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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Editions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0132  Monday, 25 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 09:43:10 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

[2]     From:   John Lee <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 15:21:21 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

[3]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 11:45:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

[4]     From:   Eric W Beato <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 11:45:58 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

[5]     From:   Jan Stirm <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 13:19:48 -0600
        Subj:   Re: Editions

[6]     From:   Ray Lischner <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 20:02:50 GMT
        Subj:   Re: Editions

[7]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 20 Aug 1994 07:23:12 +500
        Subj:   Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat and Oldcastle/Falstaff


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 09:43:10 EST
Subject: 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

>I'd finally ask a simpler question: Why does every reputable edition
>modernise (by which I mean not simply regularise) Shakespeare's
>spelling?  Who was it who wrote (on the sonnets, I think) about losing
>shades of meaning when early modern becomes modern spelling? With the
>recent demise of Penguin's "Renaissance Dramatists" series, is there any
>future for the old-spelling edition? And ought there to be?

Michael, I will answer this simply and quickly (being heavily oppressed
by Things To Do at the moment): moderniz(s)ation makes the text easier
to read for those who don't have the interest or the mental agility to
learn what I have so often heard referred to as "Old English" by new
students, but too frequently, it loses quite a bit in translation (the
look and feel of the "real" text, for one obvious thing).  And yes,
there should be a future for the authentic orthography: I once knew a
graduate student who thought Canterbury Tales was a prose work, because
that's how she'd read it as an undergrad . . . !

Why not really modernize Shakespearean English, to make it "relevant"
and "accessible" as well as "with it" in one fell swoop?: "to off
myself, or not to off myself, / Man, there's the bitch of it . . ."?

Wincing mightily,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Lee <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 15:21:21 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions
Comment:        SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

Anyone wanting advice on editions might look at:

Thompson, Ann
       Which Shakespeare? : a user's guide to editions / Ann Thompson,
with
       Thomas L. Berger ... [et al.].
       Milton Keynes : Open University Press, 1992. - vi, 197 p. -
       0-335-09035-4

John Lee

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 11:45:46 -0500
Subject: 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

>I'd finally ask a simpler question: Why does every reputable edition
>modernise (by which I mean not simply regularise) Shakespeare's
>spelling?  Who was it who wrote (on the sonnets, I think) about losing
>shades of meaning when early modern becomes modern spelling? With the
>recent demise of Penguin's "Renaissance Dramatists" series, is there any
>future for the old-spelling edition? And ought there to be?

>Michael Ullyot

As the editor of the old-spelling Riverside Milton (1998), I would say,
yes, there is a future for the old-spelling edition, but I would add
that Shakespeare seems to be a special case, because (1) with the
exception of short works of poetry published independently, he seems not
to have cared about what form his work appeared in in print (there was
virtually no profit in the original sale, pirated versions were sold,
and certainly no royalties accrued to Shakespeare or his estate) and (2)
modern English readers might need, want, and expect a modernized edition
of the plays.  Why?  because the problems of dealing with old-spelling
(as with the long esse in "sat" or "suck") might be avoided; because
modern popular or undergraduate readers might not want the scholarly
challenge or strain of reading Shakespeare even as he is on the page of
the First Folio; and because modernized English and modern formatting
can be transferred more easily to the modern stage (act, scene, line
divisions are useful, for instance).

The logic seems to run this way: "modern English reader needs modernized
English text."  The problem with that logic, of course, is that much
texture is lost; italics are lost; phonetic spelling is lost; formatting
is lost; even the distancing in time between Shakespeare's English and
our own is lost.  I have to keep telling my students dumb things like
"Speech prefixes weren't regularized," "Acts, scenes, and line numbers
have been added," and "The texts of many plays as we have them are an
amalgam of different editions published during Shakespeare's or
published soon after he died."

I still think I would argue that any complete edition of Shakespeare
published for general academic use today should be based on a modernized
text.

Roy Flannagan

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric W Beato <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 11:45:58 -0500
Subject: Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions
Comment:        SHK 10.0129 Re: SHK 10.0112 Editions

As a high school teacher, I find the Cambridge School Shakespeare
series, under the general editorship of Rex Gibson, to be especially
valuable.  Not all titles are currently available, but every
commonly-taught title save Richard III is.  Each softcover (reasonably
priced) includes a solid text, helpful footnotes, and
photos/graphics/drawing that highlight the text.  The volumes also take
a teacher's viewpoint, with thought questions and thought-provoking
individual and group activities. Many of these activities are
on-your-feet, heavily-involved things that wrap up the students in the
world of Shakespeare.   I highly recommend it (and I know this sounds
like a commercial, but it is true).

