The father’s hand (2)

In part one, I described the way the mineralogist Weiß constructed the fiction of a collaboration between Immanuel Hermann Fichte and his father over the latter’s dead body. One of the persons who protected Immanuel Hermann Fichte most vigorously against the accusation of plagiarism was his former teacher August Boeckh. In order to foil Weiß’ assumption that Immanuel Hermann Fichte’s not explicitely quoting his father was a sure sign that the text had been written by the father himself, Boeckh wrote in his note:

“It is very natural for the son to want to avoid giving the impression that he is resuming his father’s philosophy, Continue reading “The father’s hand (2)”

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Seldom (maybe never) has it felt such a relief to open as it is tonight. Weeks of forced blogging abstinence, rushing ahead without looking left and right, with the edition seemingly stuck in its rachitic state. But victory, victory at last! We are moving on! What a relief –

I have been obsessed by the single aim to get more text online for months and trying to move mountains to reach that goal – with little success at first. It seems that the fruits of those efforts will finally be harvestable in the days ahead:

– the transcriptions of all letters from Tieck to Raumer already online have been reviewed by Henrike Both; Johanna is now feeding them in the XML files, adding missing xml:ids and enriching the comments (the following letters awaiting her then – she is so good at reading and commenting Tieck and in encoding in general that I think, with the two of us, we will wrap up the corpus before the end of the year) – link to the corpus here!

– Sabine has been actively encoding Boeckh’s reports on the philological seminar and we received yesterday the authorization to publish (online and in print) the scans of the original documents from the University Archive – a first ever. The link to the corpus is here (the scans should be online on Monday)! The director of the Historical Collections of the Grimm-Zentrum is to be thanked greatly for scanning the documents and making this publication possible.

– Julia has almost reached entry 2 000 of Boeckh’s book catalogue (which counts a little less than  6 000 on the whole). This is still not online since the visualization involves a direct link to the work index which requires some tuning, but Alex and I settled on a reasonable solution this morning, and it should be online before the end of the month. I will certainly let you know about it!

– Sophia is almost done preparing the Voß-Solger letters (a print version) and especially the commentary. As soon as this is done (only a few more days), she will get back to unifying some 15 Chamisso letters that are on our internal platform, waiting to be polished. Those should be published in the course of summer.

– Selma has encoded her reference text by Helmina von Chézy (an open letter / fictional text addressed to Bettina von Arnim). This should be online in a month or so.

– Alex and I agreed today on activating the pdf button of the edition by Mid-September. The pdf conversions already works pretty well for letters as it is, but need some re-working to be reasonably clean when applied to the other types of manuscripts we have. Roxane, being the only drama (and the only manuscript with comparatively short lines), always requires specific attention. And will get it for the pdf function as well.

Which means that we will be able to work on the collation from the fall on (sooo looking forward to developing something new!!!), with 2 out of the 3 due volumes in print (one is Voss, in German, and the other one is the “figures of the intellectual”, in French – I had rather not think about who is going to take care of the Solger volume right now, but I see it coming that I will have to pay someone to do the copy editing and translating in order to preserve the time I want to dedicate mainly to writing, e.g. August-October and December-February).

You can count on me to tell you more on the workshop DH Kompetenzzentren and on the Manifesto for young researchers in DH soon, since I spent most of June preparing both. See you soon!

Voß, Boeckh, Rousseau…

… have probably nothing in common except for the cohabitation they are forced to in my schedule of this August: preparing the Voß volume (e.g. the contributions to the conference I organized together with Josefine Kitzbichler and Enrica Fantino in the Summer 2010, enriched with the Voß-Solger-correspondence), preparing the grant proposal for the edition of Boeckh’s Encyklopädie, and writing the long due paper on Communication for the Rousseau encyclopedia about to be edited in Potsdam by Stefanie Stockhorst and Iwan d’Aprile.

Communication strategies, one of my favorite refrains, certainly are the smallest common denominator between the three projects. Voß communicates – in his own dysfunctional way, bashing his best friends’ publications in newspapers reviews, then writing how much he loves them and appreciates their work in private letters – with the aim of being fully recognized in his scholarly skills (if not by his contemporary readers, then by the next generations: hope keeps alive). No wonder he comes to write about his new colleagues in 1810: “Böckh und Creuzer haben für Freundschaft keinen Sinn, als Gelehrte schäze ich beide außerordentlich” (loose translation: “Böckh and Creuzer have no sense for friendship, I value both a lot as scholars”). When I think of why both would not have wanted to engage into a friendship with Voß, I can only guess they considered  they were better off safe than sorry.

