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BITECA

The Bibliografia de textos antics catalans, valencians i balears (BITECA) was born in the 1980s as a project associated with the Bibliography of Old Spanish Texts (BOOST) (now in its 5th ed. on CD-ROM with the name of Bibliografía Española de Textos Antiguos = BETA, or rather, in its 7th, represented by this renovated web site). In 1984 Beatrice J. Concheff published her Bibliography of Old Catalan Texts = BOOCT (Madison, WI: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies), a project continued in 1989 by the directors of the team that currently carries it on and who sign these lines. Initial results were presented on CD-ROM on disk 0 of ADMYTE (Madrid: Fundación V Centenario, MICRONET, Biblioteca Nacional, 1994), followed by a second edition on CD-ROM in 1999 (Berkeley: Bancroft Library). Archival research has not ceased and in the present web site we offer to scholars the current results of our research, much more complete today than those presented on the 1999 CD-ROM.

In the introduction that accompanied the CD-ROM editions, we mentioned the difficulties we faced, both with regard to the starting point (the work of Concheff and the original software program, which had to be completely transformed and which now has been modified again in order to bring it up to date), as well as with regard to the continuation of the work (a revised scope for the corpus, systematic library research, first-hand examination of their holdings, the search for little-known editions and studies, etc). There we also defined the limits and the scope of this project (1). But for those who are using BITECA for the first time we shall attempt to explain briefly its characteristics.

Compiled by
Characteristics of the corpus
Current state
Contributions and the research team
Future prospects
Acknowledgments

Compiled by:

Vicenç Beltran, Universitat de Barcelona - Università di Roma "La Sapienza"

Gemma Avenoza, Universitat de Barcelona CV

Lourdes Soriano, Universitat de Barcelona CV

With the collaboration of Charles B. Faulhaber, Francisco Crosas, Glòria Sabaté, Marion Coderch, Joan M. Perujo, Montserrat Lamarca and Helena Rovira; and previously with that of Joan Mahiques, Rafael M. Mérida, Susanna Vivé, Anna Alberni, Orland Grapí, Edith Salle de la Marnierre, Sadurní Martí, Jorge Minchiotti, Antonio Cortijo, Manuel Calderón, Manuel Raindo, Jaume Riera, and Montserrat Prats.

Characteristics of the corpus

BITECA is a project that attempts to gather information, systematized and checked directly against the originals, about the manuscripts and printed editions that contain medieval Catalan works, fixing the death of Ferdinand the Catholic in 1516 as the end of this period (2). The delimitation of historical periods is inevitably arbitrary; we might think, for example, that 1500 might be a more significant date, but the mirage of the turn of the century should not deceive us: neither 1499 nor 1501 is any better. But 1516, on the contrary, implies a geostrategic change that inaugurates a new political, social, economic, and intellectural situation, not just within the confines of the Catalan-speaking areas of Iberia, but in the entire peninsula, and it coincides with a key change in the culture and life of Europe.

The language of the texts that are the object of our study is Catalan. Of course, if we focus on poetic production, it is clear that some works are strongly marked by Provençal, even in later authors; this linguistic coloration (which sometimes affects prose) is always present.

With regard to the extent of the corpus, it was our intention to keep the bulk of the material found in the first edition of BOOCT compiled by Concheff, although, because we have oriented our research toward literary texts, we have omitted royal decrees, acts of the Corts, bulls, wills, inventories, or auctions of goods and capbreus. We took this decision with the intention of circumscribing the corpus to pieces that had a literary character, as well as those that offered a minimal amount of philological interest or which had a tradition generally accepted in our field, something that these other sorts of documents lack, no matter how much evidence they might offer of particular importance for the study of our language during the medieval period. We have, however, inventoried carefully the acts and decrees of the Corts, statutes (furs) and customary law, marketplace law (mostassafs), irrigation law (sequiatges), and those texts, in general, that had a juridical and normative value and that have been so useful in the study of the older language and of the ways of life of the Middle Ages; it is for this reason that they have traditionally been integrated into philological studies.