For the absence of Richard III I also have a great suggestion.  Ian
McKellen's filmscript is readily available.  Whether you like his
version or not (I do), the script is remarkable in its completeness.
McKellen includes the thoughts and ideas he and director Richard
Loncraine considered in working up this modern-dress version.  I have a
classroom set; my current group of students are reading it avidly.

I should confess that I also enjoyed the scriptbook of Hamlet by Kenneth
Branagh.  Director's notes can truly help illuminate the choices made in
any production.

One comment about the individual works/complete works would be to
consider convenience.  I have several complete works including my
treasured copy of G. B. Harrison from college.  I rarely truck these
large volumes back and forth.  Paperbacks fit into a briefcase.

Hope this helps.

Rick Beato
Lisle Senior High School, Lisle IL USA

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Stirm <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 13:19:48 -0600
Subject:        Re: Editions

I like Michael's questions about editions.  One thing I try to do for
upper-level Shakespeare classes is order plays from several different
editing series and ask the students to think about which editions are
best for them and why.  This last semester, they loved the Cambridge
Schools Hamlet, and then some of them decided that they didn't because
they liked the Arden or Oxford editions of other plays better.  Right
now I'm teaching a senior seminar for which I've ordered two editions of
the same play; we just started, but I'm really looking forward to the
discussions about texts as texts!  (They're also looking at facsimile
copies of Q1 and F, so they have some idea of what the editions are
talking about.)

A couple of years ago Tom Berger (of this very list, hi Tom) and others
put out Which Shakespeare?, a book that reviewed editions and made
suggestions about which editions might be most appropriate for different
audiences.  I found it really helpful, especially in teaching me to
think about my edition choices.  Tom, now that even more new editions
are coming out, is there any chance for a 2nd edition of Which
Shakespeare??

Among other things, I learned that I can't just choose based on the
imprint, but have to take some time to think about how the editor
presents the text and the choices s/he makes and how well s/he explains
those choices to me.

Finally, the question about old spelling is really important, especially
for those of us who teach women's texts, sometimes in letters or other
formats more often available in old spelling.  They're harder for
students to read and sometimes seem to give students the impression that
women (or men other than Shakespeare and Jonson) couldn't spell (with
the load that carries).  I don't have a solution to this issue, but I'm
looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

Thanks, Jan

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Lischner <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Jan 1999 20:02:50 GMT
Subject:        Re: Editions

> What factors influence your decision to use one series over another, if
> indeed you do not use a "Complete Works"?

We used the Arden edition for the quotes in Shakespeare for Dummies
because we find the Arden editions are the easiest to read. The editors'
choices for punctuation, spelling, scene divisions, and so on, are
closest to the choices we would have made if we were editing the plays.
The Arden Complete Works is a good choice for those who want an
affordable complete works. My only complaint about the Arden Complete
Works is that it mixes Arden 2 and Arden 3 plays. The editors changed
their editorial style for the Arden 3 series, which is slightly
disconcerting when reading multiple plays.

For serious work, though, a single volume is unwieldy. The only reason
to choose a single-volume complete works is price.

Ray Lischner  (http://www.bardware.com)
co-author (with John Doyle) of Shakespeare for Dummies

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 20 Aug 1994 07:23:12 +500
Subject:        Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat and Oldcastle/Falstaff

Robin Hamilton writes

>It's not as if the Norton editors weren't prepared
>to overrule editorial decisions when they felt Oxford
>got it wrong-as they rightly do over the ludicrous
>reverse-engineering of Falstaff to Oldcastle in 1HIV ...

Oldcastle being the name Shakespeare chose for the first performance,
surely an edition which tries to best represent the first performance
text has to use it? The Norton is based on the Oxford so it inherits
this "first performance text" principle but then it muddies the waters
by using the name Falstaff which was a later, compelled, revision.

Indeed, it is arguable that getting students to appreciate the
materiality of dramatic art is made harder by the Norton's admirably
state-of-the-art critical commentary which is undermined by the
editions's editorial inconsistency.

Of course, "first performance text" isn't the only ideal upon which to
base an edition, but since Norton chose to use the Oxford text they
really ought to have stuck with the principles which formed it. (Or,
perhaps more sensibly, to have made a new edition based on some other
principles.)

Gabriel Egan
 

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