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Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2012, Volume 33

The Firstling/Erstling/He Complex

by Tanya Clementby Gaby Divay

The Firstling/Erstling/He Complex

by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven


"The Firstling/Erstling/He Complex" is an open-source, scholarly edition and a collaborative attempt to represent and access the genesis of a poetic event. It includes a cluster of works that represent one text (in the Barthesian sense): This "complex" includes thirty-three versions of a poem with multiple titles in two languages by the Baroness Elsa von Fretytag Loringhoven (1874-1927). All of the versions represented here are based on images created at the University of Maryland (UM), College Park, Libraries, where the original manuscripts reside in the Papers of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven ( in the Library's Literary Manuscripts Collection . The entire cluster can be dated to 1923/24 when the Baroness had just returned to Berlin after twelve years in the United States. About one third of the poems are in German and tend to be composed in traditional form and style. Two thirds are in English. As the edition shows, the Baroness rewrote her poems in the two different languages to incorporate adaptations or re-creations rather than straight translations.

Underlying this edition is one TEI-P5 XML file accompanied by twenty-two, full color, documentary images. We are using location-referenced and parallel segmentation methods described in the TEI P5 critical apparatus tag set to encode the relationships between the thirty-three versions while the Versioning Machine interface allows readers to compare these relationships across this poetic event.

In the introduction and the comments that accompany the edition, we discuss why we chose to edit this particular cluster, why we present it with two different, yet complementary critical approaches, and why the formal process of versioning helps reveal the shifting content of the Baroness's constantly revised and transformed texts. Ultimately, the goal of this edition is to set the multiple dialectics we see at work in the Baroness's Firstling/Erstling/He poems in conversation. Enjoy.

English transcriptions, text encoding, and interface development by Tanya ClementGerman translations and transcriptions by Gaby Divay
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