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2001-09, 331, Book Reviews, Colin Steele

‘Printers and Readers. In Memoriam. D.F. MacKenzie 1931-1999’

(= Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin. Vol.25, Nos.1 & 2, 2001). (Purchase details available from susan.woodburn@adelaide.edu.au ).

This special Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand is dedicated to the memory of Professor Donald Francis MacKenzie. MacKenzie was born in New Zealand in 1931 and in a distinguished academic career was Professor of the English Department at Victoria University, Wellington from 1969 to 1986 and Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism at Oxford University from 1989 to 1996.

MacKenzie was a trustee of the National Library of New Zealand 1975-1985 and later of the British Library. He was a founding Vice-President of BSANZ and was also instrumental in the History of the Book in Britain. In bibliographical circles his major study of Cambridge University Press 1698-1712 broke new ground and established his reputation at a very early age.

In his introduction Ian Morrison reflects that MacKenzie stands with Roger Chartier and Robert Darnton as a scholar who brought together the diverse strands of bibliography, literary theory and cultural history. MacKenzie crossed the traditional boundaries between literary history and bibliography and thus extended our understanding of the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of book production and its reception.

The short articles which comprise this issue of The Bulletin reflect the range of those interests from Lydia Wevers’ “Sociology of Travel Texts” and J.E. Traue’s “Two Histories of the Book in New Zealand” to Keith Maslen’s study “Puritan Printers in London” through a particular family history.

Like all festschrifts there is mixed subject content and not all contributions will interest all readers but this does represent a substantial “thanks” to the work and life of D.F. MacKenzie. As a permanent memento of that life, however, it might have been help ful to future readers if a longer biography of MacKenzie had been provided other than that in the brief introduction of Morrison and the postscript of J.E. Traue on MacKenzie’s interaction with books, libraries and scholarship. Even some of the obituaries which appeared at the time of his death would have been useful if an article was not able to be commissioned. Reference could perhaps have been made to “The Unofficial D.F McKenzie Home Page” at http://users.ox.ac.uk/~hobo/dfm/dfmhome2/html which has some very useful material and links.

Traue’s brief postscript with its quotation of MacKenzie’s phrase “politicians decay even faster than books” and the implicit criticism of recent developments in the British Library and the National Library of New Zealand lend a spice perhaps missing in the rest of this well-researched pot pourri of Mackenzian homage.

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