The Devil is an Ass


1. Introduction

This page describes my post-processing of The Devil is an Ass by Ben Jonson, Edited with Introduction, Notes, and Glossary by William Savage Johnson, Ph.D., 1905.

This book was scanned by Google Books, archived at the Internet Archive, then proof-read and marked up by the Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders in 2005–2007.

I can see why no-one has wanted to post-process it. The critical apparatus is massive and complex, there being no fewer than five different types of additional material (page numbers from the 1631 Folio; side notes from the 1631 Folio; variant readings; glosses; and end notes) to which must be added, for the Project Gutenberg edition, the page numbers from the 1905 edition. There are more than 3,000 internal cross-references, the majority of which become two links in the HTML (more than 5,600 links altogether).

Because of the density of reference, I ended up adding an anchor to all 3,230 lines of the play—this seemed easier than trying to add just the ones that are needed (and also it allows readers to bookmark any line). For example, in Act 1 scene 1: there are are 157 lines, of which 99 (63%) have some kind of apparatus.

I proof-read the entire text, correcting around 600 proofing and formatting errors (and finding many errors in the original printing; see below). This sounds quite lot, but the project was so old that it bypassed one of the proof-reading rounds, and it was a very difficult text to proof because of the size of the critical apparatus, the 17th century spelling, the need to preserve the many printer’s errors and idiosyncracies of the 1631 text. To give an example, out of about 3,600 instances of long ‘s’ (ſ) in the text, the proof-readers missed (at least) 60, and wrongly converted (at least) two ‘f’s, for a false positive rate of 1 in 1800 and a false negative rate of 1 in 60.

2. Current status

As of 2011-02-17.

3. Notes on the text

3.1. Changes to the text

This section gives the justification for all changes to the text. Page numbers link to the high-resolution scans at the Internet Archive.

