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Transcription, Collation, Edition

September 25, 2013

Over the past several weeks, my main work on the project has been to get all of my texts in order. Foremost, I’ve been transcribing all of the texts in my corpus and putting them up on my Omeka site (the first fruits of which I hope to reveal soon). At the same time, I’m also compiling these texts into one set of documents, stripping them of metadata, and preparing them for some basic text-mining analysis (more on this in a future post). The trickiest text in this regard has been Hrabanus Maurus’ Commentarius in Iudith.

Hrabanus’ commentary has been especially tricky to work with for several reasons. The first set of issues comes from the editorial history of the text. First, I was working from the version printed in the Patrologia Latina, as I believed there to be no modern critical edition. As it turns out, there is a recent critical edition: Rabano Mauro, Commentario al libro di Giuditta, ed. Adele Simonetti (Florence: SISMEL, Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2008); but it’s not very well indexed in research databases and I only discovered its existence in the last several weeks. Finally, it’s not a particularly easy volume to get a hold of, so it caused some problems for the interlibrary loan staff before I did get a copy.

Another set of issues arises from the manuscript history of the text. Only one manuscript that circulated in Anglo-Saxon England (or only one for which we have evidence of such circulation) survives, as Arras, Bibliothèque Municipale 764, fols. 1-93 (s. ix ex., NE France; England s. x) (HG 779). Because of this fact, I wanted to use and present a text for this project that represents the Arras 764 version. Unfortunately, this manuscript is not one of the happy few from Arras that have been so far digitized for the Bibliotèque virtuelle des manuscrits médiévaux. Furthermore, only within the last month have I been able to obtain a workable version of the manuscript, the newly released volume 18 of the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile (ASMMF) project.

So my process for tackling these problems has been as follows. I began by transcribing the whole commentary from the Patrologia Latina, followed by proofing for my errors. As a sort of quality control, I relied on Geneva, Bibliothèque de Genève, lat. 22 (at e-codices, description here) to compare with the PL–since Migne’s enterprise has a notorious reputation for relying on early modern editions that are now rendered radically flawed by some scholars. As fortune has it, Geneva 22 has remained a good one for my comparisons throughout, since it is one of the earliest and most authoritative witnesses for Hrabanus’ commentaries on Judith and Esther (see Simonetti’s introductory matter).

After transcribing the PL, I did finally discover and obtained a copy of Simonetti’s edition, so I set about collating my transcription of the PL with it, keeping an eye on the apparatus to follow variants in Arras 764. This worked fairly well, and I felt like I was one step closer to having a workable representative of the text. Then fortune struck again: the ASMMF was released, I ordered it through my library, and I set to work collating and proofing my transcription with the manuscript itself. Finally, I now have a working edition of Arras 764, which serves as a nice single-text edition of Hrabanus’ Commentarius as it circulated and was read by (at least some) Anglo-Saxons.

I hope to do more with this edition of Arras 764, possibly even as a stand-alone edition. I also think that this whole process and my work with the commentary is revealing for the place of textual editing in our digital age. I’m still working some of this out, but it’s worth considering further. My future work on this edition may involve some TEI markup, or some other work to put it online as a representative of the Anglo-Saxon manuscript. I haven’t yet decided, so any input is welcome.

In any case, my corpus is now compiled to the point where I’m happy with it. I’ll be releasing the Omeka archive soon, and I’ve just started digging into the text-analysis side of things, so I’ll report those as I progress.


From → Process, Texts

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