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XML

BAND, XML

William Blake’s letters: Date dilemma and Keynes’s commas

Bentley reads William Blake’s letter to Thomas Butts dated September, 23, 1800 as “22 September 1800” and makes a footnote explaining the same (1541). Similarly, another letter written to Butts dated January 10, 1802 is a matter of dispute and disagreement among scholars and editors. While the object (image— lt10jan1802.1.2.LT.300.jpg) itself says “January 10. 1802”, Erdman suggests it is 1803 and not 1802, and Keynes mentions both. When we were discussing this in our BAND meeting, Sarah recommended me a copy of “Blake/ An Illustrated Quarterly 51 Volume 13 Number 3 Winter 79-80”; I did find a brief note about this discrepancy in this issue (page 148). Then the concern was how and where should we address this in the XML file.

After a couple of discussions and email-exchanges with Morris, Eric and Jarrod, we concluded that the letters should remain unscathed– no textual notes here. Rather we decided to make object notes whenever there is a date-discrepancy. Also, two lines in the January 10, 1802 letter are “perhaps quoted from Blake’s copy of Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765)” (Bentley, 1558). Keynes and Bentley have made footnotes. We decided to go with object notes and not textual notes for this as well. We agreed that the best possible guide as far as the format of object notes is concerned should be the Blake Archive’s published letters.

So now, what about textual notes?

After a month or so of working on this project, I had a brief discussion with Joey right after our BAND meeting regarding “Keynes and the commas in his edition” and “why.” We wondered why almost in every other line, does he add a semicolon or a period and if not anything else a comma or a bunch of them in a single sentence. Yes, comma seems to be his favorite punctuation mark. For the first two letters that I edited, I made notes of each and every punctuation mark added by all three of them and if I check the Google doc (to keep track of the changes made, additional punctuations and so on.), I will find “Keynes adds a comma after this word,” “Keynes reads the period as comma,” “Keynes adds a semicolon here” multiple times. But then we also discussed in the BAND meeting that only capitalization of letters should be addressed in the textual notes and not the punctuation-changes. Morris was there as well and shared some Keynes trivia. To begin with, this is the author and surgeon Sir Geoffrey Langdon Keynes, younger brother of the economist John Maynard Keynes. He was the President of the Bibliographical Society of London from 1952-1954 and was a recipient of the Society’s Gold Medal (1982). Moreover, besides being one of the earliest Blake scholars, he is also known for the biographies and bibliographies of noted English writers such as Sir Thomas Browne, John Donne, Jane Austen and Siegfried Sassoon.

Here’s our concluding thought:
So, if you don’t want to go back only to remove your notes, just don’t make them in the first place.
And we told ourselves, “Ignore the commas, not Keynes.”

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BAND, XML

Trouble in paradise: our divergent uses of the new marginalia schema

In the excitingly titled “So then what happened?” Rob outlined some of the major changes that we’ve introduced to the marginalia schema, such as using specific <layer>s to differentiate between typographic text and Blake’s writing, dispensing with line numbers for the typographic text, and dividing the annotations into discrete zones with fluid spatial coordinates. Armed with these new and fascinating solutions, we decided to transcribe the marginalia BADs independently and to hold bimonthly update sessions to discuss our progress or talk about any specific problems that came up.

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BAND, XML

Do we know what we’re estimating?

One of many things that working on the separate plates has gotten me thinking about is how we conceptualize units of space. Doing the textual transcriptions for the separate plates requires that we use a lot of <space/> and <vspace/> tags. Inside these elements, we use the attribute “extent=” to describe the size of the space. The difficulty of this is that I never feel like I have any idea what it is we’re counting. It seems like the standard instruction in the matter is to put down a rough guess and wait until it’s up on the testing site to ensure the accuracy of the number. This makes sense, but it would seem that even to put in a rough guess a person would need to have some idea what the unit is. Consulting the “Filling out an XML BAD File” on the WIP site doesn’t provide any help in the matter.

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BAND, XML

The Problem of Metamarks

This semester we’re looking at some of the unique features of the Blake marginalia, and some of the challenges of representing them accurately with TEI elements. One element we’re considering is <metamark>. But what exactly is a metamark?

This is how it’s described on the main website, which is frequently repeated elsewhere online:

<metamark> contains or describes any kind of graphic or written signal within a document the function of which is to determine how it should be read rather than forming part of the actual content of the document.

Note the extreme ambiguity of this description, e.g. about what the ‘it’ actually means. The metamark is a graphic or signal which is supposed to determine how it should be read — ‘it’, meaning of course not the metamark but the document, in which you find the metamark. Not that this brief description gives any indication as to what limits or bounds that ‘document’ or what kind of scope it has for telling the reader how this document (the paragraph, the page, the chapter?) should be read.

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BATS, XML

Sisyphus and Consistency

My recent projects as Editorial Assistant at the William Blake Archive have shared a mission: to ensure the consistency of the Archive’s text. My last project was to go through the Blake Archive Documents (BADs) and capitalize the C’s, P’s, and O’s in the words “Copy,” “Plate,” and “Object” (and their plurals) whenever they refer to specific copies, plates, or objects. My current project is to enter Bob Essick’s revisions to the lists of related works for each object, so that when the redesigned Archive is unveiled, it will have the most comprehensive, accurate, and consistent information possible.

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BAND, XML

Laocoön and Languages

At least twice in the last month or so, I have found myself transcribing an object that contains writing in a language other than English. Both times I was told that the best way to find out how to handle the foreign language text would be to find an earlier instance of an object with such text on it and look at the BAD file for that object. Laocoön has become the go-to source when I go looking for a precedent for transcription of foreign language text.

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BAND, XML

Four Zoas: In the Zone

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.

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BAND, Uncategorized, XML

Revisiting Choice Tags in Poetical Sketches

For the past few months I’ve been tackling the 72-object Poetical Sketches, one of only two of Blake’s literary works printed using conventional typesetting (the other is French Revolution). Thanks to the previous work of Ali and Megan Wilson, my job as a “pre-proofer” has become much easier. The pre-proofing process involves checking the spacing and format of each object on various browsers (also known as deuglification); reviewing line notes for errors; verifying the inclusion of the original page numbers on each object (<physnumber>); adding more specific attributes for headers (ex. <texthead type=“title”>); and, of course, adding/modifying choice tags based on our updated tag set.

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BAND, XML

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

We’ve blogged a few times about our progress with the Four Zoas encoding project, mostly recounting our efforts to develop a more flexible and dynamic schema as well as create an experimental display that takes advantage of our new XML elements. This progress has been slow but steady, and after a rigorous round of development focusing on a single difficult object, we’re ready to test our work across more objects and expand the schema to incorporate more textual features.

So as a theatrical monarch once said, “once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” Except, I can promise it will be more than just once

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