Since the project we have undertaken, however, is intended to be a useful research tool for medievalists, we believed that it was necessary to expand the corpus to include works that, although they might not rise to excellence as literary texts (nor was that their purpose), still possess a great deal of interest for the student of medieval literature. All translations should be included, even those that are purely utilitarian, full of innovations of uncertain origin, since they are texts to which medieval writers had access and which provided them with material for the construction of their own works.

It is for these reasons, philological tradition and utility for the work of the medievalist, that we retain in the repertory translations as well as original works of science (medicine, astrology, etc.) and law, the great compendia as well as shorter pieces (ordinances, isolated copies of laws, recipes outside of the great collections, superstitious curative formulae, spells, and other similar pieces) that serve the scholar to the extent that they provide him or her with information that with difficulty can be found collected elsewhere. For the presentation of the texts a paleographic transcription has been used that reproduces the original graphies and word division, without any kind of regularization, with the exception of the resolution of abbreviations, which is indicated in italics.

The current corpus of BITECA also differs from that originally chosen for BOOCT in the incorporation of poetic texts from the Catalan cançoners. BOOCT contained some individual pieces, but not the totality; the explanation of why some were included but not others is frequently a mystery. It was necessary to review the cançoners item by item and make an inventory of all of the compositions they contain. This enterprise formed the nucleus of the doctoral dissertation of J. Mahiques, and we are indebted to his diligence for the rich analyis of the poetic texts (3). With regard to the external description of the cançoners, this work is practically finished, thanks to the research of V. Beltran (*).

The characteristics of BITECA's external descriptions have evolved over time. In a first phase (following the example set by the compilers of BETA) minimal data about the manuscripts was gathered, sufficient merely to permit the identification of the texts. Later, these external descriptions were gradually enriched, allowing for the capture of codicological detail that has brought a wealth of knowledge of the construction and structure of individual volumes in particular and, in general, has brought us closer to a general perspective more in consonance with the reality of the composition of the medieval book in Catalonia (4).

The description of manuscripts and printed editions has been carried out with all possible care, despite the fact that frequently, because of limitations of time or of access, it has not always been possible to gather all of the data desirable from the point of view of codicological analysis. At a minimum certain data have always been noted (support material, size, approximate date, presence of ilustracions, of owner's notes, foliation, binding, condition of the volume, and catalog references), while others (collation, watermarks, the unity and characteristics of page layout, presence of catchwords, etc.) have been gathered only when possible. Currently we are reviewing the older descriptions in order to add codicological data that was originally omitted.

In contrast to BOOCT, BITECA also takes into consideration printed texts, and not only incunabula but also 16th-c. printings that contain medieval works; and over the years we have made a substantial effort to carry out first-hand analysis of all copies that were accessible to us. The incorporation of this material into the corpus has been done progressively and has gone hand-in-hand with the knowledge of the world of the hand printing press that our collaborators have made available. This work should be considered practically complete in the case of the incunabula, while 16th-c. editions have also been the object of first-hand description in the great majority of cases. Starting with a minimal initial description, the survey form has been progressively enriched with such elements as errors in foliation or quire signatures, variants in the title page or colophon, etc. Currently the descriptions of printed editions are undergoing an in-depth review, under the supervision of Monserrat Lamarca, in order to unify them; it is expected that this work can be completed within the next two years. The scholar who desires or needs it will find in every case an adequate description of the copies to which he or she has access and will have an approximate idea of their characteristics and, especially, their state of conservation.

Current state

In the years that have passed since we mounted the first internet version, the project has advanced notably. Bibliographical references cited incompletely in BOOCT have been reviewed, located, and verified; and a large part of the published research has been incorporated, except for a few editions that must still be examined and added to the database. It must be kept in mind, however, that we are not attempting to compile an exhaustive bibliography of medieval Catalan literature; for this purpose there exist other repertories (like Quern or the Boletín Bibliográfico de la Asociación Hispánica de Literatura Medieval http://www.ahlm.es/Primera.html). In BITECA we attempt to collect those studies that deal with editions of works or which treat the dating, authorship, and other particularities related to the study of the primary sources; you will not find, then, bibliographical references to purely literary studies.

