Assembling an Electronic Edition of Such is Life

I’ve been working with the Australian Electronic Scholarly Editing Project to develop a WorkBench that will help scholarly editors (and others) with limited technical skills to assemble electronic scholarly editions. The project is in its final months and there are still a few components waiting to be integrated, but the WorkBench is advanced enough to give a preview of my work on Furphy.

Works, Versions, and Artefacts

Works, Versions, and Artefacts

For my electronic edition of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life, I am currently working through a period of checking transcriptions and will soon upload the available page images and connect them to the relevant pages in the transcriptions. This will make checking the transcriptions much easier, and so, sometime in November, I’ll be extending an invitation to Furphy scholars and enthusiasts to help me. This will be the final stage before I start the big job of writing the annotations and commentary that will guide readers through the complex relationships between the different versions. In the near future, I’ll also invite experts in nineteenth century literature and history to contribute annotations and commentary to the edition.

At the moment, I have transcriptions of the following versions:

      1. 1897 Manuscript: I have another thirty or so pages left of the 56 extant pages to transcribe.
      2. 1898 Typescript: All of the 403 typescript pages are transcribed, awaiting a second round of checking against the images
      3. 1903 First Edition: Generously provided by the Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS).
      4. 1921 Abridgement of Rigby’s Romance: Generously provided by SETIS.
      5. 1937 Abridgement of Such is Life: Complete, awaiting checking against original.
      6. 1946 Edition of Rigby’s Romance: Complete, awaiting checking against original. This will eventually be superseded by a transcription of the 1905-6 serialisation from the Barrier Truth.
      7. 1948 First Edition of The Buln-Buln and the Brolga: Generously provided by SETIS. This will eventually be superseded by a transcription of the ca 1905 typescript.

In addition to providing greater access to the pre-publication versions, the abridged Such is Life (1937) and the full-length Rigby’s Romance (1946) are available here for the first time in electronic form. All of these transcriptions are currently mounted in the AustESE WorkBench and will be made public after the period of checking and initial annotation is complete. 

Reading view showing the Palmer abridgement.

Reading view showing the Palmer abridgement.

Readers of the electronic edition will also have access to MVD side-by-side or table views to see the variation between versions at any point. These views will soon be integrated into the Reading View seen above. I will be using these, combined with annotations and an extended essay to establish a reading text that presents a full version of the 1898 typescript as closely as my argument and editorial skills will allow.

MVD showing variation between TS and The Buln Buln and the Brolga.

MVD showing variation between TS and The Buln Buln and the Brolga.

I’ll write more posts as features are added to the AustESE Workbench during the next month or so. If you have read this far, and you are interested in volunteering to check transcriptions, I’d love to hear from you to discuss the possibilities. The AustESE Workbench is set up to facilitate collaborative editing. All assistance will receive due credit in the Furphy Project pages. I can also jet up a limited preview (probably starting mid-November to mid-December) if you’d just like to explore how the archive and edition is coming together.

Viewing Typescript Images in the AustESE WorkBench.

Viewing Typescript Images in the AustESE WorkBench.

 Ultimately, I hope to use this electronic edition as the foundation and reference for a monograph along the lines of Paul Eggert’s Biography of a Book: Henry Lawson’s While the Billy Boils. By following the life of the work from its origins at the hand of Joseph Furphy through revisions, abridgements and reception down to the present day, I aim to contribute a better understanding of Furphy’s position in his own time, and in ours. 

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