Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Let's start with a few Latin terms...”

No, the Latin (and Greek) terms I'll be discussing today aren't nearly as much fun as the ones the Vicomte de Valmont* was teaching in the above quote, but I'm guessing maybe three people knew what I was quoting anyway. Today BookWench school is in session, and the words of the day are:
             Bibliography and Biography

These are, in fact, two different words, with two very different meanings, but at least once a month I am forced to explain the difference. One woman proceeded to yell at me for 15 minutes because I couldn't direct her to the bibliography section. She insisted that I was the idiot for not knowing where the bibliography of Barbra Streisand was, which only makes me more obstinately refuse to help her until she concedes that I am right. And yes, I am aware that I could just assume that they mean biography, and meekly take them to the right section, but I am the BookWENCH, and I demand that people use the right words, because stupidity triumphs when smart people say nothing. I am merely doing my small part to fight the inevitable Idiocracy.

So as a quick summation -
Bibliography – list of books in the back of a published work/ research paper that the author used as references in the work. Biblio – from the Greek biblion meaning book.

Biography – a book written about a specific person by another person. Not to be confused with and Autobiography which is written by the subject of the book. (This is another fight I have all the time with people) Bio -meaning life, like in Biology.

I realize that most people reading this blog will not, I hope, need those definitions, as you are all intelligent and beautiful people with excellent taste in blogs. This is merely a tool you can all use to help educate the masses on proper use of literary terms. So next time you're out and about, or working in a bookstore, or just want to lord your superior intelligence over others, you can refer them here or reference the great and powerful BookWench to support your own vast knowledge.
So go forth an educate the world, so I don't have to kill the next person who comes in demanding a bibliography of George Lincoln, the president that freed the slaves. (Yes, that really happened.)

* I couldn't find a good clip, so you'll just have to go watch all of Dangerous Liaisons. It's amazing.  You'll thank me later.

BookWench is currently re-reading The Joy Luck Club and The Crucible to help out an English teacher friend of mine. They are both wonderful works, so it's not really a hardship.


  1. I'm sure you could CREATE a bibliography for Barbra Streisand, though. More challenging if you don't include any biographies of her.

  2. I thought about just printing out the list of links at the bottom of the person's Wiki.

  3. You'll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once.