I've written before that when The New Yorker prints "vocal chords" instead of "vocal cords" (something I have witnessed twice), it makes me think that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
And now I have witnessed an even more shocking error in this publication, which caused me to throw down the magazine and storm off to blog about my fury.
From Hilton Als' review of Twelfth Night (in the Nov. 25, 2013 issue): "Olivia dodges the entreaties of her visitor, a youth whom her steward, Malvolio (Stephen Fry), drolly describes as 'not yet old enough for a man, nor young / enough for a boy, as a squash is before 'tis a peas- / Cod, or a codling when 'tis almost an apple.'"
Do you see what happened there? The magazine printed Shakespearean prose as though it were verse! Dividing the word "peascod" with a slash and a hyphen, even, for no apparent reason! (Shakespeare will enjamb lines of verse, but he never splits a word down the middle between lines of verse.) But there's no verse structure, no rhythm or meter, underlying these words! It's prose, dammit!
Who's to blame, I wonder? This suggests that the magazine's head theater critic, or possibly his editor, doesn't know the difference between prose and blank verse (or perhaps they mistakenly think that all of Shakespeare is written in verse). Which is a disturbing thought, to say the least.
Especially because when I heard Hilton Als speak in 2009, he suggested that "plays should be treated as literature" and that it's therefore OK to read them instead of seeing them. (A very strange attitude for a theater critic to take, I thought.) And if you are reading a Shakespeare play, rather than seeing it, you should definitely be able to tell the difference between verse and prose!
So I hope that this error is just the work of some entry-level bozo at the copy-editing desk, so I can go on with my faith in The New Yorker undimmed. (And there are some nice insights and turns of phrase, as well as an appreciation for the "poetic reality" of live theater and the craft of acting, in the rest of Als' review.)