5.0311 On Migne (2/90)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 9 Sep 1991 16:44:34 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0311. Monday, 9 Sep 1991.
On Migne

(1) Date: Thu, 05 Sep 91 16:52:51 CDT (70 lines)
From: "C. M. Sperberg-McQueen" <U35395@UICVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0307 Rs: Migne; BCE; English/Philosophy

(2) Date: Fri, 6 Sep 91 16:26 EST (20 lines)
Subject: Migne

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 05 Sep 91 16:52:51 CDT
From: "C. M. Sperberg-McQueen" <U35395@UICVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0307 Rs: Migne; BCE; English/Philosophy

On Thu, 5 Sep 1991 17:29:46 EDT Willard McCarty said:
>Migne on CD-ROM sounds at first like a godsend to medievalists and others,
>but I wonder. How reliable are the texts Migne used? Why did the CD-ROM
>publisher not go to those texts rather than copy Migne, who presumably
>introduced errors? ...

>Our scholarship once rested on the sometimes faulty memories or
>incomplete knowledge of memorious giants. In the near future will it
>rest on large, flawed electronic corpora?

Migne's great publishing enterprise was a cultural event of the first
magnitude, and has deeply affected the way subsequent readers have
approached the authors he printed. One reason for reproducing Migne,
and not Migne's sources, is that for the last 100 years and more
people have been reading Migne's editions, and not his copy texts.
If we care about the life of texts within a culture, Migne is important
flaws and all, and somewhat more important, probably, than most of his
copy texts (which actually, as I'm sure Willard knows full well, are a
very mixed bag as viewed by today's scholarship). If one is interested
in the best modern critical editions of the authors in PL, one should be
reading newer critical editions, where they exist. The catch is that
last phrase, since mostly newer critical editions do *not* exist.

The Migne CD ROM will be irremediably 'flawed' if one judges it as an
attempt to provide access to the newest scholarly opinion about
patristics, just as Migne is flawed if judged by that standard. (Oddly,
though, no one seems to be unhappy that Kraus or whoever is still
reprinting Migne, the way some are unhappy about the CD-ROM.) But it is
in fact merely an attempt to put onto CD-ROM a collection which is both
(a) an important cultural event in its own right and (b) still an
indispensable tool -- albeit a dangerous one, I am told -- for many
areas of study.

Let me raise my hand and say right out that when the Chadwyck-Healey
project was merely a gleam in Eric Calaluca's eye, I told him that
Migne could be regarded either as defining a genre or collection of
texts (in which case his editions are immaterial and a 'new Migne' of
exactly the same texts in different editions would be appropriate),
*or* as a publishing event which took place in the 19th century and
which produced a particular collection. As a medievalist with a
long-standing interest in problems of text criticism, I said it would
be crazy to take the first view in a CD-ROM of Migne's PL. If you want
a CD-ROM of patristic texts, then take the best editions you can. But
if you say you are making a CD-ROM of *Migne*, then you damn well
better be reproducing Migne, because otherwise how the hell am I going
to prove that X or Y or Z was quoting from Migne's edition rather than
from Watenpuhl's edition of 1544 (as his footnote claims). A CD-ROM
that purported to be 'Migne' but actually reproduced some other set of
editions would be, to my way of thinking, far more flawed, because
far less clear about what it was doing, than the simple and straightforward
project undertaken by Chadwyck-Healey, which will do what it purports
to do.

So if you want to know what idiots are responsible for C-H's decision,
here I am. I did not make the decision, it not being mine to make, but
I think it is the right decision. I'm made more comfortable
by the knowledge that the rest of the editorial board, who know a lot
more about patristics than I do, all agree with it as well. But I won't
hide behind the skirts of patristic scholars; what I say is that to
reproduce an important source is a good deed, not a flawed one. Charlton
Hinman did more for Shakespearean text criticism than most critical
editors, and Chadwyck-Healey will do more for patristics, as well as all
the other fields where PL is used, by reproducing Migne than by
waiting another fifty years for better editions.

Michael Sperberg-McQueen, University of Illinois at Chicago
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------117---
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 91 16:26 EST
Subject: Migne

With regard to the availability of patristic and medieval Latin texts on
CD-ROM, there is much to be said about the CETEDOC "Electronic Data Library"
with the Cetedoc Library of Christian Latin Texts on CD-ROM. One of the
benefits of the International Conference on Patristic Studies in Oxford,
England, was the demonstration of this disk and associated software by
Paul Tombeur of CETEDOC and several representatives from Brepols. I plan
to post more information on this over the weekend. Just let me say now that
for me at least the software and CD-ROM offer "everything you always wanted"
and perhaps a bit more. This is it. As the CETEDOC/Brepols brochure says--
"Providing a future for the past." (There is perhaps one thing better than
the CD-ROM-----hearing Paul Tombeur's enthusiasm as he gives a demonstration!)

More to come on this topic.

Grover A. Zinn, Jr.