Two on-line projects on the early Celestina: HSMS-DLOST and TeXTReD

The Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances exist in CD-ROM since 1997 but, despite their native digital format, they have not been made available on-line until the past year. Concretely in 2015 the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies added Celestina to their list of available corpora at the Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts (HSMS-DLOST), and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin has only needed a few months to take advantage of this and launch their own website devoted to the early texts of Celestina as part of its own project TeXTReD.

Sin título 1The Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances includes semi-paleographic transcriptions of all extant exemplars of the Comedia, of all known editions of the Tragicomedia in Castilian through 1530, and of the unique extant manuscript witness, totalling twenty-one transcriptions. In the HSMS-DLOST, these serve as a basis for interactive indexes (alphabetical, frequency, and reverse alphabetical) and concordances, their purpose being allowing scholars to do “detailed stylistic, lexical and textological studies to analyze more closely the questions of authorship and the relationship between Comedia and Tragicomedia printings”. Therefore, they serve a highly specialised function and are oriented towards a scholar audience.

Sin títuloBy contrast, the TeXTReD project sacrifices the interactivity of the HSMH-DLOST. It exclusively provides transcriptions, indexes, and concordances, in plain text, but it adds a visual component: besides the transcriptions, the indexes, and the concordances, of the HSMS-DLOST, the TeXTReD website provides links to digital facsimiles of some (three) of the transcribed texts; more specifically, those kept in the Hispanic Society of America. Moreover, there are digitisations of additional editions of Celestina kept at the Hispanic Society, in Spanish and in Italian, of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, not relevant for the Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances but still interesting for anyone working on Celestina. However, all this features are completely independent and there is no option for visualising text and facsimile simultaneously, therefore, this site is very interesting as a resource for teaching and/or research materials, but not a research tool in itself.

In conclusion, the TeXTReD project is particularly oblivious to the possibilities of Digital Humanities, while the HSMH-DLOST project takes advantage of the possibilities of linking contents, but is too static and does not include any visual component. However, despite these defects, both projects are a good point of departure and provide useful materials for further research and, above all, for future digital editions of Celestina.

Some thoughts on “Aproximación cuantitativa al sistema de personajes de La Celestina”

Twitter has proved an excellent place to meet other people interested in Celestina and it was precisely through Twitter that I came to know Jeniffer Isasi’s blog and to read her entry “Aproximación cuantitativa al sistema de personajes de La Celestina.

First of all, it must be said that her blog entry is far from being definitive, but it is merely a tentative approach to the possibilities offered by Digital Humanities tools for the study of Celestina. More specifically, the author decided to comment on the results she obtained after applying techniques of data mining to the text and use that to try to ascertain the nature and the importance of the relationships between characters in Celestina. On account of these relations, the author aims to discover if the central role given to the go-between by the title Celestina is justified or not.

Continue reading “Some thoughts on “Aproximación cuantitativa al sistema de personajes de La Celestina””

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).

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.

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