This post wants to relate on the content of the the first of the three conferences, i.e. the presentation that Julie André and I gave in Paris on the 1st of March Proust, l’œuvre des manuscrits. The conference was organised by the "Equipe PROUST" of ITEM-CNRS (Institut des Textes et Manuscrits modernes), with funding by the ANR Program CAHIERS-PROUST (Nathalie Mauriac Dyer, ITEM, dir.)
You can admire the prototype I have created at this address: http://research.cch.kcl.ac.uk/proust_prototype/ You can download the XML and XSLT, if so you wish.
The idea that is at the base of this prototype is that in digital editions we have so far tried to reproduce print editions without engaging with the new medium in a fruitful or interesting way. Even the most sought-after type of online edition, such as the transcription presented side by side with the facsimile is not new at all, and shows quite a few limitations.
- It creates an alternative space which tries to mimic the original space, without ever being able to represent it in full;
- It leaves to the user/reader the task of establishing the relationship between the transcribed and the inscribed text;
- It is bound to present pages (and not, for instance, openings), given the constraint in width of the screen, an approach that, if applied to Proust’s Chaiers, will indeed falsify the documentary evidence which shows how Proust considered the double page as his writing space (have a look at these materials on Gallica: they are amazing!).
I think this type of visualisation is definitely not perfect but it is interesting for many reasons: first, because it tries to do something that the print editions cannot do; second, because it doesn't present a coherent read-me-top-to-bottom type of text (which would be just wrong in this case); and third, because it takes the (facsimile of the) document as its structural support.
What's still missing? Quite a lot, actually, but in particular I can think of these few points now:
- A way to represent the dynamic sequences across pages and documents: this can be easily doen in the XMl source, but not yet in the output
- A way to drag the zones away in roder to read what's underneath
- Microgenesis: timing writing and rewriting at word level.