To E or not to E

Au nom de Sha­kes­peare.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito | Sommaire - VE­RO­NI­CA RO­CHA

En vous pro­me­nant sur le cam­pus de l'Uni­ver­si­té de Ca­li­for­nie du Sud à Los An­geles, vous ne pour­rez man­quer l’ob­jet du dé­lit : une sta­tue ma­jes­tueuse dé­voi­lée cet été, et sur la­quelle on peut lire quelques vers si­gnés... « Sha­kes­pear » ! Tout ce­la au­rait pu pas­ser in­aper­çu, mais il y a des lettres qui brillent par leur ab­sence… et ce simple « e » omis, au­ra beau­coup fait par­ler de lui !

When William Sha­kes­peare pen­ned “Ham­let” around the turn of the 17th cen­tu­ry, he pro­ba­bly ne­ver ima­gi­ned his words would one day grace the base of a sta­tue at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ca­li­for­nia (USC) as part of a $700-mil­lion pro­ject. Li­ke­wise, how was he to ima­gine that the spel­ling of his name would ig­nite a cross-town de­bate bet­ween two fa­med Los An­geles uni­ver­si­ties? Did the Bard spell his name Sha­kes­peare or Sha­kes­pear?

2.That last ques­tion was as­ked re­cent­ly when USC un­vei­led the new sta­tue of He­cu­ba, queen of Troy, this sum­mer. The sta­tue fea­tu­red verses from “Ham­let” and the dra­ma­tist’s name, which was no­ti­cea­bly mis­sing a fi­nal “e.”

3.The ex­cerpt, found on the base of the 20-foot sta­tue, reads: “And all for no­thing — For He­cu­ba! What’s He­cu­ba to him, or he to He­cu­ba, That he should weep for her? - Sha­kes­pear’s Ham­let”

4.Stu­dents from USC’s long­time ri­val, UCLA, spot­ted the small, but gla­ring, de­tail and poin­ted it out: “USC. The on­ly place in Ame­ri­ca that can un­veil a sta­tue as the cen­ter­piece of a $700 mil­lion pro­ject and ma­nage to miss­pell Sha­kes­peare,” the of­fi­cial student-run ac­count twee­ted.

5.The bronze sta­tue, crea­ted by sculp­tor Ch­ris­to­pher Sla­toff, stands in the middle of the new de­ve­lop­ment, dub­bed USC Vil­lage. The com­plex in­cludes six five-sto­ry buil­dings, student hou­sing, a 30,000-square-foot fit­ness cen­ter, res­tau­rants, a Tra­der Joe’s and a Tar­get. 6.Des­pite some cri­ti­cism, USC is stan­ding by the spel­ling, saying that there are va­ria­tions of Sha­kes­peare. "To E, or not to E, that is the ques­tion,” USC said in a sta­te­ment. “Over the cen­tu­ries his sur­name has been spel­led 20 dif­ferent ways. USC chose an ol­der spel­ling be­cause of the an­cient feel of the sta­tue, even though it is not the most com­mon form."

7.It looks like USC may have a point. Ca­ro­line McMa­nus, who teaches 17th cen­tu­ry En­glish li­te­ra­ture at Cal State Los An­geles, said spel­ling was not stan­dar­di­zed in En­glish du­ring Sha­kes­peare’s time. “We see Sha­kes­peare's name spel­led in dif­ferent ways on do­cu­ments writ­ten du­ring his time per­iod,” she said. Some of those spel­lings in­clude Sha­kes­pear, Shaks­pere and Sha­kes­peare.

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