Scan Page Text Corrected Notes
025.png xxvii good Pug-Robin.’ ‘good Pug-Robin.’ Missing opening quotation mark. Verified in Butler’s Hudibras, line 1415.
028.png xxx Non-dram Wks. Non-dram. Wks. Appears 21 times with the period, once without.
029.png xxxi Machiavelli’s Macchiavelli’s Herford spells the name consistently with two ‘c’s; verified in Studies in the Literary Relations of England and Germany in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 310–311.
083.png 5 1692 f. 1692, f. Appears 49 times with comma, twice without.
090.png 12 1692 f. 1692, f. See above.
094.png 16 36 SN. 37 SN. Sidenote (“Ingine hath won …”) given at line 37.
097.png 19 2 SN.] gone. [Exit Engine.] 2 SN.] gone. [Exit Engine.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 27.
100.png 22 63 th’art 1641, 62 th’art 1641, “th’art” makes sense as a variant of “th’are” on line 62, but not of anything on line 63.
100.png 22 SN. 63 SN. Consequence of the above correction.
117.png 39 84 hs] his 83 hs] his ‘hs’ appears on line 83.
118.png 40 130 Mrs. Fitz. [aloud] 129 Mrs. Fitz. [aloud] G Insertion at line 129, not 130. Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 56.
118.png 40 131 SN. om. G 130 SN. om. G Sidenote (“Shee thinkes her huſband watches.”) given at line 130.
120.png 42 euclosed enclosed Misprint.
129.png 51 23 SN. om 23 SN. om. Appears 148 times with the period, once without.
135.png 57 7 ring. [Aside to Gilthead. 7 ring. [Aside to Gilthead. G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 77.
137.png 59 47 lies.—Enter Everill. 47 lies.—Enter Everill. G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 79.
139.png 61 39, 43 SN. 39, 44 SN. Sidenote (“and threatens him. …”) given at line 44.
139.png 61 57, 61 SN. 58, 61 SN. Sidenote (“Mere-craft pretends …”) given at line 58.
141.png 63 104 Ever. [Aside to Meer.] 104 Ever. [Aside to Meer.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 83.
152.png 74 (after ‘vp—’15) (after ‘vp—’ 15) Missing space.
156.png 78 59 him. Enter Lady Eitherside. 59 him. Enter Lady Eitherside. G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 103.
162.png 84 1 Wit. [Takes Manly aside.] 1 Wit. [Takes Manly aside.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 109.
164.png 86 75 Wit 75 Wit. Speaker’s name given with period on line 75; quoting the period is usual; cf. “76 Eit.” on this page.
189.png 111 2 [Exit Shackles.] 2 [Exit Shackles.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 143.
189.png 111 SN. (after ‘fact.’ 13) 13 SN. Variant reading for line 13 placed at line 2 with correct location in parenthesis.
203.png 125 Prol. How now Prol. How now Missing opening quote needed to match the closing quote following “again?”
215.png 137 ladies.’ ladies. The closing quotation mark or apostrophe does not appear in Gifford, The works of Ben Jonson, p. 14.
224.png 146 m’acter m’acater The variant reading given on 091.png (page 13) is “13. m’acater W” and this can be verified in Whalley’s edition of The Devil is an Ass, p. 12. (Similarly, “Th’acater” can be verified in Whalley’s edition of the Sad Shepherd, p. 40.)
242.png 164 note 1. 6. 57 note 1. 6. 58 Note on ‘Pinnace’ at line 58.
242.png 164 note 4. 3. 202 note 4. 4. 202 Note on the head-coverings of ushers in scene 4.
246.png 168 in such that is such that Misprint.
247.png 169 section D. IV. section C. IV. No section D. IV.; Fleay’s theory is discussed in C. IV.
249.png 171 Gip. 2 Gip. The “2” was interpreted by the printer as a line number and moved to the margin. In fact’s it’s part of the name of the character (the second gipsy). Verified in Gifford’s edition of The Gipsies Metamorphosed, p. 389.
258.png 180 for the bigness of the biggest price for the bigness, of the biggest price The comma after “bigness” is necessary for the sense, and is given by Browne: see Works, p. 319.
258.png 180 Johnson Jonson The quotation is from the first quarto of Jonson’s Every Man out of his Humor.
264.png 186 bulled nosegays’ bulled nosegays’ Missing opening quote.
267.png 189 1805, 4. 121.) 1805, 4. 121. No matching opening parenthesis.
277.png 199 Bart. Fair 2. 1. Bart. Fair 2. 1 Extra period.
277.png 199 4. 4. 31, 2 his valour 4. 5. 31, 2 his valour The text for this note comes from 173.png (page 95), which belongs to scene 5.
285.png 207 note 3. 4. 31, 2 note 3. 4. 32 The note is only for line 32.
292.png 214 Aluagada, n. pr. Aluagada, n. pr. “Pr.” appears seven times in roman type and once in italics.
293.png 215 Attempt, … 4. 5. 7 Attempt, … 4. 6. 7 The word appears (as “attempting”) in scene 6 but not at all in scene 5.
295.png 217 Ceruse. Ceruse, Other glossary entries have a comma here.
297.png 219 Decimo sexto. Decimo sexto, Other glossary entries have a comma here.
298.png 220 Diuel. 5. 5. 20 Diuel. 5. 5. 21 The word appears on line 21 with this spelling (in the plural, “Diuels”). See 187.png (page 109).
305.png 227 Neale, n. Neale, v. Clearly a verb from its gloss (“to temper by heat”); also the OED gives no noun with this sense.
308.png 230 1. 8. 10. 1. 7. 10. Act 1 only has 7 scenes; the word ‘proiects’ appears at 1. 7. 10.
309.png 231 L. <rosmarinus <L. rosmarinus Elsewhere the etymological derivation sign < is given before the language.
312.png 234 Time, … 3. 3. 97 Time, … 3. 3. 87 The word appears (in the form “timing”) on line 87 but not on line 97.
322.png 244 xxix ff.; xxxi. xxix ff., xxxi. Pages within the same subhead are separated by commas.
324.png 246 lxvi ff; lxx f. lxvi ff., lxx f. See above.
324.png 246 Masque of Queens, lxiv f., Masque of Queens, lxiv f.; Different subheads are separated by semicolons.
325.png 247 lix ff.; lxxiii lix ff., lxxiii See above.
326.png 248 lxiii, son of lxiii; son of See above.
326.png 248 xxvi ff.; xxxiii xxvi ff., xxxiii See above.
327.png 249 l f.; 203. l f., 203. See above.
327.png 249 lxxvi; 173. lxxvi, 173. See above.
328.png 250 xxxvi; xxxix xxxvi, xxxix See above.

3.2. Noted, but unchanged

Where there are inconsistencies between the text of the play and the text given in the notes, I can’t simply amend one to match the other, as I don’t know which is right. I added transcriber’s notes for these, and for a few other doubtful cases.

