The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

from the EdRLS office

with 2 comments

Steffi Grimm is our current 6-month intern from Germany and here she gives some insight into her work for us.  The  edition is transcribing all manuscript material to make sure that we have a record of Stevenson’s first thoughts.   Steffi is working on manuscripts from Stevenson’s Fables.

My name is Stefanie Grimm and I am the new research assistant with the EdRLS project.

A few days ago I started transcribing the manuscript of “The Scientific Ape” which will be part of Volume 4 of Stevenson’s stories.  As this was my first experience of transcribing Stevenson’s hand,  I stumbled over words and phrases that were difficult to read and to make sense of.

We want to give you an example how to figure out an unusual phrase by referring to historical usage.  This is a point in the story where the Chief Ape calls a halt to the experiments of the Scientific Ape. Reading the clip below we could not figure out what the words after “physical-“ could mean.

First we had to figure out if it is supposed to be one word or two because of the big space in between and the hyphen after the word “physical”. We were certainly sure that the last letter is a y, that in the middle there is a t, and that the first letter is an f. But the letters in between could have had several meanings.

After a while we settled on the transcription “physical-force tory”. But we were not sure if that expression existed, so we started looking for a description of the term “physical-force”.

We found that the term “physical-force” to describe a political idea had been most commonly used to describe a branch of Chartism—very far from the “Tory” position of the Chief Ape. But when we looked a bit closer, we found the term associated with Conservatism and with Unionist resistance to Home Rule in Ireland. Of course we will be able to leave it up to the volume editor, Bill Gray, to work out the precise significance of the term, but its use as a political category was enough to confirm the reading.


Written by pennyfielding

13/06/2012 at 6:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Many thanks, Steffi, very helpful. I can see I have my work cut out for me re 19th politics!

    Best wishes

    Bill Gray

    15/06/2012 at 2:28 pm

  2. Good work! and notice how the ‘o’ of ‘tory’goes down to the line for the lead-in line to the next letter, making it often indistinguishable from ‘a’ – in this case, no problem, but to be born in mind in other puzzling cases.

    Concerning ‘tory’ we’ve found 19C capitalization varied more than nowadays, at least for RLS: we’ve often found ‘christian’, ‘latin’, ‘bible’ and other similar cases.


    17/06/2012 at 5:55 am

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