Migration: successful!

Our edition is now hosted by the Trier Center for Digital Humanities. The corpora have landed softly, the SVN is now operational (thanks to the technical team in Trier!) – in other words: we can get back to work on the edition. Boeckh and Euler are the ones who will be lucky enough to be enriched soon. I am working on finding the necessary funding to wrap up the Chamisso-de la Foye and the Raumer-Tieck correspondences quickly as well. No surprises so far.

But some new features are in the making as well.  Continue reading “Migration: successful!”

Hybridation Means

Although I had carefully avoided to confront myself with the question of how the digital version of our edition of Boeckh’s Encyklopädie (see here for more detail on that) was supposed to compare to the print version, I was compelled to do so this afternoon under the pressure of my co-grant applicants.

The fashionable way to edit is definitely to have both a digital and a print version: an hybrid edition. But even that leaves a wide range of options. One way is to have a book version shorter than the digital version is. Another way is to have a digital and a print version based on an identical source. In both cases, the decision concerns the text as well as the apparatus. Even if you replace the digital links with URLs that are written out, it is a major editorial decision to choose for instance to have a unique source for both versions, since such a scenario supposes that both the paper and the digital version rely and depend on one another. The whole conception has to systematically embrace both aspects.

So far, I thought it would make more sense to conceive differently the digital and the paper version. This is probably due to the fact that I did not consider actually making books out of what I edit digitally. The Encyklopädie, but also other corpora in our digital edition that are more likely to be considered readable (vs. the “searchable-only” corpora I edit myself and favor because they are so cool for network research, but that’s another subject), made Alex put the question of pdfs on the agenda of our next Digital Edition-meeting. I am curious to hear how this is supposed to work. With 6 different views of one document, which one is supposed to be turned into a pdf? The reading version, because the pdf is there to be read (vs. searched)? Or is the pdf of interest as a sum of information, regrouping all that you can get on one single document?

This question is relevant for the way we will conceive the print version of the Encyklopädie. If it is possible for instance to generate pdfs on the fly representing whichever version you like better (all text layers before 1811, only the text layer 1811, the original text of 1809,…), I don’t think we should trouble ourselves too much with a print version that should achieve what the digital edition is there for, e.g. representing the text layers (to be precise, the digital version is also there to compare the versions and to realize complex searches, which the print version will not be able to supply us with whatsoever).

We agreed this afternoon on a form of the print version that would basically use a double page to reproduce one manuscript page: 1809 text layer on the left side, each line being numbered, and on the right handside, all the ulterior text layers with a short description of where they are to be found on the manuscript page, peculiarities of ink and paper, datation of said layers – and at the bottom of all that, the minimalistic commentaries. In case that all the apparatus should not fit on one page, we would have to continue on the following page, e.g. on the following two pages in order to be able to get back to our left-right situation for the next manuscript page. I will have to make an exact calculation, but I don’t think this would be realizable on the scale of the whole Encyklopädie in less than 3 big books.

We will see on the next meeting if pdfs as Alex suggests to implement them actually are good hybridation means. And I am still  looking for arguments and examples pro and contra same source vs. not same source for digital and print version in order to make up my mind on that…

“Lettres et textes. Le Berlin intellectuel des années 1800”: une présentation

L’édition numérique “Lettres et textes. Le Berlin intellectuel des années 1800” est en cours de réalisation et devrait être achevée courant 2015; les premiers corpus ont été mis en ligne en mars 2012. Réalisée par le groupe de recherche junior “Les intellectuels berlinois entre 1800 et 1830”, elle est en fait moins centrée sur le premier tiers du XIXème siècle qu’il n’y paraît.

L’objectif scientifique qui constitue la matrice de l’édition en matière de codage et de mise en page est bien celui du groupe de recherche, mais il est focalisé sur un ensemble de textes et de personnes choisis pour leur représentativité.

L’idée générale consiste à tâcher de mettre en évidence les stratégies de communications mises en oeuvre par les hommes (et femmes) de lettres et de sciences pour se positionner sur la scène publique. Il s’agit ainsi de montrer que les débats littéraires et scientifiques sont toujours aussi des débats politiques, et comment.

