By Adam Engel
The following is a note I left to future scholars and editors exploring copy F of Blake’s Songs of Innocence:
“The woman who, in copy B, sits behind the table, second from the left, is nearly absent in copy F. A shape that may be her right shoulder appears in F, as well as in S-IE C and S-IE R. She is absent from S-Inn L and Z.”
It’s a rationale for altering the notes (or “markup”) associated with each of copy F’s plates. In this instance, copy B is my template for creating copy F’s notes. This is my current work in the Archive: I compare a newly digitized copy of a Blake work with an older counterpart, note the differences, and adjust the records accordingly. If you’ve ever read Highlights magazine, you know exactly what I’m talking about (just swap Blake’s illustrations for forest animals). Usually, the tweaks are minor: an extra tiny animal here, a different border pattern there. The most ubiquitous change is probably the addition of “a rosy wash in the sky indicating sunrise or sunset.” Blake loved sunrises or sunsets.
But sometimes the change is bigger, as in the example from my notes above. The major illustration …read more