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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: November ::
Re: "Introductions, Annotations,
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2275  Wednesday, 13 November 2002

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 19:15:33 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2270 Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the
Electronic Edition"

[2]     From:   Al Magary <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 22:58:05 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2270 Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the
Electronic Edition"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 19:15:33 -0000
Subject: 13.2270 Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2270 Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the
Electronic Edition"

>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
>http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/jonson/benbib.htm.)

You have the wrong Jo(h)nson.  The words quoted are not from Ben Jonson,
but from Samuel Johnson, and can be found in his famous Preface to his
edition of Shakespeare.

The full quotation runs:

"Notes are often necessary, but they are necessary evils. Let him, that
is yet unacquainted with the powers of Shakespeare, and who desires to
feel the highest pleasure that the drama can give, read every play from
the first scene to the last, with utter negligence of all his
commentators. When his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at
correction or explanation.  When his attention is strongly engaged, let
it disdain alike to turn aside to the name of Theobald and of Pope. Let
him read on through brightness and obscurity, through integrity and
corruption; let him preserve his comprehension of the dialogue and his
interest in the fable and when the pleasures of novelty have ceased, let
him attempt exactness, and read the commentators."

See http://www.bartleby.com/39/33.html .

So the application to modern editorial practice (and Hardy's essay) is
rather more direct than it could possibly have been in Ben Jonson's
day.  Samuel Johnson was one of the early editors in the modern sense,
in the process of editing Shakespeare with notes and commentary.  In Ben
Jonson's day, as far as I know, only the Bible was likely to be
annotated in anything like a similar fashion.

Thomas Larque
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakespearean.org.uk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Nov 2002 22:58:05 -0800
Subject: 13.2270 Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2270 Re: "Introductions, Annotations, and the
Electronic Edition"

>You have the wrong Jo(h)nson.  The words quoted are not from Ben
>Jonson, but from Samuel Johnson, and can be found in his famous
>Preface to his edition of Shakespeare.
>See http://www.bartleby.com/39/33.html .

Oh dear, misattribution via misspelling!  Seems to happen frequently
these days, for here's a message on H-Albion today regarding a quote
including "poverty of desire":  "I have not heard the line quoted
before, but on first glance it looks much more like the sort of thing
Nye Bevan would say than Ernest Bevin--could the Ealing studios book
have confused their names?"

Apologetically,
Al Magary

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