Is this the first 'annotations wiki'?
In any case, there will be many more, so it will be helpful to thrash out some guiding principles...
How much detail?
- As far as I know, I created the first annotation wiki in summer 2005, the Queen Loana Annotation Project, for Umberto Eco's latest novel. So far the appropriate level of detail seems to have worked itself out here on the Pynchon wiki: a few sentences, linked page for longer discussion, as you mention below. Bleakhaus 16:21, 19 December 2006 (PST)
- Wiki contributors may be interested to know that the American Translators Association gave its 2006 Lewis Galantière Award to Geoffrey Brock for his translation of The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. The award recognizes "a distinguished book-length literary translation . . . into English." Source: The ATA Chronicle, January 2007, pp. 11-12. --Volver 09:36, 14 February 2007 (PST)
Aspiring novelists will see the annotation-process as a form of apprenticeship, reverse-engineering Pynchon's bag of tricks.
Others may see it as a course of advanced study, hitchhiking on Pynchon's enthusiasms.
Pynchon seems to go to enormous lengths finding non-obvious research sources, but by now the Web is huge enough that most factoids can be verified via linkable Web resources.
Most all novels blend the fictional layer with a factual background, and sifting one from the other seems a legitimate annotators' task. Similarly, checking for anachronisms of history or language. (Historical characters' actual ages at the time of their appearance should be noted.)
By including lots of links to detailed resources, the notes themselves can be kept compact. (Longer thoughts belong on a separate page.)
Useful resources include maps, pictures, etexts, etymologies, pronunciations, etc etc etc. Search page
The spoiler problem is vast and problematic.
In Ulysses there are so many baffling references that are (more-or-less) clarified later, that trying to avoid spoilers is hopeless.
There's a possible trick of hiding them with white-on-white text, visible only when highlighted (via mouse or keyboard). Can this be done with the current wiki software?
- Agreed-- it is very problematic. Spoilers were actually an utter non-issue on the Queen Loana wiki, probably because the novel features few characters and is not very plot-based. I have yet to see clickable spoilers like the ones you mention on Wikipedia, which also runs on the Wikimedia software, but it may be possible. Bleakhaus 16:21, 19 December 2006 (PST)
In the long run, most of those who use these annotations will either be re-readers for whom spoilers are a non-issue, or novices who will give up early, so minor spoilers are not a big deal.
- The Spoiler-free Annotations at least are meant for the first time reader, whether that's today or in 2025. While it's true that mentioning, say, "This will be cleared up on page 56," or whatever is nowhere near on the level of "Darth Vader is Luke's father," I personally feel it detracts from a section labeled "Spoiler-Free Annotations." It gets ahead of the reader, and that rubs at least me the wrong way. I personally am against all references to later pages, however slight, in this section.
- Bearing in mind that the Pynchon wiki is an open project, however, you or anyone else is welcome to create alternative structures of annotation beyond the current Alpha and Spoiler-Free. Perhaps a Spoilers-allowed version of the Page by Page for second-time readers or those who don't mind them? Bleakhaus 16:21, 19 December 2006 (PST)
Specific test-cases with AtD: a celebrity cameo that's fun to spot and widely spoiled by reviews that mention him; a minor character who later becomes major (does it hurt to warn people to pay attention?); a character who dies suddenly while contributing an important early section-title (does it hurt to reveal that early death?).
Also, if spoilers are to be avoided, what about Gravity's-Rainbow spoilers?
- You're right-- spoilers to other Pynchon novels should not be allowed. That said, I think the standards may be a *bit* looser than references within the same novel. Taking a glance at an example page, ATD_26-56, it seems like this hasn't been a problem yet. The references to GR have been very general so far: "The name recalls the White Visitation of Gravity's Rainbow," and so on. Perhaps we could add a sentence to the top of each page: "When referencing other Pynchon novels, please keep comments general and don't reveal plot elements," or something like that? Bleakhaus 16:21, 19 December 2006 (PST)