The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0662 Thursday, 16 July 1998.
Date: Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 17:05:32 +0900
Subject: Arden CD-Rom
On page 9 of the Times Literary Supplement dated July 3, 1998, there is
a half-page review of the Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM by Professor G.W.
Pigman (of the CIT). It is a nuanced review, sometimes a little too
condensed to be clear, but it makes some very sharp criticisms of the
product in question which I think we ought to be aware of. The first
problem raised, though not fully developed, is its use of a DTD
(document type definition) other than SGML, while 'Something in the
Arden implementation has made it impossible to use the query language
efficiently, even once one knows the relevant tags.' A less technical
problem: '...its manifest obsolescence. The 3rd series of the Arden has
produced 10 volumes since 1995. None of these is included. Bevington's
bibliography does not refer to any work of the past twenty years...
Abbott's Grammar is a classic, but much work has been done on early
modern English during this century.' Equally criticized is the editors'
decision to include facsimiles of the First Folio and important quartos
without transcriptions. That means that it is impossible to search them,
of course, something which we can all do for free at the Universities of
Victoria or Oxford. The review concludes: 'Even if the Arden
Shakespeare had been reasonably priced, its shortcomings should serve as
a warning to editors and publishers preparing electronic books. At 2500
pounds, it is a scandal. This is not the way to bring about a
revolution in publishing.' I think that it would be helpful if those who
have used the CD-ROM in question could confirm or contradict this
evaluation; perhaps those who made the editorial options might care to
justify them? Certainly, I would like to be well informed before asking
a library to spend such money.
(Professor) An Sonjae,
Sogang Univeristy, Seoul, Korea