What Happened to Demetrius’ Far-Off Mountains?

A mystery!

For reasons that I’ll be able to go into at a later date, I’m eyeballs deep in some Shakespearean word origin research.  Currently looking into “far-off,” and while my initial sources pointed to Henry VI Part 2, I double checked OED and found them pointing to Midsummer Night’s Dream. So I always go back and see why I might have missed a reference.  I’m not counting the fact that OED Second Edition seems to date MSND at 1590, by the way, which is apparently odd – everybody else has it 1595-96.

Anyway, OED cites this line from Demetrius (IV.i):

“These things seem small and undistinguishable,
like far-off mountains turned into clouds.”

Here’s the thing.  That line is not in Open Source Shakespeare, which is where I’ve been checking all my references.

So I go back to my old source, the MIT version, which is really just the public domain Moby version.  Nope, not there either!

Ok, fine.  To the First Folio!

And there it is!

 So, what the heck?

Both Open Source and MIT have the same version where Demetrius’ line just drops off at “undistinguishable,” complete with the comma.

I did not realize that Open Source is, in fact, based on Moby as well. It’s certainly better than the MIT version with the markup, search and structure it provides, but it looks like all the errors have been carried over as well. That’s a shame.

I also guess this means I can’t use Open Source Shakespeare as my primary research source. That’s a bit of a bummer.


One thought on “What Happened to Demetrius’ Far-Off Mountains?

  1. I think I may have suggested, a long,long, time ago, staying away from anything Moby. Moby is ubiquitous because it's not 'copywritten'. Actually, the Open Source version is the "Globe" version, 1864. For many years all other versions were at least influenced by it.

    "Clark and Wright[Globe authors] did make serious errors: they mistook some of the falsely dated Pavier quartos, which were second editions, as first editions and hence as of superior authority in their readings, they also took the highly corrupt memorial texts of such plays as [Hamlet], [Lear], [Merry Wives of Windsor], and [Richard III] to represent early Shakespeare drafts, and so used them as the basis of emending [the First Folio] and, in the case of [Richard III], as the basic copy-text."

    Moby, a modern edition created for the internet, is based upon the Globe edition.

    "Renascence Editions" and "Internet Shakespeare Editions" both include the missing line. However, I think it's best to never completely trust any F1/Q conflations, internet-based or not. Sometimes some internet versions are "reviewed" and "corrected" but, again, that's based solely upon the whim of the reviewer. For this reason, I have always done my own.

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