One of the great problems with accessing the history written by the Coptic Christian writer al-Makin ibn-Amid (13th century) is that you have to deal with manuscripts.
I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a manuscript typed up. After all, that would mean we could use Google Translate to at least get the gist of what is being said. If I could place a free text online, it would probably help a lot.
So the thing to do, obviously, is get hold of a couple of manuscripts and get someone to type them up. How hard can it be?
I already have a PDF of a British Library manuscript of the second half of the work.
This evening I have struggled through the French National Library site, creating an account and requesting an estimate for two microfilms. The site is a nightmare, even though my French is quite good, and I have probably spent an hour so far.
A correspondent has found a typist in Egypt for me. I have asked him for advice on how best to send money, and we’ll start with the British Library manuscript while I wait for the French to get back from holiday. I don’t actually know whether to start at the back or the front of the PDF! I think it would be wise to do it in chunks, and I don’t know if someone in Egypt could download a 300 mb file anyway! So … cross your fingers for me. Let’s see if it works!
Of course the output won’t be a critical edition. But so what? The professional scholars aren’t showing any signs of producing any edition whatsoever. Let’s take the first step.
I bet subsequent scholars will complain bitterly about my “vulgate” text, tho!