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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0206.  Thursday, 10 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Robert S. Cohen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Mar 1994 10:18:41 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Urkowitz and then some
 
(2)     From:   Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Mar 94 16:22:23 EST
        Subj:   Quartos:  short, good, bad, deformed, and annotated
 
(3)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Mar 1994 18:00:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   To the great Variety of Readers.
 
(4)     From:   Leslie Thomson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Mar 1994 19:42:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0199  Re: annotated quartos
 
(5)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Thursday, 10 Mar 1994 10:18:06 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0199  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert S. Cohen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Mar 1994 10:18:41 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Urkowitz and then some
 
In selecting readings from variant Q and F versions, modern text editors
often choose on the basis of their own aesthetic preferences, which tend
towards an archaic "literariness," I find.
 
For example: although *Othello* Q1 generally employs the word "if" where
F1 has the quainter "an," Q1 sometimes uses "an" where F1 goes with "if."
Yet IN BOTH SITUATIONS modern text editors will read "an."  I can see no
reason for this except to make readers hate Shakespeare.  Or at least to
become dependent on footnotes, which is much the same thing.  It
certainly makes theatre audiences confused.  In any event, it's not the
authority of one 17th century text over the other that determines the
modern reading, but the editor's own aesthetic preference - which tends
towards what looks good on the page rather than what sounds best on the
stage.
 
Q1 also uses "has" in lieu of the F1 "hath" a number of times, but modern
editors go with the Folio in these cases: despite the fact that "has"
better propels the dramatic flow, and seems to have been coming into use
in Shakespeare's own playhouse, if not in the foul papers themselves.
Likewise, the prenuptial scene (II.v.) in *R&J* is more theatrically
effective, I believe, in the "debased" Q1 than in the "accepted" Q2: it
is certainly more passionate, juvenile, and funny, which stands in
wonderfully poignant contrast with the tragic events that follow.
 
Thus, if we must make variant-selection decisions in the absence of clear
historical proof of authorial preference, let's at least decide with as
sharp an eye on the stage as on the page.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Mar 94 16:22:23 EST
Subject:        Quartos:  short, good, bad, deformed, and annotated
 
Well, no, I haven't seen an annotated quarto, but before you go off an annotate
one yourself, give yourself a lot more room than you would, judging by extant
quartos.  Uncut, and there is an uncut TNK at Illinois, the margins are very
ample indeed. Maybe the short texts are the good texts, the acting texts that
made it through, somehow.  The long texts, like Folio H5, are boilerplates from
which you construct a production. Ask Ralph Cohen whether the SSE MERCHANT for
the Montgomery AL, Jewish Country Club was the same MERCHANT that played for
the kids at NEW MEXICO MILITARY ACADEMY.  Gimme a break!
 
Tom Berger
St. Lawrence Univ.  Canton, NY 13617   TBER@SLUMUS.BITNET
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Mar 1994 18:00:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        To the great Variety of Readers.
 
We have  all been asked to reconsider the words of Heminge(s) and Condell, and
so last night I reread A3 in the Hinman Folio. Using Heminge and Condell to
argue for memorial reconstruction seems problematic: "you are abus'd with
diuerse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds
and stealthes of iniurious impostors, that expos'd [published?] them. . . ." In
context, this statement seems to refer to all the quartos, and the preface to
the second state of TROILUS AND CRESSIDA (1609) seems to indicate that it may
have been set from one of these stolen copies. As far as I know, no one has
sugg    ested that T&C is a memorial reconstruction. Please correct my
ignorance if I am wrong.
 
No one can be absolutely sure how copies were surreptitiously stolen. At the
Red Bull, playscripts were kept in the theatre - as I recall. If you wanted to
steal a play, would you send someone with a good memory, or someone with a good
jimmy? If you are going to be unscrupulous, why not do it right?
 
Heminge and Condell also make a strong suggestion that the Folio was set from
Shakespeare's papers: "wee haue scarse receiued from him a blot in his papers."
Did they really believe this? If it happens to be true, that the Folio was set
from Shakespeare's papers, Shakespearean textual scholarship has to be
rewritten.
 
In any case, I would not like to base an argument for anything on "To the great
Variety of Readers."
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Leslie Thomson <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 9 Mar 1994 19:42:47 -0500
Subject: 5.0199  Re: annotated quartos
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0199  Re: annotated quartos
 
To answer the question, "has anybody seen an annotated quarto?": Yes.
There is a theatrically annotated quarto of *A Looking-Glass for
London and England* at the U of Chicago libraries; its existence has
been known since 1931; the annotations probably predate the closing of
the theatres.  In July 1992 Bill Long and I found a substantial
fragment of the first quarto of *Two Merry Milkmaids* at the Folger;
it had been there 10 years, with no attention paid--not trendy?  For
those interested, I will be showing slides of same at the SAA meeting in
Albuquerque, on a panel with Bill Long and Alan Dessen.  On the Thursday
from 1:30 to 2:30--come and see something real and rare!
 
Regards,
 
Leslie Thomson
U of Toronto
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Thursday, 10 Mar 1994 10:18:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0199  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0199  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
I would like to ask Steve Urkowitz for clarification. What do you mean "try
reading the texts without knowing who wrote them"? Is this an injunction or a
warning?
 
I personally do not spend a whole lot of time thinking about the
personality of the author, in our case Shakespeare. But at the same time I
don't like to reify people into "locuses of circulation." Sure, artists
collaborate, and we know that 16th-17th century playwrights collaborated on
playscripts.
 
We can guess that Renaissance playscripts had to be revised in
production; some things just may not work on stage, and the actors start making
suggestions. Bill Harmon used to call this the Procedural Esthetic. We all know
about Max Perkins. But there has to be something there BEFORE the actors and
the editors and the critics can begin their work. There had to be a Thomas
Wolfe before Max Perkins could "construct" OF TIME AND THE RIVER.
 
Will Shakespeare used to go home early from the pub, get a candle from his
landlady, and spend hours - alone - writing. That's not a very exciting picture
of the artist. But I believe that that's how these texts came into being. There
was a point of origin. You may call this the BIG PEN theory.
 
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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