Post St. Augustine’s Day Post

Actually, I ended up celebrating St. Augustine’s Day by finishing the editing of the bibliography and footnotes for my next translation, St. Bede’s On the Valiant Woman. This is the standalone section (about Prov. 31:10-31) of his Book of Proverbs commentary. It was probably written first, and there were a fair number of manuscript versions of it. The Glossa Ordinaria notes for the Bible at times drew heavily from it, and it was quoted as authoritative by a lot of later guys. It was also a prime source of readings in the old Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours, especially for St. Mary Magdalene’s feast, and for the feasts of holy women who were married.

This was supposed to be an easy little project. It was supposed to come out last year, with only about two weeks’ work. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Hurst critical edition didn’t really dig deep into finding either Scriptural citations or quotes from the Fathers that were being referenced. Obviously it’s a lot easier overall to find those quotes nowadays, what with the magic of search engines; but it’s a lot of work all the same. Also, Hurst found a fair number of Scripture and Fathers quotes that zipped right by me, so I definitely appreciate his work! Both Beatus and Bede throw in some secular Latin quotes from the poets, too. Not super-often, mind you, but a bit more often than past critical editions gave them credit for.

Anyway, Bede’s not nearly as intricate in his quoting as Beatus of Liebana, but it’s still pretty noticeable that he does quote. We know that his own handwritten manuscripts included citations of his quotes in the side margins, and apparently he asked people to copy these. If they had just done as he asked back then, we’d have a lot easier time today!

My basic policy was to look at the interesting phrases and run a search (sometimes but not always including grammatical variants, like versions in different case or number), then record any pre-Bede results as footnotes. If it turned out to be a common Latin idiom or apparently original to Bede, fine. If it looked like a deliberate quote, I wrote it down. I’m sure this sort of search process will eventually be standardized and automated, probably assisted by the sort of “authorial voice” analysis programs that are being worked on now. But even my crude process did produce some pretty decently plausible results! I hope it will help scholars.

So now On the Valiant Woman (including a fair number of St. Augustine quotes) has been uploaded to the KDP Kindle publishing site, and it’s “in review,” getting checked by Amazon ebook distribution folks. With any luck, it’ll be out later today.

Re: pricing, I’m experimenting. Amazon wants me to raise my prices, but I also have the mighty power of running sales. So we’ll see.

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