Electronic Commentaries: treasure houses?

There has been much thinking about the way the new tools available on the WWW could or would influence old forms of writings. Commentaries are not excluded from these changes and their availability on Internet will transform radically their form and their scope. Some of the possible changes have been discussed by classical scholars themselves. Most of the transformations are ambiguous in their impact on scholarly works.

The infinite space available, for instance, is a great opportunity to go beyond the boundaries of a printed book. As Fowler puts it, the WWW “provides ourselves with infinite large margins to our text”. It allows also an interactivity between texts and visual or aural material and could be seen as a kind of virtual museum where the difference between exposed objects and texts tend to disappear. The new commentaries could also be seen as everchanging fluids of information built by layers and layers of (more or less personal) readings and comments, this in opposition to a monumental work aiming at becoming an long-lasting authority in the field. On the other hand, the absence of a “printed” or fixed version raises the question of authorship, of what a document is and of how to refer to it. Finally the huge amount of material that can be displayed on Internet gives more weight to the questions of order and hierarchy helping the reader to find his way in a chaotic variety, but without imposing on him a too ideologized view.

see:

Fowler D., Critisism as Commentary and Commentary as Criticism, in G.W. Most (ed.), Commentaries-Kommentare, Göttingen 1999, 426-442

Goldhill Simon,Wipe Youor Gloss in G.W. Most (ed.), Commentaries-Kommentare, Göttingen 1999, 380-425

McCarty W., A Network with a Tousand Entrances: Commentary in an Electronic Age?, in Gibson R.K./Shuttleworth Kraus Chr. (ed.), The Classical Commentaries, Histories, Practices, Theories, Leiden-Boston-Köln, 2002, 359-402

Shuttleworth Kraus Ch., Introduction: Reading Commentaries/Commentaries as Readings, in Gibson R.K./Shuttleworth Kraus Chr. (ed.), The Classical Commentaries, Histories, Practices, Theories, Leiden-Boston-Köln, 2002, 1-27

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