I have to write a paper that defines the word "simulation". As part of my paper, for historical reasons I've decided to use a quote from Francis Bacon's Essay Of Simulation and Dissimulation.

The problem I am currently experiencing is I can't figure out how to cite it.

After a lot of research I was finally able to figure out the publication date (1597), but I have yet to figure out how it was originally published, which is a problem, since MLA has different formats depending on whether the essay was published individually or as part of a collection.

While investigating this problem, I've seen advice that says that if you cannot determine which case is true (collection or individually) you can MLA cite it as an essay published in a collection by finding a collection not published by the original author that contains the work (example: Best English Papers of All Time or something of that nature). I was able to find a collection that was created by a person that only contains Francis Bacon essays, however to me, citing a collection that was done by someone other than the original author seems rather peculiar.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • 1
    Where did you read the essay? Any reason not to cite that source, whatever it is, as your source? May 21, 2014 at 16:49
  • I read it here: authorama.com/essays-of-francis-bacon-7.html. There's no source listed at all there, nor any other place I could find that lists the original source that displays this essay
    – Chris
    May 22, 2014 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


You must quote the source that you read, not the original publication, if they differ.

Some style manuals require that you give the original publication date, e.g. in MLA:

Bacon, Francis. "Of Simulation and Dissimulation". 1625. Essays. Ed. Michael J. Hawkins. London: J. M. Dent, 1973. pp-pp. Print.

Replace "pp" with the appropriate page numbers. And of course change all of this to the edition you used.

Wikipedia, in an article on the Essays of Francis Bacon, says that the first edition from 1597 did not contain "Of Simulation and Dissimulation". This was published in the third edition from 1625.

But this might not be the first publication of that essay, it could have been collected there from a previous publication such as in a periodical. The editor's introduction of the modern edition should explain the publication history.

  • So if I understand this correctly, I cite the essay as part of the collection by which it is first published? In this case, and I hate to contradict Wikipedia, since there's probably tens of thousands of people out there with more knowledge of Francis Bacon's work than me, but wouldn't the essay's appearance in Bacon's Essays published in what appears to be 1861 by Richard Whately be the pre-emptive source for the essay?
    – Chris
    May 22, 2014 at 10:15
  • 3
    I repeat: the source you must cite is the source you used. Whether that source is appropriate for your argument is another question. If, as you seem to imply, you just want to discuss an argument made in a text or use it to support your own argument, the edition does not matter at all, and you can quote from any edition that you have available to you. If you held the edition by Richard Whately in your hand, then quote from it. If you did not read the essay in that book, then don't quote from it.
    – user5645
    May 22, 2014 at 10:27
  • 1
    "So if I understand this correctly, I cite the essay as part of the collection by which it is first published?" No! You quote by the collection that you have held in your hand or the web resource you have viewed on your computer. NEVER QUOTE A BOOK YOU HAVE NOT READ!!! You seem to confuse "text" and "source". The text can be available in different sources. Quote the text from the source that you have actually used. Why? Because texts might differ between sources!
    – user5645
    May 22, 2014 at 10:31
  • Ok that makes sense. I guess it was just confusing as this is the first piece of literature I've had to cite where the source wasn't the original publication by the author.
    – Chris
    May 22, 2014 at 11:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.