Scan Page Text Notes
037.png xxxix Like Will to Like Thus once; “Like will to Like” four times.
077.png lxxix doggrel “doggrel” twice (077.png, in a quote from Swinburne; 213.png, in a quote from Gifford) and “doggerel” twice (036.png, 042.png).
096.png 18 S r Misprint for “Sir” or “Sr”; not mentioned in the variants.
128.png 50 13 Sir.] Sir— Ed. “Ed.” perhaps means “edition” but the edition itself is missing. It’s neither Gifford nor Whalley. The end-note to this line calls attention to this variant reading, but it’s not clear why.
185.png 107 deferu’d Misprint for “deſeru’d” but no variants given (there are no scans for this page at the Internet Archive, but Google Books confirms that the letter is an “f”. Modern editions give “s”.) Perhaps a misprint in the 1905 edition. Left as printed without comment.
199.png 121 after line 6 Perhaps “after line 7 in the Epilogue” is meant?
224.png 146 1. 3. 21 I’le hearken. “harken” in the text (see 092.png).
234.png 156 1. 7. 16 The state “State” in the text (see 107.png).
246.png 168 See Every Man out of his Humour Spelled “Humor” seven times and “Humour” once, but this is in a quotation from Cunningham, who used this spelling.
246.png 168 2. 6. 21 and done the worst “worſe” in the text (see 124.png), but see variants.
268.png 190 a nimble-witted and glib-tongu’d fellow Stubbes spells these “nimble witted” and “glib-toungu’d”; see Anatomy, p. 77*.
270.png 192 Porcelletto Marino Porcelletto marino” in the text (see 163.png).
289.png 211 5. 8. 112 f. Οὶ μὸἰ, κακοδαίμων “Οὶ μοὶ, κακοδαιμων” in the text (see 197.png).

4. Detailed procedure and notes

4.1. Plain text

Here’s the Distributed Proofreaders project page for The Devil is an Ass. You can see from the project history that it’s been through five rounds: R1 (I think), P1, P3, F1, and F2. The output from F2 can be downloaded here, saved with Unix line endings (line feed only) as:

devil.0.txt [Output of F2, LF only]

Step 1. Rejoin split lines (automated)

Which yielded:

devil.1.txt [Split lines rejoined]

Step 2. Proofread (manual). The purpose of doing the automated edits in step 1 was to minimize the lengths of the diffs resulting from step 2. In theory you could diff devil.1.txt and devil.2.txt and get a set of about 1,200 changes (about half proofing/formatting errors, half additional systematization) that could be applied by another post-processor (if the rest of my work were unworthy in some way).

It was useful to consult the high-res scans at the Internet Archive when I was in doubt (except for 185.png, which is missing there). This led to a fully proofed text:

devil.2.txt [Proofed and corrected]

Step 3. Move footnotes (automated).

devil.3.txt [Footnotes moved]

Step 4. Convert characters (semi-automated: some attention was needed for the Greek accents, and for the quotation marks).

devil.4.txt [Converted to Unicode]

Step 5. Format verse (manual). I marked up the various kinds of verse and other quoted material.

This yields the master copy:

devil.5.txt [Formatted]

Step 6. Generating plain text from the master copy is wholly automated (no further tweaking by hand).

And here’s the current state of the output:

devil-utf8.txt [Ready for feedback]

I tried to run gutcheck on this, but I inspected the first couple of hundred lines of output from the tool, and all were all false positives, so I decided it wasn’t worth it to go through the lot. I wrote my own gutcheck-like program with better summarization, and used that instead, catching some period/comma errors.

4.2. HTML

Step 7. Translate to HTML (automated)

Step 8. Add cross-references (semi-automated). There were several kinds of cross-reference to add that could not be fully automated, and had to be done with manual supervision:

Step 9. Final tweaks (manual). In practice I interleaved this with step 8.

4.3. Notes on CSS

I ended up marking each line of the play as a separate paragraph. This is not quite right from a semantic point of view: ideally each speech should be a paragraph. But it proved impossible to match the layout of the printed text using paragraphs for speeches, because of these requirements:

4.4. Notes on accessibility

I tried following the recipe for accessible footnotes given in the wiki, but it was a disaster when I tested it in Safari using VoiceOver: if the line number is given at the end of the paragraph but moved to the beginning using position:absolute then VoiceOver gets stuck on it and cannot move to the next note. With the line number at the beginning of the paragraph the effect is unpleasant but at least VoiceOver can read through the list of variant readings. Similarly, I added many abbreviations but VoiceOver does not read them. Perhaps things are different in JAWS?

4.5. Testing

4.6. Things not checked

Innumerable, but notably:

4.7. Queries