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Whew! I’m Still a Librarian

I spent a couple of hours today trying to find the original French version of Hélène Cixous’ essay “Sorties” for a student. It’s one of Cixous’ most anthologized essays, but I simply could NOT find the French version. All I could find were translations.

Foreign language materials are notoriously difficult to find, even in WorldCat, because they rarely get full descriptions and almost never get tables of contents (which is what I needed). I couldn’t search WorldCat by anything but author (and limit it to French language), but this left me with many results, none of which were described fully enough even to tell me if the given record was for one of Cixous’ fiction works or not.

I tried bibliographies, but the ones we had on hand only listed English language versions. I tried web searching, but drew a blank there too.

At long last I went to one of my grad school anthologies and saw that the essay was reproduced from a translated book called The Newly Born Woman. After trying several other tacks, I finally plugged that title into our catalog, hoping that it would give me more information. Low and behold, the uniform title popped up Jeune née. English (“The Newly Born Woman. English”). Never have I loved a uniform title more! Suddenly I realized that the translated book wasn’t just some collection of Cixous’ work. It was the thing itself. Searching for Jeune née (leaving off the “English” because that’s precisely what I didn’t want) I found what I wanted and practically ran downstairs, pulled the book, and flipped pages until I reached “Duèxieme Partie: Sorties.” Haleluia!!!! Now if only I could add the tables of contents to our record Right Now!

I settled for adding the table of contents to WorldCat.org… but I’d prefer to be able to do it to our local catalog record while I’m thinking of it. Meanwhile, I’m going to have one of our catalogers add the contents notes as soon as the student is done with it. Meanwhile, I finally feel like a librarian again… I was worried for a bit there.