Anonymous Classics: a list of uniform titles for Chinese works

by IFLA Cataloguing Section, Working Group on Anonymous Classics


As a reply to the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles, held at UNESCO, Paris, 1961, a first list of uniform titles for Anonymous classics was published by IFLA in 1964 with the assistance of UNESCO. This list, which represented a first attempt at the standardization of headings for titles at an international level, was regarded as temporary by its compiler Roger Pierrot. The project was to draw a list of the works from countries which had attended the International Conference: on the basis of the answers provided by 15 European and Asian countries, works of literature in 34 languages were listed in this publication.

No later edition was issued for this working tool. In 1978, it was partly replaced by an edition limited to European literatures, revised and augmented by the addition of 8 literatures missing in the 1964 edition. It was planned by the International Office for UBC and coordinated by Rosemary C. Hewett.

In the early 90s, these two documents were out of print and a mere reprint was not conceivable because of their incompleteness. During the 60th IFLA Conference in Havana in 1994, the Section on Cataloguing included in its action plan a new edition of Anonymous Classics, divided in several phases. The first phase was a revision of existing lists of European literatures, complemented by the addition of literatures missing in the 1978 edition. Published on the IFLA website in 2004, the new edition of Anonymous classics : a list of uniform headings for European literatures includes literatures in 28 languages of the European continent and is completed by definitions of the works and a bibliography for each literature.

The next step was to draw up a list of African oral epics. It was published, as a draft, on the IFLA website in 2005.

With the present list of Chinese anonymous classics the Asian part of the project begins. For Asian literatures, the lists will be published separately and successively. In the long term the aim is to bring together these lists in order to create links between the versions or adaptations of the same work in different languages.

Anonymous classics: a list of uniform headings for Chinese works began to be compiled in early 2006 by Ben Gu, National Library of China. Most titles originate from Zhong guo da shu dian (中国大书典) or Great Encyclopedia of Chinese Books. According to experts from the National Library of China, most anonymous classics are dated before the Qing dynasty (1616-1912). Therefore, this list includes very few titles after the beginning of the Qing dynasty. Titles in other languages are mainly selected from the online catalogues of national libraries.

Nadine Boddaert reviewed the draft, and made some comments and suggestions. After Ben Gu and Nadine Boddaert met in Paris in April 2008, the draft was finalized and made ready for review by the IFLA Cataloguing Section.

Ben Gu, National Library of China

Nadine Boddaert, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Coordinator of Anonymous Classics Project.

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Updated 6/3/2012