Boeckh didn’t stay long in Heidelberg, he came to Berlin in 1811. This takes us to the second point: Boeckh’ encyclopedia manuscript. It consists mainly of his own notes for a class he gave no less than 26 times within 56 years, every other summer term. The original text, dating back 1809 (given in Heidelberg), was enriched and actualized by Boeckh to reach its final state in 1865. The whole fun of this project is to find a nice (digital) way of representing the 26 text layers. But before we actually reach the fun part, we (Colin King and I, writing the grant application) need to concentrate on the novelty and actuality of this edition for today’s Classics, Hermeneutics and Science History. Finding the right balance between general ideas and convincing details is the whole science of writing applications – and here we are again with the communication strategies.

As for Rousseau… well. I am not a Rousseau specialist. I have just been under the spell of the introductory pages to the Confessions since I am 15 years old and found the idea of working on “communication” in his work interesting. I decided to see how Rousseau sets up communication at the beginning of his works in general. I read several of those, introductory pages to discourses, novels, etc.  – my original idea was that you find there a movement towards the reader at the same time as a movement of withdrawal from the reader, typical for the paradoxical position of Rousseau. Now that I have read more, I am surprised to see that the image that struck me at the beginning of the Confessions, the offering of oneself to a final judgement, is a topos in the introductory parts of his works – almost all of them. I am still not sure what I will do with that.

Two weeks of those, and then you will hear again of Beausobre and Chamisso in preparation for my two September talks, and then of Dorothea Tieck, whose biography I have to write for the NDB.

Although, to be honest, working is more of a fancy right now, since it is so hot that the fan is keeping me, the kids, and Toy Story 2 barely as cool as we can manage to survive.

Back to school

With school starting on August 6th, the University buildings are deserted but for those who have kids in school age like I do. You can even recognized the bikes, not only because they are parked from 8:20 on, but also because they have old child seats on them that are discoloured by their exposure to sun and rain during the pre-school era. Real work has begun again, but in a somewhat soft atmosphere.

I spent the major part of my vacation working on a letter edition that is aimed at being printed only. I am back to the analog world!  Working on a much less precise scale (e.g. not on the scale of the single line) makes things move forward much faster. I have also given up rendering all corrections and additions by other hands. This correspondence – between Johann Heinrich Voß (the son) and Solger – has already been edited in part (to be precise, one could even say in bits) and is hence a real mess, with various hands interferring on the manuscript. This is due to the Goethe effect. In the time when he was in Weimar and Jena (the years 1804-1805), Voß was helping Schiller and Goethe out with translations and metric tasks. His letters consist in pages long acclamations and praises of Goethe (Schiller gets the due load mostly after his death). As a contribution to the Goethe cult – which Voß himself intended them to be -, they circulated very early and were partly printed in diverse editions. Although it was well known that Voß tended to exagerate (even his buddy Abeken underlines this in the book he himself wrote as a contribution to the Goethe cult a few years later), those text bits have been mostly taken at face value. Needless to say that I enjoy the myth-deconstruction part of this editorial work. The commenting might take me a while, since I am not so much into Goethe philology, but if there is an author you can find information about, it is surely Goethe. In comparison with all the unknown people I am ususally working on, it will be refreshing to find  the references to his publications without sweating and swearing and blaming google.

This leaves little time for digital stuff, alas! Still, things have moved on (without me doing much about it) in the meantime. The students’ encodings of the letters from Chamisso to de La Foye have come in numerous. Sabine, Anna and I will discuss the harmonization of those soon and we will have them online by Mid-October. Also, Janin has been working on the transcription of an unpublished text by Adelheid Reinbold on Ludwig Tieck which should be online before the end of the year: there, it is not only the strategies developed by this woman writer to assert herself that are of interest, but also the intertextuality inherent to the way she puts Tieck in a general literary perspective. Henrike has been transcribing the letters by Chamisso and his wife Antonie in the time of his travel to Greifswald and Rügen in 1823 for her BA – I find her letters fascinating. The first OCRs of Boeckh’s books have come in, we will check the quality next week. I have been contacted by the Golkonda Verlag, which plans an edition of Tieck’s works. Anna has reviewed the whole Sandmann encoding and moved on with Schlehmihl. With so many things going on, it feels good to come back to work.

Although I am not sure that I will be able to encode as many letters as I had planned until our official launch, I can see that the next winter will be productive and am looking forward to it. (I still plan to finish the older things too: the Voß volume, the Solger volume, the dissertation. So: back to Voß now!)