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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Qs: Tucker and Editorial/Interpretational Practices;
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0852  Wednesday, 16 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Justin Bacon <
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        Date:   Monday, 14 Sep 1998 01:16:17 -0700
        Subj:   Patrick Tucker and Editorial/Interpretational Practices

[2]     From:   Justin Bacon <
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        Date:   Monday, 14 Sep 1998 01:43:40 -0700
        Subj:   Merry Wives of Windsor


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Justin Bacon <
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Date:           Monday, 14 Sep 1998 01:16:17 -0700
Subject:        Patrick Tucker and Editorial/Interpretational Practices

I have recently been exposed to a minor overview of Tucker's theories
(regarding how the First Folio text can be used by actors to suggest
interpretation, inflection etc.). I am interested in hearing other's
views on his theories.

Moving past Tucker entirely I want to call into question the editorial
and interpretational practices of certain, large elements of the
academic and theatrical community when approaching Shakespeare's plays
and works. To whit:

Why is it necessary for some to search for the most outrageous,
impractical interpretations which can be possibly justified in the most
tenuous of manners? Certainly some serve as interesting thought puzzles,
while in some cases the entire point of the work is to interpret in as
absurd a manner as possible, but far too often these absurd theories are
cast off as perfectly valid ways of approaching the text.

For example, I was recently catching up on SHAKSPER mail after an
absence of a few months and discovered the thread discussing the
possibility of Ophelia's family being incestuous. Of course it makes for
an interesting line of thought, but the play you end up with is wholly
different from the one which Shakespeare wrote.

Other examples abound, particularly when it comes to Hamlet. There is a
very thin line which is crossed, for example, between McKellen's R3 and
a Hamlet in which the young prince is actually a princess who has been
dressed up as a boy all her life to provide an heir to the throne, and
it is this: In one case the external presentation has been altered, in
the latter the internal structures (of play and character) has been
altered.

And even moving beyond the realm of interpretation, I was shocked to
discover the great liberties which editors of Shakespeare's texts take
on a routine basis-for example, ignoring perfectly valid text in
existing quartos or the Folio in favor of a "preferable" interpolation.
This is tantamount to rewriting Shakespeare because you think you can
get it better than him.

Does it not make more sense that if we religiously follow a good text
that we will come closer to Shakespeare's original work than through any
other process we have available? Certainly there are cases when this is
not to be preferred (when no possible interpretation of a passage makes
any sense and simply referring to another good text resolves the problem
and reveals the misplaced word), but current editorial practice seems
akin to ignoring the man holding the map because you are afraid he might
be getting the directions wrong. Of course the typesetters made mistakes
and deviated in some ways, but *they* had something as close to
Shakespeare's actual manuscript as conceivably possible-a luxury we do
not have.

In any case, what I am saying can be wrapped up as simply as: KISS. Keep
It Simple Stupid. Common sense should tell us that taking the simplest
solution -- editorially and interpretationally-will result in texts and
interpretations as close to Shakespeare as we can ever possibly hope to
achieve.

I am questioning some of the fundamentals of the WAY THINGS ARE DONE,
and I have no doubt that I am stirring a very deep pot of emotions,
beliefs, and vindications.

Justin Bacon

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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Justin Bacon <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 14 Sep 1998 01:43:40 -0700
Subject:        Merry Wives of Windsor

I'm interested in some good textual references for Merry Wives. I've
become a Shakespeare Expert of sorts for the theatre program at my old
high school, and while I have served in good stead before I have little
experience with the Merry Wives play and would like to expand my
horizons.

Justin Bacon

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