Works containing distinct parts

some works contain distinct parts, such as frame stories (like the canterbury tales or decameron) or religious/mythological texts (different sections were written at different times by different individuals or groups) and many editions vary in what parts they include. should we

  1. separate out the works and include the as separate works in editions (like this example: The Canterbury Tales (Edition) – BookBrainz)

  2. merge them into one work (like this: Decameron (Work) – BookBrainz)

  3. add one main work that contains each part (i.e. create a work for each book in this work: βιβλία (Work) – BookBrainz and have them be part of it)

I’m personally leaning towards option 3 as it would allow for easy creations of derivative works (versions of the torah, old testament, new testament, koran etc. could all be derivative works and contain some of the works contained in the original?) but i’d also like to know if there are other opinions or if I have missed the agreed upon standards.


The answer to this question depends on whether we view the “frame” only as a collection or as a “work” in the BB sense.
We don’t have a simple rule that decides this. In the case of the “Caterbury Tales”, a series of stories with a framework plot, it is the latter for me.
“The Canterbury Tales” should be considered a “work” in the BB sense and the individual stories should be considered a “part” of this work.
So my answer is option 3.


I’d just like to point out this as an issue where there will always be edge cases. You just have to do the best you can with the information you have, and you have doubts, you can discuss in the forums. Generally, if the work is meant to always be read in its entirety, it should be one work. If it is a collection of stories that can be read separately, it should be multiple works. Novels used to be published in chapters, serially, but each chapter only makes sense if you really the whole novel (one work). Short stories can be published in fixed collections, but can easily be read individually (multiple works).

Usually, if something is described as “a collection of stories”, it should be multiple works, but the Canterbury Tales seems to have a frame story, and many of the stories has a narrative prologue, so I’m inclined to agree with @indy133.

As for the bibles, I think that’s simply a mistake. Different works called “bible” have completely different works, written by different people, of very different beliefs, across centuries. Christian bibles have double the number of works as Hebrew bibles, but the actual works included vary by denomination, even if you just consider Christian bibles. And if you’re not confused yet, take a look at a Mormon bible. It is also not entirely correct to call it anonymous: Paul is an actually historical person (the only character in the Christian bible we know actually existed) and seven of his epistles are undisputed as being his works. The other works are anonymous or disputed, I mention Paul to note how complex this is. Translations are also very different: Catholic bibles were traditionally translated from Jerome’s Latin translation (also a historical person), while protestant bibles were mostly translated from the original languages.

I’m not changing that work because that’s a very hard and complex work, and I don’t think I have enough knowledge/time/interest to work on it, but I don’t think it should be used as an example.


I had something typed out for the canterbury tales and decameron but I’m thinking maybe we should put them on hold and instead create a new thread for how to deal with βιβλία (Work) – BookBrainz, I think it would be a good idea to work on fixing it as it is one of the most complicated (if not the most complicated) tangles of works and editions we will come across here, and discussions/standards agreed upon for it will likely cover most cases of multiple collections of the same works (although of course there will still be edge cases and other types of complex relationships to deal with).

We’ve talked about the topic several times before, but we wanted to postpone it until there were more people and, above all, people who were interested in the topic: Bible variants, original versions, relationships between the different Bibles, etc.
If you would like to make a suggestion on how we can get this under control, go ahead. I support the project :wink:

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I’m with @indy133 on this one. It’s something you really need specialist knowledge to work out. You need to go work by work, see what kind of work it is, how many versions there are, what’s the translation history. I actually am interested, and I think it would be very useful to have all works and versions/translations mapped out in BB, but that’s a whole lot of work, and it’s not urgent. I think it’s more important to have the more typical books well-supported, which can already get very confusing the way BB is now. Hopefully someone who is more knowledgeable than I will eventually start a project to work on it, but I just don’t think it should be a priority

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I know a few people with the specialist knowledge that i’ll reach out to and see if i cant get a map of relationships between holy books and the works contained within them, ill come back with a new thread then. thanks for the suggestion.


I’m actually the editor who added that Bible work, but I wasn’t really sure if I was doing it “right” (if there is such a thing as right yet). I also might be down to help with the Bible cleanup/work/whatnot, whenever that starts~ (don’t know if I’ve got much specialist knowledge about the history and whatnot tho)

I mostly added the hierarchy for the Bible because I know there’s many commentaries, studies, and books looking at individual books of the Bible, so I thought it might make sense to handle it that way (but I’d be happy to do it a different way, I’m not too tied to this approach)

back to the OP, I think there might be cases for any of the three approaches, depending on the exact work, but I think the connected story approach might be a case for a higher-level work (especially if the book was published that way)

a couple other examples I can think of, while I’m here

1001 Arabian Nights (not yet in BookBrainz)

the tales of Baron Munchausen - Wikipedia, a collection of short stories about the titular character (not sure if there were multiple selections of stories or not)


These historical works are always very tricky because they often start as oral literature and exist in different versions, so it generally takes expert knowledge to map out, to date or attribute authorship. I did take a (university, not religious) course on the Hebrew Bible where I learnt about the J, E, D and P sources of the Torah. Should we consider these “sources” as BB authors? This is just one of many questions that will come up. I see this kind of works as projects that will take a long time, much discussion, and may need relationships we don’t have yet to display properly.

I think what you did makes sense as sort of placeholder, that says “we didn’t forget about this, we just haven’t worked this out in detail yet”.

In general, I think what @indy133 was saying, and I agree with, is that if the stories are connected, e.g. by a narrative frame, if they are part of a whole, it should be just one work. If they appear published separately, we can make a separate work that has a “part of” relationship to the complete work. (I don’t think we have this relationship yet.)

But, again, these historical works are very tricky; if I’m not wrong, the western translations of 1001 Nights include stories that weren’t part of the original 1001 Nights. So (if it doesn’t include the original frame narrative), a western edition would consist of translations of “parts of” the Arabic 1001 Nights work, plus translations of separate works.


just checking in, so far holidays and post-holidays have been busier than expected but i’m close to done mapping out how parts of the tanakh/old testament are organized based on wikipedia and tables of contents of various versions ive found. I plan to send the chart im making to a couple old testament scholars and librarians who have dealt with this stuff to get feedback and after that I’ll open a thread to discuss what counts as a work (for instance, whether each of the minor prophets is its own work or whether they should all be part of the same work). there will be other things to discuss like the samaritan torah and its differences with the hebrew torah (which all christian pentateuchs seem to be translations of, or translations of translations of) but luckily i think this will be be most difficult step as other abrahamic religions seem to just recognize these texts in some way without rearanging or recategorizing them.


I learnt about the J, E, D and P sources of the Torah. Should we consider these “sources” as BB authors?

i feel like we can start with not assigning authors or dates to works as the vast majority of people will be interacting with modern versions (including reprints of the original), but we may just go with [traditional] (Author) – BookBrainz for the author credit due to the ambiguity and constant debate around authorship except in possible cases where the author is agreed upon by the vast majority of academia.

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This sounds really fantastic! Great work!

I don’t disagree, I was just mentioning that as an example of the kind of complexities that come up when you start discussing this kind of ancient work. Everyone thinks they know what the Bible is, but when you start actually looking into it… it becomes very complicated…

What you said sounds really great, I’m excited to see the result of your work. As for authorship, as far as I know, only seven epistles by Paul in the (Christian) Bible have clear and undisputed authorship, like I mentioned. But I’m no scholar, of course, most of what I said was just trying to point out the complexity of this work.