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Sender: - Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
From: Tim Bray <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 21:06:03 -0700
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Reply-To: - Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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At 05:55 PM 24/09/01 -0400, Tim Romano wrote:
>Any reason why you eschewed CSS?

Oh dear, mea maxima culpa.  I did it in 1997, that's why.
But for the benefit of the nonwebgeeks in the audience, Mr.
Romano is totally correct; this could be done much better, more
efficiently and more portably using CSS.  Mind you, it wouldn't
work in Netscape 4.*, but this is an increasingly small price
to pay.

>On a literary note: I'm not yet convinced that the indentations are
>actually called for. They seem to be Pound's concession to the original
>typesetters, given the narrowness of the page he could reasonably expect a
>publisher to offer, a concession that he might not have made had the page
>widths been more ample.

Well, er, yes.  But Robert Johnson didn't have electric guitars
and Eisenstein didn't have digital special effects, and they
both did OK.  And in my opinion the Cantos pages are on average
pretty darn nice looking... concessions to the medium at hand
have on balance typically not got in the way of an artist who's
on his game.

> Inasmuch as the HTML "page" is like an opened book
>that has no binding crease, HTML offers twice the page-width, in a manner
>of speaking. Under modern circumstances, Pound might like to see his lines
>unbroken on the virtual page.

Well, some of the best commercial typography and page design
on current offer - in both good magazines and good web sites -
make pretty heavy use of multiple narrow columns, because it's
a pleasant way to read.  The eye seems more naturally to move
down than across.  There are all sorts of quantitative studies
of this stuff for those who care.

I wonder if any authorial/editorial choice went into the Cantos'
placement of breaks in lines that are apparently due only to the
page size?  Some of them seem a bit too tuneful to be the result
of chance.  On a related note, nobody thinks the use of "wd" for
"would" is done to save space. -Tim