities research at all.
I was already considering to skip going through all issues and sample only one every five years from the Transactions as this was obviously a useless pursuit, when all of a sudden John Swinton popped up and made my day. In volume 48, 1753/54. Doing dull work has its advantages.
Hooray for Swinton!
Enter John Swinton (1703–1777), philologist, numismatist, and antiquarian searching for obscure inscriptions. His hour came when in 1753 Robert Wood (1716/17–1771) published “The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor in the Desart”,his account of the journey undertaken by James Dawkins (1722–1757) and himself into Ottoman territory in the Syrian desert to re-re-discover the ancient Graeco-Roman city of Palmyra, (which has recently been devastated by the so-called “Islamic State” much more efficiently than seventeen centuries of desert climate had been able to do before). Swinton was most of all interested in the inscriptions transcribed and added as illustrated plates to Wood’s Ruins of Palmyra because they enlarged the corpus of known bilingual Greek-Palmyrene inscriptions sufficiently to decipher the Palmyrene alphabet and language, an extinct Semitic tongue. And that was exactly what Swinton claimed to have accomplished in his first contribution to Philosophical Transactions, the “Explication of all inscriptions in the Palmyrene language and character hither to publish’d. In five letters from the Reverend Mr. John Swinton, M. A. of Christ-Church,Oxford, and F. R. S. to the Reverend Thomas Birch, D. D. Secret. R. S.” Although Swinton had been admitted into the Royal Society already in 1729, thiswas his first printed contribution to the Transactions.
It must, of course, be noted that Swinton’s discovery was not unparalleled, as PeterDaniels has shown in 1988 already, and that it is much more likely thatJean-Jacques Barthélemy (1716–1795) of the Academie des Inscriptions in Pariswas actually faster than Swinton in deciphering and translating Palmyrene. Swinton and Barthélemy moreover were not working in isolation but were in correspondence already. Swinton’s previous work on had on Roman and Etruscan inscriptions, and only from the 1750s onwards taken to Phoenician and Samaritan inscriptions also, which provided the basis for his Palmyrene research. In his Explication of all inscriptions in the Palmyrene language and character hither to publish’d Swinton nevertheless took care to style things it in a way as to indicate that not only he had the claim to primacy in the discovery but also that Barthélemy had not really comeas far as he had. I suppose Swinton did so for good reason. This does not necessarily mean that thestory he told about his discovery was not true; it is reasonable to suppose that he was capable to do as he claimed to have done. It just was not the whole story. The reason why it was good for Swinton to tell it in a, so to say, condensed way was that this was his chance to get back into the scientific discussion of his day, and he took it when he saw it.
Swinton’s way back in
Swinton’s track record had been quite good until 1737; he had studied in Oxford, graduated MA in 1726 and priest in 1727, had been admitted as a probationer fellow to Wadham College (and into the Royal Society) in 1729, and from 1730 to1734 had been appointed chaplain to the English factory in Leghorn (Livorno), which gave him the opportunity to travel through Portugal, upper Italy, and through Vienna and Hungary on the way back to England. It might be that in 1733, while he was in Florence, he laid the grounds for his later acceptance into the learned societies of the Accademia degli Apatisti of Florence and the Accademia Etrusca Delle Antichità ed Iscrizioni of Cortona. Back in Oxford, he took the post of humanities lecturer, until in 1737 he was involved into a scandal about homosexual relations at the college which sparked at least three publications and two lawsuits until 1740 and at the end of which Swinton was de facto found guilty of “sodomy”, as male homosexual intercourse was legally framed at thetime. He resigned his fellowship and left the college for a church post. In 1745 he joined Christ Church College, Oxford, this time as a student of theology, and in 1750 published the first edition of his largest publication ever, the “Inscriptiones citiae”. This was the situation he was in when in 1754 his first Transactions piece got published. In the following twenty years he submitted another 37 pieces to the Transactions, almost two per year, besides also publishing several of his smaller pieces for the print market and putting out a second revised edition of his Inscriptiones citiae in 1755. That he was elected keeper of the Oxford University Archives in 1767 might well have been facilitated by this steady stream of publications since 1753/54.
An old acquaintance
Now the interesting thing for me was that I had already stumbled over Swinton before when I cameacross his only major book publication, the Inscriptiones citiae of 1750, during my Eighteenth Century Collections Online search for references to Adrien Reland; and a closer look revealed that Swinton had citedReland as early as 1738 already in his De lingua Etruriæ regalis vernacular dissertatio.He therefore obviously was already familiar with Reland’s oeuvre, which tied into the Palmyrene case as in his description of ancient Palestine Reland had also given an illustration of a Palmyrene inscription – unfortunately one which, as Swinton claimed, neither he nor Barthélemy had been able to put togood use because of its bad likeness until Barthélemy somehow acquired a better copy.
A pattern of re-use and recurrence
The pattern which becomes visible here is one that connects several developments which lead to an – albeit not completely flattering – modest resurgence of the writings of Adrien Relands in the hands of John Swinton. On a structural level Swinton is exemplary for the enhanced standing of Antiquarianism as a discipline since the middle of the 18th century, and he was directly connected to the Oxford group of Orientalist scholars. He moreover profited from the growing influence of European powers in the Levant region, which facilitated expeditions into the ancient sites there, and the risen interest for all matters oriental connected to this, exemplified by the enormous success of Woods Ruins of Palmyra. On a dynamic level it was exactly this unforeseeable event provided the chance for Swinton to position himself with his Antiquarian interests in the centre of the current academic discourses of his time and place, and with this to en passant reintegrate his literature back into that discussion.
