Thursday, November 27, 2008



I have started to include the reference details to the 1937 Edwin Canaan edition of Wealth Of Nations from Random House to the usual reference to the scholarly structure given from the Glasgow Edition of ‘Adam Smith’s Works and Correspondence', published by Oxford University Press (also in the popular-priced printed edition from Liberty Press).

This is because not all readers have access to the Oxford University Press edition and the most popular edition, at least in the USA from observations and correspondence from readers, is the Canaan 1937 edition.

The 1904 edition of Canaan’s edition is also one that appears online on various sites, which is very handy too for quick online checks, though it does not follow the same reference points as the Oxford scholarly edition, used widely in the journal literature.

There have been several critical comments on the Oxford University Press, Glasgow Edition, not for its editorial work – which is sublime – but for the fairly high fees (£800-£1500) that its right’s department charges for quoting from its volumes in a published scholarly work.

Authors whose scholarly books are unlikely to make vast sums of money (‘popular’ books by scholars can pay their way, but they are unlikely to quote too much directly from the OUP editions) and heavy permissions’ fees can mean that the OUP makes more from the published book than the author.

Much noisy discussion ensues about how anybody can claim copyright in the 21st century over Adam Smith’s works all published during 1755-90? However, the claim to copyright is not in the words so much as in the minutely detailed editorial treatment, produced at considerable expence, that covers notes on all the variations in words and paragraphs from all the editions of his books, which OUP authors and editors include as notes and footnotes.

Short of copying out the words from early editions (1st to 6th) published in his lifetime – a major task for any scholar today – users of the OUP editions will just have to stump up the OUP permissions’ fees.

To assist those who do no have access to the OUP edition I shall endeavour, where time permits and location allows, to provide both the OUP refernce details and the Canaan 1937 page number.


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