Traditional Methods Of Textual Criticism Vs. Juxta Commons: A Study Of One Poem Existing In Many Versions

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Anna Krasnikova

    Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

The poster presents a study of
Uljalaevshhina (1924–1960s), famous soviet poem by Il'ya Sel'vinsky (1899–1968). A work with a complicated history, existing in many versions, it was not, paradoxically, studied up to present.

Our aim was to reconstruct the history of
Uljalaevshhina using traditional methods and digital instruments. After the search of archive documents and published texts, we have created a corpus of 36 handwritten, typewritten and printed versions of the entire poem or its parts. The corpus includes all the versions of
Uljalaevshhina known today, and many of them were found and studied for the first time. Collating the texts and using the facts of the biography of Il'ya Sel'vinsky we have managed to reconstruct the chronology of the versions.

Another aim of our work was to define and establish the level of differences between the versions of
Uljalaevshhina. To achieve it we used, besides the critical analysis of the texts, the quantitative methods: form the simple count of words and lines to the creation of frequency dictionaries of the versions. We used the frequency dictionaries to explore, analyze and compare the so-called “artistic world” (Gasparov, 1995: 275) of the texts.

As a result we propose to divide the versions in the following groups: we think that the versions of the poem of the 1920s–1930s represent two redactions; in the late 1940s – early 1950s Sel'vinsky has written a new redaction, that exists in 4 variants and was never published.
In 1953 the author has created a new text with the title
Uljalaevshhina that had not much in common with the previous ones. Nevertheless the author insisted that it was the same poem, and even indicated the same and only date, 1924. But the results of our research shows that
Uljalaevshhina written in 1953 and first published in 1956 has to be considered a new work. The form of the new
Uljalaevshhina differs a lot from the form of the old one: for example, the number of lines of the text of 1950s is 1,5 times bigger than the number of lines of the old text, and only 15% of the lines of the new poem are presented in the old one. Comparison of the systems of the personages, the plot structures and the frequency dictionaries reveals that the differences in the content are numerous and significant: for example, 60% of the most frequent nouns and adjectives of the new
Uljalaevshhina – and that is to say the ideas and images – do not coincide with the most frequent nouns and adjectives of the old poem.

As a digital system of comparison of the texts we have used Juxta Commons (, created by the the Applied Research in Patacriticism group at the University of Virginia. The system allows to collate up to 15 versions of the text and offers three types of the visualization: the Heat Map that “displays a collation of all the witnesses in the comparison set against the current base document”; the Side-by-Side view that displays two witnesses at a time; and the Histogram that shows the overall rate of change across the witnesses. The Edition Starter option allows to see and save the results of the digital collation as a traditional critical apparatus.

As an experiment we collated 15 versions of the two fragments of the poem: those that had “migrated”, at least partially, from the old 
Uljalaevshhina to the new one:
the first chapter and
the fragment that in various versions appears as the second, the third or the fifth chapter. The change indexes calculated by
Juxta reveal the same dynamics and the same clusters that were proposed after the use of “traditional” methods. At the same time the experiment helps us to see all the factors that are necessary to consider for the correct and intelligent collation by the digital system: the punctuation, the system of diacritics invented by the author, the type of quotation marks and so on. The poster discusses advantages and disadvantages of the visualizations of
Juxta for the work of a textual critic.


Gasparov, M. (1995). Khudozhestvennyj mir M. Kuzmina: tezaurus formal’nyj i tezaurus funkcional’nyj. In Gasparov, M.
Izbrannye statji. M: NLO, pp. 275–285.

Davis, M. (2018).
Early Modern Digital Review

, 1.1.

Krasnikova, A. (2010). Diakhronnicheskie izmenenija I problema tozhdestva teksta
Vestnik RGGU, Serija Jazykoznanie, 9, pp. 47–64.

Krasnikova, A. (2019).
Uljalaevshhina v semejnom archive Il’yi Sel’vinskogo
Vestnik MGU, Serija 9 (Filologija), 1, pp. 187–200.

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2019

Hosted at Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands

July 9, 2019 - July 12, 2019

436 works by 1162 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (14)

Organizers: ADHO