Harvesting Snakes


Knight, A Snake within my Circle, XLIBRIS,  2014

The construction of  a bibliography based on a database always requires  a methodological reflection on the scope, parameters, terms categories and definition used. It is an incentive not only to compare various sources from which open access metadata can be harvested, but, to probe, too, their competing  objectives and rationale. By cross referencing multiple resources, a better insight into  taxonomies can emerge. The problematic inscription of works into genres becomes apparent.


This understanding of the construction of the research object  and of the limitations of the tools available is the precondition to any  meaningful use of a database. For example, just compare the following results (harvested, using Zotero from a bookseller online catalog) to the elements of a database generated on the basis of (French) of two types of public records from a specialized library .


Harry Crews, A Feast of Snakes (1976) Fench Edition, Paperback, 1998

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Serpents and Snakes in Crime Fiction : a view from the Database

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The Database being developed as part of the AHRC funded project Visualising Crime Fiction and in collaboration with the BILIPO will allow to compile comprehensive bibliographies on Crime Fiction. It should enable researchers to find quickly a wealth of reference to primary texts ( mainly international crime novels) dealing with any subject.   For example, snakes. Given the noir genre  historical links with puritanism, its fascination with evil and its continued affinity with a range of  motives and archetypes from the Bible religions,  it is not surprising that an infestation of snakes should be crawling and proliferating in the pages of many novels pertaining to the genre.But how to find them ? And how can one constitute a reliable and representative corpus of international Crime novels representing snakes ? Here is a list  of novels belonging to crime fiction or any of its subgenres and featuring snakes,   playing with their connotations, or using  them as metaphor and  signifier : (for example, there are no snakes in DOA’s Le Serpent aux milles coupures, which refers to the name of an infamous Chinese torture, but there is one on the book’s cover)


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