Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Abridged MND; CD ROM; Shakespeare and the Bible
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0109.  Tuesday, 13 February 1996.

(1)     From:   Louis Scheeder <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 1996 11:03:35 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Abridged MND

(2)     From:   Michael E. Cohen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 1996 07:48:36 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0096  Qs: CD ROM

(3)     From:   Marty Hyatt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 1996 17:00:54 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shakespeare and the Bible


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Scheeder <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 1996 11:03:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Abridged MND

I remember seeing abridged versions of many of the plays published by Samuel
French about twenty years ago.  If memory serves, they were prepared for a
series of performances at the New York World's Fair of 1939. You might inquire
of French.

Louis Scheeder

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael E. Cohen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 1996 07:48:36 -0800
Subject: 7.0096  Qs: CD ROM
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0096  Qs: CD ROM

In SHK 7.0096 Kathleen Brookfield <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 > wrote

>I quote a message written by a man whose first language is not English. He is
>very interested in literature, but finds Shakespeare difficult to understand.
>
>  "Would it not be great if we can buy a CD with the play on,
>   you can stop it, click on for an explanation. ( for block-heads who need
>   one..<G>).  Well.. that would be the ticket!"
>
>First, if such an educational tool exists (an electronic Arden edition), I
>would like to know. If not, the idea is free to any with entrepreneurial
>leanings.

There are a number of editions of individual plays on CD-ROM (I produced one
myself for the Voyager Company), and some text compilations. I won't go into
the details of what is already available since others on this list have done so
and their suggestions can be seen by searching the list's back issues.

But do you really think that an "electronic Arden" edition would be of
significantly more value than a paper edition, and that producing such an
edition can be thought of as an entrepreneurial task? In my experience,
computers as devices for experiencing literature are problematic: books are
much more physically comfortable to use and they do what they do
extraordinarily well. If one simply reprints an Arden as a digital book, very
little is gained and much is lost. Even if one provides some rudimentary
"interactive" tools (building in a search engine and perhaps hypertextually
layering the footnotes "behind" the displayed text rather than interrupting the
screen with visibly distracting footnotes) not much is gained and the reading
experience is still not enhanced much.

In my experience, a literary CD-ROM (Shakespeare or otherwise) must supply a
good deal of "value-added" content beyond that which a physical book can
ordinarily deliver before using the CD becomes a satisfying experience rather
than a drudgery. Producing one is a very labor intensive task: just think,
added to the already difficult task of producing a useful book-type edition of
Shakespeare, you have to add to it all the ancillary scholarly apparatus that
would be overwhelming in a mass-market/educational print edition (e.g. full
concordance [interactive], collation) as well as the multimedia trappings that
CD-ROM buyers have come to expect: say, copious color illustrations and
performances (spoken or video). No ordinary entrepreneur would touch such a
task, because it is costly, requires much work, and doesn't have the market to
justify the cost and the work.

That is not to say that such works won't be produced in the future, and that
some don't exist now; it IS to suggest that good literary CD-ROMs will be slow
in coming, variable in quality, and be mixed in with an awful lot of dross
(called by some in the multimedia industry "shovelware").

Michael E. Cohen
aka <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marty Hyatt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 1996 17:00:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakespeare and the Bible

Roger Stritmatter <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 > is not on the SHAKSPER list,
but he asked me to forward this response to John Velz's message. There might be
some confusion between Cranmer and Coverdale.  I believe "Cranmer's Bible"
refers to some of the Coverdale translations in the 1540's with a prologue by
Cranmer.

Marty Hyatt

*******************************************
Roger's message:

 On February 4 John Velz wrote as follows:

 [material on cryptograms, spoofs etc. deleted for economy]:

> Richmond Noble demonstrated long ago (1935; *Shakespeare's Use of the
> Bible and the Book of Common Prayer*) that Shakespeare was very fond of
> Thomas Cranmer's translation of the Psalms, which he remembers in his
> many Psalm echoes, while all the while drawing the rest of his Bible
> echoes first from the Bishops' and (beginning in 1597) sometimes from
> the Geneva. (His memory of Bishops and Cranmer together probably shows
> his childhood of attendance at Holy Trinity, Stratford, where both were
> used in services.)  Many of Naseeb Shaheen's significant points about
> Shakespeare's debt to the Bible first appeared in Noble.  In his several
> publications on the subject, Shaheen credits Noble generally but not in
> many particular cases, where the casual scholar may credit Shaheen with
> Noble's insights.

These comments deserve some further context.  Richmond Noble is rightly
credited with establishing the most sophisticated methodology for determining
local sources of specific verses or translations of the Bible based on lexical
variation.  And it is also true that many of the examples cited by Shaheen --
though his list is far more complete than Noble's -- were first cited by Noble
or other scholars to whom Shaheen gives no credit.  Indeed in my recent
(largely laudatory)  review of Shaheen's study of the comedies in *The
Elizabethan Review*, I stated that "in assessing the relative contribution
of...previous scholars...one begins to feel slightly uneasy that Shaheen's
empirical strictness does not extend to the historical dimension of his study.
Because Shaheen does not cite Carter or Noble, except for the purposes of
refutation, it is not easy to know when the postulated sources have been
identified by Shaheen himself, and when he has taken a tip from prior scholars
or students."

However, I am  bound to remark that Dr. Velz's implication that Noble proves
Shakespeare's most frequently cited Biblical text to have been Cranmer's
psalter seems to me to be at best a rather partial citation of Noble's views
and of the state of the art of Biblical source studies. Noble set out to
examine the empirical evidence for Shakespeare's specific Biblical sources in
the first place only because Carter in 1905 claimed to have established that
"the Genevan was the [Bible] version used by Shakespeare."  At the time of his
study, no scholar was prepared to verify or deny such a claim.  What Noble
found was that although in a preponderance of cases in which a justification of
one Biblical translation over another could be established, Shakespeare's usage
followed the Genevan, there were a significant number of readings in which he
followed the Bishops, the Great Bible, or other variant translations --
primarily the Bishops.  This view has been amply confirmed in Shaheen's
trilogy, with further intriguing examples from both the Genevan and the
Bishops.

It is certainly true that in those cases in which a determination can be made
between the Psalter against the Geneva Psalms, the reference is usually to the
Psalter, though there are a few illuminating contrary cases which will
undoubtedly prove of much greater historical interest as Shakespeare studies
enters the next century considering new paradigms of authorship.  But this is
not the same thing as claiming that somehow the Psalter has a prominence over
the Geneva text *as a whole* in Shakespeare's Biblical imagination.  As for the
implication that the Bishop's is more important than the Geneva to Shakespeare,
I fail to see how Dr. Velz can possibly justify this inference.  Still less
does it seem to me that his parenthetical claim that Shakespeare's allusions to
the Geneva text postdate 1597 can be justified without smuggling assumptions
about textual chronology into the discussion.  Certainly there is no reason at
all, based on our knowledge of variant sources, to conclude that Shakespeare's
edition of the Geneva should have been any later than 1570 or 1576 (when the
first edition printed in England appeared under Walsingham's patronage with the
Thomson New Testament attached).

As for the biographical conjectures about Stratford which clearly form the
basis for Dr. Velz's speculations about how "Shakespeare" acquired his Biblical
knowledge, it must be remarked that  they bear an uncanny resemblance to  to
the well-known parable by Rudyard Kipling about how the Leopard got its spots.

Most Sincerely,
Roger Stritmatter
University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.