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Tuesday 2 July 2019

Research Before The Internet (reposted by Smorgasbord Blog Magazine)

Sally Cronin’s third selection from my archives for her Smorgasbord Blog Magazine is my review of Antonia Byatt's novel Possession along with an account of how it brings back to life what it used to feel like carrying out university research before the days of abundant electronic resources and the internet. 

The Smorgasbord repost invitation is here

The reposted post is here

Research Before The Internet (as evoked by A. S. Byatt - Possession: a Romance)

The plot concerns two modern day scholars researching the lives of two fictional Victorian poets, and it’s a lot more exciting than that makes it sound - a cracking mystery story in fact.

For anyone whose university days predated the turn of the century, when we had to go to libraries to look things up in books and journals, or even use primary sources, perhaps researching a thesis, dissertation or final-year project, Possession brings it all back. You feel as if you are researching the Victorian poets yourself.

Read original post (~800 words)


  1. Your description of doing pre-internet research brought back such memories! That's how I learned to do research! Then in the 21st century, I had to relearn everything I knew in order to do it online. Online research is definitely faster but every once in awhile, usually in an historical context, I'd need to actually look at some old books to follow a citation trail or something tricky like that. At least I could do it -- young researchers helping me were simply incapable of it now.

    1. You had to be organized and methodical and put in the hours. There was no excuse for missing things because literatures were smaller. With today's click me quick mindset things can look thorough even when they're not.


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