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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Burgundy and France
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2047  Monday, 22 November 1999.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 1999 13:44:43 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2019 Re: Burgundy and France

[2]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 08:11:28 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2030 Re: Burgundy and France


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 1999 13:44:43 -0500
Subject: 10.2019 Re: Burgundy and France
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2019 Re: Burgundy and France

Stanley Wells writes:

>Overall, I am still not convinced that Shakespeare meant what he
>probably wrote. This raises the difficult philosophical question of
>whether editors should correct what their authors wrote.

When modernizing a Renaissance text, some correction may seem
inevitable.  But the change from "France" to "Burgundy" is speculation
based on no textual evidence.  A passage that may call for some thought
in the audience is smoothed out.  And, handy-dandy, all is Wells!

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 08:11:28 -0000
Subject: 10.2030 Re: Burgundy and France
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2030 Re: Burgundy and France

Larry Weiss' thoughtful message deserves a detailed response.

>.....We may consider the various editorial
>approaches as existing along a continuum.....

I think it may be illuminating to look at the main points in this
continuum and see what they mean in practice. As an editor you have the
following choices:

(i) Print what the original texts print, either retaining or correcting
'obvious' misprints.

(ii) Print what you believe the author wrote. This sounds like the right
thing to do but is more problematic than you might think. There may be
no harm in keeping Innogen at the opening of Much Ado, but what about
the opening stage direction of the Senate scene in the 1622 quarto of
Othello? It says that Desdemona enters with Othello, the Duke, her
father, and others. Clearly, it is in error: Desdemona comes on later,
when the Duke sends for her. Most likely, the error was Shakespeare's.
Do you, as Larry puts it, 'reproduce as faithfully as possible the text
written by the author', and make nonsense of the scene?

(iii) Print what you believe the author thought he was writing, even
though he evidently wrote something else. Gabriel Egan has already given
a probable example of this: the stage direction at the start of the
Dover Cliffs scene in the 1608 quarto of Lear, which has Gloucester led
on by Edmund. Most likely, this is also Shakespeare's error; he meant to
write Edgar and made an easy slip. I take it that the France/Burgundy
change is also of this type, i.e. that Stanley Wells believes that
Shakespeare wrote France when he meant to write Burgundy. Even if you
disagree with Professor Wells about France/Burgundy, you can hardly deny
the necessity of emending Edmund to Edgar.

(iv) Print what you believe the author settled on, after reflection, at
some time after the creation of the manuscript that went to the printer.
The example that Larry gives from Gary Taylor's edition of Henry V is of
this type. As I understand it, Taylor accepted that, in the manuscript
that lies behind F, Shakespeare wrote, and intended to write, Dolphin in
the scene now called 3.7 (set in the French camp), and he subsequently
revised this to Bourbon (after noticing the inconsistency with an
earlier scene in which the Dolphin had been told to stay put in the
King's palace). This is an editorial procedure that's a bit more risky,
but sometimes it's probably best. For example, in Two Gents, there is
confusion about whether the action takes place in Verona, Padua, or
Milan. Emending to Milan seems preferable to retaining the confusion.

(v) Print what you think the author ought to have written. Some of the
18th century editors went about correcting Shakespeare's grammar or
unmixing his metaphors. That is not really editing; it is re-writing. So
you might dismiss this practice as unscholarly. But then you might note
that in 1 Henry VI, even the impeccably scholarly Oxford edition
corrects a factual error made by the author, by emending Poictiers to
Patay at 4.1.19. Nahum Tate's Lear does not really belong in this
category; it is an adaptation,
not an edition.

I hope the above is enough to convince Larry that 'the text or texts in
as pure a form as possible' is a not a simple concept. Denying that 'the
received text is not what WS wrote or ... intended' (or, to avoid double
negatives, saying that he did write and intend to write it) does not by
definition preclude emendation. Finally, 'smooth[ing] off the writer's
rough edges' can mean many things, only some of which are scholarly.

The example from The Shrew is interesting, but it concerns only the
merits of a particular emendation. It does not affect the general
principle, that a responsible editor has to negotiate the kind of
possibilities listed above, make a decision, and then act on it in his
text, not in the footnotes.
 

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