Jungtinėje konferencijoje ESTS OXFORD 2021 | GENESIS OXFORD 2021 Creative Revision: Exercises in Comparative Genetic Criticism | Histories of the Holograph: From Ancient to Modern Manuscripts and Beyond, kurią Oksfordo Jėzaus kolegijoje ateinančių metų kovo 23–27 dienomis (perkelta iš 2020 m. rugsėjo) rengia Europos tekstologų draugija (ESTS) ir Antverpeno universiteto Rankraščių genetikos centras, su pranešimu On the insanely long life of glosses, grindžiamu skaitmeninio archyvo Pavasario balsai medžiaga, dalyvaus vyr. redaktorius Paulius V. Subačius.

On the insanely long life of glosses
by Paulius V. Subačius

In classical textual studies at length discussed the cases when a failure of a scribe to recognise a gloss and its insertion in a text has resulted in several variants of a work transmitted in copies. It would seem that this problem does not pertain to modern manuscripts. True, in the modern period, authors, translators and editors also need to add an explanation of a rare word, an alternative translation etc. to the body text. However, contemporary practices of the arrangement of text, above all, footnotes/endnotes and the possibilities of a commentary block offered by various word processors, in particular, a shorter and more direct way of transmitting works, make it easier to avoid the aforementioned confusion. Yet, curious incidents did occur in the histories of the holographs, when the first publishers and even later scholarly editors erroneously interpreted a modern author who followed the ancient writing practices.

I’ll give an example of the Lithuanian poet Maironis. In the early 1920s, he translated several songs of The Rigveda into Lithuanian. In two cases, the author inserted a gloss in a line of the holograph in brackets: next to the Lithuanian translation of desire, he gave the original Hindu concept kama and a better known analogue in the form of a quite rare dialectal word used in his verses. In the majority of publications, including a recent scholarly edition, this feature of the holograph is conveyed “as is”, even without any explanation, as if the gloss were intended to be read as part of a poetic line. The confusion in interpretation was most likely caused by the fact that in other places of the holograph Maironis used “regular” footnotes for explanations, thus the editors did not move gloss-shaped notes to the bottom of the page and left them as a composite part of the body text. In his turn, the author followed the old distinction between glosses and scholia, when a short note is written right next to the commented place, and a longer note is moved farther, to the margins or below a segment of the text.

A contemporary reader could recognise the heterogeneity of the gloss in regard to the text of a poem, if it were an interlinear or marginalia written in a smaller font, but brackets in the line itself are not an adequate and sufficient distinctive mark. While discussing the case of Maironis in this respect, we face a more general problem: how we can modernise the arrangement of textual elements in a contemporary edition of a reading text so that we stick to the original as much as possible, but do not send false signals to the reader about the nature and function of textual elements.