Day 7 of my summer research leave
I am not happy. Quite the opposite.
In the morning, after a friendly chat with a colleague about a copy of the 1648 Löfflerey-Kunst, I searched for “Ethica Complementoria” in the catalogue of the Bavarian State Library and what popped up as the first hit was the book:
Knape, Joachim. 2020. Rhetorik als Komplementärethik: Georg Greflingers Ethica Complementoria 1643. Text und Untersuchung. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
My heart dropped; I was shocked.
Since 2009, I have been working on the digital scholarly edition of the works and writings of Georg Greflinger, and since 2012, in particular, on the digital scholarly edition of the Ethica Complementoria. I have published blog posts, presented at national and international conferences, written an entire book about its print history, delivered three transcriptions to the German Text Archive and drafted the scholarly edition.
It is a non-funded side-project on which I cannot work full-time and often only in short sprints and bursts, and my poor health and life-changing events in the past years have further delayed the publication. However, from early on, I have written publically online about the project and explicitly and expressively invited fellow researchers to contact me. There was – and is – only a tiny research community around the Ethica and similar texts. The community for digital scholarly editions of early modern printed books is small. One would think that publishing barrier-free on the World Wide Web would ensure being seen, read, and contacted in an event like this: that another researcher is planning, preparing and publishing a scholarly edition.
I sincerely believe in collaboration: working together will improve research. It will help to address biases and blind spots. It will distribute labour and make research projects less vulnerable when people have to move on, pause, or redefine their involvement. It will increase the probability of receiving funding or covering costs that occur during a project because they can be divided or carried by those with access to funds. I believe it will also increase honesty because making decisions that can hurt others can be addressed earlier and perhaps avoided altogether with the peer pressure of people looking at what you’re doing already at an early stage. But that might be just me and my beliefs.
I will now have to update websites, project descriptions, data management plans, proposals, and repositories because someone else already published the edition princeps of the Ethica Complementoria from 1643. It will be much harder, if not impossible for me now to find a publisher that is willing to publish an accompanying print version of my digital edition with a too similar book on the market.
From what I have read of the book, it provides a solid introduction to the content of the Ethica, its function, and exemplarity as the first original German Komplimentierlehre. With the commentary, it will be beneficial for students. It’s available both as a printed book and as PDF, so it will serve those who want to close-read the text in a modern yet authoritative version and want to search for specific terms.
I would have loved to contribute to this edition with all the work I had already put into transcribing the text(s), describing the different issues and copies, and my vast overview of variants between the first and most of the later prints.
Now, I will redirect my efforts and make the XML/TEI P5-encoded transcription of the 1643 print available, and then work on the systematic reconstruction of revisions and edits made to the Ethica in the different genealogical groups.
And, if I may, as moral suasion: We don’t have to, but we can collaborate. With don’t have to, but we can ask about the status of a project. And we don’t have to, but we can give a fellow scholar a heads-up about a significant publication that will affect their work.