Cette question générale s’articule en quatre ligne directrices, qui se retrouvent dans les corpus choisis:

– quel rôle joue l’influence de la culture francaise dans la Prusse intellectuelle? C’est principalement cette question qui a amené à revenir en arrière dans le temps pour intégrer un corpus XVIIIèmiste, sans lequel l’émergence de la nouveauté de la période autour de 1800 serait difficile à mettre en évidence. Deux corpus se répondent ainsi sur cette question: la correspondance (francaise) d’Adolf von Buch et Louis de Beausobre des années 1760-1770, qui montrent de manière exemplaire les structures de circulation – francophone – des savoirs dans la Prusse frédéricienne. De l’autre côté de la ligne de démarcation “1800”, il s’agit des lettres (allemandes, mais entrelacées de francais) entre Adelbert von Chamisso et Louis de La Foye;

– dans quelle mesure la création de l’université à Berlin a-t-elle cristallisé et accentué la présence d’intellectuels sur la scène publique? C’est d’abord l’étude des papiers d’August Boeckh qui ouvre le plus de pistes sur ce point, en particulier dans la mesure où Boeckh est à la fois professeur à l’université et membre de l’Académie des Sciences. La correspondance de la “Société du vendredi”, dont les membres les plus éminents (Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen, Friedrich von Raumer, Karl Solger) étaient eux aussi professeurs à l’université de Berlin, viendra compléter ce corpus au niveau professoral. Il est également intéressant de voir comment la formation universitaire a pu marquer des générations. Les deux séries de notes de cours de F.A. Wolf et de Solger de l’année 1818 ont ainsi pour but de reconstituer l’horizon intellectuel ainsi ouvert. Des documents manuscrits relatifs à Immanuel Hermann Fichte devraient venir s’y ajouter.

– quelle est la marge de manoeuvre des écrivains, hommes et femmes? La question est plus simple à aborder en partant des hommes qu’en partant des femmes, pour des raisons évidentes de conservation des corpus. Il s’agit dans cette partie de mettre en relation nos corpus de lettres et des textes (littéraires ou scientifiques), de manière à mettre en évidence à la fois la genèse et la première réception de ces oeuvres. Nous travaillons ainsi en ce moment à un outil de collation permettant de mettrre en relation manuscrits et premières éditions. Les deux grandes figures qui sont déjà intégrées à l’édition sont d’une part Ludwig Tieck et d’autre part Adelbert von Chamisso. Du côté des femmes, c’est Helmina von Chézy qui devrait prendre place dans l’édition, mais sous une forme qui n’est pas encore clairement définie (lettres, textes?).

– bien que plus marginal, le quatrième aspect émerge transversalement dans quasiment tous les corpus; il s’agit de la réception de l’Antiquité et de son utilisation à des fins politiques. Les cours de F.A. Wolf, le projet de Boeckh à l’Académie des Sciences, les traductions du grec auxquelles se livrent la plupart des auteurs que nous éditons, en sont des exemples parlants.

Sa structure et le travail sur la mise en relation entre les différents éléments avec l’objectif de répondre à ces quatre questions sont à mon sens les points forts de cette édition. Pour l’heure, son contenu est encore trop léger pour qu’on puisse vraiment en tirer des conclusions à grande échelle. Il s’agit donc dans un premier temps d’ajouter des textes, et parallèlement de travailler à préciser nos outils de recherche de manière à pouvoir livrer des réponses concrètes aux questions ci-dessus.

 

Why letters? Because letters!

I have always sworn by letters.

It started when I was 12. First, I loved receiving them. Then, writing them. In those lucky times when, like most people, I had no idea what an e-mail is, I found everything about postality enjoyable. Checking on the mailbox again and again, opening the envelope, unfolding the letter, reading it and wondering at what time of day the sender wrote it, from where, with what pen, expecting what from me reading it. I was 17 and ripping out an envelope was some sort of telepathic moment that repeated the closeness of two writing souls who just would not call one another on the phone. Pure magic.

