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Stenography and Steiner

As source material the stenographic records of Rudolf Steiner‘s early lectures are both invaluable and problematic. Stenographic notes are a system of shorthand markings that allow the stenographer to write as fast as people speak. These stenographic notes must then be reconstructed into conventional written sentences. For many of Rudolf Steiner’s early works we have the reconstruction but not the original stenogram. If and when things appear unclear or researchers suspected the reconstruction is possibly incorrect, there is no original to check it against. In cases where the Rudolf Steiner Archive does possess the original stenogram, and especially when the stenographer was not a professional, the stenographic record is often fragmentary and incomplete. In this case extensive reconstruction is then necessary. Sometimes the reconstruction was done by the original stenographer, and sometimes decades after the fact. This was the case with the volumes 93, 93a, and 94, for example, which were reconstructed in the 1970s from several sets of notes taken between 1904 and 1906 by the editors at the Rudolf Steiner Archive. The notes were woven into a coherent narrative which is then presumed to be conceptually accurate, but cannot claim to be word-for-word accurate. Other reconstructed volumes include volume 300, assembled in 1975, volume 88 assembled in 1999, and volume 89 assembled in 2001. There are several more. Such source material is rightly attributed to Rudolf Steiner, but the conscientious researcher cannot accept isolated phrases from such sources uncritically.

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