The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2270 Tuesday, 12 November 2002
Date: Monday, 11 Nov 2002 22:37:09 -0800
Subject: Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the Electronic Edition"
I do not wish this to be a comment on Hardy's "Introductions and
Annotations" paper, simply an arresting coincidence that inspires
comment. A couple of minutes after seeing that email, I came upon Mike
Jensen's and set off for a few minutes on the trail of Ben Jonson and
James Joyce. I immediately ran across this quote by Jonson: "When his
fancy is on the wing, let him not stoop at correction or explanation."
(I searched up and down for the source of this line but couldn't find
it, even at the virtual collected works at
As a veteran reader of Joyce, I believe that I was better off simply
reading Ulysses the first time continuously (most of it on a long boring
bus trip) rather than a word at a time, with stacks of commentary and
annotation close at hand. In another long dreary section of my past, I
read the chronicle plays from Richard II straight through Richard III,
with little pause. Doing some long or complex works that way the first
time is a memorable experience, and makes later lingering richer.
By contrast, an NPR report on how literature is taught in K-12 included
a complaint by a student that her teacher proceeded so slowly through
books, chapter by chapter, that often they did not finish some books at
all. How dreadful.
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