The Joys (Read: Horrors) of Transcription

This semester I’m taking a course on textual criticism and scholarly editing with Prof. David Vander Meulen, a member of UVA’s acclaimed English department. It’s been a great opportunity to spend some time outside my own discipline, and to study one of my particular passions (textual criticism) from a completely different perspective. This week Prof. Vander Meulen asked us to transcribe two brief selections from the notebooks of Robert Frost. These notebooks (some of which are archived here in Charlottesville) were recently edited by Robert Faggen and published by Harvard University Press, in an edition which has received sharp criticism due to the alleged presence of thousands of transcription errors. A thorough article on the controversy from last year’s New York Times is available here.

Take a look at the images below and see what you think. I’m pretty sure that both Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are more legible than this cramped scrawl! 😉


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