Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Scholarly Edition: Distinguishing Different Kinds of Notes

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One challenge of complex scholarly editions is to represent different classes of information in the apparatus.  The kinds of information might include:
  •  representation of the various states and expressions of the text , most commonly variants between editions, or sometimes (usually in the case of manuscripts) authorial or editorial changes within a single text, such as additions or cancellations
  • glosses of unfamiliar words
  • paraphrases of difficult phrases or passages
  • annotations providing interpretation and clarifying references
This information is often provided in the form of annotation attached to the text.  In literary editions, these fall into two general classes: textual notes and comment notes.  For ease of use, it is desirable and often necessary to distinguish these different types of information in the apparatus.  It is especially important to distinguish textual notes from other kinds of annotation.

An example of textual notes and comment notes in a single stream but distinguished by formatting codes:

In this sample (fig. 1) from Theodore Howard Banks’ edition of Sir John Denham’s poetical works (1928), the textual notes are numbered in a continuous stream with comment notes, but they are introduced with sigla that signal their peculiar nature: an italicized number representing the year of the edition, followed by a representation of the variant found in that edition.  In the case of note 18 to the poem “The Passion of Dido for Æneas,” 1668 has “ayrs” instead of “Ayr,” but 1671 and 1684 are as in the edited text.   The first two notes to the new text on the bottom of the page‒“Of Prudence. Of Justice” ‒begin with no sigla, which signals that these provide commentary: in the first note, on the sources of the text; and in the second note, a gloss on the referent of “The Wells” in the first line of the text.

Fig. 1

 An example of textual notes and glosses in segregated streams:

Robert K. Turner’s edition of Thomas Haywood’s two parts of The Fair Maid of the West (fig. 2) uses a separating line and indentation to distinguish textual notes from commentary.   Both are introduced by line number and then a word or string of words from the text, italicized and terminated with a square bracket, to identify more precisely the point of reference.  Again, the textual notes use sigla to identify source texts.  In the case of note 116, “nations” is found in the current edition (“this edn” ) as well as “(Dyce’s notes)” which, as the “List of Abbreviations” tells us, refers to manuscript notes entered by Rev. Alexander Rice in the margins of his copy of the 1631 quarto.  The textual variant “nation” is the reading found in the 1631 quarto, signified by Q.  

Fig. 2

Architectural challenges in prose:

Prose poses a particular challenge for streaming different types of notes because one of the most effective modes for referencing—the line number—is not a natural element of prose structure.   In the case of Brenda Cantar’s edition of Robert Greene’s Menaphon,  two kinds of notes are signaled by two distinct notational structures.   Diamonds in the text (fig. 3) correspond to the notes in the footer, which are essentially word glosses.  Here the keywords are necessary to distinguish the diamond-marked targets in the text.  The superscript numbers (e.g. 90) are reserved for endnotes that provide fuller commentary (fig. 4), although in the running title this commentary is misleadingly referred to as "textual" commentary.

Fig. 3


Works cited:

Denham, Sir John. The Poetical Works of Sir John Denham. Ed. Theodore Howard Banks Jr.  New Haven: Yale UP, 1928.

Greene, Robert. Menaphon: Camilla’s Alarm to slumbering Euphues in his melancholy cell at Silexedra.  Ed. Brenda Cantar.  Publications of the Barnabe  Riche Society 5. Ottawa: Dovehouse, 1996.

Heywood, Thomas. The Fair Maid of the West. Parts I and II.  Ed. Robert K. Turner Jr.  Lincoln: U Nebraska P, 1967.

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