Philology: restitutio and traditio

Material philology has shown that Petrarch’s Rvf were never a bound book during Petrarch’s lifetime but remained full of continuous erasures and revisions, excluding the formal closures typical of medieval manuscripts (Belloni et al., Commentario). E-philology further enhances the idea of an open book by providing an unprecedented availability of versions of the Rvf and encouraging an interactive and fluid approach that resists easy classification according to traditional categories and hierarchies. This does not mean that for e-philology the text of the Rvf has to be neglected in favor of a plurality of indistinct textualities but that we are in the position now to appreciate both the importance of the material support and the evolution of the text, as well as their metamorphoses, more than had ever happened in the past.

We are conscious that a restorative and preservative approach is certainly a key factor in the responsibility that the digital humanities have in the conservation of the memory of the past. Jerome McGann has insisted on this point, arguing: “for the philologian, materials are preserved because their simple existence testifies that they once had value.” We share this view, as our transcription and encoding the Cod. Queriniano D II 21 and Incunabulum Queriniano G V 15 testifies.  First of all, the aim of the OPOB is to preserve a written and digital memory of these important documents of the Petrarchan tradition, as they are, by transcribing and making note of all possible details, even those that we do not understand. Nonetheless, once we have recognized this responsibility and our commitment to point out the differences that the singular documents of the past represent and their resistance to scholarly narratives of any sort, we suggest that a supposedly pure preservative approach is always exposed to specific methodological choices having an impact on the way we perceive those documents.



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