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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: December ::
Re: Quartos and Folios
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2259  Tuesday, 21 December 1999.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Dec 1999 09:13:03 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 10.2247 Re: Quartos and Folios

[2]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999 11:38:43 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.2247 Re: Quartos and Folios


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Dec 1999 09:13:03 -0800
Subject: Re: Quartos and Folios
Comment:        SHK 10.2247 Re: Quartos and Folios

Oh, now I get it!

My thanks to Simon Morris, Ed Taft, John Jowett (I'm reading the book
you wrote with Taylor.  I like it), Tony Burton, Steve Urkowitz, and
Peter Groves for your helpful, and somewhat varied, thoughts about the
supposed analog of scientific and literary reasoning.

John and Steve, I am less enamored of memorial reconstruction than you
seem to think, but that may be a fault of the way I expressed myself.  I
apologize if there was any confusion.  I don't write it off as
completely as Steve does, nor do I embrace it.  It has problems.  Hoppe
and Alexander give reasons for accepting it that Maguire did not
address.  They deal in specifics, while she deals mostly in
generalizations (with lots of examples).  Specifics are skipped since
she doesn't work through Hoppe's and Alexander's texts as closely as
they do.  On balance, while skeptical, I have not closed my mind to the
possibility.  While there is certainly evidence that can be interpreted
to support it, I do not find it compelling.

Since I have been in the habit of recommending books lately, and since
the esteemed John Jowett wrote

> Laurie Maguire's book adopts stringent criteria
> and shows the difficulty of demonstrating its presence once those
> criteria are adopted.  On the other hand, Kathleen Irace has presented a
> good case in favour of memorial transmission by actors.  She reaches
> different conclusions because she allows herself a method Maguire rules
> out, which is a comparative study between the suspect text and its
> fuller counterpart.

let me mention the fresh-off-the-press issue of Shakespeare Survey, #52,
edited my our also esteemed list lurker Stanley Wells.  Andrew Gurr has
an article titled Shakespeare V. The Globe, and considers Maguire on
p.p. 85 and 86.  A review of Irace's The First Quarto of Hamlet occupies
the last of p. 311 through the top of 314.

And that's how the holiday gift from my father-in-law was spent.  Maybe
I need a life.

Happy Reading,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999 11:38:43 -0000
Subject: 10.2247 Re: Quartos and Folios
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.2247 Re: Quartos and Folios

A supplement to the responses elicited by Mike Jensen's query:

As far as I know, Greg and his colleagues did not offer a general theory
of memorial transmission. On the contrary, they offered specific
narratives to account for certain features of specific texts. If a
critic tries to generalise a theory from these narratives, it is not
surprising that the theory seems suspiciously all-embracing.

Mathematicians and physicists generalise for several good reasons, among
which is that a general theory helps us to understand the past, current
and predicted behaviour of the world. By contrast, textual scholars are
like historians and archaeologists: they try to deduce what happened at
specific moments in the past by interpreting the surviving evidence.

Generalisation works in science because scientists use observations and
a set of principles, to help them formulate theories that then explain
much more than the observations they were initially based upon. In
textual theories such as MR, there is no agreed set of principles, and
hence a textual theory, generalised from some specific texts, can
explain no other text except by enlarging itself to include the peculiar
features of the new text. Moreover, I doubt that there ever can be an
agreed set of principles because, as Anthony Burton notes, texts, unlike
data in the physical sciences, have meaning and so their interpretation
will always be subjective.

For these reasons, I think textual scholars should resist the temptation
to mimic their scientific colleagues, and avoid general theories
altogether.  Comparisons between textual criticism and theories like
relativity are hopelessly inappropriate. There is a categorical
difference between proper scientific generalisation and merely dressing
up specific narratives in general language.

Greetings of the season to everyone!
 

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