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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: March ::
Re: Funeral Elegy, Hamlet, and Spevack's Concordance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0237.  Monday, 25 March 1996.

(1)     From:   Michael Sharpston <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Mar 1996 13:24:30 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy

(2)     From:   Nick Clary <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Mar 1996 11:38:47 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy, Hamlet, and Spevack's Concordance


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Sharpston <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Mar 1996 13:24:30 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

I have been lurking during the Funeral Elegy discussions. There are angles to
do with printers, publishers etc., but a significant combat seems to be
Shaxicon versus The Aesthetes.  We shall be back there in a moment, but first I
need a paragraph in 1996 Philadelphia.

As I read about Shaxicon etc, in the back of my mind was Kasparov versus Deep
Blue, where I was lucky enough to be able to attend one game, and subsequently
hear from both Kasparov and Deep Blue's human 'minders'.  It was Man versus
Machine -- or was it?  Grandmasters had helped program Deep Blue, and Kasparov
made use of computerized databases in his preparation and training. The IBM
people were quite annoyed when I asked whether Deep Blue thought about
positional considerations:  of course they had tried to program for that, but
how did you specify the finer points?...  We were into what the Swedish call
"tacit knowledge" -- what you know but cannot express how you know.  That, and
apparently superior complex learning ability in Kasparov as against Deep Blue,
probably explain why Kasparov was pulling away from Deep Blue at the end of the
series of games, as against his nasty surprise at the beginning.  Why Deep Blue
could take on arguably the best chess player ever, and initially win, is
probably explained by the narrow and explicit 'domain', chess, with its very
explicit rules and scoring system.

Poetry seems a good deal about intuition, and the domain is much less heavily
structured and closely confined than chess.  I love Richard Kennedy's February
13 piece on the comparative aesthetic qualities of W.S. versus Name Players.
The only thing I objected to there was the idea that Shakespeare would write
(dare I say it?) 'mechanical' verse in his sleep, when we all tend to do rather
creative elisions of the links between reality and symbol.  At the same time, I
do feel some need to defend (a) the quantitative approach (b) poor old
Shaxicon.  The quantitative approach was going strong, of course, long before
computers made it easier (too easy??).  From the Preface, written in 1905, of
the Oxford Clarendon, "M. Tulli Ciceronis orationes, Pro Sex. Roscio etc."
(with many subsequent reprints), we have 'Albertus Curtis Clark' writing
"Inventus est Thaddaeus Zielinksi, vir acutissims et ferrea quadam patientia
praeditus, qui, omnibus clausulis quotquot in orationibus inveniuntur numeratis
et digestis, doceret..."  Briefly, with his 'iron' patience he went over every
single sentence ending in Cicero to work out which was the preferred 'blank
verse' pattern, troche, dactyl or whatever (he found more diversity than some
people expected)....  Moving back to the computer age, I know I would rather
(if in fact innocent) face a computer check of my finger-prints than someone's
intuitive impressions.  People can be all too impressionable at line-ups, and
'recognize' the person they in some sense 'should'...with the possible result
of wrongful imprisonment, at least until DNA comes to the rescue.

All the discussions of the meaning of feminine endings, and in what exact
context, seem to me most appropriate; but perhaps we also need a broader
structure for determining the appropriate role for both Shaxicon AND The
Aesthetes, and a more integrative approach to the use of both qualitative and
quantitative information.

Humbly,
Michael Sharpston

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Mar 1996 11:38:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Funeral Elegy, Hamlet, and Spevack's Concordance

While collating *Hamlet*, I did a quick check and discovered a number of
curiosities.  "While" appears 16 times in both Q2 and F1. "While" also appears
in three Q2-only lines, and once more in a place where F1 has "whiles."
"Whiles" appears once in both Q2 and F1, once in Q2 only, and once in F1 only.
"Whilst" appears twice in both Q2 and F1. "Whil'st" once in both.  Q2 also has
"whiles" where F1 has "while." And then there's the odd few instances: Q2 has
"whiles" and F1 has "whiles like," Q2 has "awhile" and F1 has "aside," and in
one case Q2 has "whiles," F1 has "whil'st," and F2-F4 have "whilst."  Spevack's
Concordance, as the editor notes, "utilizes the modern-spelling text of *The
Riverside Shakespeare*, published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1974." While
Spevack asserts that this edition exemplifies "the latest thinking on what may
be called the `true text' of Shakespeare," the reliability of the Concordance's
counts is anchored in a conflated.  This edition, unlike a variorum edition,
not only uses modern-spellings but chooses between variants when Q2 and F1
deviate from one another.  Only the chosen variant can be counted.  In this
Concordance there are 19 entries for "while" in *Hamlet*.  There are 3 entries
for "whiles" and 3 for "whilst." These counts might differ from mine, based on
the cursory check above.  The Bertram/Kliman *Three-Text Hamlet* illuminates
such nuances, as the Riverside and other editions with textual notes do not.
By providing complete parallel tests of Q1, Q2, and F1, such editions as this
one cause this reader to wonder about the reliability of authorial
determination based on comparison that are dependent on the counting of
specifics.  Someone as already made the point about compositorial errors.
There is, of course, more to consider.

Nick Clary
 

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