commentpress classics fantasy football 08.06.2007, 11:33 AM
posted by ben vershbow
Following last week's discussions on a hypothetical digital Ulysses (1, 2), numerous ideas for electronic dream editions have been coming out of the woodwork, including this proposal from our good friend John Holbo of The Valve. John's agreed to let us repost it here - ?I think this could be a terrific CommentPress collab.
Here's an idea for you: Ulysses, as I am sure you know, may be a problematic text for copyright reasons (sad to say, but it's true.)
I have a counter-proposal: Frankenstein. (Really a supplementary proposal. I'm not counter the other thing, by any means.)
Advantage: two editions, 1818, 1831. Substantially different. So there is some notation to be done.
Advantage: I've already painstakingly made a clean electronic edition of the 1831 edition by taking the substantially screwed up Project Gutenberg edition (really it's a mess) and copy editing it up with respect to an old, but respectable public domain edition. Took me a long time to do the cleaning, dozens of hours. I was picking up typos for weeks. I am planning to just let it go free one way or the other. It currently exists as a set of MS-Word files. Maybe someone would like to take it and do up a nice CommentPress edition.
We're thinking of doing a book event at the Valve, discussing the novel's debated status as the first SF novel. I thought we could call it: The Structure of Mad Scientific Revolutions. That could create a mass of scholarly matter, albeit in the form of essays rather than stuff that would appropriately be displayed side-by-side with the text.
I have proposed to Parlor Press doing a paper edition, under CC release... Obviously that would be consistent with doing something a bit more ambitious. One thing I thought would be fun: try to encourage artists to contribute illustrations. Collect a whole bunch of illustrations of Frankenstein and have that as a possible display, side by side with the text.
Also, try to get SF authors to contribute in some way. What do they think of the original SF novel? Make it not just academic that way.
The suggestion isn't to scuttle Ulysses but to do something else in addition. Since I've already made a basic text, which I am happy to hand over for free, it wouldn't be hard to get something up and running. Also, it would be an attractive thing for the Institute to have: the web's only decent online edition of the 1831 edition of Frankenstein. (Also there must be some nice metaphor to be had about how these collaborative projects are sort of Frankenstein monsters themselves. Call it the Frankenstein Project. Something.)
Sebastian Mary replied with another idea:
...if I were playing Commentpress Classics fantasy football the title I'd like to see networked would be Pope's Dunciad. Its subject-matter is the step change in volume of printed matter appearing as a result of the early C18 print boom, and the writer's concern about the onset of an age of 'dullness' brought about by the surge in hack writing: pretty much the same anxiety as that articulated by print publishers about digital text.
Formally, it'd work wonderfully, as it's a very lateral text anyway: the later edition is elaborately footnoted - and because of the very specific references to historical places and people many of these themselves need explicatory footnotes.
There's a kind-of-hypertext version here: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/dunciad4.html#8 - I can't help daydreaming about what it'd be like if you it was in Commentpress so that you could add to each footnote, sprout new arguments, proliferate the text to infinity. Perhaps I just like the ironies in all this, but I think it would be beautiful...
The thread is open so please feel encouraged to float your own proposals, not just for CommentPress-based projects but for anything you can imagine being done with digital networked forms.
Some Guy on August 7, 2007 1:15 AM:
Actually, the PG Frankenstein would make a wonderful choice--it's gone through 5 revisions...
(Usually, PG titles were names xxxxx10.txt )
Probably an earlier version was in the commenter's hands....
Bryan Alexander on August 9, 2007 11:37 PM:
I like both suggestions so far.
How about Rime of the Ancient Mariner? Three editions.
I've been hoping to expand our Dracula blog into a larger, variorum, more multimedia edition
(http://infocult.typepad.com/dracula/). One could, among other things, compare chronological with first-edition sequences.