Along with the review of older records and the elimination of duplicates, library research has continued, first through an analysis of published catalogs and then by visiting the libraries themselves. We have studied at first hand the holdings of the better part of the libraries in the United States and Europe (still wanting is the analysis of specific collections or witnesses in a very few Spanish, German, French, and Italian libraries).

Contributions and the research team

Besides the work of the research team, we have received contributions from scholars who have pointed out to us new witnesses to add to the corpus, identified works, provided bibliographical that we had been unable to consult, etc.

We can do no less than express our gratitude for the additions and corrections provided to us by L. Badia, C. Wittlin, J. Riera, T. Capuano, V. Colomer, C. B. Faulhaber, J. M. Fradejas Rueda, S. Gascon, A. Gómez Moreno, J. i A. Massip, M. Morrás, S. Panunzio, J. Torró, H. Sharrer, A. Askins, J. M. Perujo, F. Crosas, R. M. Mérida and J. A. Ysern, among others.

There have also been changes in the research team. The collaborators at the beginning (J. Riera i Sans, M. Prats, M. Calderón o M. Raindo) have been followed by others like Lourdes Soriano, today co-director of the project. Other scholars, like Sadurní Martí, have accompanied us on various research trips, and Glòria Sabaté, Edith Salle de la Marnierre, Orland Grapí, Joan Mahiques and Jorge Minchiotti have collaborated on the project as fellowship students. Others have taken on specific tasks, like R. Altés and M. Barriera, who reviewed the data on the works of Francesc Eiximenis, and M.a M. López i Casas, who has looked into the problems of the printed texts of Ausias March. During 2002-2003 the team was joined by A. Cortijo (who examined copies found in the U.S.), and from that same year onward by F. Crosas (who took on those found in the north of Spain and the southwest of France) and M. Lamarca (specialist in the world of incunabula and post incunabula). In 2004-2005 J. Minchiotti carried out a study preparatory to the identification of legal texts, which has been continued by L. Soriano (initially with the support of a C-RED grant from AGAUR); G. Avenoza and L. Soriano checked the holdings of the majority of the libraries on the East Coast of the U.S., of the BN of Paris, and of the BL of London. Finally in 2006 A. Alberni (ICREA research scholar) began a review of the material with a view to a new publication of BITECA in conventional format, a review currently being continued by Helena Rovira.

Future prospects

At present we are commited to working with the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua in order to finish the study of the collections held in the Comunitat Valenciana or related to it. Various sojourns in Valencia have been combined with research in other libraries in order to complete the analysis of this corpus, in which the collaboration of Helena Rovira, a grantee of the Acadèmia, has been indispensable.

We have also began to carry out groups of studies that evaluate the codicological parameters we have examined as well as questions relative to the typology of the medieval Catalan book. The totality of the printed corpus is also being studied, starting with the 16th-c. editions, from the perspective of work on the early hand press (bibid 5026 Lamarca); once this is finished the study of the incunabula will follow.

Still focusing on the external characteristics of the book, we are preparing an inventory of the watermarks that we have identified. (5). In this same line of cultural history, we are working on the diffusion of medieval Catalan works in America from the 19th. c. onward, framed within a study of European and American bibliophilia in the 19th and 20th c. We also plan to provide a global study of previous owners (private as well as intsitutional), by means of a catalogue of the ex-libris that we have examined. This study, by allowing the systematization of the BIOGRAPHY and INSTITUTIONS tables, will make their contents more useful and accessible.

We have examined a very high percentage of the primary sources volume in hand. One of our priorities is to examine those that heretefore have not been accessible to us. In addition, it is evident that it is necessary to continue to review published editions in order to include references to them as well as to pay close attention to as yet unpublished works and to those whose identification is obscure. For example, in the field of juridical or scientific texts many points remain unclear, such as the provenience of certain short texts, their identification, or their dating. In the case of scientific materials one must determine whether they are originals or translations. Since in many occasions the original language is Semitic, we are beginning to collaborate with specialists in this field, such as the research group headed by Miquel Forcada (Departament de Filologia Semítica. Secció Àrab of the Universitat de Barcelina).

