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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: June ::
Re: Punctuation; Texts
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0406.  Saturday, 1 June 1996.

(1)     From:   David Knauer <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 May 1996 07:50:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Punctuation

(2)     From:   Thomas L. Berger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 May 1996 14:29:29 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0393  Re:  Punctuation

(3)     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 May 1996 10:21:09 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0398  Re: Texts


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Knauer <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 May 1996 07:50:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Punctuation

For those interested in reading further about punctuation and speech prefixes
as they relate to notions of literary "character," see Bruce R. Smith's
"Prickly Characters" and Linda McJannet's "Elizabethan Speech Prefixes: Page
Design, Typography, and Mimesis," both in David M. Bergeron's _Reading and
Writing in Shakespeare_ (U of Delaware, 1996).

David J. Knauer

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas L. Berger <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 May 1996 14:29:29 GMT
Subject: 7.0393  Re:  Punctuation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0393  Re:  Punctuation

In reply to Jim Schaefer, regarding texts, and the stripping down of them, let
me say first that I am a facetious fellow but I was not being facetious when I
suggested stripping a text of its punctuation, capitalization, and lineation
and then putting it back together again.

I am not a good playgoer.  Often I tend to drift (Mae West: they used to call
me Snow White, but I've drifted) when I'm at a Shakespeare production.  This is
no one's fault but my own.  Often when I'm at a production of a play that I
teach regularly, I can literally "find the text" as I listen, I can see it on
the left hand column of a verso page in the Riverside Shakespeare. This is not
healthy, but I suggest this is what some of us do out of being acclimitized to
certain texts in certain forms.

Try it.  Strip a scene, strip a speech.  Then wait a week and put it back
together again.  You may discover that one comma here means that you have to
have another comma there, that if you end one clause here, it separates it from
another clause there.  And you may see that all those editors, from ROWE on,
and those compositors of the early texts, are very much guiding, whether we
know it or not, our interpretations of the texts we read.

I think.

tom berger

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Friday, 31 May 1996 10:21:09 GMT
Subject: 7.0398  Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0398  Re: Texts

John Drakakis writes that the debate about iambic lines exposes the 'danger of
imposing our expectations on' the text. Gabriel Egan suggests that decisions
about punctuation depend upon prior assumptions about the kind of text one
assumes one is trying to recreate. The editor of a modernised text is, however,
not simply 'recreating' a lost original (whatever that might mean) but is
actively engaged in a process of translation. No such text, then, can
'reproduce' a particular kind of copy (it's the overstated claims to perform
precisely this task which fuels the debate about the Shakespeare Originals
series), and therefore inevitably the expectations of the editor will colour
the act of editing.

But, on the other hand, every one of us presumably engages in proof-reading our
publications - we know that typesetters make mistakes.  So too, as readers of
modern publications (or postings to this list) we 'correct' typographical
errors as we read (though those 'errors' may be the result of carelessness,
indifference or ignorance on the part of writer or publisher - and may be
intentional or unintentional). Accepting that the vagaries of textual
transmission in the Early Modern Period are likely to produce a large number of
such errors, an editor is engaged in a complex version of just such a basic
task.

Performers have licence to remake texts - and 'imposing their own expectations'
is what they habitually (and probably rightly) do. Editions are a kind of
performance - but seek, by the application of rational deduction to the
processes of textual transmission, to minimise that imposition.  It's the slide
from 'recreation' to 'creation' - and editions inevitably do both - that has to
be as carefully and conscientiously monitored as possible?

A limit case might be the famous 'scamels' that Caliban promises to get for
Stephano and Trinculo. No-one knows what they are; it's the only known use of
the word. Purely pragmatically one might think that this is a misprint,
deriving perhaps from scribe or compositor mistranscribing the 'original'.
Hypotheses are legion, yet most editors confine speculation to the notes, since
there is no compelling argument for a particular change - whereas all editors
happily assume that  the line 'Save for the son that he did litter here'
embodies a typographical error, and change 'he' to 'she'. (If anyone out there
has the killer emendation of, or explanation for, 'scamels' I'd be delighted to
know!)

David Lindley
 

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