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.”