Print

Print


I find it oddly difficult to deal with something so simple as the  
following opening sentence from a chapter in Bleak House:

The name of MR. VHOLES, preceded by the legend GROUND FLOOR, is  
inscribed upon a door-post in Symond's Inn, Chancery Lane.

If you want to be very fussy about it, the sentence presupposes the  
existence of a distinct document that is rendered in it its entirety,  
but not in the order of its actual existence:

GROUND FLOOR MR. VHOLES

I have seen:

The name of <hi rend="smallcap">MR. VHOLES</hi>, preceded by the  
legend <hi rend="smallcap">GROUND FLOOR</hi>, is inscribed upon a door- 
post in Symond's Inn, Chancery Lane.

Small caps is what actually appears in the text. I could imagine, with  
or without a rend attribute:

The name of <quote type="inscription">MR. VHOLES</hi>, preceded by the  
legend <quote type="inscription">GROUND FLOOR</hi>, is inscribed upon  
a door-post in Symond's Inn, Chancery Lane.

One could imagine ways of expressing the relationship between the two  
parts of what is a single inscription or advertisement. But at that  
point I begin to wonder whether life is too short and whether the  
necessary overhead justifies the meagre payback.

Are there best practices about encoding such mini-documents in fiction  
(they are quite common once you start looking for them). If you were  
in the business of encoding epigraphic documents you would necessarily  
pay attention to all the semantic and palaeographical minutiae. But  
when the context is sprawling nineteenth century fiction, should the  
appropriate maxim be "de minimis non curat lex"?