CHWP B.3 McCarty, "Implicit Patterns in Ovid's Metamorphoses"

          "People are curious. A few people are. They will be driven to find things out, even trivial things. They will put things together. You see them going around with notebooks, scraping the dirt off gravestones, reading microfilm, just in the hope of seeing this trickle in time, making a connection, rescuing one thing from the rubbish. And they may get it wrong, after all."

                  Alice Munro, "Meneseteung", in Friend of My Youth (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1991): 73.

1. Introduction

In the following paper I explore the analysis of a highly complex text with TACT, emphasizing its extendible markup scheme and means for defining groups of related words and expressions. My text is the first six books of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Using it, I show how TACT markup allows the scholar to describe a large number of complex literary structures as well as to record the locations of notable events for later recall. I also demonstrate how a thesaurus of verbal phenomena, such as images and themes, can be built with TACT "rules" and "categories". Finally, with other tools in TACT I suggest various additional ways of probing the variety of patterns on which a major work of literature is apt to depend.[*]

In what follows, I assume familiarity with TACT and use its terminology freely. A knowledge of Latin and of the Metamorphoses is not required, but will prove very useful.

Apart from showing how a literary critic uses TACT, my intention is to take stock of work in progress towards an electronic edition of the entire Metamorphoses. Thus a caveat: because I have not yet thoroughly checked either the encoding or the text itself, my results may in some cases be inaccurate; furthermore several of the ideas I illustrate have continued to evolve, introducing minor inconsistencies into some of the figures. I have two excuses for presenting my ideas so imperfectly at this early stage. First, they nevertheless indicate the kinds of questions that may usefully be asked through a medium like TACT at a time when the program itself is still in development. Second, reporting on them prior to publishing the edition invites others to influence it before its features are completely formed. I invite that influence wholeheartedly.

Beyond the more immediate aims of applying TACT to Ovidian criticism, I want also to raise the question of what a fully realized (as opposed to merely imitative) electronic edition of a literary work might be like. I will attempt a tentative answer by example and will conclude with some suggestions.

Finally, a note about the illustrative figures on which most of the remainder of this paper is a commentary. Although faithfully based on the data obtained from TACT, many of these figures have been heavily modified and extensively formatted. Such enhancements to the standard printouts of TACT displays have been necessary in order to translate a dynamic, interactive medium into a static form.

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[*] Cf. J. Bradley, "TACT Design", CHWP, B.1; cf, notice on availability of TACT.