This experience was obviously bound to be disappointed by reality itself. But by the time I had realized that, I had reached a point of no return in my love to letters – which had revealed themselves to me as texts too, and texts that are no less interesting than novels, dramas or poetry. It even seemed to me that correspondence is  the literary genre that allows to ask the most accurate questions as to whom a text is written for: Who is a letter written for? How can it be addressed to several persons? Could it be that a correspondence, in the very moment when it is put on the paper and somehow preserved, simply ceases to be a private matter? This was the main point of my paper “Ein Versuch, die ‘Berliner Klassik’ zu zähmen – zur Erforschung von Schriftstellerbriefwechseln” (in:  Tableau de Berlin. Beiträge zur „Berliner Klassik“, ed. by Iwan d’Aprile, Martin Disselkamp and Claudia Sedlarz, Hannover-Laatzen, 2005).

I think it is one of my best papers because it is the one in which a new thesis of mine emerged. This one does not deal so much with letters as texts than with the question of making them a reference corpus likely to be interpreted in different ways. In what order are letters supposed to be read? This concerned specifically a constellation in which more than 2 persons exchanged letters. Two triangular constellations and one with about 6 persons involved were the corpora on which I developed what was more of an unanswered question at the time. First triangle: Solger, Heinrich Voss and Rudolf Abeken; second one: Solger, Tieck and Raumer. Those exchanges resulted in several configurations: one addressing the 2 others in one letter or writing 2 letters to each of them the same day, 2 writing to 1, the whole construction getting even more complex as there were crossed discussions going on and live meetings taking place in between letters. Then I started considering the letters of the whole Freitag-Gesellschaft: Solger, Raumer, von der Hagen, Abeken, Krause, and a few others, who got acquainted while they studied together in Halle and remained in contact for 50 years (for those who lived long enough). Their literary and political analyses shed light on half a century of Prussian intellectuality. But what should be the order in which to read those letters?

The best order is, of course, the digital one. Because it is open enough to allow the user to chose, from a whole series of sorting options, the one that is more relevant to him or her. This is what Solenne Coutagne writes in her report on her work as an intern in my group in the last summer. But as much as it can be satisfying to be able to shape and reshape a text for the sake of analysis, as much as it multiplies the text, though, I still feel it reduces it to a source of information. It is as if it were not a text for a human being to read any more, but a text for a machine to read. Somehow the digital edition of letters is asking the question of the addressing of the letter as a text in a completely different way. Also, how can you mark the absence in such a format – all the letters that are missing and are part of the text insofar as they are missing – where do they belong?

If I may quote some Derrida to put this all in a not so deconstructive perspective (La Carte Postale, p. 190-191, dating February 1979):

Je réfléchis à un principe assez rigoureux de destruction. Que brûlerons-nous, que garderons-nous (pour mieux le griller encore)? (…)

Nous sommes la carte, si tu veux, et comme telle, comptables, mais ils auront beau chercher ils ne nous y trouveront jamais. Par endroits, je laisserai toute sorte de repères, des noms de personnes et des noms de lieux, des dates authentifiables, des événements identifiables, ils se précipiteront les yeux fermés, croyant enfin y être et nous y trouver quand d’un coup d’aiguillage je les enverrai ailleurs voir si nous y sommes, d’un coup de plume ou de grattoir je ferai tout dérailler…

 

Corpus Part Two: My dearest friend (to whom I owe so much money)

In my post Corpus Part One, I presented the work manuscript of Ludwig Tieck’s Roxane, a youth drama which Johanna Preusse is editing.

Now Ludwig Tieck did not only have several focus of interest, he also lived a very long life, being thus able to experience the early Romanticism, the Napoleonian Wars, the Revolution of 1848 and in between all that, several moments of Restauration. Through this long period of time, the one who was in his young years one of the very first writers to actually live on his book sells, refusing any form of dependency from a Prince, turned into a reactionary court theater director. This evolution did not happen from one day to another. The literary and financial crisis Ludwig Tieck went through after 1800 and before he started his successful novel phase in the 1820s contributed decisively to the changes in his personality and in his life vision.

