Thursday, July 11, 2013

The New Age, July 3, 1913

I'm just going to post about one article in this issue: the weekly "Present-Day Criticism," a column that usually consists of the New Age editors demolishing the said present-day critics. 

This one is written anonymously--though the epigraph from an Indian religious text and the author's declaration that they are back from a break leads me to believe that it is by Beatrice Hastings, conspicuously absent for a few issues.  Thank goodness she's back (if indeed she is, but the liveliness of the piece is another point in her favor). 

Anywho, this one is another attempt to prevent spelling reform, but what caught my eye is that the guy calling for the reform is none other than Robert Bridges, poet laureate--and who I know primarily through my work with Gerard Manley Hopkins's manuscripts.  Most of the highest-amplitude Hopkins poems were first read by Bridges, through correspondence--he would write out beautifully handwritten copies of "The Windhover" etc. and then Hopkins would cross out all his mistakes, add all the accents he missed, etc.  This is the reason that many print editions capitalize the "AND" in "The Windhover"--Hopkins seems kind of mad that he had de-emphasized the exclamation point after "buckle."  Whatever their friendship was like, we owe it to Bridges that Hopkins' poems were published in 1918--more on that in five years.

The clash of Bridges and Hastings excited my poetry nerdiness, only I wish they'd talked about poetry instead of spelling.  Bridges' plan is to simplify spelling by a moderate phonetic reform: instead of strictly phonetic spelling, he's willing to admit that many vowels are pronounced the exact same way.  The solution is to just make that overtly clear, so that "they" and "day" are both acceptable phonetic spellings (no word on whether you could mix it up at will, "thay" and "dey". 

Pseudo-Hastings points out that "they" and "day" don't actually rhyme.  Hmm... maybe to her?  I find myself wondering.  I'm glad that we have our ridiculously spelt language, though.  Even if I don't really get the argument on either side.  Must be that I'm American. 

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