Bon à tirer
January 11, 2011 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Gallica (the digital section of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) has put Charles Baudelaire's heavily annotated proofs of Les Fleurs du Mal on line.
posted by Lezzles (10 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I was a scholar of French lit so that I could properly appreciate this. (Now if they did this for Descartes, I'd be effing over the moon.)
posted by oddman at 6:59 AM on January 11, 2011

This is fantastic—thanks!
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on January 11, 2011

I think the right term for these notes are "corrections" to the proof, not annotations. I mean, if I understand it correctly Ch. Baudelaire is actively the changing the pre-publication text before sending it off to the printers, right? Anyway, that's a mere detail; it's always intriguing to see the nuts & bolts of the writing-editing-proofreading process, even if I can't understand much of the text.

In other words, how does one spell hookah?
posted by chavenet at 8:35 AM on January 11, 2011

Also, it's clear that at the time an author really had to do this proofreading carefully. On page 6 of this proof the title line is LES ELEURS DU MAL and on page 7 it says LES FEURS DO MAL.

I guess I think "Spellcheck Baudelaire" would be a good name for a band...
posted by chavenet at 8:42 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, chavanet, I suppose you are right. But then, sometimes, the corrections spill over into comments eg. here.
posted by Lezzles at 8:49 AM on January 11, 2011

Just to say that Gallica rules. Of course it's much less extensive than Google Books as it covers only French books and magazines, but if you're doing research on non-contemporary French history, culture or science, it's really impressive. First, unlike Google Books, the documents have correct metadata written by actual humans. Second, the PDFs come with the full embedded ASCII text whenever possible, and the OCR quality is very high (Google Books are often image-only and one has to go to to get the texts). It's also very consistent regarding copyright and full-text availability. I do love Google Books, too it's a (paid by advertising) gift to mankind, but Gallica is Google Books done right in many respects, on a smaller scale.
posted by elgilito at 9:42 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

it covers only French books and magazines,

There are actually quite a lot of English-language books in Gallica. And I agree, it's got most things right.
posted by Lezzles at 10:32 AM on January 11, 2011

Wow, neat. The Litany of Satan (scroll down for English, check here in the images from the FPP) has been on my short-list of favorite poems for a long time.
posted by vorfeed at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2011

@vorfeed Yes, and look at those intrusive circumflexes. Baudelaire obviously wanted just a plain old O, but the version you link to has Ô.
posted by Lezzles at 1:05 PM on January 11, 2011

It's fun to look at these proofs alongside Baudelaire's letters to his long-suffering publisher Poulet-Malassis, which can be read on Google Books:

For the new run, correct all the errors I've indicated on the proof (the printed sheet) sent by me .. As for my punctuation, remember that its purpose is to indicate not only the meaning, but the WAY IN WHICH IT SHOULD BE READ ALOUD. As for those letters that are badly formed, you're right, but it's not my fault if my eye is too keen. (18 March 1857)

The sheet you ask me to return is already in your possession. On this score I'll beg you (it seems there's still time!) to substitute in one of the last Spleen poems a line just before a new section full of corrections. Instead of 'boredom, son of dull incuriosity' put 'boredom, fruit of ..' This correction, which may seem childish, has particular importance for me. I'll send off your galleys tomorrow. (25 April 1857)

No, dear friend, I shall still not be finished today .. I'm fencing with 30-odd lines which I find weak, displeasing, made badly, and rhyming badly .. This morning I corrected my ninth sheet. It's perfectly plain to me that you shouldn't correct a sheet before sending it to me -- that only serves to introduce errors. (14 May 1857)
posted by verstegan at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2011

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