Internet Shakespeare Editions


4.4.3. Punctuation

a) General

Again, remember that the original punctuation is a click away. Your modernized punctuation can generally be a good deal lighter than the more formal punctuation employed by nineteenth-century editors; lighter punctuation probably approximates more accurately Shakespeare's habits, and leaves more open to the reader the varying possibilities of interpretation in the text. As elsewhere, the MLA Handbook is the basic guide.

b) The punctuation of the copy text

Do not preserve the punctuation of the copy text when it conflicts with modern usage (e.g. "?" in place of modern "!"; brackets for vocatives; the colon merely indicating a pause). On occasion, however, you may wish to retain your copy text's punctuation for the sake of its dramatic or rhetorical significance. Your response to the punctuation of the copy text will be conditioned by your theory of that text's transmission. You should collate any change in punctuation that may involve a change in meaning.

c) Specific usages

d) Some recent studies

For a useful and comprehensive standard of reference as to what constitutes "modern practice," see, in addition to the MLA Handbook, Randolph Quirk, S. Greenbaum, G. Leech and J. Svartvik, A Grammar of Contemporary English(New York: Seminar Press, 1972), 1053-81.

4.4.4. Scene division

a) Accepted practice

Follow the accepted division of the play into acts and scenes. Where there has been some variation of practice, justify your choice in the general textual discussion.

b) Format

The display format of act and scene divisions should be consistant across documents, rather than reflective of any particular printing. You should tag them as described in Appendix A. Example for act 2, scene 1, first closing the previous scene and act:

<ACT n="2"><SCENE n="1">

Where there is an original act or scene division this fact should be recorded in the collation.

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