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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: May ::
Re: Mislineation
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0363.  Monday, 13 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Jack Lynch <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 1996 10:17:40 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

(2)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 1996 11:23:46 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

(3)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 1996 11:44:11 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

(4)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 1996 19:20:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0354 Miss-Lineation

(5)     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 1996 19:40:40 GMT
        Subj:   Lineation

(6)     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 May 96 14:12 CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Lynch <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 1996 10:17:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0359  Re: Mislineation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

    DS:  When did this practice of relineation begin?  What was
    the rationale?

    KD:  Relineation has been a part of the editorial process
    almost from the beginning.

Depends, of course, on what exactly you mean by "from the beginning."  The
seventeenth century folios did some minor twiddling with lineation, and I think
Rowe did a little more, but the first to apply a systematic approach to
lineation and verse regularity was Pope.  Pope treated Shakespeare's texts very
much as printed works, not works for the stage, and was out to "fix" all the
errors contained in the seventeenth-century editions (at least the few he
consulted).

  -- Jack Lynch; 
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 1996 11:23:46 +0000
Subject: 7.0359  Re: Mislineation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

Greg Grainger tells us that the practice of lineation as a guide to the
speaking actor is `regarded with contempt' and if he means that the acting
profession regards it so, he is, unfortunately, largely correct. This innocence
is the result of `researching' roles and looking so deep into one's own spirit
that the emotional shapes of the characters in the text are disregarded in
favour psychological insights irrelevant to the play and sometimes destructive
of the role. It shows itself mainly in the naivete that considers lines that do
not end a sentence to be obvious enjambments-- a belief that produces prose.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 1996 11:44:11 +0000
Subject: 7.0359  Re: Mislineation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

        If actors think the line do briefly end with
        `With', they're right but often make the sad
        Mistake of reading thus, in prose, which spoils
        Th'effect of attitude with words like `sad'
        And `spoils', deliv'ring as they do a fine
        Contempt for the contempt that's rightly meant.

If actors think the line do briefly end with `with', they're right, but often
make the sad mistake of reading thus, in prose, which spoils th'effect of
*attitude* with words like `sad' and `spoils', deliv'ring as they do a fine
contempt for the contempt that's rightly meant.

Lineated in elementary iambic pentameter as in the first example, the actor is
given a short pause before the 2nd.line's `with', the omission of which
emphasis is `sad'; the second example is grammatically accessibile but contains
no attitude of the person speaking it and requires that mean technique of
italics to deliver the main argument.

If Hamlet, for instance, were acting in prose, as he sometimes is, he wonders
"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outgrageous
fortune", which quite obliterates the idea that nobility resides in the minds
rather than in behaviour. "Mind" must linger in the theatre's air for a moment
for this to occur to the auditor. Later in his ponderings, he asks

                        ...and by `to sleep' we say we end
                        The heartache.....

Many an unpractised actor will enjamb thus:

        ...and by a sleep to say we end the heartache. He is missing

entirely the resonances of `end'.

I misquoted this, as I am transcribing from memory. Not much bloody wobder we
have corrupt performances of corrupt texts.

        Harry Hill

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 1996 19:20:51 +0100
Subject: 7.0354 Miss-Lineation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0354 Miss-Lineation

Dom Saliani's comments and queries about editorial restoration of lineation in
Macbeth engage with some concerns aired in the 'Texts' thread. If Shakespeare's
preference in such matters can be convincingly shown then some editors will
claim the right to restore what the dramatist would have prefered.

But in the case of Macbeth, and also Timon of Athens and Measure for Measure,
the texts are currently being edited for the Oxford Complete Works of Middleton
and by some of the same editors who worked on the Oxford Shakespeare. So, using
the principle of authorial preference, the same text (eg F1 Macbeth) will be
re-edited using a new set of presumed preferences. This affects not only
lineation (because Middleton wouldn't have minded 'broken' metre as much as
Shakespeare would) but also punctuation and spelling.