The smaller the fish that feed off you…
That this would happen was outside the horizon of calculation of those he cited, and that they would be referred to in this context not to be expected. A good point of illustration is that the Abbé Renaudot was not in the bundle of those Swinton referred to – because he as secretary of the Academie des Inscriptions had declared the Palmyrene inscriptions to be no field of research for the academy as there was no sufficient source corpus to reliably do so. That he disqualified himself from being re-used as literature in an academic discussion starting 30 years after his death was something he could not know; and neither did Reland know that quoting the Palmyrene inscriptions he knew, albeit in an unsatisfactorily manner (to Swinton at least). Structural forgetting emerges once again as a phenomenon ruled much more by chance than by scientific results. And I would like to use Swinton to formulate a new measure criterion for being structurally forgotten: The smaller the fish that feed of you, the smaller you have become.
 Robert Wood (ed.): The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the Desart, London: n.p. 1753.
 John Swinton: “Explication of all inscriptions in the Palmyrene language and character hither to publish’d. In five letters from the Reverend Mr. John Swinton, M. A. of Christ-Church, Oxford, and F. R. S. to the Reverend Thomas Birch, D. D. Secret. R. S.”, in: Philosophical Transactions, Vol. 48, 1753/54, pp. 690–756.
 Daniels, “Shewing of Hard Sentences and Dissolving of Doubts”, p. 435.
 John Swinton: “De lingua Etruriæ regalis vernacula dissertatio. Authore Joanne Swinton A. M. Soc. Coll. Wadh. Oxon. & R. S. S.”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1738; —: “De primigenio Etruscorum alphabeto dissertation”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1746; —: “De priscis Romanorum literis dissertation”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1746.
 John Swinton: “Inscriptiones citie : Sive in binas inscriptiones Phoenicias, inter rudera citii nuperrepertas, conjectur. Accedit de nummis quibusdam samaritanis & phoeniciis, vel in solitam per se literaturam ferentibus, vel in lucem hactenus non editis, dissertatio. Autore Joanne Swinton, A.M. ex de christi, Oxon. & R.S.S”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1750; —: “De nummis quibusdam Samaritanis et Phoeniciis: vel insolitam prae se literaturam ferentibus, vel in lucem hactenus non editis, dissertatio”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1750; —: “De nummis quibusdam Samaritanis et Phoeniciis : vel insolitam prae se literaturam ferentibus, vel in lucem hactenus non editis dissertatio secunda”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1753;—: “Inscriptiones Citieae, sive, In binas alias inscriptiones Phoenicias interrudera Citii nuper repertas conjecturae”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1753; —: “Inscriptiones citieæ: sive in binas alias inscriptiones Phoenicias, inter rudera citii nuper repertas, conjecturæ”, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1755.
 Swinton, Explication of all inscriptions in the Palmyrene language and character hither to publish’d, p.743: “Not long after I had finished my conjectures upton the Palmyreneinscription published by Gruter and M. Spon, I received a most obliging letter from M. l’Abbé Barthelemey […] wherein he informed me, that he had taken great pains to explain that inscription, and another drawn in the same character, published likewise by Mr. Spon. As he seemed to think, that he had not intirely [sic] deciphered those inscriptions, he recommended it to me to take them both into my consideration, and to what I could make of them.”
 Although this might also have beena later development as he flagged these memberships only from 1763 (Cortona) and 1764 (Florence) on in his publications.
 Anon.: “College-Wit sharpen’d: or, The Head of a house, with, a Sting in the Tail: being a New English Amour, of the Epicene Gender, done into Burlesque metre, from the Italian. Address’d to the Two Famous Universities of S-d-m and G-m-rr-h. London: printed for J. Wadham, near the Meeting-House in Little-Wild-Street, where the Supplement, which will shortly be published, may be had; and Sold at the Pamphlet-Shops of London and Westminster, M.DCC.XXXIX”, London: n. p. 1739; Anon.: “A faithful narrative of the life and character of the Reverend Mr.Whitefield, B. D. From his Birth to the present Time. Containing An Account of his Doctrine and Morals; his Motives for going to Georgia, and his Travels through several Parts of England”, London: Watson 1739; Anon.: “A faithful narrative of the proceedings in a late affair between the Rev. Mr. John Swinton, and Mr. George Baker, both of Wadham College, Oxford: wherein the reasons, that induced Mr. Baker to accuse Mr. Swinton of sodomitical practices, and the Terms, upon which he signed the Recantation, industriously publish’d in the Daily Advertiser, London Evening Post, &c. are circumstantially set down, and submitted to the Publick: To which is prefix’d, a Particular Account of the Proceedings against Robert Thistlethwayte, Late Doctor of Divinity, and Warden of Wadham College, For a Sodomitical Attempt upon Mr. W. French, Commoner of the same College”, London: n. p. 1739.
 Swinton, De lingua Etruriæ regalis vernacula dissertatio, p. 7.
 Swinton, Explication of all inscriptions in the Palmyrene language and character hither to publish’d, p.744.
 Daniels, “Shewing of Hard Sentences and Dissolving of Doubts”, p. 427.