A Note on the Hypertext

The texts

     The texts presented on this site include transcriptions and facsimiles of the Trinity and Bridgewater manuscripts as well as the 1637 and 1645 printed editions of Milton's Poems. The transcriptions are taken from S.E. Sprott's 1943 edition of A Maske, the Earlier Versions, and the facsimiles are from the first volume of Harris Francis Fletcher's John Milton's Poetical Works: Facsimile Edition, published in 1973.

Editorial decisions

     In order to present the hypertexts in the clearest possible manner, several editorial decisions were made.

  • The drop down-menus in the comparative text section reflect scene titles that we created to facilitate text navigation. There are no such divisions in the text, only entrances, exits, and scene changes.
  • Graphic scribal abbreviations (e.g. the "p" with a transverse line through the descender indicating "per" or "par") in the transcriptions have been expanded silently. Other abbreviations such as "wth" have been retained. No other spellings have been modernized in the transcriptions.
  • In certain cases, such as the transcription of the Trinity manuscript, instances of inconsistent margins have been silently corrected to facilitate legibility.
  • In the Trinity manuscript transcription, we have indicated crossed out sections with italics (There are no instances of italics in the original manuscript). Also in the Trinity, bolded tilde signs (~~) are used to note authorial marks in the manuscript that were not reproducible in this version.
  • All strike-throughs in the transcriptions are from the original.
  • Both the Trinity and Bridgewater manuscripts use carets and superscripts to mark the few areas where a word was inserted.
  • Marks such as slashes (/) and brackets ([]) are reproduced from the transcription exactly.
  • Catchwords and phrases from the manuscripts are maintained in the transcriptions. They are always flush right, away from the main text. Catchwords indicate a new recto or verso leaf. Stage directions, which are few in this masque, are italicized as per the original texts of the Bridgewater manuscript, 1637, and 1645 versions, written to the right in the Bridgewater manuscript, and centered in the others.
  • The transcriptions - four in total - include annotations of terms, individuals, and mythological references that might pose some difficulty to comprehension. The words and phrases themselves directly link to a pop-up window containing the annotation. (A bibliography of sources for the annotations is available on the site.) We have deliberately under-annotated in order to reduce distraction.
  • We have also color-coded the background of each text in order to help differentiate between the versions in the comparative section. (The Trinity is cream-colored, the Bridgewater blue, the 1637 green, and the 1645 a rose color).
  • Overall, every effort has been made to maintain the integrity and appearance of the texts used, especially in cases of strike-throughs, additions, and emendations to the manuscript transcriptions. However, we do not presume to offer an unblemished "original text" in our transcriptions, but rather to provide a means to compare, quickly and easily, the manuscript and printed versions of the masque.

How to use the texts

     To compare versions of Comus, navigate into the Texts area of the site. There you will have the option to view the texts - both facsimile and transcription - by themselves or side by side with a second text. If you select the comparative texts page, you will be taken to a separate page and given the option to select the two versions you would like to view. Click on the abbreviation of the text you would like to view, one on the left-hand side and one on the right. Once the two versions are chosen, either use the drop-down menus located in the center bar to choose a section of the masque or use the scroll bars to navigate the two versions separately. The drop-down menus contain a number of jumping-off points of our choosing in the masque, such as "Comus's entrance," and "Spirit's Epilogue." The site is constructed so that you are able to jump from scene to scene and from text to text whenever and however you like. Simply use the navigation bar and the drop-down menus, as well as the scroll bars, to access the text and section. Please note that there are two different menu bars, one for the text section, and one for the general site. The navigation bars are located at the bottom of every page/text. From these bars you can link to another section of the site or simply return to the home page. We hope that you find this site a useful tool for studying Comus/A Maske. Any editorial suggestions, corrections, or recommendations may be sent to comus@umail.umd.edu.

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