Posted By Roger Stritmatter on June 12, 2011
Sometimes Marx — Groucho I mean — is the best authority.
In the early days of the internet (1994-2000) there was much authorship discussion on various listserves and EBBs like the Usenet Shakespeare Authorship discussion forum, now a Google group that in the age of blogging has become a virtual wasteland.
The Google group archives do, however, contain some intriguing exchanges albeit somewhat sanitized by the leading Stratfordian ideologues who participated in those days before cleaning up the record of their most egregious errors and almost to a man slinking off to “other more important things.”
Back in that day there was a lot of sarcasm and abuse heaped upon anyone who dared to say that the de Vere Bible contained anything of consequence.
Particularly contentious were certain passages that, as I acknowledged in my PhD dissertation, were heavily faded so that the original underlining was almost impossible see except under close inspection or with high resolution photography. Some posters went so far as to sarcastically insinuate that I must have made up the annotation because it was not readily visible to them from their exalted position of clairvoyant knowledge on Usenet.
Sometime early in my study I asked the Folger if it would permit special photography to make the faded underlining show more clearly. Like the request for ink testing, this request was summarily refused.
Over the years, however, a great deal has changed. By 2011 the Folger is perhaps somewhat more enlightened as an institution than it once was, and certainly it is more eager to take advantage of technology to fulfill its sacred mission to engage in an intellectual conversation with the general public, not just hold specialized seminars for a few privileged selection of elite scholars who are afraid of public discourse because it may happen to inadvertently challenge their unexamined assumptions.
One sign of this enlightenment is the effort the library has made via Luna technology to democratize access to some of its more spectacular holdings, including the de Vere Bible Geneva Bible.
I’d known about these attempts to make Folger holdings accessible through the for a couple of years but never been able to access or work very well with the de Vere Bible STC 2106 materials. Richard Waugaman, who has conducted his own exciting corroborative research on the de Vere Bible annotations (some of it published in Notes and Queries), first alerted me to the Folger’s foray into virtual librarianship.
But it just wasn’t working for me. I struggled to locate and manipulate the document and understand Luna’s specialized vocabulary and resource applications with little success.
I think it probably wasn’t working, at least completely, for the Folger either, since getting going with these new technologies and working out all the bugs can be a trying experience, as anyone with even a little experience using cutting edge online software knows.
Then a couple of weeks ago Steve Galbraith, the Folger’s new (well, relatively!) Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Rare Books (2008–2011), and now Curator of the Folger’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection, mailed me the direct link to the holding.
Check it out!
This is truly awesome.
It more or less makes my entire color slide collection of de Vere Bible annotations (not to mention my black and white microfilm of the entire book!) irrelevant.
Now ANYONE can see for her or himself (yes, folks, anyone, as I keep telling my students with Sisyphean patience, is singular!) what these annotations look like or don’t look like.
So this shout out goes out to Dr. Galbraith and all the other Folger staff who were involved in this. In future posts I’ll be making use of the Luna images to illustrate some important points, but for now, they are there for anyone. So gape and ogle all you want and send me your questions….