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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: April ::
New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: LOOSE ENDS
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0308.  Tuesday, 23 April 1996.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Tuesday, April 23, 1996
Subject:        New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: LOOSE ENDS

As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retrieve Yashdip Bains's essay "Loose Ends and
Inconsistencies in the First Quarto of Shakespeare's Hamlet? (Hamlet Studies 18
(1996): 94-104)" (LOOSE ENDS) from the SHAKSPER Fileserver.

To retrieve "Loose Ends and Inconsistencies in the First Quarto of
Shakespeare's Hamlet?", send a one-line mail message (without a subject line)
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*******************************************************************************
Loose Ends and Inconsistencies in the First Quarto of Shakespeare's
Hamlet? (Hamlet Studies 18 (1996): 94-104)

 by   Y. S. Bains University of Cincinnati

        In their reprint of 1825, Payne and Foss treated Q1 as the "only known
copy of this tragedy as originally written by Shakespeare, which he afterwards
altered and enlarged" [H. H. Furness, ed., Hamlet, New Variorum (Philadelphia:
J. B. Lippincott, 1905), II, 14] .  In the nineteenth century, Charles Knight
was a prominent exponent of the revision theory and John Payne Collier that of
the opposite view [See Furness, II, 5-36].  G. R. Hibbard and most other modern
editors belong to Collier's camp. According to Hibbard, one of the problems
with the First Quarto of Shakespeare's Hamlet is that it has many "loose ends
and inconsistencies in the conduct of action and in the nomenclature of some of
the characters" [G. R. Hibbard, ed., Hamlet, Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford
Univ. Press, 1987), p. 72.  Page numbers of further references to this work
will be inserted in the text].  While conceding that most of the Shakespeare
scripts contain some unresolved contradictions and some incoherent passages,
Hibbard and other editors contend that Q1 has unfortunately a large number of
them.

        For Hibbard and other critics, Q1 is a corrupt text because it is a
memorial reconstruction of Q2 which presumably had been performed in the
theatre several years before the publication of Q1 in 1603.  They try to
explain the origin of the "loose ends and inconsistencies" by suggesting
arbitrarily that a pirate reconstructed Q1 from memory after having acted in
Q2.  What Hibbard and other scholars have never provided is any reliable
evidence for their dating of Q2 or for the theory of memorial reconstruction.
This theory has prejudiced readers against the authenticity of Q1 and treated
actors and publishers unjustly. Consequently, as Frank G. Hubbard has stressed,
"Students of Hamlet literature have for so long seen the First Quarto through
the Second, that it is not to be expected their obliquity of vision can easily
be corrected" [Frank G. Hubbard, ed., "The First Quarto Edition of
Shakespeare's Hamlet," University of Wisconsin Studies in Language and
Literatuare, No. 8 (1920), p. 7].  By examining closely each of the seven cases
of "loose ends and inconsistencies" that Hibbard has identified as problematic,
this study seeks to rebut his general conclusions about the quality of the text
of Q1.
 

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