The project of a digital edition of the Romanceiro of Almeida Garrett (1799-1854) started in 2013. Before that, we had undertaken a long study and analysis of all the extant textual witnesses related to this work. Along the printed collections of folk ballads Garrett published and the complete or fragmentary versions adapted to his theatre or other prose texts, the author also left an extensive manuscript estate (mostly autographs) dispersed throughout various documental centers in Portugal.
In truth, both the characteristics of the recensio and the study of the process of composition of each of Almeida Garrett’s “romances” reveal a work of peculiar traits, which may be summed up as: a) necessarily unfinished; b) materially dispersed; c) composed of narrative poems in radically distinct stages of preparation and keeping rather heterogeneous relations with their sources (from the mere creative translation of ballads from other authors through the Romantic re-creation of Garrett’s own making, and versions of “romances” considerably close to the presumed oral tradition of the nineteenth century). Such diversity, however, obeys a common purpose of legitimizing and imposing the so-called “popular” Portuguese poetry within the Iberian context, a goal Almeida Garrett tried to set at its highest and one of the multiple aspects of his Romantic and Nationalist aesthetics program.
Adding the traits of Garrett’s corpus to the ambitious objectives of the present edition, the digital appeared as the sole viable means to editorially “represent” the work (while not ignoring the risk of instability associated to the digital materiality). Actually it seems consensual that the concept of “archive” associated to the Digital Humanities is currently very much amplified and an enhancer of philological studies in general and of critical editions in particular.
The digital critical edition to be made available will result from a project directly funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia [Foundation for Science and Technology] through an individual research post-doctoral grant in Literary Studies in 2012.