We must finish this succinct presentation with an indisputable assertion: bibliographies get bad press. Everyone finds in them incomprehensible omissions and errors of every sort, and they are doubtless right. By their very nature they frequently depend on the research of others, and it is evident that almost any scholar can improve the references corresponding to his or her own field (naturally, those references are not meant for that scholar; rather we seek from him or her any improvement, reproach, or suggestion). In other words, bibliographies are wonderful works—for someone else to compile. In spite of this, we believe that this bibliography can render good service to the scholar who seeks a trustworthy source of information about manuscripts of given characteristics or who is beginning a new research project and needs to have at hand the data from earlier projects.

On the other hand, the wealth of information we have gathered on the codicological and external characteristics of the volumes we have examined has permitted us, as we have stated, to undertake a variety of codicological and bibliological research projects, and we would be pleased if colleagues interested in these topics would make use of them in their own studies. It is for this reason that we place them at their disposal. We ask only that those who find them useful give credit for the source of the data cited directly or consulted and that they send us copies of their publications.

In any case, this is a provisional edition. Every database is a space open to new information, never finished, although its contents may approach a satisfactory level. Provisionality is the best definition of the work that we now present, but we do so with the conviction that it can be useful, that it is a precious source of information for finding and becoming better acquainted with the witnesses to our ancient literature.

Notes

(*) Data currently being added to the internet.

(1) For a detailed explanation of the scope of the corpus, see bibid 6839 Beltran & Avenoza (1993). More information about BITECA and its structure can be found in bibid 6840 G. Avenoza (1994).

(2) We include all works written before the death of Ferran II (Ferdinand the Catholic) and also those of authors who wrote the better part of their work before that date, regardless of the date of the copying or publication of the witnesses.

(3) Repertori d'obres en vers. Una aportació a la Bibliografia de textos catalans antics. Defended at the Universitat de Barcelona May 19, 2009, it obtained the grade of Excel·lent cum laude. It should be pointed out that the corpus analyzed by J. Mahiques does not coincide exactly with that of BITECA.

(4) See the following already published studies: bibid 5546 Soriano, Avenoza, & Lamarca (2007); bibid 4933 Avenoza & Soriano (2007), bibid 6841 Avenoza (2007).

(5) The graphic component of this study will determine how we make known the corpus of watermarks that we have gathered. We are in conversations with other European research groups who are working with the same material to see whether we can determine a common display platform. See as an example of this work the following BIBLIOGRAPHY items: bibid 6845 Avenoza & Orduna (1990), bibid 6844 Avenoza & Orduna (1991), bibid 2800 Avenoza (1991), bibid 6844 Avenoza (1993), bibid 6842 Avenoza (2006).

Acknowledgments

La Bibliografia de Textos Catalans Antics / BITECA of PhiloBiblon is a project that encompasses the joint efforts of individuals and institutions.

The principal investigators of BITECA / Bibliografia de Textos Catalans Antics are:

Vicenç Beltran

  • Emeritus Professor of the Universitat de Barcelona, Departament de Filologia Romànica, Facultat de Filologia, Gran Via 5858, E-08007 Barcelona (Espanya) @mail: vicent.beltran@ub.edu.
  • Dipartimento di Studi Europei e Interculturali. Facoltà di Scienze Umanistiche. Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5. I-00185 Roma (Italia). @mail: vicent.beltran@uniroma1.it

Gemma Avenoza

  • Departament de Filologia Romànica. Facultat de Filologia. Universitat de Barcelona. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 585. 08007 Barcelona (España). @mail: gavenoza@ub.edu

Lourdes Soriano

  • Departament de Filologia Romànica. Facultat de Filologia. Universitat de Barcelona. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 585. 08007 Barcelona (España). @mail: lsoriano@ub.edu

Of the institutions that have contributed significantly to the development of BITECA / Bibliografia de Textos Catalans Antics we must emphasize, among others:

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