gwenynen: A flying bee (academic)
Fridays are when I do my work for the Wales and the French Revolution Project at what is left of the University of Wales. Aber!Boss recently discovered rather large discrepancies between the MS deposit of the letters of Edward Rigby, and the published version edited by his daughter, Lady Eastlake. In Aber!Boss's words, she "played fast and loose with the text," so the idea is to type them up, and put them out in as unadulterated a form as possible.
Some of the things Lady E has done with the text make sense, in their own way. She's tried to make a proper narrative out of a set of (necessarily disjointed) letters; where Dr. Rigby has written about, say, his time at Lille over the course of a couple of letters (because of time, or paper space), she's conflated it into one 'day.' Fair enough, in a way, I think. Life doesn't necessarily fall into a neat narrative pattern. Other omissions are explicable in various ways - she's left out a lot of bits of family detail (where Rigby asks after family friends, or passes on greetings, asks whether they've brought in the corn yet) and bits of detail about the movement of the post. These, I think, she deemed both extraneous to the narrative, and of little interest to readers. (or she felt them too private to share!) Of course, historians now get frustrated by the lack of little details such as when the post went from Lille and how long it took to get there, and so forth. Others seem to be of a revisionist bent - Rigby is, unusually for the time, fond of the French, and does not think them lazy and indolent, as most Englishmen did. Eastlake does print these, but modifies some of the more stringent criticisms of "my prejudiced countrymen."
The most frustrating thing about the letters is... well. Dr. Rigby was a medical doctor, and it would seem that doctors' handwriting was atrocious even 250-ish years ago. It's quite variable, and that is really fascinating. In one early letter, he blames bad handwriting on the fact that his luggage still hasn't arrived, and he's having to use a borrowed hotel pen. That letter is indeed worse than others around it. His handwriting with his proper pen is not messy, per se, but it's quite... like flat lines with a few squiggles in it, ikywim? Anyway, what really occurred to me yesterday was how much people are going to miss if we just type it up and present the words. Because I got to a letter from Paris where the hand was a lot less regular and neat than previously. Then I looked at the date - 13th July, the day before the storming of the Bastille. The wording of the letter is relatively measured, given what was happening outside his hotel, but the state of the hand really gives it away - it was anxious, quite shaky, written in a hurry, desperate to get this out to reassure his family who might have heard "disturbing reports" from the continent. The next letter, from the 18th, is even worse, and is just a side of a small page, hurriedly written again because the post is about to go, to let those at home know he is still alive.
What surprised me was how affecting I found it - typing up the 13th July letter, my heart was racing, and my hands were shaking (yes, I had had lunch!) It was all terribly exciting - and a little sad, on the 18th when he was writing of how the Revolution was awesome and enlightened, and even a little English, as he praised it for not disrupting trade very much, and being quite orderly. Knowing that his hopes for the future would very soon be dashed was really hard.
But I wonder - if we get on and publish all this, whether we could (or should) append photographs of the letters, especially the 13th July one. I really felt yesterday that readers would lose something special, just reading the words on the page.
gwenynen: A flying bee (Default)
Occasionally readers actually apologise for bringing their books in overdue, with fines on &c. My normal reaction to people apologising for things is to say "no problem" or "don't worry about it". But that seems wrong in this case - after all, it isn't OK to bring books in overdue, that's why we charge fines.
So what should I respond to such readers? I don't really want to be horrid, because at least in apologising they're recognising their misdemeanour...

[Poll #1338353]
gwenynen: A flying bee (Default)
Oops. I forgot it was Vacation Recall day, until I got to work, and saw the piles of shelving before we'd even opened. I have shelved all morning, and dude, the soles of my feet are actually throbbing. Sheesh.
If I have left a weird/incoherent comment on your blog, it is because my brain is fried and also throbbing, whilst the rest of my body is just stiff and in pain in weird ways. Hooboy.

In knitting news, I have nearly finished my Milk Yarn Vest. I'm at the hardest bit, but then it's just ends to weave in. I've gone mad on the idea of knitting vests recently, which I think is due to the recent (and also upcoming) cold snap, the many different temperatures I have to contend with at and between my workplaces, and a thought that they might look ok on me. I have more in the pipeline. Though there is more knitting that needs to be done sharpish - a woollen bakerboy cap, to keep my head warm, and two-three different sorts of ipod/iphone socks for [livejournal.com profile] knirirr's and my new toys. Two to be felted, one to be sockwool. Which latter means I need to knit at least one Leyburn sock, to make sure I have enough yarn...
Phew.

T'ing

Jan. 13th, 2009 11:12 am
gwenynen: A flying bee (canu)
  • Damme. Dewey from unshelved has the same birthday as me almost!cartoon )
  • Related to that, if you are in Oxford around 5.15ish tomorrow, I'd be glad to see anyone pop into the Far From the Madding Crowd for a drink. My bossV has managed to invite the whole of the staff, when I purposely invited only those I get on with best, but never mind. I/we will be there till 7ish, as [livejournal.com profile] knirirr wants to take me to dinner. Aww. I'm beginning almost to look forward to my birthday, though doubtless something will come and bite me on the arse, it usually does
  • I had an idea this morning, workwise, but have no pad to write on. Scraps of paper are my friend right now.
  • I bought an MP3 album from Amazon on Christmas day, using a freebie voucher. It was The Seldom-Seen Kid by Elbow, this year's Mercury prize winner. Blimey, but it's hauntingly beautiful. Seriously, if you haven't heard it, do. If you only want to download one, then make it "The Bones of You." Fabboo.
  • I don't want to jinx it, but I may be getting an awesome present from my parents this year, due to having guilted them (albeit teasingly) over the amount they spend on my feckless brothers ;-)
gwenynen: A flying bee (Default)
So bored. 50 mins to go at work. Then I have to go to fencing, but I am too tired, and my fencing instructor is refusing to let me off for being hungover. Boo, hiss.
I have lots of niggling things that need doing over the next few days. Biggie is doing some more work on the recently frogged restarted chapter four; every time I get worked up to do more, Something Bad happens and all I want to do is curl up and hide from the world. To this end, some sod has added "Ditto to that" under the comment about how we are unfriendly and unhelpful in the comments books. Woo, yeah, &c. I don't know why getting depressed stops me doing my work, but it seems to.
Less Important Things that also need doing - picking up some spinning gear which is stuck in FedEx depot in Banbury; balling a hank of laceweight (gods I wish I had a yarn swift :-( ), which I might do in front of the telly tomorrow night. Hope there is Frost or Taggart. Shopping. Sleep.

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