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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0225.  Monday, 14 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
        Date:   Sunday, 13 Mar 1994 20:32:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   locus-pocus
 
(2)     From:   Tad Davis <
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 >
        Date:   Sunday, 13 Mar 1994 08:33:11 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0219  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
(3)     From:   Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
        Date:   Monday, 14 Mar 94 11:12:09 EST
        Subj:   Annotated Quartos
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
Date:           Sunday, 13 Mar 1994 20:32:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        locus-pocus
 
I seem to have drawn some fire for my "locus of circulation" comment, and I'd
like to elaborate briefly, since I stand by it (so far).  The locus is in our
minds, as a point of reference--something like the scrap of Foucault that
showed up here several days back.  We have this "Shakespeare" that is in the
thick of a body or remarkable drama, and we choose to identify him as the
author of every word and point.  Revisions aside, and even putting aside
changes that Shakespeare might have had a hand in or approved, can we imagine
that the plays have no discrete author, but are the product of massive
reworking of scripts originally supplied by one William Shakespeare?
 
Of course, the quartos will differ from each other and the folio.  If texts are
more than a few performances apart, they may differ substantially.  Our idea of
the fixed text was barely formed in Jacobean London; many texts on the same
story might pass as the same story.  Note the careless manner in which plays
are noted in the Stationer's Register--hardly evidence for an interest in
textual stability.  Maybe a tip from OE studies might help.  Oral-formulaic
theory is not quite appropriate, but the underlying idea that a story remains
itself even though it is always in flux seems to be operating here.  We may be
blinded by our obsession with difference, where the similarities might be what
count.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 13 Mar 1994 08:33:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0219  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0219  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
I just developed a new theory for transmission of the Quartos which
reconciles all opposing viewpoints.
 
My theory is that Shakespeare himself created the "bad" quartos to sell to
the printer when his tankard was running dry. Having sold the original to
the company, he had to do it from memory. Being an actor in the company
himself, he naturally remembered some parts better than others. And being
an author, he couldn't resist the temptation to try to improve things here
and there along the way. And being a shareholder in the company, he never
told the others about it, making believe he was as angry about it as they
were.
 
     Tad Davis
     
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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
Date:           Monday, 14 Mar 94 11:12:09 EST
Subject:        Annotated Quartos
 
To:  Bill Godshalk
 
Yes, the large quarto of T&C in Genevea too.  What I was trying to say, as my
students tell me, was that if you are going to try out the annotated scheme
yourself, give yourself more room that you would imagine you need by looking
say, at Allen and Muir's facsimiles.
 
But no, I don't really buy the annotated quarto copy theory any more than I buy
a number of others.  But it needs to be considered in each case.  I think, too,
that one should consider quarto copy consulted when the MS got too tough to
follow.  This I think obtains for F1 Henry V, with someone consulting Q3 H5,
1619, a book printed by Jaggard for Pavier.
 
What is scary is Q2 TITUS, which until Q1 was discovered was thought to be
pretty good stuff but which fudged a scene, or part of a scene, because it was
using a damaged copy of Q1 as its copy.  GB Evans discusses this briefly in the
text note to TA in his Riverside.  Read it and weep.
 
Tom Berger
 

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