The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1230. Friday, 12 December 1997.
Date: Thursday, 11 Dec 1997 16:05:37 -0000
Subject: Shakespeare Concordances
Christmas is a time for receiving; one thing I hope Santa will bring me
(tho' I know he won't) is a concordance to Shakespeare with the
following two features:
1. The exclusion of passages which are regarded as not being by
Shakespeare; for example, the Fletcher parts of Henry VIII and Two Noble
Kinsmen. Currently, anyone who uses a concordance is in danger of having
their findings distorted unless they also look up authorship
attributions and cross-reference the two sets of results. (I know that
usages of certain words or phrases are sometimes used to justify
attributions to authors, so there's an obvious risk of falling into
circular reasoning, but that's an aside.)
2. The inclusion of all plausible variants. For example, if I search for
"solid" in the Harvard Concordance, it won't yield me Folio Hamlet's
"too too solid flesh" because that concordance is based on the Riverside
edition which is based on the Q2 text. Now that most of us accept that
Shakespeare revised his plays and that there isn't one and only one
version of each line, it seems to me important that concordances reflect
this view by indexing both Q and F readings where they differ.
Similarly, in the case of the many cruxes where editions differ widely
(e.g. the "dram of eale"), it would be useful if all plausible
emendations could be indexed as well. By doing this we just might be
rewarded with a realisation that a particular emendation is the right
one because the concordance reveals parallel passages which no one had
For want of a better title I think of this ideal book as a
"hyper-concordance". I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist (if it does,
please correct me).
I'm posting this not in expectation of a reply but just to float the
idea. There are many scholars and future scholars on this list. Perhaps
someone will know someone who would be able to produce such a book.
Finally: I use the two online concordances (at MIT and the University of
Sydney); neither includes The Two Noble Kinsmen. If anyone knows where
an online text of TNK is available, I'd be grateful if they could point
me to it.