Concordance to the 1654 Prose Letters
Prepared by Tracy McLawhorn and Mary Farrington,
with assistance from Kelly Bradley, Tracey Kniffin, and Brittany Swihart.
We here present a concordance to Donne’s 1654 prose Letters (prepared using R. J. C. Watt’s text analysis software Concordance ), a first-line index, a file containing the complete text of the volume, and a bibliographical description of the volume. The concordance and the first-line index are available in both HTML and PDF versions, and the complete text is available in an HTML version. The PDF versions, which lack some of the functionalities of the on-line versions, can be downloaded for ease of off-line use.
The transcription files were created from the T. R. O’Flahertie copy of the 1654 Letters, now held at Texas A&M’s Cushing Library, and replicate the format of that edition line for line. The text is encoded for certain structural and typographical features according to the system of Donne Variorum Markup Tags developed for use in the Donne Variorum. Each transcription is entered within a frame file made up of the following parts:
- a line for the header of the letter;
- a line for the salutation;
- a line for each line of text;
- a date line;
- a subscription line;
- post-script lines, when needed;
- The 11-digit ID-tag that precedes the heading and each line of text in the frame is made up of the letter number, the source siglum, and the line number. The letter number given in the ID-tag denotes the letter’s ordinal position within the volume and thus corresponds to the letter number given in the First-Line Index, which functions as a table of contents. The source siglum for the letters is L54, indicating the 1654 Letters.
- Volume page numbers are included in brackets in the transcriptions whenever a letter spans more than one page. If a letter is contained wholly on one page, the volume page number will not appear.
Stop-list words not included in the concordance are: a, an, and, as, at, by, for, from, he, her, him, his, I, in, is, it, of, on, or, said, she, that, the, they, to, was, with, you.
This concordance of John Donne’s Letters (1654) was created using R.J.C. Watt’s “Concordance” software, version 3.2.
Using the Concordance of the 1654 Prose Letters
The main concordance screen contains four main frames:
- The top frame contains buttons A–Z, allowing users to navigate to the beginning of each alphabetical section of the word list.
- The left frame contains an alphabetical list of concorded words. At the top of this frame, a button allows users to divide the list into sections or to show the list without divisions. In order to access words with coding at the beginning (see Caveats below), click “Show Undivided List”. At the top and bottom of this frame, buttons allow users to navigate to the previous or next section.
- The middle frame contains the concordance, which lists the selected word, gives the number of occurrences, anddisplays each occurrence in context. Entries are listed in the sequence of their occurrence in the volume. Users can navigate through the concordance by scrolling or using the “Next Section” or “Previous Section” buttons. Users can return to the beginning of the concordance by clicking the “Home” button. Alternately, they may click a word in the list of concorded words (left frame) and entries for the word will appear in the middle frame. For navigational purposes, all lines in the volume are numbered continuously from 1 to 7344. The links refer to these absolute line numbers, not to line numbers within the text of individual letters.
- The bottom frame contains the text of all the 1654 letters, which have been combined into one long file lineated continuously, as explained above. The line numbers are listed in the middle frame next to entries for concorded words. Clicking the line number in the middle frame will take users to the corresponding place in the text of the letters in the bottom frame. Users can also navigate through the letters in the bottom frame by scrolling. Volume page numbers, given in brackets at points of page-break, can help users determine their place in the text. As some individual letters will not contain page numbers, the user may have to scroll until locating a page number.
In this concordance, the Donne Variorum Markup Tags have been retained and, if a word contains coding, it will be concorded separately from non-tagged instances of the same word. For example, searching under “B” for “Bedford” will result in only two instances of this word. However, there are 11 instances of the word “Bedford” in italics, and are these are tagged as %1Bedford%2, instead of appearing in italics (e.g.,Bedford). To find these instances, click on the “Show Undivided List” button in the left frame and scroll until “%1Bedford%2” appears. When trying to find every instance of a word, it is a good idea to check the list of tagged words that precedes section “A,” as this is where all the words with Donne Variorum Markup Tags will occur. The main coding feature listed in this section is italics, but there are also instances of superscript (…), subscript (…), and small caps (…); words that are attached to a line break (/); and numbers (including dates). At times, tagging may come at the end of the word without corresponding HTML tagging. In such cases, the word with the end-tag will appear in the list of words immediately after the non-tagged word. For example, the word “left” is followed in the list of concorded words by “left%2”.
This concordance program treats words hyphenated at the end of the line as two separate words. Since many instances of line-end hyphenation occur in the letters, users should check to see if there are also hyphenated versions of the word they are looking for. For example, looking under section “H” for “heaven” will yield 21 instances of the word. But there are two more instances of “heaven” that are listed under “hea-“. When hyphenation occurs in the middle of a line (for example, hyphenation of compounds), the hyphenated words are treated as one word. Therefore, it is possible to miss an instance of a word if that word comes in the latter part of a compound. For example, searching under “S” for “shot” results in one instance of this word. But another instance of “shot” is found in the compound “hail-shot.” If all instances of a word are required, including instances where it is compounded with another word, one option is to search for that word in the bottom frame, which contains the text of all the letters. To perform a search, make sure your cursor is in the bottom frame, then use your web browser’s “Find” function to locate all instances of the word.