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 ├ćneas,” 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.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Varying Complexity in the Table of Contents

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In some of its architectural elements, the book's development has been toward simplification.  Take the common table of contents, for example.  In its modern form, it usually comprises a fairly simple correlation of chapter title--sometimes numbered--with a starting page number (fig. 1).  

Fig. 1. Simple representation of "Contents" in Roston, Soul of Wit (1974)
In contrast, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books often contained fulsome and elaborate descriptions and location aids for surveying and navigating its contents.  The second edition of Daniel Rock’s The Church of Our Fathers (1905), for example, provides an elaborate summary of the main points of content in each chapter, keyed by reference numbers to the relevant location in the text.  On the first page of the “Contents,” for example, one gets a detailed itemization of nine major points discussed and numbered as section headings in chapter one, comprising a fairly granular account of its contents.  Supplied with the “part” number (the “first”), the chapter number (“1”) and page number (“18”) one can locate not only where the chapter begins, but also the page on which Rock discusses “The belief of the Anglo-Saxons in Transubstantiation.”   (The header of the page indicates the page number, of course, but also, on the recto page, the part and chapter number). 
Fig. 2. Detailed "Contents" for Rock, Church of Our Fathers (1905).
Fig. 2. Section on “The belief of the Anglo-Saxons in Transubstantiation”
with page numbers of the original edition indicated in parentheses: “(20)” and “(21).”

This book offers another and peculiar (though potentially very helpful) feature of navigating its content: page numbers, in parentheses, marking the page divisions of the original edition of Rock’s text.  Someone (whether Burke in the first edition, or, in the posthumous second edition, the editor or publisher) was very considerate of the reader in providing intelligent representation and location aids to the reader.

Works Cited

Rock, Daniel. The Church of Our Fathers as Seen in St. Osmund’s Rite for the Cathedral of Salisbury. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. London: John Murray, 1905.
Roston, Murray. The Soul of Wit: A Study of John Donne.  Oxford: OUP, 1974.

The forgotten encoder: Plantin, mise-en-page and some thoughts towards the future

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Designers working with digital media, particularly those with an interest in layout, should look to the early modern book for inspiration. Consider, for example, Christopher Plantin's eight-volume folio Polyglot Bible, the Biblia Sacra (Antwerp: 1568-1573). What an amazing feat. First devised by Plantin in 1566, the set was finally completed in 1573. This remarkable multilingual translation, (which is based on versions in Chaldean, Greek, Hebrew and Latin), was supervised by Arias Montano and Plantin’s Bible received royal patronage from the Spanish King, Philip II.

What always amazes me, though, is Plantin’s mise-en-page: remarkable layout, brilliant engravings, and several ancient languages set side by side. How long would it take to set a single page of Plantin’s Bible, and what compositor had the qualifications to do such work? Unfortunately, the compositors of the early modern period almost always go unnamed. Will today's encoders and web designers face a similar fate? Looking back fifty years from now, in 2061, how often we will know who did the work on a website produced in 2011? Perhaps the problem, if it is a problem, will not be whether we can identify the encoders, but if we can find the site. Just a thought….

The two images shown here are taken from the second volume of Plantin’s work. Figure 1. shows a typical opening from Plantin's Bible; figure 2. shows one of five frontispieces commissioned for the eight-volume work. Both the frontispiece and the historiated initials used to begin the different sections of the translation have been expertly handcoloured.

Images come courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Call # G-10 00137. The Fisher has volumes 2-6, 8 of the Polyglot Bible.

Works Cited

Biblia Sacra, Hebraice, Chaldaice, Graece, & Latine. Excud. Antuerpiae : Christoph. Plantinus, 1568-1573.

Bowen, Karen L. and Dirk Imhof. Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth-Century Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.