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Home :: Archive :: 1990 :: September ::
Collected Works, Oxford Shakespeare (96)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 63. Monday, 24 Sep 1990.
(1)   Date:     Sun, 23 Sep 90 20:28 EST                     (40 lines)
      From:     <DORENKAMP@HLYCROSS>
      Subject:  collected vs paperbacks
(2)   Date:         Mon, 24 Sep 90 07:39:46 EDT              (38 lines)
      From:         Ken Steele <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
      Subject:      The Oxford Complete Works
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:     Sun, 23 Sep 90 20:28 EST
Subject:  collected vs paperbacks
The choice of the collected Shakespeare or individual
paperbacks is one that has long been a problem.  I have in
the past used selected paperbacks either the Pelican or
Arden but lately have used only the Riverside.  It's
cumbersome and at times I am tempted to cut it up into
smaller parts--tragedies, comedies, etc., but find that not
really helpful.
The advantage of a collected works, of course, is the fact
that you have available for you in class a ready means to
illustrate not just by reference but by actually turning to
a passage or passages for comparison.  For example, it is
more effective, I think, to illustrate Shakespeare's
self-referential in jokes by seeing the passages on the page
and not just referring to them.  Thus the bishop of
Ely's strawberries in RIII are given yet another dimension
when another Ely selects strawberries as a vehicle for his
metaphor in Henry V.  The sonnets and poems are handy also in
relation to the plays.
I typically do 9 or 10 plays in an undergraduate course for
majors.  I believe that an English major should have a
complete Shakespeare and even though we will cover only
approximately one third of the plays, the volume will
become a permanent part of their libraries.  (I know, I know.
I'm being naive.  I, too, have seen them lined up at the end
of the semester to sell their books back to a jobber.)
Whatever the stance of the editor(s), the value of a
consistent, clearly spelled out approach to the textual
problems is worth the disadvantages of a collected works.
                                     [John Dorenkamp
                                     College of the Holy Cross
                                     Worcester, Massachusetts]
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------42----
Date:         Mon, 24 Sep 90 07:39:46 EDT
From:         Ken Steele <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject:      The Oxford Complete Works
I am curious as to the general acceptance of the New Oxford Shakespeare
in college classrooms.  It seems to me that the individual volumes
should be as useful as the New Arden or Cambridge Shakespeares --
up-to-date, fully annotated, carefully edited -- but the Complete Works
have, of course, no annotation (unless one counts the glossary) and
no textual information (unless one also lugs around the hefty and pricey
Textual Companion, which is the definitive source).
It seems clear that Oxford's primary target with the Collected Works
(Old-Spelling and Modern-Spelling) and the Textual Companion was the
Shakespeare scholar, not the student.  I'm not sure Oxford realized this
at the time -- but apparently negotiations are now being made with
Norton in the United States to publish an Oxford Shakespeare with
annotation at the foot of each page, presumably in a smaller format to
be more convenient as a student edition.  (Oxford's own smaller-format
Collected Works has been available for some time, but does not differ
textually from the larger, heavier volume -- the largest and most
awkward text of Shakespeare I've ever carried around campus!)
Does anyone out there use the Oxford Collected Works, in modern or old-
spelling?  The individual Oxford editions, as they become available?
The electronic version?  Does anyone suggest these texts to their
students, or are these considered purely research materials, like the
Textual Companion?  Is the preferred collected works the Alexander
text or the Riverside?
And was Hardy Cook thinking of political implications beyond the
expense imposed on students by an instructor's choice of Collected
Works?  The monumentality of a collected volume in terms of the
reformulation of the canon?  The editorial implications of one
approach or the other?
                                                 Ken Steele
                                                 University of Toronto

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