Selling Shakespeare’s first folio and its possible ramifications
Posted: 05 September 2013 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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[Moved to General Discussion as it’s not a “meta” topic (i.e., about this site).]

One important question is how legitimate is the need to sell? One factor cited in the article is the ballooning cost of research journals. But that’s almost entirely the result of profit-seeking by for-profit publishers who rely predominantly on volunteer or underpaid labor to review and edit their journals and then charge exorbitant fees to the institutions that supply the labor. It’s the privatization of academia that is causing most of this problem. Another factor is the withdrawal of government support for academic institutions. If one expects these institutions to maintain their libraries for the good of society, then society must pony up the money to do so.

But an solution to the immediate problem would be to sell the folio to another library. It might not generate the bucks a private sale would, but it would provide income to the University of London. The British Library, the Folger, the Library of Congress, the Bodleian, Cambridge, Harvard, the Huntington, etc. might be in the market to pick up a copy.

[ Edited: 05 September 2013 02:14 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 05 September 2013 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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One must imagine that some sort of calculus goes on behind the scenes such as: “The average salary here is 50K. We can get 5 million for this thing nobody ever looks at. That’s the equivalent of 100 human years of salaries, or, since you and I make 100K, that’s the next 25 years for you and me. Job security.” Not that I’m cynical.

It strikes me as asinine and duplicitous. Having Shakespeare’s first folio held by a public institution is symbolically significant to every person who cares about Shakespeare and the arts. We can’t all see it and touch it, but we can all own it. Sheer numerical monetary value is never questioned by public institutions until it serves some public servant’s more limited or private interest. No one ever sits back and questions the wisdom of spilling billions on things the public knows not of.

No monetary value can be placed on a cornerstone to cultural heritage.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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FYI, Wikipedia reports 228 copies of the First Folio are extant, with 40 of them complete; only one is privately owned. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC has 82 of the copies, far and away the largest collection.

I seriously doubt “no one ever looks at it.” Unless the copy is in really terrible condition, such that handling that will inevitably result in damage, it is undoubtedly consulted with some regularity by Shakespeare scholars (both resident at the institution and visiting for the purpose of looking at it), if not on public display.

[ Edited: 05 September 2013 04:35 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 06 September 2013 01:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Many years ago, a friend and co-worker told me this story, which he said was true:

There lived in Turkish-ruled Palestine a very wealthy man named Haj Amin al-Nabulsi.  He was famous for his generosity and good works, and when he died, thousands came to his funeral.  According to his instructions, as his body was carried to burial (Moslems do not use coffins), his open right hand hung free, over the side of the bier. The Haj wanted everybody to see exactly what he was taking with him, on his way to meet his Maker.

The only cure for acquisitiveness is death. Perhaps a private buyer might be allowed to purchase that Folio, on condition that upon the purchaser’s demise, it be donated to the University of London? --- additional conditions could be imposed, e.g. the purchaser could be required to shuffle off these mortal coils within a stipulated period --- failing which, the book would be forfeit?  I think a little imagination is called for ;-)

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Posted: 06 September 2013 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Moslems do not use coffins

That does not seem to be generally true, based on news videos I have seen, through it may have been correct in the time and place of the story, which I hope is true, since it makes its point well.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here.

May I offer a plea that people not use this style of posting?  Aside from being annoyingly cutesy (which I realize may be just my personal reaction and mileage may vary), it becomes actively detrimental if the link goes bad.  If your link text is the title of the article, one can google it to try to find a working link; at the very least one will know what you were talking about.  Thanks!

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Posted: 06 September 2013 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OK, I’ll give a precis in future.

I’d thought the meta section was for stuff not strictly to do with word origins but of possible interest or about technical internet matters. I stand corrected.

Update: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/sep/05/university-of-london-shakespeare-folios

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Posted: 06 September 2013 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Moslems do not use coffins

That does not seem to be generally true, based on news videos I have seen,

Sorry --- I should have written “Moslems do not bury their dead in coffins”. A coffin may be used to bring the deceased to the burial site: this might be what you have seen.

http://www.al-islam.org/laws/burial.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_funeral

As to the story’s being true --- my friend was a working man, descended from peasant farmers and small landholders. He had had even less formal education than I, but the rural folk culture in which he grew up, and lived, had a rich treasury of such stories, all of them with an underlying moral message, and all true in essence, if not in factual detail.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I believe the general forum is for posts about either word origins OR the use of language writ large.  The “meta” forum is for issues related to the word origins site itself, or its members.  This is the definition given on the general forums page.  The meta forum is also sometimes used as a place for things that aren’t directly about the use of language, but which relate to a software or other tool that is used to study language (for example, a development regarding Google books).  This is “meta” in a broader sense, even if it doesn’t strictly fit the definition provided on the forums page.

I don’t think the meta forum is the place for “Well, it’s kind of about language, but only sort of...” I believe such things, if they fit anywhere, go in the general forum.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Going back to the original subject: there’s also the point that Senate House Library has no moral right to sell them - it accepted them as a donation, less than sixty years ago, on the condition that they would have a permanent home in the library.

It’s not unusual these days for British institutions to sell off treasures they originally received as gifts. When the gift was made centuries ago there is sometimes a fair argument to be made that the value of the object and the situation of the institution have changed so radically so that the donor’s original intention is no longer relevant, or literally cannot be fulfilled. No such argument can possibly be advanced in this case. If the Charity Commission really do authorise the sale, it will set a precedent that no condition attached to any bequest to a public institution is worth the paper it is written on. And if that happens, nobody in their right mind will make such bequests.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Sorry --- I should have written “Moslems do not bury their dead in coffins”. A coffin may be used to bring the deceased to the burial site: this might be what you have seen.

Indeed.  Thanks for the further education.

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Posted: 13 September 2013 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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It was purely my ignorance, Svinyard, but isn’t there a place here for ‘Kinda Sorta Off-Topic but Nevertheless Language-Related’ threads if it could be set up easily? I don’t know how rigid the template Dave uses is. I once posted something in the meta section which Dave moved to General Discussion which resulted in a theatrical, dismissive post “What on earth is this doing in wordorigins.org?” (guess who) - precisely why I’d posted it in meta in the first place.

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Posted: 13 September 2013 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I once posted something in the meta section which Dave moved to General Discussion which resulted in a theatrical, dismissive post...

Dave is the sole administrator and in the case above he gave his approval of the post by moving it to General Discussion. End of story.

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Posted: 13 September 2013 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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"Meta” is about this site and its regular participants.

“General Discussion” is about language writ large, with a focus on etymology. This site has never solely been about word and phrase origins.

“Off topic” is about subjects that are neither about language nor this site.

[ Edited: 13 September 2013 12:05 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 16 September 2013 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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This is fine only I was wary of being shot down again. In the example of my thread I cited above Dave justified its inclusion and I was referring to other posters who were less happy about it though others weren’t and commented on it constructively. I think it was something to do with the policy of an American institution regarding language and only the slights have stuck with me :(.

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