The Digital Locke Project presents the first complete text critical edition, based on John Locke’s manuscripts, of the texts that are related to his most famous work, An Essay concerning Human Understanding. The DLP concentrates on the material that was produced between the first edition of the Essay in 1689 and Locke’s death in 1704.
Versions of Locke’s works that are presently available on the Internet are based on older editions that have been rendered obsolete by the Clarendon Edition. These electronic versions of older editions do not provide text-critical information about the precise way the text evolved in the hands of the author, while philosophical and historical annotation in these versions is either rudimentary or completely absent. This kind of information is nevertheless an indispensable tool for serious scholarly research. The manuscript material relating to Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding after its publication in 1689 is either not available at all, or in older, often defective, editions. The Digital Locke Project presents this material in a database that is encoded in the widely used XML (Extensible Markup Language) format, using a project-specific DTD (Document Type Declaration, i.e. a set of encoding rules) based on the recommendations described by the TEI Consortium. Initially launched in 1987, the Text Encoding Initiative is an international and interdisciplinary standard that helps libraries, museums, publishers, and individual scholars represent various kinds of literary and linguistic texts for online research and teaching, using an encoding scheme that is maximally expressive and minimally obsolescent. The database gives a transcription of Locke’s manuscripts with text-critical apparatus, historical and philosophical notes, an introduction, a precise description of all relevant manuscripts, and a comparison with other manuscripts, which is required for a reconstruction of the genesis of the relevant texts.
The XML encoded database of the manuscript material is accessible online by means of a web server application, providing tools for accessing text-critical information, sophisticated text searching and statistical analysis. Simultaneously, the database will be the the source for a printed version of volume III of the Drafts for the Essay concerning Human Understanding, and other Philosophical Writings, eds Paul Schuurman and Jonathan Walmsley, of ‘The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke’ (Oxford University Press). Special software tools facilitate the conversion of XML encoded files to a format that is readable by the TeX typesetting system. TeX is a programmable word processor developed at Stanford, and has become a de facto standard for various forms of scientific typography during the last decades. We use TeX to create a traditional critical edition in which the main text gives a normalized version of the texts. The diplomatic information is stored in a separate footnote apparatus, the collations of the text are stored in a another apparatus and the editorial commentary is stored in a third apparatus. A dedicated TeX macro package was written to achieve this layout. The accompanying conversion script ensures that all TEI elements in the database (in their various intricately nested relations) are correctly translated into the appropriate TeX code. The presentation produced by TeX, in its turn, will be the input from which the typesetters at Oxford University Press will create the printed version of the texts.
The aim of the Digital Locke Project is wider than the digitization of one particular collection of texts. The Project aims to develop a method that can be applied to future editions, not only those in the Clarendon Locke Edition, but also editions prepared by other projects. We appreciate that online accessible information will be the medium of the future, while at the same time acknowledging that printed books will probably remain part of our life for years to come. The Digital Locke Project will combine these separate elements in one integral approach. We hope that our work will serve as a point of departure and as a source of inspiration for future projects trying to combine online and printed versions of scholarly text-editions that are based on one and the same XML database.