Irving Woodworth Raymond and Orosius

The first English translation of Orosius was made by I.W.Raymond and published in 1936.  It’s probably still in copyright in the USA, unfortunately, which keeps it off the web.  A later translation exists in the Fathers of the Church series.

Someone wrote to me about Orosius today.  Apparently he is the first writer to mention the term “Asia minor”.  This led me to look again at the copyright.

When did Raymond die? (he was born in 1898, according to COPAC)  A google search led me to an obituary in the St. Petersburg Times, August 11, 1964:

NEW YORK — Dr Irving Woodworth Raymond, 65, professor of history at Brooklyn college here, died Monday at his home in York Harbor, Maine.

Isn’t Google books wonderful?  I remarked yesterday how the British Library, in putting newspapers online, made sure to charge for access; Google gives it to us for free, and we all benefit.

Sadly it looks as if his work won’t come out of copyright in the EU (life+70 years) until 2034, by which time I will be dead myself, I suspect.  In countries with life+50 years, that reduces to 2014.  And I can’t tell you when it comes out of copyright in the US, as I don’t understand the current situation; publication + 95 years, i.e. 2031?

What a mess this copyright law is!  Who benefits from keeping this offline?


14 thoughts on “Irving Woodworth Raymond and Orosius

  1. If you put something online that is still in copyright (such as Raymond’s Orosius), the worst that can happen to you is that you will receive an email or letter saying to cease and desist. Then you can simply remove the link. By putting a disclaimer near the title such as “This work is presented solely for non-commercial educational/research purposes” you further “protect” yourself. No one is going to sue you for putting an old, out of print work online. Be brave!

  2. The dates we calculate that the work will come out of copyright assume that the future copyright laws will not change. This is highly unlikely. The Mickey Mouse Copyright Act will be amended in the future to make sure that Disney’s characters will remain property of Disney and not public domain, even if it means that so will the works of other people which no longer have commercial value

  3. It’s hard to say what can happen if you get it wrong: it depends on the jurisdiction. I have been told that German publishers send an inflated bill for “damages” along with their letter, which helps ensure that no private individual in Germany has a website worth looking at, to the best of my knowledge. Thus the Bibliothek der Kirchenvaters translations are being done by people in Switzerland. In the land of the free, on the other hand, perhaps it is less likely to be a problem. In the UK and EU it’s anyone’s guess, particularly as UK law about stuff online has some strange idiosyncrasies. I don’t have any idea about Canada and Australia.

    I do think that it is pretty unlikely that anyone will sue over an old out-of-print text, already superseded. Hey, I don’t have any money anyway!

    But as ikokki rightly remarks, the publishers’ lobby will keep trying to raise the term of copyright, create new penalties, new charges, and the situation is likely to get worse, not better. No-one would have worried about Orosius in 1997, when I started scanning stuff. Today we have all these precedents being created by the RIAA sueing schoolchildren.

    Dunno, in other words.

  4. [search copyright renewal database]

    Yep, the copyright was renewed. By Columbia University Press, not him; the renewal came through in September of 1964.

    Maybe you can try some guilt on Columbia University Press. Although that still doesn’t explain why it’s not on Google Books.

  5. It must not be in print at Columbia U Press, because you can’t find it on the web catalog. No wonder they don’t have even a limited view of it on Google Books.

    But it’s not the first trans into English. King Alfred’s Orosius is full view. 🙂

    There’s also an 1849 translation into Italian…. 🙂

  6. Ah. Alfred’s Orosius is the one that contains all the interpolated material from Ohthere about northern geography, as well as Orosius’ stuff about Xerxes et al.

    The book that’s just Alfred has Latin and Old English, apparently, and the biography has Old English and English.

    Oooh, Roger, nothing but fun to code all that! 🙂

  7. Ah, you’re really getting into the research, aren’t you? I too find it’s fun to chase these things down.

    I think King Alfred’s version does exist in modern English and out of copyright, but I’ve never pursued it.

  8. Well, I guess I vaguely knew that Ohthere was attached to an older text, but I thought it was just some standard geographer. I didn’t know he went on and on for pages, either, much less that the older text did. I guess it’s a lot like your Gregory of Nyssa post above — another case where you constantly run across the same standard quotes, and never really think much about where they come from.

    Obviously it’s not really the most sane scholarly procedure to work back to Orosius from Alfred’s version, especially when there are more recent versions. But for my free audiobook purposes, it’s not all that bad an idea to read both. There’s something very intriguing, in fact, about the blend of old culture and then-new medieval info. Why do people so often insist on splitting stuff back into its neat boxes, even if we’re studying medieval stuff?

    Of course I say this, and then I’ll go back to my Old English textbook and see tons about who Orosius was, or something. 🙂

    Sorry to clog up your comment box yesterday. I have a tendency to think of another possibility right after I hit the ‘submit’ button.

  9. I don’t mind a bit — your comments are welcome either way and there’s plenty of room.

    Yes the idea of Alfred editing Orosius while up to his ears in Vikings is an intriguing one. G.K.Chesterton placed a quotation from his additions to Boethius on the title page of his monster poem, The Ballad of the White Horse:

    “I say, as do all Christian men, that it is divine providence that rules and not fate.”

  10. There are three English translations of the Old English translation (or, better, paraphrase) of Orosius ascribed to King Alfred.

    (1) Daines Barrington (who conducted the famous “scientific examination” of the eight-year-old Mozart): The Anglo-Saxon Version from the Historian Orosius . . . (1773).

    (2) Rev. Joseph Bosworth (the Bosworth of both the “Bosworth-Toller” Anglo-Saxon Dictionary and the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship at Oxford): published first in volume 2 (1853) of J. A. Giles (ed.): The Whole Works of King Alfred the Great . . ., and then reprinted separately in 1855 as A Literal Translation of King Alfred’s Anglo-Saxon Version of the Compendious History of the World by Orosius . . .

    (3) Benjamin Thorpe (who helped introduce the “new philology” to England): The Life of Alfred the Great . . . To Which is Appended Alfred’s Anglo-Saxon Version of Orosius . . . (1853). [This is the translation Maureen links to.]

    All four volumes are available via Google Books.

    [Sorry about the lack of italics on the book titles, but I couldn’t figure out how to do italics in the comment box.]

  11. Roger, I just ran across this thread this morning. I’ve done my research thru the copyright renewal files and can confirm that Raymond’s 1936 Orosius is still copyright, having been renewed on 2 Sep 1964. It thus falls into the public domain only on 1 Jan 2032.

    That said, the full text of Raymond’s English translation of Orosius, as far as I can tell, is online, if in a rudimentary form, at which thus becomes a target for downloading to hard disk, doesn’t it.


  12. Thanks — I was afraid of that.

    Interesting site, although fairly basic. I suspect it’s compiled by an oriental Christian of some sort, from the look of it. Wonder where the stuff comes from?

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