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The not-so-firm earth

In King John, the outspoken Constance speaks with passion of the loss of her son in battle: “my grief’s so great / That no supporter but the huge firm earth / Can hold it up” (TLN 993-5). No less than three of our editors have discovered recently that the huge firm earth seems less a stable support than they might like. All are safe and well, but two missed by just a few hours the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Helen Ostovich – whose old-spelling and modern texts of All’s Well That Ends Well are online – wrote of her near miss, “We knew in retrospect the exact moment of the quake – at 12:51 we were coming down a mountain road to the beach when the road suddenly shuddered and I almost lost control of the car for a moment. Luckily it felt like driving on black ice or loose snow, and habit clicked in. But it was a scary moment – and I thought it was my driving error until we reached the motel and were told the full story of the quake.” It seems that Canadian winters toughen its drivers to deal with all kinds of extremes.

Another to leave Christchurch just in time was Mark Houlahan, co-editor of Twelfth Night with David Carnegie. David’s family was impacted but all is now well. Fellow New Zealander, Tom Bishop, is on sabbatical in Kyoto – far enough away from the present catastrophe in Japan to be safe, but close enough to be keenly aware of the fragility of that seemingly firm earth we tread upon. Tom is editing Pericles for the ISE, and has been going great guns on a difficult and challenging text. His modern text is up on the beta site, and will go live in a couple of weeks.

Those of us who live on the eastern arc of the ring of fire may not altogether be quaking, but we are somewhat nervously checking on our earthquake kits, hoping that all the water and canned goods we so carefully store will be well past their best-by date before they are needed. Today’s local news headlined a rush to buy earthquake supplies from local stores. Small worries compared to those of our neighbors across the Pacific. Our thoughts are with them, and, more pragmatically, our financial support. (I’m wary of online scams in times like this and limit myself to the tried-and-true like Médecins sans Frontières or the Red Cross.)

– Michael Best, Coordinating Editor

Permanent link to full entry 09:35:26 am. Categories: Postings  


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