The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive and the Blake Quarterly

November 6, 2014

Blake’s Track Changes

Filed under: BAND, XML — Tags: , , — Eric Loy @ 10:00 am

Clarity is elusive—a particularly ironic characteristic of a manuscript that Blake so heavily marked up with instructions on how to read it.

Of course, reading is one thing. Encoding is another. (more…)

October 29, 2014

Fall 2014 Issue of the Blake Quarterly

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , — mwils31 @ 11:35 am

Congratulations to Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly for its recent publication of its Fall 2014 issue!


October 22, 2014

Tracking Down Letters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — hardeepssidhu @ 3:59 pm

I’ve written before about my ongoing project of compiling a “master list” of the present locations for all of Blake’s correspondence. To collect all of this data, I’ve scoured a tall stack of fat books and a lot of online catalogues. The baseline for this list is the work info that we’ve already verified on the Blake Archive: both for letters that we’ve published and for those that are on deck for publication. Locating the rest of the letters has taken (and is still taking) some hunting around. (more…)

October 21, 2014

William Blake: Apprentice and Master

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Sarah Jones @ 2:44 pm

An exhibition curated by the Blake scholar Michael Phillips is opening at the Ashmolean in just over a month and will run until March. It will contain works from a number of institutions, as well as a recreation of Blake’s studio from his time at Hercules Buildings in Lambeth. There are lots of associated events being planned, most notably an Inspired by Blake festival in Oxford for two weeks in January.

Many thanks to Theresa Nicolson at the Ashmolean for sending us the flier:



October 15, 2014

Funky Transcriptions in Genesis

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , — mspeer2014 @ 1:35 pm

I’ve been proofreading the Genesis manuscript (for longer than I’d like to admit), and surprisingly, I’m finding myself implementing a really basic rule of the archive for more or less the first time. The only other handwritten works I’ve ever proofed or transcribed were all letters. Since letters are basically one of a kind, and there are few guideposts besides common sense to indicate what Blake is saying most of the time, if a word or a letter looks funky, I transcribe it funkily. The “transcribe what you see” rule is very straightforward in these cases. (more…)

October 8, 2014

OK With Unclear: Transcribing Difficult Texts

Filed under: BAND, XML — Tags: , , , , — Eric Loy @ 12:56 pm

In Rochester, we get a little caught up with transcription practices. It’s not [entirely] our fault. The Blakeians at UNC-Chapel Hill focus on Blake illustrations while the manuscript/language stuff gets sent up north. Blake’s often mystifying script surrounds us, and we have been charged (by God, sure) to transcribe our way out, into the promised land of textual clarity.

During this process, we think unreasonably hard about impossibly small details. Is that a period or a comma? (What is our policy on commas again?) Is that “d” really there? Am I seeing things? Wait, or did I read it?

If you ever wanted to bridge the gap between punctuation and existentialism, textual editing may be for you. (more…)

October 3, 2014

Transcribe what you (think) you see?

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , , , — mwils31 @ 11:00 am

One of the main principles at the Blake Archive, is “transcribe what you see.” This has been useful in making many editorial choices about how to represent an image of a work on a digital page. As Laura discussed in her Sept. 24th post, there is sometimes a tension between what we read and what we see. I am currently proofing our transcription of a manuscript known by its first lines, “then She bore Pale desire.” Just like Laura, there are times when I am unsure if I am seeing the manuscript or reading the manuscript. One example of this deals with the spacing between handwritten characters: (more…)

September 30, 2014

Publication Announcement – Illustrations to Thomas Gray’s poems

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Andrea H. Everett @ 1:39 pm

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of a fully searchable electronic edition of Blake’s 116 water color illustrations to Thomas Gray’s poems. The Archive first published these designs in April 2005 in our Preview mode. This republication substantially increases the number and range of Blake’s pictorial motifs available for searching on the Archive. (more…)

September 29, 2014

“And Now Begins a New life”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Sarah Jones @ 3:18 pm

Milton copy D, pl. 36. Library of Congress (image from the Blake Archive).

Blake was full of optimism and sea air when he wrote to John Flaxman after he and Catherine arrived at the cottage in Felpham (though he did remark on the amount of luggage—mostly his stuff, not hers). He immortalized it in Milton pl. 36 and is now immortalized in turn by a blue plaque on the wall. A postcard from the early twentieth century shows the house surrounded by cruciferous vegetables in a scene rather more prosaic than that depicted by Blake. (more…)

September 24, 2014

Transcribe what you…read?

Filed under: BAND — Tags: , , , — Laura Whitebell @ 8:35 pm

As Eric discussed last week, a group of us have been working on Vala, or The Four Zoas : a project that has been occupying a large chunk of my emotional and intellectual energy lately. It’s pretty intimidating to tackle a work that is notoriously difficult and the realisation that our early transcription attempts break the way that the Archive currently handles and displays text has been disheartening. However, looking on the bright side, pushing a system to its limits actually helps you to understand it more fully, which not only affects future work but has helped me to think more deeply about past and current projects. (more…)

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