Reading Environments for Genetic Editions


  • Malte Rehbein Universität Passau
  • Hans Walter Gabler Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität München



This paper discusses the state-of-the-art in digital “genetic” editing, that is the philological analysis (and presentation) of the processes behind the creation of literary texts. Research on such processes is mainly based on draft manuscripts or typescripts that authors have left behind intentionally or accidentally. Creative note-taking, revisions, proof-readings, cross-linkings and additional material makes them a complex and interwoven set of data requiring specific analytic tools and reading and research environments for both general and specialist readers and users to understand them better.

The paper traces the idea of pre-electronic genetic editing and the significant changes it is undergoing in the digital era. It compares two editorial projects on renowned authors, one in print and one digital: the so-called ‘Frankfurt edition’ of Friedrich Hölderlin, and the Samuel Beckett Digital Manuscript Project. The paper discusses these in particular as “reading environments” (or user interfaces) designed for “critically experiencing” authorial writing processes in both the print and the digital medium.