Thursday, 17 May 2012

Mangled Frankenstein: the Perils of the e-Text.

In four years’ time (2016) I shall be ready to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Frankenstein, when I intend to explode the myth of his haunting monster’s origins by publishing my own account of its true inspiration, a source unsuspected by my fellow mythologists. 

 I was reminded of these pending studies when recently encountering any number of misspellings and linguistic errors in a document scanned and converted to digital text by Optical Character Recognition.

The undue reliance placed on OCR and web-based texts is a concern that calls to mind the mangling of Mary Shelley’s classic text six years’ ago in a broadcast production of the drama. 

In that particular dramatization I was appalled to hear an actress seemingly quote Mary’s own exegetical introduction to Frankenstein:
‘Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated; galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endured with vital warmth.’

Of course, the true text should read (not ‘endured’) ‘... endued with vital warmth.’
(ENDUED = invested with.)

That this error was perpetuated was due, I fear, to the all-too-common failure today to consult the PRINTED TEXT and to placing reliance on the Web or remotely scanned texts.

MORAL: To remind us of the wisdom of scholarly engagement with a palpable text, here is a reference to the frontispiece of the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, published by Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, London. 

No comments:

Post a Comment