Does this point up the absurdity of the Oxford method and validate the
Shakespearean Originals' concern to "throw a cordon around" the early printed
text? Or does it show that the Oxford editors interfere with the early printed
text in a methodical way based on assumptions about authorship which, if not
shared by all, are at least recoverable. Since one cannot actually cordon texts
(all transmission being, necessarily, mediation) isn't explained interference
better than tacit interference?

Gabriel Egan

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 1996 19:40:40 GMT
Subject:        Lineation

Dom Saliani's enquiry about lineation connects with other recent discussion
about editions and texts on the list.  There can be no doubt that the lineation
of the Folio reflects a mixture of various kinds of intervention by scribes and
compositors, some for purely practical reasons (to do with casting-off of copy
necessitating compressing or expanding material to fit a page), others with a
quasi-editorial purpose (Ralph Crane certainly seems to have consciously
attempted to 'tidy up' the texts he copied in a number of ways, for example).
There are interesting discussions of the problems in Paul Werstine's article:
'Line Division in Shakespeare's Dramatic Verse: An Editorial Problem',
*Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography*, 8 (1984), 73 - 125, and in Ernst
Honigmann's very recent study, *The Texts of Othello and Shakespearean
Revision* (London and NY: Routledge, 1996) - amongst many others.

What an editor does about lineation, however, is a reflection of his or her
underlying principles and sense of what the editorial task involves. There seem
to me two fundamental questions.

First,  whilst study of scribal and printing practices can suggest something of
the reasons why 'unsatisfactory' line-arrangement is to be found in the printed
texts, for an editor to attempt to regularise lineation (s)he must believe that
the author originally intended to write regular pentameters, and that such an
intention has been occluded in the processes of textual transmission. (It's a
belief that eighteenth-century editors had no difficulty with - as the number
of emendations they made in order to ensure metrical regularity clearly
attest.)

But, secondly, an editorial decision to relineate is founded upon a belief that
the visual appearance of the page should be designed to indicate that metrical
regularity to the modern reader. (And this affects not just lineation, but the
indication of elision.)  There is (perhaps) some evidence that Shakespeare's
own manuscripts may not have been particularly scrupulous in this regard -
which might suggest that such tidying-up is inappropriate.

The questions, then, concern both the propriety of an act of 'recovery', and
also the propriety of 're-presenting' a Renaissance text in a modernised
edition.  Dom Saliani's sense that F lineation 'reads' better has a good deal
to do with the way our perception of poetry has been shaped by the typography
of 'free verse', and our delivery of the Shakespearean text in the theatre has
shifted, for better or worse, away from a privileging of its 'poetic'
qualities. But to suggest that the Folio lineation (or punctuation for that
matter) is somehow closer to a real theatrical text is, I'm afraid, just to
misunderstand the nature of the copy that the Folio printers had and the
liberties they (and scribes) were prepared to take with it.

To oversimplify my own position (as someone actively engaged in the business of
editing at the moment): I believe that Shakespeare did write in pentameters;
that the job of an editor is inevitably and properly to act upon the hypotheses
they make about the processes of textual transmission in their work of
re-presentation, including those which affect lineation; that a modernised
text, since it always involves an act of translation, should not baulk at
translating the visual cues of lineation as much as it does those of spelling
and punctuation, and that in an age when all too many readers read with the eye
but not the ear such an effort is not insignificant; but (of course) that any
modernised text should be specific and detailed about the kinds of intervention
it has made.  No doubt many will disagree?

David Lindley
University of Leeds

(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 96 14:12 CDT
Subject: 7.0359  Re: Mislineation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0359  Re: Mislineation

Dom Saliani can get an answer to his questions, and much more, from Paul
Werstine's "Line Division in Shakespeare's Dramatic Verse: An Editorial
Problem" in +Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography+ 8 (1984), 73-125.

William Proctor Williams
 

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