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 1,800 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.

Page Text Corrected Notes
xxvii good Pug-Robin.’ ‘good Pug-Robin.’ Missing opening quotation mark. Verified in Butler’s Hudibras, line 1415.
xxx Non-dram Wks. Non-dram. Wks. Appears 21 times with the period, once without.
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.
5 1692 f. 1692, f. Appears 49 times with comma, twice without.
12 1692 f. 1692, f. See above.
16 36 SN. 37 SN. Sidenote (“Ingine hath won …”) given at line 37.
19 2 SN.] gone. [Exit Engine.] 2 SN.] gone. [Exit Engine.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 27.
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.
22 SN. 63 SN. Consequence of the above correction.
39 84 hs] his 83 hs] his ‘hs’ appears on line 83.
40 130 Mrs. Fitz. [aloud] 129 Mrs. Fitz. [aloud] G Insertion at line 129, not 130. Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 56.
40 131 SN. om. G 130 SN. om. G Sidenote (“Shee thinkes her huſband watches.”) given at line 130.
42 euclosed enclosed Misprint.
51 23 SN. om 23 SN. om. Appears 148 times with the period, once without.
57 7 ring. [Aside to Gilthead. 7 ring. [Aside to Gilthead. G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 77.
59 47 lies.—Enter Everill. 47 lies.—Enter Everill. G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 79.
61 39, 43 SN. 39, 44 SN. Sidenote (“and threatens him. …”) given at line 44.
61 57, 61 SN. 58, 61 SN. Sidenote (“Mere-craft pretends …”) given at line 58.
63 104 Ever. [Aside to Meer.] 104 Ever. [Aside to Meer.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 83.
74 (after ‘vp—’15) (after ‘vp—’ 15) Missing space.
78 59 him. Enter Lady Eitherside. 59 him. Enter Lady Eitherside. G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 103.
84 1 Wit. [Takes Manly aside.] 1 Wit. [Takes Manly aside.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 109.
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.
111 2 [Exit Shackles.] 2 [Exit Shackles.] G Missing edition. Verified in Gifford, p. 143.
111 SN. (after ‘fact.’ 13) 13 SN. Variant reading for line 13 placed at line 2 with correct location in parenthesis.
125 Prol. How now Prol. How now Missing opening quote needed to match the closing quote following “again?”
137 ladies.’ ladies. The closing quotation mark or apostrophe does not appear in Gifford, The works of Ben Jonson, p. 14.
146 m’acter m’acater The variant reading given on 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.)
164 note 1. 6. 57 note 1. 6. 58 Note on ‘Pinnace’ at line 58.
164 note 4. 3. 202 note 4. 4. 202 Note on the head-coverings of ushers in scene 4.
168 in such that is such that Misprint.
169 section D. IV. section C. IV. No section D. IV.; Fleay’s theory is discussed in C. IV.
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.
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.
180 Johnson Jonson The quotation is from the first quarto of Jonson’s Every Man out of his Humor.
186 bulled nosegays’ bulled nosegays’ Missing opening quote.
189 1805, 4. 121.) 1805, 4. 121. No matching opening parenthesis.
199 Bart. Fair 2. 1. Bart. Fair 2. 1 Extra period.
199 4. 4. 31, 2 his valour 4. 5. 31, 2 his valour The text for this note comes from page 95, which belongs to scene 5.
207 note 3. 4. 31, 2 note 3. 4. 32 The note is only for line 32.
214 Aluagada, n. pr. Aluagada, n. pr. “Pr.” appears seven times in roman type and once in italics.
215 Attempt, … 4. 5. 7 Attempt, … 4. 6. 7 The word appears (as “attempting”) in scene 6 but not at all in scene 5.
217 Ceruse. Ceruse, Other glossary entries have a comma here.
219 Decimo sexto. Decimo sexto, Other glossary entries have a comma here.
220 Diuel. 5. 5. 20 Diuel. 5. 5. 21 The word appears on line 21 with this spelling (in the plural, “Diuels”). See page 109.
227 Neale, n. Neale, v. Clearly a verb from its gloss (“to temper by heat”); also the OED gives no noun with this sense.
230 1. 8. 10. 1. 7. 10. Act 1 only has 7 scenes; the word ‘proiects’ appears at 1. 7. 10.
231 L. <rosmarinus <L. rosmarinus Elsewhere the etymological derivation sign < is given before the language.
234 Time, … 3. 3. 97 Time, … 3. 3. 87 The word appears (in the form “timing”) on line 87 but not on line 97.
244 xxix ff.; xxxi. xxix ff., xxxi. Pages within the same subhead are separated by commas.
246 lxvi ff; lxx f. lxvi ff., lxx f. See above.
246 Masque of Queens, lxiv f., Masque of Queens, lxiv f.; Different subheads are separated by semicolons.
247 lix ff.; lxxiii lix ff., lxxiii See above.
248 lxiii, son of lxiii; son of See above.
248 xxvi ff.; xxxiii xxvi ff., xxxiii See above.
249 l f.; 203. l f., 203. See above.
249 lxxvi; 173. lxxvi, 173. See above.
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.

Page Text Notes
xxxix Like Will to Like Thus once; “Like will to Like” four times.
lxxix doggrel “doggrel” twice (page lxxix, in a quote from Swinburne; page 137, in a quote from Gifford) and “doggerel” twice (page xxxviii, page xliv).
18 S r Misprint for “Sir” or “Sr”; not mentioned in the variants.
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.
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.
121 after line 6 Perhaps “after line 7 in the Epilogue” is meant?
146 1. 3. 21 I’le hearken. “harken” in the text (see page 14).
156 1. 7. 16 The state “State” in the text (see page 29).
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.
168 2. 6. 21 and done the worst “worſe” in the text (see page 46), but see variants.
190 a nimble-witted and glib-tongu’d fellow Stubbes spells these “nimble witted” and “glib-toungu’d”; see Anatomy, p. 77*.
192 Porcelletto Marino Porcelletto marino” in the text (see page 85).
211 5. 8. 112 f. Οὶ μὸἰ, κακοδαίμων “Οὶ μοὶ, κακοδαιμων” in the text (see page 119).

4. Detailed procedure and notes

4.1. Plain text

The Distributed Proofreaders project for The Devil is an Ass when through five rounds: R1, P1, P3, F1, and F2. The output from F2 is here:

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