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Digital Proceedings of the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age

Abstract

The editing of medieval alchemical texts poses a number of challenges to the modern scholar. Problems such as the lack of source identification, complicated compositional structures, and a tendency toward intentionally obfuscatory language make the task of reconstructing the original letter of text a practical impossibility. This paper will argue that an alternative approach toward editing alchemical texts must be considered. This approach will be determined by focusing on issues related to the technical lexicon of practical alchemy, and in particular, to the problems related to the understanding of the words used by the alchemists for describing the substances used in their operations.

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