English professor to oversee online edition of New Variorum Hamlet
Nicholas Clary, professor of English, is the new coordinating editor of the HamletWorks web site, a tool for scholars and richer in some ways than the still-in-preparation New Variorum Hamlet edition, for which Clary is a co-editor.
Clary said the intention all along has been that the HamletWorks database would serve as a precursor to the print edition. He explained why both are useful:
“Editors and scholars who have contributed to the history and the reception of Shakespeare are represented in an orderly way in variorum editions. What makes an eVariorum edition an especially useful resource on the Internet is that more information can be included and less compression is required,” he said. “Despite its expansion of data, the database can be quickly and efficiently searched.”
The previous coordinating editor for the HamletWorks site was the editing team’s founder and site’s animating force, Bernice W. Kliman, who died shortly after Thanksgiving. The editorial board for the project officially named Clary to the post at its meeting during the Shakespeare Association of America conference in April. The web site officially launched in the summer of 2006.
Two new editors also were brought onto the editing team, which now numbers five. Clary remains one of three co-editors on the New Variorum Hamlet edition.
In another related project, Clary made a tandem presentation in Prague last July with Pete Donaldson of Massachusetts Institute of Technology on their collaborative project to join the HamletWorks databases and the MIT Shakespeare Digital Archives. The two men have been working on that project for about three years and their collaboration was the subject of an article in the Shakespeare Newsletter journal recently.
Clary and Donaldson also are working with the HamletWorks webmaster, Jeffery Triggs at Rutgers, on a prototype for an ebook/Kindle Reader version of the site’s database. Triggs has extensive previous experience working on the online Oxford English Dictionary project, a resource that is available through the Saint Michael’s College library.
During remarks at the Prague conference last July, Clary expounded on the utility of the HamletWorks database for scholars: “Anyone who thinks that they may have a new idea about a line or passage from the play can find out in a virtual nanosecond whether their reading is, in fact, original,” he told his audience. “In providing all known commentary on the play, the HamletWorks database to a certain extent represents a return to the origins of the Shakespeare variorum in the 18th century, in which new editions absorbed the notes of their predecessors and then added to them, such that the number of volumes required for each new edition began to multiply... As one of the New Variorum Shakespeare general editors puts it, variorum editions are not intended to ‘be an archive of every word written about a play, but at best a judicious selection of fact and commentary, one that does justice to scholarly readers and, of course, to Shakespeare.’”