Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 68. Sunday, 24 Feb 1991.
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 1991 21:48:37 -0500
From: Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Subject: 2.0063 Authorial Revision
Comment: Re: SHK 2.0063 Authorial Revision
[This message arrived just moments after I sent the digest containing
Jean Brink's message to SHAKSPER. Rather than holding it for another
24 hours, I forward it now, separately. My apologies for any
inconvenience this duplication of subjects may cause. KS]
As the lead lunatic in the "Shakespeare Revises" ward of this
home for thethe academically out, I'd like to enter the conversation
about why consider Shakespeare as the reviser of those funny scripts.
Paul Werstine's psychoerotic fantasies of dirty little compositors and
apprentices penetrating Shakespeare's manuscripts sounds sadly like the
back rooms of nasty adult book stores. Playscripts of most periods
may be the product of individual effort, or they may pop out of a
community of interest and suggestion and hard thought over tough
problems. The consequence of the different imagined narratives though
seems to have been significant. When we fantasize that Shakespeare
and his company revised a text then we are encouraged to look, to READ,
such a text. But when the whole camp, pioneers and all, may have
spewed onto the "bad" quarto of MERRY WIVES, then PFUI! Don't Wannit.
Though Paul Werstine says otherwise, I keep on encouraging people to
Lookit! Whoever may have inscribed those words, they did fascinating
work, and we have a lot to learn from it. Werstine says, "Nope.
Unclean, unclear. Give 'em edited versions because we can trust us
editors." Try, just try, one or two times, to show several neat
alternative versions of an entrance from 3HenryVI or a father-daughter
dialogue from R&J with your undergraduates. They'll begin to see how
text or script may be manipulated to create theatrical effects. Isn't
that the goal of reading these old dogs anyway? I tell ya, the "bad"
quarto of R&J will help your students understand more about R&J than
setting them to read through Brooke's Romeus and Juliet. But I'll
betcha not a dozen students (or teachers either) a year read Q1 R&J
in a year in the whole wide world. Okay, Urk, back in yer cage!
. . . . Steve Urkowitz SURCC@CUNYVM