Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 767. Friday, 12 November 1993.
From: Timothy Bowden <
Date: Thursday, 11 Nov 93 10:11:30 PST
Subject: [Power of Electronic Tools]
Some years ago, there drifted out of the literary movement which was forming as
I was a testament by Allen Ginsberg consisting of a quote attributed through
William Burroughs to Shakespeare. The immediate reference was to the literate
and learned style of Mr Burroughs in those early Columbia days, the subtext was
the rising above petty contention, and the lines ran something like: `It's an
argument too starved for my sword.'
Now, I've used that line (and the incomplete source) for years myself, yet
being neither a Bard scholar nor having easy access to one before now, I never
sought out just precisely where or even if the phrase occurred in the works.
The burden, physical, and mental, of research just became easier.
In place of my ten pound volume of Complete Works, I now have a shiny wafer
just over four inches in diameter. I slip it into my Mac and I query it about
the line I've been carrying in my head so long.
The screen shows me in nanoseconds Act I Scene I of _Troilus and Cressida_:
TROILUS: Peace, you ungracious clamours! peace, rude sounds!
Fools on both sides! Helen must needs be fair,
When with your blood you daily paint her thus.
I cannot fight upon this argument;
It is too starved a subject for my sword.
There is more to scholarship than the indexing of quotes, but I wonder if there
is not back in the musty shelves behind the research desks of many libraries
the lurking literary luddities who resent how the modern age places such
powerful tools into the hands of mere neophytes - why, there is available the
technology to move a mouse to the textual presence of Gertrude and with a click
cause to appear all the world's wisdom on this much-maligned lady...
Clovis in Felton, CA