Critical Apparatus

The critical apparatus (or Latin: apparatus criticus) is the critical and primary source material that accompanies an edition of a text. A critical apparatus is often a by-product of textual criticism.

Many editions employ a standard format for a critical apparatus, as illustrated by a line from Hamlet, which the Oxford Complete Works (1988) prints as follows:

. Alas, then is she drowned.

The apparatus for the line might be rendered as:

4.7.156 Alas, then is she drowned.] ; Alas then, is she drown'd? F;
Alas then is she drownd. Q3; Alas, then, she is drownd. Q2;
So, she is drownde: Q1.

The format of the apparatus has several parts:

  • The location of the variant in the text (act, scene, line number)
  • The lemma, which is the portion of the text to which the note applies
  • A right bracket (])
  • The source from which the edition took its reading
  • A list of variants, in each case followed by the source in which the variant is found, and set off with a semicolon.

To save space, frequently cited sources are usually assigned an abbreviation called a siglum. In Shakespeare editions, F always signifies the First Folio; the second through fourth folios are referred to as F2 through F4 respectively. Similarly, Q1 is the first quarto, Q2 the second quarto, and Q3 the third.

In the example given, the first folio (F) and the three early quartos (Q1 to Q3) each have a different reading of the line in question. The editors have concluded that all four early sources are corrupt, and instead have adopted a reading suggested by G. R. Hibbard. Other editors of the play may choose a different reading of the line. The apparatus summarizes all of the textual evidence, allowing readers to assess for themselves whether the editor has made the best choice. Sometimes the editor will add a commentary, defending the choice made, explaining why other readings were rejected, or discussing how other editors have treated the passage.

This format has been used for critical apparatuses of Shakespeare and many other authors. In variorum editions, the apparatus is often placed at the bottom of the page. Sometimes a three-part format is employed, with the main text at the top of the page, textual variants in the middle, and the editor's commentary at the bottom. This remains the most common format for Shakespeare editions, although the Oxford Complete Works breaks with tradition by putting its critical apparatus in a separately published volume.

In the United States, bibliographer Fredson Bowers established a tradition of putting the critical apparatus at the back of the book, leaving the edited text clear of apparatus. This has the advantage of leaving the main text uncluttered with editorial details that may not be of interest to the general reader. However, this format is a disadvantage to scholarly readers, who are not able to see all of the textual evidence in one place.

Read more about Critical Apparatus:  Bible, Electronic Representation

Other articles related to "critical apparatus, apparatus":

Critical Apparatus - Electronic Representation
... The de facto standard for the representation of critical apparatus in digital scholarly editions is to follow the recommendations of the Text Encoding Initiative ...
Johann Albrecht Bengel - Greek New Testament
... at Stuttgart in the same year, but without the critical apparatus ... The text was followed by a critical apparatus, the first part of which consisted of an introduction to the criticism of the New Testament, in the thirty-fourth section of which he laid down and explained ... The second part of the critical apparatus was devoted to a consideration of the various readings, and here Bengel adopted the plan of stating the evidence both against and in favor of a particular reading ...
Novum Testamentum Graece - Editions - History
... placing the majority reading of these in the text and the third reading in the apparatus ... editions, Nestle began noting the attestation of certain important manuscripts in his apparatus ... This edition introduced a separate critical apparatus and began to abandon the majority reading principle ...

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