I’ve been proofreading the Genesis manuscript (for longer than I’d like to admit), and surprisingly, I’m finding myself implementing a really basic rule of the archive for more or less the first time. The only other handwritten works I’ve ever proofed or transcribed were all letters. Since letters are basically one of a kind, and there are few guideposts besides common sense to indicate what Blake is saying most of the time, if a word or a letter looks funky, I transcribe it funkily. The “transcribe what you see” rule is very straightforward in these cases.
However, for a work like Genesis, this rule is supplemented by an ongoing consciousness that since Blake is writing by hand, everything he means is not going to be executed perfectly. For example, the row of indentations for each line down the page might look wildly variant, but basically, we get the picture, and though Blake may have been drunk that day or something, we understand that the indentation of each line should be represented by one “tab” space, and we represent it as such. Here are a couple examples of what I’m talking about from Genesis
Obj. 3 line 6: It looks like there’s a …read more