One of the things we’ve been endlessly debating in our Team Marginalia meetings has been how to “categorize” the various kinds of inscription we’ve found in our examples of Blake’s annotated books. And this is not to mention the ongoing conversation about how to handle text on the page that is not by Blake, such as the original work itself or editorial apparatus such as page numbers. In an attempt to halt the merry-go-round that these related discussions have become, we tried a new approach at our last meeting, one that we might even call “The Manual Humanities.” (more…)
May 4, 2016
April 29, 2016
While working on the journal’s index this morning I noticed how many poems we have published over the years. We might go from one year to the next without any verse, but over nearly fifty years we have enough for a chapbook. Since the Blake blog is usually quiet on Fridays, I thought I could use the space to draw attention to some of these poems. (more…)
April 28, 2016
In 2014 the William Blake Archive added a new wing devoted to searchable HTML and PDF editions of back issues of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, beginning with issues from the years 2000-2009. In 2015 we added the forty issues from 1990 to 2000 and five issues published since 2010.
The Archive is now pleased to announce the publication of the quarterly’s forty issues from 1980 to 1990. (more…)
April 26, 2016
Working on Blake’s receipts has given many of us the occasion to think of small and easy-to-miss problems. Alison’s post about the stamps, demonstrating her detailed observation of their variations and intricacies, is a perfect example. The receipts are a fascinating place for speculation about the fluctuations of Blake’s income as well as a constant source of surprising relief about his consistently neat and legible writing. In this post I thought I’d make a note of an interesting irregularity that I’ve encountered in all the receipts I’ve transcribed: Blake’s placement of the period. When writing “Mr.”, Blake often places the period or a colon in the same space under a superscript “r”:
This phenomenon is difficult to transcribe, and the standard references don’t deal with this problem in a systematic way. In a BAND meeting, we decided to attach a note with each receipt discussing the specific usage and add anything that Bentley or Keynes might say about this, but there is often a great deal of variation in Bentley and Keynes’ treatment of Blake’s punctuation. Sometimes Blake Records reproduces Blake’s writing exactly, but not always. Bentley often places the period or colon after the superscript, and Keynes omits it quite frequently. Thus, we have many nearly identical notes about minute differences in punctuation, but not much discussion of the fact that the differences in punctuation is such an important aspect of the receipts. This issue led me to think of two questions about how we could address this. First, would it be more useful to have individual notes on each of the receipts that have any such punctuations and record the varying transcriptions in each case, or to have a set of notes that cover the entire set of receipts and discuss recurring issues like interestingly placed periods in greater detail (and I’m thinking about the stamps here as well)? The second question is more generally about a particular project or publication: should a project like the receipts include a list of the issues encountered and the decisions they led to as an aid to others working in digital archiving?
April 19, 2016
The past few weeks have seen considerable progress in the development of our revised Four Zoas schema. As we expand our sample set of objects, we’re testing our XML structure in new situations and uncovering new complications. The good news: our <stage> approach to modeling layered revisions in the manuscript has held up well when applied to these new objects. Whenever difficulty arises, it’s the usual editorial problem of reading a messy manuscript. But the bad news: our <zone> element has struggled to keep up.
April 14, 2016
Lately my task has been to comb through lists of words, generated by Adam McCune’s scripts that run through Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly to search for misspellings, a task which he recently described in another blog post. My section includes all unique terms that begin with lowercase s-z. I evaluate each word, particularly lingering on red squiggles that signal the unsanctified according to Microsoft Word. I time-travel through the journal as I investigate contexts for alphabetically-organized misspellings, reading blips of scholarship that span the past fifty years. (more…)
April 13, 2016
It wasn’t until I began looking through all the letters in the Blake Archive that I realized just how unique Blake’s second November 22nd 1802 letter to Thomas Butts really is. This uniqueness poses some interesting problems when it comes to encoding. The text of this letter fills both leaves of paper from top to bottom and comes very close to the margins. It includes both prose and verse, and the verse is in two columns that begin on the first page and end on the second. (more…)
April 7, 2016
As Adam explained in last week’s post, the most recent task for many project assistants has been to search out misspelled words across extant Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly issues and make emendations where needed. While Microsoft Word provides the first indication of potential errors, we proceed line-by-line through wordlists and judge whether a word is actually misspelled or is merely unrecognized because of different linguistic origins or obsolete spelling variations. The wordlist on which I’ve been working these last few weeks contains every rare word beginning with capital letters I through R. To give you a sense of the size of this grouping, I’m still solidly in the “I” portion of a document 16,479 words long, a list containing everything from expressions of “Illustration” in four different languages to my own last name in the editorial matter beneath articles. (more…)
April 5, 2016
One of our most recent projects is the transcription of 44 receipts written and signed by William Blake. They present a few new problems, such as how to transcribe the markings between numbers — their version of a decimal point, which looks a lot like two commas. Another unique aspect is the stamp, which appears on 19 of the receipts. Initially there was uncertainty over how to classify the stamps, and they were referred to as ‘seals’ for a few months. However, consulting some reference works on philately told us that the correct term is ‘embossed revenue stamp’. These actually have a longer history than postage stamps, as they were used to denote the payment of tax on legal documents such as receipts, and before income tax became standard they were used by governments as a main source of revenue. They can be classed as either ‘documentary’ or ‘proprietary’; the latter describing stamps used for paying tax on goods, which are generally affixed to the item in question, and the former being stamps attached to legal documents. The Blake receipts carry documentary revenue stamps. (more…)
April 1, 2016
In the process of preparing the team to correct spelling errors in the digital archive of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly (errors in the transcription and in the original print version), I have made a few interesting observations about word distribution in the BIQ corpus (before the first online issues). On the principle that misspellings occur less frequently than correct spellings, I used a series of PHP scripts to generate a wordlist sorted by the number of instances of each unique word. The team is beginning by checking the spellings of rare words (appearing 1-3 times in the whole print-only run of BIQ), in hopes of encountering a higher percentage of errors more efficiently. The word list itself, however, tells us some interesting things about the word choices of Blake scholars.