9.736 on e-texts

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Wed, 17 Apr 1996 19:05:17 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 736.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Haradda@aol.com (29)


The other day it was brought up that someone was looking for etexts. And I
suggested that the party look at Project Gutenberg or the new books list at
CMU. It was brought up that those were for the general public. Why should
that make any difference?
I will give you an example. One of my children had to do a paper on Mary
Shelly's Frankenstein. I discovered that there were two versions that were
available as etext. A first edtion and a "last" edition that was from the
Everymans Library. I ran a comparison program between the two texts and I
found a number of differences between the two. It looked as though Mary
Shelly had worked on it her entire life polishing it up...making it better.
But it was still the same story. So which do you use for a critical
specialist work? And should it really make a difference? Isn't picking out
versions and making one of them "the critical text" a bit like asking "how
loud is one hand claping?" But I wonder if having specialist books is really
that important if nobody reads them but specialists.
In my library I have a book that contains various versions of Enoch texts.
It was published by a well known publisher in an edition of 1,000 copies.
In the state where I live two of the Universities have it and I have it.
And as far as I know no one else in the state has a copy. I have checked
and as near as I can tell only 5 people have ever checked it out and perhaps
read it. Yet I have scanned a Enoch text that was translated in the 1880's
and is in the public domain and put it on the net and I have had 150 people
download it so far in the last 3 months. Though that doesn't mean that they
have read it either.
When I was younger scholars wrote books that were best sellers and at the
same time received excellent reviews from the critics and their peers?
Samuel Eliot Morrison is one who comes to mind as an example. It seems to
me that this has changed? Has it?

haradd@aol.com (David Reed)