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Home :: Archive :: 1990 :: August ::
Oxford Electronic Shakespeare (34)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 38. Thursday, 30 Aug 1990.
 
Date:   Thu, 30 Aug 90 11:03:06 EDT
From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Subject:      Re: 1.0029  Electronic Editions  (105)
 
Ah, the fray!  I've not gotten down to using electronic editions, but
I have some warnings about using the Oxford paper editions as the basis
for textual work of any kind.  Or rather let me say that the Oxford
texts must be checked against Quarto and Folio versions at each step
in the process.  A quick glance at the opening scene of 2 Henry VI
will show how editorial manipulation of the 1594 and 1623 texts
generates stage action and scenic effect quite opposite to either of
the quite different early versions.  Whether the Queen sits or stands
while the courtiers stand or kneel seems a matter of some
weight; whether the King later speaks boldly or reticently in his
defense also matters.  The 1594 text gives one consistent pattern,
the 1623 another, the Oxford a squash of both.  I'll be glad to trust
the Oxford editors on how typesetters influenced these early scripts,
but for theatrical interpretations and editorial choices dependent on
them I'd have to check each line, each stage direction and each speech
prefix.  An electronic text based on such shaky dramatic taste seems
an inauspicious foundation for linguistic analysis.  Someone might try
a scene-by-scene comparison of 2H6 in Q, F, and Oxford as an exercise
for a class.  Or try q1-q2-F Hamlet.  But that's another world of
difference.
 
                                       [Steve Urkowitz
                                        CUNY Graduate Center]
 

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