Category Archives: Varia

Updates: title page and digitisation of Zaragoza, Diego Hernández, 1545

Just a quick note on a recent update: A reader of this blog has drawn our attention to a digitisation of the 1545, Diego Hernández, Zaragoza edition of the Tragicomedia at the Biblioteca Digital Memoria de Madrid. Thanks to him we are, thus, able to provide you with a new title page at the relevant post, and a new link at our links section.

Remember that, if you have any relevant information regarding Celestina, you can let us know via the contact form.


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Two on-line projects on the early Celestina: HSMS-DLOST and TeXTReD

The Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances exist in CD-ROM since 1997 but, despite their native digital format, they have not been made available on-line until the past year. Concretely in 2015 the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies added Celestina to their list of available corpora at the Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts (HSMS-DLOST), and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin has only needed a few months to take advantage of this and launch their own website devoted to the early texts of Celestina as part of its own project TeXTReD.

Sin título 1The Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances includes semi-paleographic transcriptions of all extant exemplars of the Comedia, of all known editions of the Tragicomedia in Castilian through 1530, and of the unique extant manuscript witness, totalling twenty-one transcriptions. In the HSMS-DLOST, these serve as a basis for interactive indexes (alphabetical, frequency, and reverse alphabetical) and concordances, their purpose being allowing scholars to do “detailed stylistic, lexical and textological studies to analyze more closely the questions of authorship and the relationship between Comedia and Tragicomedia printings”. Therefore, they serve a highly specialised function and are oriented towards a scholar audience.

Sin títuloBy contrast, the TeXTReD project sacrifices the interactivity of the HSMH-DLOST. It exclusively provides transcriptions, indexes, and concordances, in plain text, but it adds a visual component: besides the transcriptions, the indexes, and the concordances, of the HSMS-DLOST, the TeXTReD website provides links to digital facsimiles of some (three) of the transcribed texts; more specifically, those kept in the Hispanic Society of America. Moreover, there are digitisations of additional editions of Celestina kept at the Hispanic Society, in Spanish and in Italian, of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, not relevant for the Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances but still interesting for anyone working on Celestina. However, all this features are completely independent and there is no option for visualising text and facsimile simultaneously, therefore, this site is very interesting as a resource for teaching and/or research materials, but not a research tool in itself.

In conclusion, the TeXTReD project is particularly oblivious to the possibilities of Digital Humanities, while the HSMH-DLOST project takes advantage of the possibilities of linking contents, but is too static and does not include any visual component. However, despite these defects, both projects are a good point of departure and provide useful materials for further research and, above all, for future digital editions of Celestina.

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Celestinesque anecdotes: The day Joseph Snow had to deny his death

Today, the 28th of March 2015, the subscribers of the Mediber mailing-list received a sad annoucement: Joseph Thomas Snow had died. The commotion lasted only about twenty minutes, until Joseph Snow himself replied to the mailing-list stating, with a great sense of humour, that the rumours of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

Where did the news come from then? Apparently, an obituary for another Joseph Snow this one Joseph A. Snow appeared on the 5th of March 2015 in The Augusta Chronicle and assumptions were made too hastily; “our” Joseph Snow being such an important figure in the celestinesque community.

What I find more disturbing about this anecdote is that, while searching for the obituary source of this misunderstanding, I discovered that a man also named Joseph Thomas Snow, and also addressed to as “Joe”, died in 2011, so that if you enter “Joseph T. Snow” + “obituary” in Google Google’s personalised search notwithstanding the very first result is precisely the 2011 obituary of “the other” Joseph T. Snow. The world is full of coincidences.

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Joseph Snow (a.k.a. Pepe Nieves) starring in BNE’s Christmas spot

After having recognised having been taken for Santa more than once in a past interview for the BNE’S blog, it seems that the well-known “celestinista” Joseph Snow has taken his resemblance a step further. If you do not believe me, have a look at the following video:

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Friday, 5th December 2014 · 21:59

Work in progress: Bibliographical database on Celestina

It has been long since my last post and, since summer is a time for personal projects, I would like to comment on a current ongoing project of great interest for “celestinistas”: a searchable on-line database of celestinesque bibliography.

Database frontpage.

Database frontpage.

Unlike the bibliographies of Lilian von der Walde Moheno1and A. Robert Lauer2, HTML-based and conceived as a traditional list of recommended readings, this new project is inspired by on-line library catalogues and aims to serve as an useful research tool, as well as as a digital alternative to and a backup of Joseph T. Snow’s impressive bibliography on the topic3 and Celestinesca‘s “suplementos bibliográficos”. Therefore, on its current stage, the purpose of this project is to create a database record for each bibliographical item in both, Snow’s and Celestinesca‘s bibliographies. This proves a tedious and long work, as there are more than two thousand and only slightly more than ten per cent have been introduced in the database by now, but the amount of records keeps growing and it is very likely that the database will be complete by 2015.

Records 1-5 (from 325) in table view.

