Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 496. Thursday, 19 August 1993.
Date: Wednesday, 18 Aug 93 9:41:56 EDT
Subject: The Everyman Shakespeare
Time to put on my cheerleader's hat again and congratulate J.M. Dent on
the new Everyman Shakespeare, edited by John F. Andrews. I found the texts
of four of the plays in the campus bookstore yesterday, and immediately
started in on Macbeth. The text is that of the 1990 Guild Shakespeare from
Doubleday (something else I missed in my travels), with revisions;
copiously annotated on facing pages, with chronology, foreword by a noted
theatre professional (Zoe Caldwell in the case of Macbeth), introduction
and brief history of the criticism of the play.
I find the notes helpful, pointing out not only meanings but possible
stage business and parallels to other passages in the same play (many of
which I'd missed in the case of Macbeth). But the really remarkable thing
is the text itself: it's both conservative and radical -- conservative
because it conserves, without emendation, many of the original Folio
readings (and presumably Quarto readings for plays that have one); and
radical for the same reason. I admit I have a fondness for offbeat textual
analysis, and it's not an area where I have any expertise at all. But I
admire the daring that prints Macbeth's famous line in its original form:
"I dare do all that may become a Man; / Who dares no more is none." I
don't find this line as incomprehensible as most editors of Shakespeare,
who have been unable to keep their hands off it. I can't wait to see what
happens to the sleaded pole-axe on the ice.
In passing, I would also like to salute one of my favorite lines: "Though
his Bark cannot be lost, / Yet it shall be Tempest-tost." There's something
about this that is, as so often in Shakespeare, so perfectly put that I
can't help laughing with delight whenever I read it.