I'm not quite sure I understand correctly the meaning of the word in bold font. There are two paragraphs that open the first chapter of "Set This House on Fire":

Of the drive from Salerno to Sambuco, Nagel’s Italy has this to say: “The road is hewn nearly the whole way in the cliffs of the coast. An evervaried panorama unfolds before our eyes...”

About Sambuco itself Nagel’s is characteristically lyric: “(1033 ft.) a little town of unusual appearance in an extremely beautiful landscape...

There goes a long description in the first paragraph, so I've skipped it.

As I understand, we are dealing with some sort of a guidebook named Italy in the first paragraph that is referred to in the second paragraph as just Nagel's, without the headword.

Am I right or not? If I am, is it some kind of a much used abbreviation, or there is a specific rule in English on this point?

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    A Google search for "copy of Gray's" -"copy of Gray's Anatomy" yields many false positives (Gray's Elegy / poems / works / Practical Agriculture ...) but no relevant hits that I can see. I suspect that students etc refer to the work simply as 'Gray's' though. However, we used to refer to 'Finar', 'Fieser and Fieser' etc as chemistry undergrads, and in linguistics 'McCawley' is the usual abbreviation for his most famous work. And Baedecker and 'Take our Bradshaw, Watson' (Conan Doyle) are famously used. Not the possessive form. Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 16:51
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    It is quite common with a well-known, or fond, publication. I looked for synonyms in Roget's. The stamp was listed in Gibbons (apostrophe?). Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 16:51
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    You do know there is a book by an author Nagel, entitled Nagel's Italy Travel Guide? So, even without a well-known author, your book has shortened its reference from Nagel's Italy Travel Guide to the first word, Nagel's. Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


A similar thing used to happen in the 19th and early 20th centuries with the Baedeker Guides. People would then, and still do now when talking about the history of travel, refer to them as "Baedeker" or "Baedeker's" without any further explanation.

The same thing happened with the guide books produced by British publisher George Bradshaw which were, essentially, collated timetables with notes about the towns and cities you could visit. This was originally done because the British railway system was a fragmented mess of often very small private developments and there was no internet to provide cohesion. Consultation of a Bradshaw's was the only way to get about efficiently. British ex-politician and TV personality Michael Portillo put together two TV series Great British Railway journeys and Great Continental Railway Journeys based on the Bradshaw guides in which he refers to "Bradshaw's" all the time.

It happens with other books as well. When I was a primary school child in the 1950s we were taught English using text books published by a company called Ridout and the teacher would tell us to "Take out your Ridouts" and we all knew what she meant.

  • Thank you very much! Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 19:42

It has to be the travel guide (as Yosef Baskin pointed out in comments); I don't have a copy, but it looks like the equivalent of our contemporary Lonely Planet.

Nagel Italy

Dad and Uncle Christopher used to do something similar with their beloved Rand McNally Atlases. They'd argue about some place or another up in the Catskills (NY, USA) and only end when one or the other would say: "Let me get my Rand McNally..." From there it was all downhill, as they say, and they might end up an hour later discussing the hill topography/geology anywhere from Skyline Drive in VA to some obscure corner of the Ozarks!

Note that in the case of Nagel's, the possessive ('s) is part of the title proper.

  • Thank you very much! Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 19:42

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