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Advanced display of complex variants

1. Dynamic relineation

In some texts (Lear is a notable example), variant versions of the text have different lineations, sometimes of quite long passages. In others, an editor may choose to relineate prose, or (as in the case of Pericles, for example) differ from the printed version in the arrangement of verse lines. In their modern text, editors may choose to provide readers with an opportunity, in each case, to view the variant lineation. The selected passage will appear with tabs that permit dynamic switching between the views.

Line breaks in the modern text are created by the tag <L n="[number]" />. The alternative lineation can be indicated by any alternative line tag ("milestone"). All that is needed is to add in the appropriate place in the collation file the information about the alternative milestones. Here is the entry that enables a switch between Quarto (QLN) and Folio (TLN) lines:

  <ln tln="106-110"/>
  <use t="tln">Folio</use>

To switch between verse and prose, insert a "milestone" (TLNs and QLNs are milestones), defining it as "prose" at the beginning of the speech:

<MS t="prose"/><S><SP norm="Lear">Lear</SP>

Then indicate the TLN or QLN range. In this instance the switch is from a Folio to Quarto text, where the passage appears in prose in the Quarto:

  <ln tln="335-355"/>
  <use t="prose" />

2. Marking additional passages

Where an editor wishes to add passages from a source other than the copy text, the additions will appear in a format that makes their distinct origin clear, and can be "toggled" on and off by the reader.

The additional material must appear in the text itself, not the collations (though the collations should also record the fact that the texts vary, of course). Additions can be of short or long passages. The only tricky part is where the addition requires different punctuation at the beginning or end of the passage. The necessary tags are these:



The tag <lem> indicates the reading of the copy text where it differs from the addition.

Where more than one witness may be referenced, you should indicate it in the <rdg> tag.

<rdg wit="[source]"></wit>
indicates the reading of the text to be added.

Here is a simple addition of a short passage:

<L n="58"/><TLN n="68"/><QLN n="58"/><S><SP>Lear</SP>
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
<L n="59"/><TLN n="69"/><QLN n="59"/>With shady forests and <add>with champaigns riched
<L n="59.1"/><TLN n="70"/>With plenteous rivers and </add>wide skirted meads,
<L n="60"/><TLN n="71"/><QLN n="60"/>We make thee lady. 

In this passage, the modern text requires punctuation to change as the addition is displayed. The original punctuation is indicated by <lem></lem>, the alternative by <rdg></rdg> with the witness specified:

<L n="45"/><TLN n="53"/><QLN n="45"/>And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters<add><lem>,</lem><rdg wit="F1"></rdg>
<L n="45.1"/><TLN n="54"/>Since now we will divest us both of rule,
<L n="45.2"/><TLN n="55"/>Interest of territory, cares of state—</add>
<L n="46"/><TLN n="56"/><QLN n="46"/>Which of you shall we say doth love us most, . . .

3. Variants of especial interest or significance

Where there are multiple texts, it is possible for the editor to highlight variants of special interest in such a way that they will be flagged even when variants are not being displayed. The variant will appear when the mouse is hovered over the reading in the modern text when annotations are visible (the default), especially if it is an "editor's choice," an "extended" text, or (gasp) a conflated text. An example might be the difference between Lear Q1, where Goneril asks Regan "Pray let's hit together," and the Folio's less aggressive "Pray let's sit together." in either extended text, the alternative is interesting enough in terms of a critical approach to character and the relationship between the sisters that readers will benefit from an awareness of the variant. Here is how the "hover" display of the variant is signaled in the annotations:

<ln tln="328"/>
<var wit="F1">sit</var>
<level n="1">
The quarto reading, <i>hit</i>, suggests that Goneril is determined to act aggressively at the first opportunity. The folio's <i>sit</i>, indicating a view that they should confer again at a later date, is more cautious.

An editor may choose the same technique for an emendation where the original is of sufficient interest that it might be flagged. From Henry V, the obscure original as the Hostess describes Falstaff's death: "a Table of greene fields" might be made to appear on mouseover where the modern text records Theobald's emendation: "a babbled of green fields."

4. Words of irreducible ambguity: animation

Very occasionally, a word in the copy text will present a case where there is no clear modern spelling for the original. This issue is not a matter of textual variants, but of textual ambiguity. A well-known instance is the ambiguous speech prefix in the Folio text of Lear, "Cor." Editors may choose Cornwall, or Cordelia (with clear ideological implications in any choice), or antimate between the two to leave the ambiguity evident for the reader. Another instance occurs in All's Well That Ends Well, where the word "meinie" can potentially be modernized by two quite different words, "mane," or "mein."

To create an animated display of this ambiguity, the editor will use the tag <ambig></ambig>, with the alternatives indicated by sequential uses of the <rdg></rdg> tag:

<L n="18"/><TLN n="2520"/><S><SP norm="Clown">Clown</SP>
Faith, sir, a has an English <ambig><rdg>mane</rdg><rdg>mien</rdg><rdg>meinie</rdg></ambig>, but his <TLN n="2521"/>phys'nomy is more hotter in France than there.</S>