I’m reading Scott’s The Antiquary as one of my books for Wuthering Expectations‘s “Scottish Literature Reading Challenge.” My only hard copy is an elegant but fragile 19th-century edition, but that’s no problem: I just downloaded it from Google Books, “a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the world’s books discoverable online.” I am happily reading it on my Sony Reader–happily, that is, except that I have to repeatedly infer the wording because their careful scanning wasn’t followed by anything like careful proofreading. “Die” repeatedly appears instead of “the,” for instance, and “9” instead of “?” It’s mostly not that hard to figure out what is meant, though it’s confusing that one of the protagonists keeps changing from “Lovel” to “Level,” and then sometimes when we get deep into Scots, I can’t be sure what it’s supposed to say, and when it comes to the (not infrequent) Latin, well, I have no idea at all. And sometimes–well, sometimes, I get to something like this:
I knew Anaelnw. Tic irai shrewd and prudent,
Wisdom and cunning had their shires of him;
But be was ihrew ah u a wayward child,
And pleased again by lays which childhood please’;
A»—took of faLIes graced with print of wood,
Ordae the jingling of a rusty medal,
Or the rare melody of nine old ditty,
That fint Wm sun? to pltase King Pcpiu’i cradle.
And then I just know that all the predictions about how Google Books will change the way we do everything are wrong, wrong, wrong.