Records 1-5 (from 325) in table view.

Records 1-8 (from 325) in list view.

Records 1-8 (from 325) in list view.

After some failed attempts at self-programming of the frontend and much fighting with the otherwise very useful database interface builder Xataface, it was decided to use the web-based customisable bibliographical database RefBase, which covered most of the needs of the project. Not only does it offer an excellent, almost fully customisable search tool, and several results views, but it does also offer the possibility to save and export bibliographical records directly to your computer or bibliographical software. Moreover, it allows users to keep track of the latest bibliographical entries thank to its RSS feed, and to access directly on-line items.

Simple search form.

Simple search form.

At present, this is a one-person project but should you be interested in participating or knowing the public URL, please contact me.

1Walde Moheno, Lilian von der (website), “Bibliografía: La Celestina” <> (25/07/2014).

2Lauer, A. Robert (website), “Bibliografía celestinesca” <> (25/07/2014).

3Snow, Joseph T. (1985), “Celestina” by Fernando de Rojas: An Annotated Bibliography of World Interest 1930-1985, (Madison: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies).

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Celestinesque trivia: La Celestina restaurant in Madrid

Restaurante "La Celestina"Christmas season is a time for feasting and, as such, I find it appropriate to write about the restaurant called La Celestina in Madrid. Obviously, I am not interested in its homemade traditional food, but on its choice of name and, above all, on its choice of image for its card.

Instead of using any of the available Celestina‘s illustrations, the picture on the card corresponds to a detail in the 1891 painting “Patronage of the Arts by the House of Habsburg” by Julius Victor Berger (Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna). In it, the empress reads a document, presumably a letter, which a servant lady (?) also reads over her shoulder.

Titian, Charles V and Isabella de Portugal

The interesting bit about this choice of image is that, deprived from its context, Isabella of Portugal is irremediably identified with Melibea and the servant lady is identified with the go-between, although there is no letter reading scene in Celestina. In my opinion, this is only possible because both figures correspond to the traditional mental image of a fifteenth century lady and of a fifteenth century older woman. However, this does not fully explain why this was the image chosen for the card. Were there not enough fifteenth and sixteenth century portraits to have to resort to a nineteenth century painting? Not enough illustrated editions of Celestina?

It would be worth asking the owners of the restaurant. Maybe the next time I am in Madrid.

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Ecdotics: Working on the textual filiation of the early editions of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina into Italian

As I am currently working on the textual relation between Christof Wirsung’s translations of Celestina into German and their Italian model, I felt the need to create a list of separative errors that I could use as an orientation to determine from which edition of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina Christof Wirsung translated in 1520 and in 1534. The critical apparatus of Kathleen Kish’s 1973 edition1 is not to be blindly trusted, as Beniamino Vignola stated in his review of 19762 and I have verified myself, therefore, I have decided to ellaborate my own critical apparatus and to collate, in a first stage, all editions of the Italian translation of Celestina until 1520, when Wirsung’s first translation was published. Moreover, I have turned this into an occassion for using the on-line version of Juxta, the well-known free collation software, known as Juxta Commons to differientiate between the two.

The most remarkable feature of Juxta Commons so far is the possibility of sharing so-called “comparison sets”, that is, texts and their collations. For you to see how well it works, I have shared the comparison set devoted to Alphonso Hordognez’s dedicatory letter to Gentile Feltria de Campofregoso, in which I have asked the programme to ignore punctuation and capitalisation differences. Despite not having been able to create a filter to ignore irrelevant graphical variants (a feature I would appreciate very much, filtering by variant type), I think that the “heat map” (Juxta Commons’ name for the overlay of the texts with differences highlighted by color) is quite easy to use and gives a good general overview of where differences are.

Although the text corresponding to the 1515 Venetian edition is missing (I have not received my digital copy yet), the above collation offers us some relevant separative errors. These errors leave us so far with a milanese and a venetian branch in the stemma:

  • Milan editions replace “la presente opera” with “questa” in “il nostro auctore per la presente opera chiaramente cel dimostra”
  • Milan editions correct “nobile fortuna” to “mobile fortuna” in “Quali obstano ale adversita dela nobile fortuna” (although this is a correction that could arise independently at any stage of the textual history of the Italian translation of Celestina)
  • Venice 1519 turns “de miei falli” into “degli error miei”

In general, I think Juxta Commons serves its purpose well, although I miss the “attach image” option of the desktop edition and being able to ascribe variants to different categories and filter by them. Having created this collation set from plain text files, I am considering using TEI-encoded files the next time. However, I cannot still figure out which features of TEI-encoding would improve this collation set, as I am exclusively interested in separative errors. Any suggestions?

1Kish, Kathleen (ed.), (1973), An edition of the first Italian translation of the “Celestina” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

2Vignola, Beniamino (1976), “Su un’edizione della prima traduzione italiana della Celestina“, Cultura Neolatina XXXVI, pp. 129-137.

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