Work in progress: Bibliographical database on Celestina

It has been long since my last post and, since summer is a time for personal projects, I would like to comment on a current ongoing project of great interest for “celestinistas”: a searchable on-line database of celestinesque bibliography.

Database frontpage.
Database frontpage.

Unlike the bibliographies of Lilian von der Walde Moheno1and A. Robert Lauer2, HTML-based and conceived as a traditional list of recommended readings, this new project is inspired by on-line library catalogues and aims to serve as an useful research tool, as well as as a digital alternative to and a backup of Joseph T. Snow’s impressive bibliography on the topic3 and Celestinesca‘s “suplementos bibliográficos”. Therefore, on its current stage, the purpose of this project is to create a database record for each bibliographical item in both, Snow’s and Celestinesca‘s bibliographies. This proves a tedious and long work, as there are more than two thousand and only slightly more than ten per cent have been introduced in the database by now, but the amount of records keeps growing and it is very likely that the database will be complete by 2015.

Records 1-5 (from 325) in table view.
Records 1-5 (from 325) in table view.
Records 1-8 (from 325) in list view.
Records 1-8 (from 325) in list view.

After some failed attempts at self-programming of the frontend and much fighting with the otherwise very useful database interface builder Xataface, it was decided to use the web-based customisable bibliographical database RefBase, which covered most of the needs of the project. Not only does it offer an excellent, almost fully customisable search tool, and several results views, but it does also offer the possibility to save and export bibliographical records directly to your computer or bibliographical software. Moreover, it allows users to keep track of the latest bibliographical entries thank to its RSS feed, and to access directly on-line items.

Simple search form.
Simple search form.

At present, this is a one-person project but should you be interested in participating or knowing the public URL, please contact me.

1Walde Moheno, Lilian von der (website), “Bibliografía: La Celestina” <> (25/07/2014).

2Lauer, A. Robert (website), “Bibliografía celestinesca” <> (25/07/2014).

3Snow, Joseph T. (1985), “Celestina” by Fernando de Rojas: An Annotated Bibliography of World Interest 1930-1985, (Madison: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies).

Celestinesque trivia: La Celestina restaurant in Madrid

Restaurante "La Celestina"Christmas season is a time for feasting and, as such, I find it appropriate to write about the restaurant called La Celestina in Madrid. Obviously, I am not interested in its homemade traditional food, but on its choice of name and, above all, on its choice of image for its card.

Instead of using any of the available Celestina‘s illustrations, the picture on the card corresponds to a detail in the 1891 painting “Patronage of the Arts by the House of Habsburg” by Julius Victor Berger (Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna). In it, the empress reads a document, presumably a letter, which a servant lady (?) also reads over her shoulder.

The interesting bit about this choice of image is that, deprived from its context, Isabella of Portugal is irremediably identified with Melibea and the servant lady is identified with the go-between, although there is no letter reading scene in Celestina. In my opinion, this is only possible because both figures correspond to the traditional mental image of a fifteenth century lady and of a fifteenth century older woman. However, this does not fully explain why this was the image chosen for the card. Were there not enough fifteenth and sixteenth century portraits to have to resort to a nineteenth century painting? Not enough illustrated editions of Celestina?

It would be worth asking the owners of the restaurant. Maybe the next time I am in Madrid.

Ecdotics: Working on the textual filiation of the early editions of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina into Italian

As I am currently working on the textual relation between Christof Wirsung’s translations of Celestina into German and their Italian model, I felt the need to create a list of separative errors that I could use as an orientation to determine from which edition of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina Christof Wirsung translated in 1520 and in 1534. The critical apparatus of Kathleen Kish’s 1973 edition1 is not to be blindly trusted, as Beniamino Vignola stated in his review of 19762 and I have verified myself, therefore, I have decided to ellaborate my own critical apparatus and to collate, in a first stage, all editions of the Italian translation of Celestina until 1520, when Wirsung’s first translation was published. Moreover, I have turned this into an occassion for using the on-line version of Juxta, the well-known free collation software, known as Juxta Commons to differientiate between the two.

The most remarkable feature of Juxta Commons so far is the possibility of sharing so-called “comparison sets”, that is, texts and their collations. For you to see how well it works, I have shared the comparison set devoted to Alphonso Hordognez’s dedicatory letter to Gentile Feltria de Campofregoso, in which I have asked the programme to ignore punctuation and capitalisation differences. Despite not having been able to create a filter to ignore irrelevant graphical variants (a feature I would appreciate very much, filtering by variant type), I think that the “heat map” (Juxta Commons’ name for the overlay of the texts with differences highlighted by color) is quite easy to use and gives a good general overview of where differences are.

Although the text corresponding to the 1515 Venetian edition is missing (I have not received my digital copy yet), the above collation offers us some relevant separative errors. These errors leave us so far with a milanese and a venetian branch in the stemma:

  • Milan editions replace “la presente opera” with “questa” in “il nostro auctore per la presente opera chiaramente cel dimostra”
  • Milan editions correct “nobile fortuna” to “mobile fortuna” in “Quali obstano ale adversita dela nobile fortuna” (although this is a correction that could arise independently at any stage of the textual history of the Italian translation of Celestina)
  • Venice 1519 turns “de miei falli” into “degli error miei”

In general, I think Juxta Commons serves its purpose well, although I miss the “attach image” option of the desktop edition and being able to ascribe variants to different categories and filter by them. Having created this collation set from plain text files, I am considering using TEI-encoded files the next time. However, I cannot still figure out which features of TEI-encoding would improve this collation set, as I am exclusively interested in separative errors. Any suggestions?

1Kish, Kathleen (ed.), (1973), An edition of the first Italian translation of the “Celestina” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

2Vignola, Beniamino (1976), “Su un’edizione della prima traduzione italiana della Celestina“, Cultura Neolatina XXXVI, pp. 129-137.

Museo La Celestina and Festival Celestina in La Puebla de Montalbán (Toledo)

After the announcement of the purchase of a facsimile of the Burgos edition of the Comedia de Calisto y Melibea by the Museo del Libro Fadrique de Basilea (announcement to which the Diario de Burgos and El Correo de Burgos have apparently devoted more attention than the official site of the museum), I remembered that there is a Museo de La Celestina in la Puebla de Montalbán (Toledo) which, as far as I know, already had a facsimile copy of the Burgos edition and has never made a big fuzz about it. This has lead me to discover that there is an annual Festival Celestina in La Puebla de Montalbán, which this year celebrates its fifteenth edition and takes place from the 23rd August to the 1st September. The programme has not been made public yet, but it looks like a good excuse to visit La Puebla de Montalbán.

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