Digitalisation reveals the secrets of autograph manuscripts
Nearly 500 French-language manuscripts are kept in the Martin Bod-mer Foundation. Until recently, they had never been available to researchers and the wider public. They have been digitalised by the Bodmer Lab at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and now form part of a vast research project. Over 50 student volunteers have taken part in it over the last two years. This research aims to analyse the creation process behind every document, contextualise it and gain access to an additional way of interpreting the texts.
Analysing a manuscript helps to deepen our understanding of the author’s work process: his or her doubts and repeated attempts to find the right word or phrase are made visible and become concrete. Marc Adam Kolakowski, research assistant at the Bodmer Lab and co-director of the Autograph Manuscripts project, explains: “Reading the text written by your favourite author in his own hand, retracing the genesis of a novel or theory, following the writing process and journey of a historical or love letter – that’s what digitalisation is all about, as well as putting these exceptional documents online.”