OK With Unclear: Transcribing Difficult Texts

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By Eric Loy

Manuscript page for Vala or the Four Zoas by William Blake.

In Rochester, we get a little caught up with transcription practices. It’s not [entirely] our fault. The Blakeians at UNC-Chapel Hill focus on Blake illustrations while the manuscript/language stuff gets sent up north. Blake’s often mystifying script surrounds us, and we have been charged (by God, sure) to transcribe our way out, into the promised land of textual clarity.

During this process, we think unreasonably hard about impossibly small details. Is that a period or a comma? (What is our policy on commas again?) Is that “d” really there? Am I seeing things? Wait, or did I read it?

If you ever wanted to bridge the gap between punctuation and existentialism, documentary editing may be for you.

Anyway, the point is that we look very, very close. But maybe it helps to step back. Maybe instead of squinting real hard at our monitors, we can think for a moment how transcription serves our project in general. So there, I just did it — I stopped squinting and thoughtfully gazed out the window. Here’s what I came up with:

Remember Your Role

Abandon all hope, ye who read for clarity here: a page from Blake’s …read more

Source: http://blakearchive.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/ok-with-unclear/