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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Re: Collations
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1050  Tuesday, 16 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 11:19:01 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1037 Re: Collations

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 09:36:37 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1037 Re: Collations

[3]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 17:05:45 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1037 Re: Collations


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 11:19:01 -0400
Subject: 11.1037 Re: Collations
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1037 Re: Collations

I think David Lindley raised a very good question, and as this is my
fifth attempt to craft a response, I guess I could say that I'm
ambivalent about the problem. I can be perfectly content to read a
Penguin edition of, say, a Ford play, with only occasional notes to
alert the reader of a substantive variant. I do not always consult the
variants.

However, there are times when a change is significant enough to affect
the criticism of the text. I write about this problem as it occurs with
the play *A Mad World, My Masters* in my forthcoming book on Thomas
Middleton (due out in July or August). In act 4, Penitent experiences a
religious conversion. Much of the criticism of that scene is dismissive,
suggesting that Penitent does not really change at all. Much of that
criticism uses as support for the argument the oxymoron of Penitent's
full name: Penitent Brothel. However, a glance at the variants from that
scene to the end of the play will show that "Brothel" is dropped from
Penitent's name; instead, he becomes Penitent Once-Ill. Rather like Saul
becoming Paul, if you please. It's harder to dismiss the conversion with
a name like Once-Ill.

Leah Marcus wrote a valuable book on textual editing examining similar
problems in Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Milton: *Unediting the
Renaissance*.  I've now come to the conclusion that when I am going to
write on a text, I will attend to the variants, at least, or even go to
the UMI microfilms of the earliest texts. No solution is foolproof, but
a critic is going to miss something is she/he isn't alert to textual
differences.

Jack Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 09:36:37 -0700
Subject: 11.1037 Re: Collations
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1037 Re: Collations

Pervez Rizvi writes:

> I am not suggesting that all students of Shakespeare should necessarily
> be exposed to collations or the original texts, but I am saying that in
> society generally, people should be encouraged to understand more and
> take less on trust. Just when the old history books, with their
> overconfident narratives about distant events, are being displaced, it
> would be a shame if editions of Shakespeare went the other way.

I agree with you generally, but I'm wondering how we develop or
encourage more sophisticated, critical reading skills.  After all, that
everyone is a potential liar is also a position taken on trust.  I guess
the question, in other words, is how to encourage undergraduates (and
colleagues, for that matter) not to jump from incredubility to a
superficially more sophisticated artificial jadedness.  How do we move
beyond blind faith, without falling into blind cynicism?  I might add
that both have political dangers.

Cheers,
Se

 

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