Borghini’s Dilemma: Print Thinking and the Digital

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H. Wayne Storey


The sixteenth-century Florentine philologist Vincenzo Borghini provides a model for our own examination of the influence of print as we consider the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities of producing digital editions and archives. Briefly examining several emended passages in the 1573 expurgated edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, the essay turns to Borghini’s reliance in his 1574 Annotationi on his extensive studies of fourteenth-century Italian vernacular in manuscripts and their contrasts with the printed editions of his own day often edited — he fears — simply to sell books. Turning from Borghini’s skepticism to his own editorial work for the 2003–2004 facsimile and commentary, the author reflects upon the failures of his own edition for the print medium and how they led to the founding and development of the Petrarchive’s rich-text edition and commentary. Reflecting on two examples of the representation of the use of space in Petrarch’s medieval holograph possible only a born-digital edition, the essay concludes its brief demonstration of the deep structuring of print in philological thinking as we develop new strategies for digital philology.


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