Collected Works

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Collected Works


a type of publication uniting the complete or principal works of an author in uniform volumes in order to present his scholarly, literary, or publicistic heritage. Collected works also generally include a scholarly apparatus—supplementary articles, commentaries, and indexes. An author’s collected works are compiled when the significance of the author’s ideological, scholarly, or literary achievements has become fully evident and the time for studying his work has arrived. The publication of such a collection requires preliminary scholarly preparation of the texts, which is possible only at a certain stage in the development of textual studies and literary scholarship.

Random collections of works by various authors—the convolutae—were typical of the age of the manuscript book. After the advent of printing, editions of the texts of ancient authors were the first collected works of individual authors: for example, 92 editions of Vergil and 75 of Cicero are known. Aristotle’s collected works (Opera; vols. 1–6, 1495–98) were published by the Italian scholar and publisher Aldus Manutius. The Aldine texts were carefully collated from various manuscript copies by outstanding scholars of the time, whom Manutius brought together in his New Academy. The scholarly edition Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, which appeared in England in 1623, may also be considered one of the first editions of collected works.

In Russia, the first attempts to publish editions of collected works were A Collection of Various Works in Verse and Prose by Mikhail Lomonosov (book 1, St. Petersburg, 1751), undertaken by Lomonosov himself, and Works and Translations in Prose and Verse, by Vasilii Trediakovskii (vols. 1–2, St. Petersburg, 1752). However, true collected works could be published only when a sufficiently high level of development in publishing and book science had been attained, in the mid-19th century.

In publishing practice throughout the world, various types of collected works have become established. Editions of literary works include complete collected works, collected works, works, and selected works. Editions of scientific works include complete collected papers, collected papers, and selected papers. The distinctions between the various types are generally based on the completeness of the texts.

Soviet book science and literary scholarship distinguish two basic types of collected works of both scientific and imaginative literature: scholarly and scientific editions and large editions. Scholarly and scientific editions are carefully researched and sufficiently inclusive to facilitate a scholarly, historical, philological, and literary evaluation of the author’s works. Such editions include an extensive scholarly apparatus by means of which the texts may be comprehensively studied; they are intended mainly for specialists. In this category are academy editions of collected works, containing an author’s complete works, with variants, different redactions, and drafts, as well as such items as diaries, letters, and notes. This type of collected works is usually published in limited editions. Lenin’s Complete Collected Works (5th ed.) is an exception, since it is a large edition. Other examples of scholarly editions are The Works of K. Marx and F. Engels, the complete collected works of M. V. Lomonosov in ten volumes (1950–59), the complete collected works of Pushkin in 16 volumes (1937–49) with an index volume (1959), a unique one-volume edition of Pushkin (1947), and the complete collected works of L. N. Tolstoy in 90 volumes (80 books, 1928–58) and indexes (1964).

In individual fields of science, the publication of complete collected works is rare; it is more common for collections of an author’s main or selected works to be published. Examples are D. I. Mendeleev’s Works in 25 volumes (1934–54) and A. Einstein’s Collected Scientific Papers in four volumes (1965–67).

Also belonging to the category of scholarly editions in the USSR are the large scholarly editions, containing fewer texts than the academy editions; they include the main works in all genres with the most important variants and redactions, and sometimes a selection of letters. These publications are issued in large printings. From 1946 to 1970 the main scholarly and scientific publishing house, Nauka (Science), published 100 editions of the collected works of more than 90 authors, averaging four volumes in size and more than 3,000 copies of each edition.

Large editions of collected works are based on the texts of the scholarly editions but include only the main works and a limited scholarly apparatus. This apparatus aims to popularize the author’s work and to present a contemporary scholarly appraisal of it, generally through an introductory article and topical and historical commentary.

The number of large editions of collected works published in the USSR is quite large. For example, from 1946 to 1970 alone the publishing house Khudozhestvennaia Literatura issued more than 150 editions of 140 authors of Russian and foreign classics and of contemporary works. These sets of collected works averaged seven volumes in size and were published in editions averaging 160,000 copies. Some editions were as large as 600,000 copies or more, for example, the collected works of Chekhov in 12 volumes and of A. N. Tolstoy in ten volumes. Editions of 250,000 to 500,000 copies are quite common, for example, the collected works of M. A. Sholokhov in nine volumes, of M. Gorky in 30 volumes, Charles Dickens in 30 volumes, Jack London in eight volumes, Jules Verne in 12 volumes, and Romain Rolland in 14 volumes. During the period between 1946 and 1970, Khudozhestvennaia Literatura also published 1,042 one-to three-volume editions of selected works by 525 authors of foreign and Russian classics and of contemporary literature.

With the sharp rise in the USSR’s cultural level, the number of large editions of collected works and the size of each edition have been continually increasing. At the same time, scientific progress demands a greater number of scientific and scholarly editions. Thus, composite editions have appeared. For example, the academy edition of Turgenev’s collected works was published in 1975 in two variants. The first contained his literary works in 15 volumes and was published in an edition of 180,000–200,000 copies. The second contained his letters in 13 volumes and was published in an edition of 40,000–48,000 copies. Large editions of collected works are also issued by publishing houses of the Union republics in the national languages and by a number of central publishing houses such as Mysl’ (Thought), Kolos (Ear of Grain), Meditsina (Medicine), and Muzyka (Music).

A number of magazine and newspaper publishing houses also issue collected works as supplements to journals. For example, the Pravda publishing house prints a literary supplement to the magazine Ogonek (Beacon) in the form of 24 volumes a year, containing the works of one or several writers.


Lavrov, N. P. “Redaktsionno-tekstologicheskaia podgotovka sobranii sochinenii sovetskikh pisatelei.” In the collection Kniga: lssledovaniia i materialy, collection 11. Moscow, 1965.
Omilianchuk, S. P. “Problemy tipologii sobranii sochinenii.” In the collection Kniga: ¡ssledovaniia i materialy, collection 18. Moscow, 1969.
Udintsev, B. D. “Izdanie i rasprostranenie podpisnykh sobranii sochinenii klassikov khudozhestvennoi literatury.” In the collection Kniga: ¡ssledovaniia i materialy, collection 2. Moscow, 1960.


References in classic literature ?
Wrote mighty dismal stuff; I have his collected works.
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