Hunting for Ibn Abi Usaibia in Brockelmann

I want to know some details about an Arabic writer.  I look in Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, right?

It’s not very easy.  My first port of call was the index.  But this is in a strange order, and also heavily abbreviated.  After a lot of effort, I gave up.

My next thought was to look in the table of contents in each volume for “medezin” and look at each section.  Luckily I already know when he lived — he died in 1270 AD — so all I have to do is find the right one.  A search in the first edition draws a blank.  Ditto one in the last section of the 2nd ed.  But the latter does refer to “b.a.Us.” under each medical writer.  That’s our boy, of course, heavily abbreviated.  So he must be here somewhere.

Eventually I find, on p.265 of vol. 1 of the 2nd ed., in what is evidently the first section dedicated to medical writers, that it starts with a few general works.  And “Ibn a. Usaibi`a” is the first of these, and — blessedly — “S. 325/6”, i.e. look at p.325-6.  It also gives the edition as by Muller, Konigsberg, 1884, which is wrong — it’s Cairo, 1882.

Except p.325-6 doesn’t contain our boy.  “S” must mean “Supplement”, then?  Nope.  Suppl. 1, p.325 contains nothing of the kind.  Or is it supplement 2?  Nope.

Is it possible, is it really possible… that this muppet means “page 325-6 of the first edition”?  And … yes he does!  Hallelujah!  And it’s in section “personalgeschichte”, which means that the corresponding section in the supplement and 2nd edition should now be findable.  And indeed, on p.397-8 of the 2nd edition, there’s more about Ibn Abi Usaibia.  There’s even the numeral “325” in the margin.

I hope that I am giving some impression of the despair that anyone in a hurry must feel, confronted with this mess.   How we need some Arabist — or group of Arabists! — to produce a usable handbook!


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