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 The Value of Cross-References 
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New post The Value of Cross-References
This is a re-post of a message originally sent to the Nero Wolfe discussion mailing list at Yahoo! Groups on 17 July 2007. It explains the purpose and unique features of this online Book of Quotations project – as opposed to simply highlighting your favourite passages in your paper-printed book copies.

Hi Wolfenistas,

when we discussed the Rex Stout quotations project last year, I remember Jessie aka Lovin' Babe! objected that an online collection of quotes seemed pointless to her: she could simply highlight any memorable passages in her own books, and that's that.

I didn't have the time to respond to her post back then, but I do now. What she said was, with all due respect, entirely wrong. 8-)

First of all, it's a completely different thing for someone to have highlighted certain passages in a book – they cannot be seen and appreciated at one glance, unlike in an online collection of excerpts.

Plus, when the collection is put up online, reader A may submit her own favorite quotes, reader B his own favorite quotes, and reader C may add his/her favorite quotes, too.

Individual Nero Wolfe readers can, in this way, point out interesting Wolfean passages to each other, that might escape fellow Wolfe fans' attention otherwise.

So, an online collection of excerpts may be an important tool to increase the understanding and enjoyment of the Wolfe Corpus. And, who would want to dispute the usefulness of such an ambition?

Plus, there's one more invaluable feature of an online collection of excerpts, totally unavailable in a single person's paper collection: footnotes and cross-references. Any Rex Stout quotations posted online may be readily commented upon and analyzed by anyone; fascinating exchanges of interpretations of the same minuscule Wolfean passages and pronouncements may thus be facilitated. It's Nero Wolfe under his fans' collective microscope. (Admittedly, it would have to be a giant microscope to allow Nero Wolfe to wriggle under it, to use Cramer's turn of phrase. ;-))

This is especially true for cross-references between various Nero Wolfe volumes. Impossible on paper, but an extremely easy thing to accomplish online.

We've just discovered the value of cross-references in the online Rex Stout collections of quotations: Archie and Wolfe refer to their mulishness in both Too Many Clients and If Death Ever Slept. You could never establish this connection thus clearly doing your highlighting just for yourself, in your own paper edition of the two novels. Online, the hyperlinks within footnotes make “the mulish connection” between the two novels absolutely transparent: here and here.

On a related note: our contributor “Adonis Guilfoyle” requests for memorable quotations from Too Many Clients to be posted online, to persuade him/her to read the novel. I was unable to oblige the request – I only found a single memorable quote in the novel (the one about Wolfe's and Archie's shared mulishness). Perhaps other list members can recall something quotable from Too Many Clients and add it to the webpage?

The other 6 Nero Wolfe collections of quotations already launched are, as of today:
Collections for all the remaining 40 Nero Wolfe volumes will be set up later on. Any of you reading this message may go ahead and create them right now, in fact.

A forum discussion of Too Many Clients was launched yesterday. (No registration necessary; you may just press Post Reply and contribute.)

Links to discussions of all the other Nero Wolfe volumes can be found here. Here, likewise, all 74 Nero Wolfe stories will receive their own discussion thread. Plus, setting up any other dedicated Wolfean / Stoutean discussion threads is also possible. For instance, a thread dedicated solely to discussing the Archie/Lily relationship, or a thread dedicated to discussing Marko Vukcic, and there might even be – frightful as it may seem – dedicated threads for Theodore and Rowcliff! ;-)

That's today's update on the status of the Rex Stout quotations online project. I promise I won't pester the list with these updates too often – only when there are significant new developments, such as our recent deployment of footnotes and cross-references to dissect the Wolfe Corpus.

Sat, 16 Feb 2008, 7:48
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