Tuesday, December 30, 2008

He’s Probably Right, You Know

Had to share this email I just got from regular contributor Carl Atkins (with his permission):

I have been noodling around with some research on Twelfth Night and came across this remark by H. H. Furness (in the preface to his New Variorum edition from 1901), which I just loved. I thought you might get a kick out of it: "If the use of the adverb 'probably,' in connection with all statements regarding Shakespeare, were legally forbidden on pain of death without the benefit of clergy, I think the world would be the happier, certainly the wiser."

I like that little bit about "without the benefit of clergy." From the days when a fate worse than death was dying without the benefit of clergy!

He then throws in this kicker at the end, which made me laugh out loud:  Note that the passage of this law would have reduced Stephen Greenblatt's "Will in the World" to about 2 pages.

:)  Thanks Carl!

1 comment:

ren girl said...

Haha! This is so true. I don't know--in certain situations, the "probably" seems to be a given, so I sometimes just leave it off. But then, of course, I worry that I come off like I think I know everything, so the "probably" comes back out...*sigh* It's a neverending cycle.

Of course, you could extrapolate that to a lot of historical study. I'm pretty sure if "probably" were disallowed, my thesis would have been about....a page. Ha. :)