The Parzival-Projekt
The "Parzival-Projekt" at the University of Bern in Switzerland is a new Critical Electronic Edition of Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival, "one of the most significant narrative works to emerge from medieval Europe. Composed between 1200 and 1210, it combines the Arthurian material of Celtic origin with the religious subject-matter of the Holy Grail. The central question in the work is how a world torn apart by contradictions and conflicts can again be rendered whole. Within the fictitious garb of the Parzival-romance Wolfram confers upon this question a shape that transcends time, which has given rise to intense interest on the part of listeners and readers. The sheer number of medieval manuscripts preserving the poem today speaks for itself (16 medieval manuscripts, 68 fragments, and a print dating from 1477)." The project is preparing the ground for a new electronic edition of Wolfram's Parzival. In November 2011, "selected parts of the first, third, ninth and sixteenth book of the poem are available onlive together with their critical and philological apparatus. The medium-term goal of the project is the edition of a greater coherent section, e.g. books 1 and 2 (the Gahmuret story), which will be published in parallel, in an electronic and in a printed version. [...] The base manuscript is one of the oldest and most reliable textual witnesses: St. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 857, dating from the mid of the 13th century (MS. D in Parzival-philology). By employing transcriptions, facsimiles and collation, cross-referencing and data-banks of variants, the text of this manuscript can be compared with the versions preserved in other codices." How to view and work with the electronic manuscript ? "The possibilities offered by the synoptic representation of the manuscript sources on screen can be illustrated by reference to a short extract from the Parzival -prologue. The screen presentation (produced by using the [Text Editing Software] Collate) shows in the upper left window a normalised text, based on the main manuscript D. In the lower left window is the apparatus of variants relating to this text. The windows on the right contain the transcriptions and facsimiles of the various manuscript sources. All the windows are internetted by hypertext-links and permit users an interactive interchange between base-text, apparatus of variants, transcriptions and facsimiles. [...] Electronic display enables a synthesis of philological positions, which might at first sight appear contradictory. Such a synthesis offers a work-tool, and an indispensable prerequisite for any future critical edition of Parzival. At the same time, the electronic display amounts to a form of edition which has its own peculiar nature and justification. [...] From this a new Parzival-edition can emerge, which to some extent enables its users to participate in the editorial process, leaving to them the freedom to decide between different textual variants and the form in which they are transmitted in the manuscripts. The manuscript data produced by this process would be of interest to both literary and linguistic historians."

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Sunday, 11 March 2012 - 9:27pm
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