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Home :: Archive :: 1990 :: August ::
1.0029 Electronic Editions (105)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 29. Monday, 27 Aug 1990.
 
 
(1)   Date: Mon, 27 Aug 90 12:20 EDT                         (11 lines)
      From: BOLTON@ZODIAC.BITNET
      Subject: Texts and text-analysis programs
 
(2)   Date:         Mon, 27 Aug 90 16:10:50 EDT              (76 lines)
      From:         Ken Steele <
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 >
      Subject:      Riverside vs Oxford Shakespeare
 
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 90 12:20 EDT
From: BOLTON@ZODIAC.BITNET
Subject: Texts and text-analysis programs
 
Recent questions in SHAKSPER sought information on WordCruncher, Micro-
OCP, the electronic Riverside, Oxford Text Archive, and Oxford electronic
edition. Members might wish to see a review essay about these and related
topics to appear in the current volume of *Computers and the Humanities*.
 
Whitney Bolton
 
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------80----
Date:         Mon, 27 Aug 90 16:10:50 EDT
From:         Ken Steele <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Subject:      Riverside vs Oxford Shakespeare
 
 
I've been restraining myself from pouncing on the Riverside/Oxford
Shakespeare question, but my restraint has finally collapsed and here I
go...
 
I think there are two very different issues involved in making the
selection between the two: one is software-oriented, and the other is
textual.  The Oxford Electronic Shakespeare is essentially an ASCII
text tagged with codes for use with Oxford's own Micro-OCP (Oxford
Concordance Package).  Tagging includes (correct me if I'm wrong)
matters such as prose/verse, speaker, play, and act/scene/line.  The
Riverside Shakespeare text is available only from ETC (Electronic Text
Corporation) for use with ETC's WordCruncher text retrieval software.
Without WordCruncher, you cannot view, use, or even *install* the
Riverside texts.  On the other hand, Oxford's ASCII texts can be used,
with a little modification, under WordCruncher, Micro-OCP, TACT,
WordPerfect, or whatever you choose (because they are ASCII texts,
not encrypted textbase files like ETC's).  So in terms of publisher
attitude, Oxford wins hands down.  (There are non-legal ways to
circumvent ETC's encryption, if you own a copy of WordCruncher
anyway.  Using the Oxford texts with something other than Micro-OCP
may also be in contravention of the user's agreement -- I haven't seen
it.)
 
WordCruncher and Micro-OCP are, however, fundamentally and
crucially different text-retrieval/analysis programs.  WordCruncher is a
slick, straightforward interactive concordance package.  Micro-OCP is
based on the older mainframe OCP, and is nowhere near interactive --
it requires a separate run through the entire text for every query.
Micro-OCP, however, can handle multiple tags (speaker, act/scene/line,
etc) whereas WordCruncher, designed especially for use with Biblical
texts (Book, Chapter, and Verse), accepts only three hierarchical levels
of tags (Play, Act/Scene, and Line).  WordCruncher, then, will give you
faster and more convenient results, but is capable of less complex
queries than Micro-OCP.  (And incidentally, TACT is a shareware
compromise between the two.)  As I understand it, then, the Oxford
Shakespeare texts could be used with WordCruncher if the user so
desired, but the reverse is definitely *not* true.
 
Comparing WordCruncher and Micro-OCP is a lot like comparing apples
and applesauce -- they are distinctly different packages and many
people use both, for different purposes.  The more interesting issue,
for me at least, is the choice of *text*.  The ETC WordCruncher text
is the Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans in the
early 1970s.  The Micro-OCP text derives from the actual electronic
printer's copy for the Oxford Shakespeare, edited by Stanley Wells,
Gary Taylor, et al. in the early 1980s.  The electronic Shakespeare
you choose to purchase should reflect the paper text you prefer (or
line references will always be a little out of sync in prose passages).
Here it begins to get interesting.
 
I'm caught in between the accepted, conventional, Riverside
Shakespeare from which my professors always worked, and the radical,
new Oxford Shakespeare which may or may not become the new
standard.  I respect the textual scholarship which was poured into the
Oxford Shakespeare, but when I want two texts of *King Lear* I turn
to the Quarto and Folio facsimiles.  (And when I need electronic
versions, I turn to the T.H. Howard-Hill Quarto and Folio texts
available from the Oxford University Computing Services Electronic
Text Archive -- which were used for Howard-Hill's Oxford Shakespeare
Concordances, and were ultimately the basis for the new edition).
 
What texts do the rest of you use for Shakespeare?  The New Arden,
Riverside, Oxford, Penguin, or something else?  Do you use different
editions for scholarship and for teaching?  How many members of
SHAKSPER currently use an electronic Shakespeare at all?  Perhaps
we can conduct an informal survey right here on Bitnet.
 
                                  Yours,
 
                                        Ken Steele
                                        University of Toronto
 

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