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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Fear of Flying; Editing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0380.  Sunday, 23 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Mar 1997 10:43:59 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0374 Re: Fear of Flying

[2]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Mar 97 22:51:30
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 13 Mar 1997 to 14 Mar 1997


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Mar 1997 10:43:59 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0374 Re: Fear of Flying
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0374 Re: Fear of Flying

JoAnna: I'm happy that you are flying to London. All the well meaning
advocates of going by ship have forgotten the opening scene of THE
TEMPEST. Once many years ago, I was in a typhoon off Japan and I
remember the terror to this day. A 10-000 ton vessel careening and
pitching and rolling uncontrollably, giant seas breaking over the bows
and even as high as the boat deck, crockery smashing in the dining room
and galley, furniture being reduced to match wood in the lounge,
lifeboats smashed, passengers and crew alike deathly ill from sea
sickness, the certainty that the ship would capsize for sure on the very
next lingering 45 degree roll. I hadn't even heard of THE TEMPEST then
but I knew exactly what Gonzalo meant the first time I read it when he
said, "Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren
ground, long heath, brown [furze], any thing. . . . I would fain die a
dry death."

Flying can be cramped (in tourist), scary, bumpy but at least it's all
over with, one way or another, in a matter of hours. Have a wonderful
trip. Ken Rothwell

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Mar 97 22:51:30 EST
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 13 Mar 1997 to 14 Mar 1997

Paul Werstine labors mightily at the editor's craft.  Within the
constraints of conventional editorial practice, he and Barbara Mowat
deliver a neat package.

For quite a few years, in journals, seminars, and conferences, I've been
trying to get him to see that there may be benefits to readers if the
conventional boundaries were stretched, danced across, or even talked
about in lively ways.  We agree, I think, that the three HAMLET texts,
for example, have important differences.   We agree that we can't really
know for sure who or what may have formed these different texts.  I
think, nevertheless, that students, actors, and scholars would benefit
from seeing the alternatives.  I have no problem with editing the
alternatives.  But they should be available and at least sampled.

But Paul and Barbara foreclose consideration of alternative in several
important and debilitating ways.  First, they use a condescending
rhetoric which lumps together a wide variety of responsibly argued
positions and the battier/battiest in the field:  "Many of this
century's Shakespeare enthusiasts have persuaded themselves that most of
the quartos were set into type directly from Shakespeare's own papers,
although there is nothing on which to base this conclusion except the
desire for it to be true."   The strength of the calls for propaedeutic
examinations of variant versions does not depend on who may have written
the textual variants.  The versions themselves yield delight and
insight.

Second, Paul and Barbara offer chimerical aids in the form of
differentiated brackets and pages of textual variants.  Without
explanatory comments or discussion of instances in an introduction,
these codes remain arcane debris rather than invitations to
exploration.  Experiment.  Ask a class to rebuild a source text from
those notes.

Finally, Paul and Barbara indulge in the heady excitement of editorial
improvement, fixing the disparate early testimony. In Q1 HAMLET 4.5,
Ophelia enters to the King and Queen; no one gives permission, but the
Queen announces the entry.  "O see where the yong Ofelia is!"  In Q2, A
gentleman and Horatio  urge the Queen to admit Ophelia. Horatio's speech
reads, "Twere good she were spoken with, for shee may strew / Dangerous
coniectures in ill breeding mindes, / Let her come in."  Then a stage
direction reads, "Enter Ophelia" and the Queen begins an aside: "To my
sicke soule . . ."  "Let her come in" directed to the Queen could  be
followed by a tacit nod of assent.  Or "Let her come in" could be
directed to the Gentleman.  Or called offstage.  Scripted dialog
encourages players and  readers to imagine such alternative realizations
of print into speech.  The Folio has no Gentleman in the scene, and
Horatio's speech is given to the Queen. "Let her come in" is followed
immediately by "To my sicke soule".  So here the Queen has the wise
political counsel, and she give a visibly obeyed verbal command.

Show those alternatives to your students and they'll understand quickly
how authority may be manifested or undercut through speech-acts and
their consequences. But following editorial traditions, Paul and Barbara
give a different reading: In their text, Horatio  gives the counsel, the
Queen gives the command.  Fine,  but without the reticence of the Queen
in Q2 or HER political sagacity of F. And protestations of thoroughness
of variant notes to the contrary, I'd hate to ask anyone to find the
rich possibilities of Q2 and F from those textual collations.

My fellow veteran of the bibliographical trenches, Paul Werstine, asks
why I'm disappointed with his and similar editorial efforts. Well, I
like my flavors crisp and my Shakespeare at least as sharp in a
classroom text as in those early printings.  Paul and the editors could
serve up one or two bright variants in an introduction.  Say, "Gee, we
don't think Shakespeare wrote these (or we do think he may have), but
they may help you see that scripts can be manipulated for theatrical
effect."  Or don't the editors believe that?    Actually, some now are
doing just such positive service for readers.

Sorry for this long posting, and I truly apologize for the grumpiness of
my earlier (and parts of this) posting.  Tangled in administering, I've
accidentally strayed into the psychological equivalent of BEOWULF.
Shakespeare, texts and all, encourages us instead to dance along to the
tunes of SIR GAWAINE AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.  Error (or even effort) in
the mead halls leads to ghastly dismemberment; in the mythic castles
instead we dance, steal kisses, and heal the disgruntled wounds of shame
and jealousy.

            Play nice, share toys. Ever, Urquartowitz
 

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