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Old 09-30-2007, 09:52 AM   #16
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I'd hoped your nicely argued and almost persuasive post would have concluded the thread, Patricia. But as you see, those who want to support you are forced to willfully misunderstand Tennyson to do so. As if the whole point of Tennyson's passage was not to emphasise "the ubiquitousness of loss in the human condition"!

And of course, Overton does not want to console Ernest and insinuate "there are plenty of loves to be had and the more the merrier." He's a misogynist who's just observed that Ernest's been "inoculated" against marriage, and earlier that "A man's friendships are, like his will, invalidated by marriage," and said "As soon as I found that he no longer liked his wife I forgave him at once." The idea of "playing the field" is preposterously not available to this Victorian; the alternative is actually to go to prostitutes, for which Ernest has already served jail time.

Observe that everyone taking the "lost" position assumes Butler is speaking in universals to the world, whereas in fact, it is Overton, in a bizarrely specific case (a misogynist joyful over a case of bigamy) who is speaking to Ernest. Yet all you've accomplished is to "invert" Tennyson back into itself -- a banality. This is why it was a mistake for Butler to try add "extra irony" to a passage that's ironic simply by virtue of being spoken by Overton. He'd have been better off inventing, to put in Overton's mouth, some Victorian equivalent of "Women -- can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em."

I don't know whether in this case it's more generous to assume dhbailey has or has not read the work in question, but he's just done the equivalent of arguing that Shakepeare was in favor of "killing all the lawyers."
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Old 09-30-2007, 01:01 PM   #17
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That is certainly an interesting interpretation of the meaning.

Yet there is a separate issue with this work (and with transcribing books in general).

One may not like what an author says. But, if he has said it, then I wouldn't want to change it. And we now have evidence that Butler did write the inversion. His friend said it originally, Butler copied it into his private notebooks, then planted it in the text. I think that the person who originally changed the text (whether through accident or design) is greatly to be blamed.

So far, when producing books for this forum, I have restored some censored passages, and altered some translations to make them more accurate (indicating when this has been done). But I would not change anything that an author writes. (I just wouldn't transcribe the book if I disapproved or found something offensive.)
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Old 09-30-2007, 01:51 PM   #18
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For those following along, Patricia has just accused me of unilaterally tampering with the text. False. Butler did not publish the book in his lifetime. There is a problematic passage in his notebook, which are studies for a book he never published. We even know that he considered the passage so problematic, he's noted where the idea for one possible resolution of the problem came from (Jones, a friend of Butler). (As contrariwise, we don't have a record of the non-problematic passages such as "'said Overton' -- suggested by my neighbor's milkman, Mr. Smith")

Patricia writes first that she believes that the "never to have loved at all" reading was used by the very editor Butler chose, along with Streatfeild's other "extensive changes to the manuscript" -- which was a manuscript, not a book. She says that half a century later, a gentleman from another country presumes to know Butler's intention better than his most intimate confrere (and she supports him)! When challenged on this point, she says she has no idea which was published first, and does not care to find out.

So at the worst, what I've done is to restore the reading that was published during the decades when the book became a classic, and is still published in many if not most authoritative versions. I've given many arguments, based on the text, to show why the editor's original decision was a good, if not perfect solution. When asked what her opinion is as to the meaning of the reading she prefers, she quotes others opinions, all of which say that their alternative reading is somehow more "delightful" or "subversive" -- then show that they have no idea what's being subverted, and think Butler is merely regurgitating some cant. Her supporters (and of course I support her in her postings and wish her all joy) chime in, clearly without a notion of what the book is about, much like a man who doesn't know a Riesling from a Chardonnay will say "Delightful," "Unassuming, yet subversive!" because they have no clue.

If you haven't read the freakin' book, just admit it and apologize for bluffing and getting called on it. It won't count against your grade. But the bluster is getting awful thin. And trying to change the subject by making false accusations is rather pathetic.
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Old 09-30-2007, 04:50 PM   #19
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No, Anais9000, you misunderstand, or, more probably, I have failed to make myself clear,.
I was criticising the person who originally made the change, not you. Then I was simply musing about the principles a transcriber might adopt in general. There was nothing personal intended.

And I haven't needed to worry about grades for many years, except insofar as to see that my students get good ones.

Last edited by Patricia; 09-30-2007 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 10-01-2007, 04:35 PM   #20
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OK, no offense taken. And if you ever do read the book (maybe you'll have to teach it for a Gay Studies course), I'll be curious to know what you think. After all, here's this middle-aged guy following a beautiful young man around, trying to get him to swear off women. Ernest has powerful sexual desires, and sees two options, prostitutes and marriage. He tries picking up a prostitute and does hard time; so he tries marrying, and finds out his wife is a bigamist and a drunk. The elder man is delighted. (The chapter begins: "I do not think Ernest himself was much more pleased at finding that he had never been married than I was.") Do you think Mr. Overton can have motives we have not touched upon? Can you think of anything that "an inveterate bachelor" might be, let us say, a euphemism for? How would that square with the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s ‘Guide to Shakespeare’? How about the fact that Overton cheerfully opens his wallet to provide bribe money to keep the poor woman away from Ernest ("Ernest did not see where the pound a week was to come from, so I eased his mind by saying I would pay it myself.") Would you continue to view Overton's remarks as something akin to the lyrics from the Mary Poppins songbook? Would it give you an inkling of why Butler chose not to publish the book during his own lifetime?
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:11 AM   #21
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This discussion is very nit-picking. Anais, you may as well argue that Dickens didn't write: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," because it's a contradictory statement. Yes, but he wrote it whether you agree with it or not.

I realise this thread is old; I've just decided I'd like to read the book. I think I'll go for Patricia's version.
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