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Afterword

The primary source for the text on this site is an undated high-Victorian reprint, seemingly based on the editions of 1823 (the seventh edition of the original Curiosities, and the first printing of the ‘Second Series’) or, more likely, those of 1824 (reprinted, corrected versions of the same).

By the 1820s, the Curiosities had settled into something very much like their final form. When comparing them with their equivalents in the ‘definitive’ posthumous edition of 1849, one sees that there were relatively few amendments to the body of the text after 1823, but that a great many supplementary footnotes had meanwhile been added. A posthumous edition of the Curiosities included in the 1885 Works of D’Israeli has been my source for these additional notes.

The work’s earliest editions differ—both structurally and superficially—from this final form. In its eighteenth-century incarnations, the book’s title was given as Curiosities of Literature, Consisting of Anecdotes, Characters, Sketches and Observations, Literary, Critical and Historical, and it was divided into three main thematic sections: Literature and Criticism; Historical Anecdotes; and Miscellanea. These groupings were quietly dropped in the reworked fifth edition of 1807, although their erstwhile presence remains faintly tangible even in the last editions of the work. Where the younger D’Israeli’s style lacks something of the easy amiability he would later attain, he is, to his credit, readier to acknowledge his sources: and one sees how often the elder D’Israeli would appear to have been an author, where he had in fact been a translator and editor. Copies of the 1793 Curiosities, specifically the third edition of the first volume, and the second edition of ‘volume the second’ have also been consulted as sources for what I have called the ‘lost’ articles. These (mostly very brief) pieces were omitted from later editions of the work. A further batch of articles which only ever appeared in the first and second editions of 1791/2 has also been included, with on-line Google Books scans of these volumes as their sources.

Besides these, I have also referred to physical copies of the 1817 Volume Three, to the 1838 Tenth Edition; and to the increasing proliferation of scanned on-line copies made available by Google Books and Archive.org. When I began the project of scanning and uploading articles, the Curiosities were nowhere to be found on-line; but during the twenty-one months it took me to complete the task, several copies of it had appeared. This is a project then, that watched itself being overtaken by much grander schemes.