This crisis phase is known for Tieck’s apparent lack of productivity. At this turning point, he in fact ended up a production cycle he had begun in his school years, reworking and re-editing some of his major youth work in the collection Phantasus and working in parallel on what would become central elements of his post-1820s work (especially Shakespeare).

In that sense, most of his literary activity of that time is not so much recorded by his works than by his sketches and his letters to the friends.

Friendships are probably the saddest part of Tieck’s life. Like many of his contemporaries, but maybe even more than most of them, Tieck needed an alter ego that would make him productive. At first, it was his school friend Wackenroder who took this role. Wackenroder had a great influence on Tieck’s Franz Sternbald’s Wanderings and they wrote together  the Outpourings of an Art-Loving Friar, both major literary successes in the late 1790s and milestones in the development of romantic art theory.

But Wackenroder died as early as 1798 and left Tieck unconsolable.

When Tieck married and came to Jena shortly after that, a similarly intense friendship started between him and Novalis, one of the most amazing romantic thinkers and writers – and a successful one, too: in his Heinrich von Ofterdingen, he introduced the now well-known blue flower.

But Novalis too died not long after, in 1803. (I told you it would not be funny)

A few years later, around 1811, Tieck got to know someone completely different. His name was Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger and he was all what Tieck hated: a philosopher and a philologist in the most institutional way, a patriot, an appointed professor. Surprisingly, they became very close (if you want to know why, you can read my paper  on “Tieck and Solger. Un dialogue philosophico-littéraire” in: Philosophy and literature and the crisis of metaphysics, ed. by Sebastian Hüsch).

But then – you guessed it, I suppose – Solger died unexpectedly. We are now in the fall of 1819, and Tieck recently managed to escape his year long depression. He moved to Dresden together with his wife, two daughters and mistress, left his depressive mood behind – and enjoyed life so much that he did not find the time, in the summer and fall of 1819, to write to Solger. He had left several of Solger’s letters, requests and essential life questions unanswered, when the news that Solger had died reached him. We can retrace this quite precisely thanks to the 1934 edition of Tieck and Solger. The Complete Correspondence by Percy Matenko (transcription: accurate; layout: not fantastic; commentaries: mediocre to wrong – but still the only edition sofar).

Together with Solger’s other two best friends, Friedrich von Raumer and Ludwig Krause, Tieck decided to publish Solger’s papers as a tribute to their friendship and to Solger’s intellectual influence and pertinence in his time (a point that is still not really recognized today – but you are welcome to read Solgers Nachgelassene Schriften und Briefwechsel, ed. by Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich von Raumer, anyway!). The correspondence we will be editing is the one Tieck had with Friedrich von Raumer starting after Solger’s death and ending in the 1850s.

You will not be surprised to read that Tieck transferred part of his friendship affects on Friedrich von Raumer (Krause died before the book was even finished). He reflects it himself in one letter, complaining that Wackenroder left him, Novalis too, Solger too, and someday, for sure, Raumer too would leave him alone (he was wrong: Raumer survived him by twenty years). As you can imagine, the first part of the correspondence has a lot to do with the remembrances of Solger and the preparation of their common edition.

Surely, Tieck and Raumer did not share as many literary interests as Tieck had shared with his previous best friends. But two things brought them closer to one another: one is politics and the other one is money. In my paper “Intellektuelle Öffentlichkeit. Friedrich von Raumers Weg zwischen Politik und Wissenschaft”, in: Berlins 19. Jahrhundert. Ein Metropolen-Kompendium, ed. by Berbig, D’Aprile, Peitsch, Schütz, you can read why Raumer is an interesting correspondence partner when it comes to politics. The money question was for Tieck a crucial one, his life long, especially when he was less productive. He even had to sell his book collection at some point. The correspondence shows how often he borrowed money from Raumer, who could not only rely on a solid family inheritance, but had also – if I may put it this way – as serious job. Tieck trying to escape his debts, the strategies, the hopes to write a lot in order to make all the necesssary money – you can find all that in theses letters.

But the letters also deal with Shakespeare. So everything is saved, isn’t it?

For an introduction to Tieck’s life and work, I recommend L. Tieck. A literary biography by Roger Paulin. There is a German version too, but the original is English 🙂