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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
Re: Shakespeare's Characters and Publications
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2220  Monday, 4 December 2000

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Dec 2000 16:47:08 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Dec 2000 13:25:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Dec 2000 10:29:04 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2197 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 3 Dec 2000 02:47:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2155 Re: Characters

[5]     From:   John Biggs <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Dec 2000 09:44:31 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Dec 2000 16:47:08 -0000
Subject: 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

Marcus Dahl wrote

> Let us not forget that S[hakespeare] only published
> two texts in his lifetime under his name: Venus and
> Adonis and Rape of Lucrece - both expensively bound
> and well printed by notable printers of the day...both with their
> famously provocative dedications to a rich patron. And all the rest of
> his 'immaculately conceived' (and often collaborative) plays were
> printed anonymously (in this he is apparently and consistently unique
> among the big playwrights of his day- Lodge, Greene, Peele, Marlowe,
> Nashe(?)).

1600 2 Henry 4
1600 A Midsummer Night's Dream
1602 The Merry Wives of Windsor
1604 Hamlet
1609 Troilus and Cressida (both issues)

These plays say "by William Shakespeare" on their titlepages, so they
were not "printed anonymously".

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 01 Dec 2000 13:25:16 -0500
Subject: 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2209 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

William Proctor Williams writes:

>I don't want to become a boring old fart about this, but until someone
>shows evidence to prove otherwise I believe it is the case that
>Shakespeare's plays were actually the property of the
>Chamberlain's/King's Men, not just W. S.  Jonson and other examples
>cited are different because they were not sharers in a company.

I'm not sure why NOT being a sharer in a company would allow Jonson
greater freedom (i.e., greater than Shakespeare's as a sharer) with his
scripts.  Jonson sold his scripts outright, and apparently retained no
"copyright" to his material.  Can we assume that Shakespeare had the
same or a different arraignment with his company?  Can we assume that
Shakespeare, as a long-time member, would have had the goodwill of his
friends -- if he wished to have his scripts published in print?  (I
assume that performance is a form of publication -- i.e., to make
public.)  Jonson had printed scripts that he had sold outright; why
couldn't Shakespeare?

>The
>entity which would deal with the Stationers about printing would have
>surely been the Company not the "author," whatever that thing may be.

Persons have to act for "entities" -- whatever they may be.  Since
Shakespeare was a sharer and playwright, he might well act for his
company in publishing the plays he had written -- not the Folio, of
course, but the quartos printed before his death.

My dictionary defines "author" as a writer or composer.  I don't find
the word objectionable or hard to comprehend. The author is the person
who puts in the hours writing the play.

>Two members of the Company (Hemings and Condell) seeing that the First
>Folio got into print, if they did more than just add the authority of
>their names, would seem to me to indicate that this was the situation.
>Furthermore, the previously printed plays would, as far as print is
>concerned, have left the Company's control already and if anyone had
>control over their subsequent printing it would have been the stationer
>who owned the copyright (see the Stationers' Register entries for the
>mad scramble to get them all entered).

Hemings and Condell may have been acting as friends of Shakespeare
rather than as emissaries of an entity.  If they were working as Company
representatives, how much did they get paid for their work or for the
authority of their names?  If they were representing the Company, did
the Company get a kickback from the stationers?  If so, how much?  Do we
have any evidence about financial arrangements between or among the
stationers and the Company?

The interpretation(s) of the mad copyright scramble is/are almost
entirely conjectural. We now snap our fingers at Greg's interpretation,
but will Blayney's be current a decade hence?

>If any member of the King's Men
>got a chance to oversee the printing it would have only been through the
>goodwill of the stationer(s) involved.

This is a good conjecture.  But, since the Company was, apparently,
providing a good deal of MS material for this venture, we might expect
the representatives of the company (and/or the friends of the author) to
have some say regarding the proofreading.

We do know that some authors camped at the printing house while their
scripts were going through the press. Since Shakespeare was dead,
perhaps his friends took his place?

>Does someone have some evidence
>that it is otherwise?

I wish I could report that I had Hemings' first hand account of his
involvement in this venture, but unfortunately I can't.  What we have we
have.  What we disagree on is how to interpret what we have.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 01 Dec 2000 10:29:04 -0800
Subject: 11.2197 Re: Shakespeare's Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2197 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

Bill writes:

> You miss my point.  We are far from being gods.  We are limited,
> extremely limited, because all we know of the world is mediated by our
> sensory systems.  All we know of the world is constructed by our
> brains.  Each of us must construct our own Hamlet from Shakespeare's
> script.  We cannot transcend our bodies and gain an unmediated
> understanding of the text.

But if we choose what comes in through our sensory systems, as you
claimed earlier, then we effectively construct our own worlds.  Surprise
would become impossible, and we would become gods.

And by the way, I have never claimed that anyone has an unmediated
understanding of the text.  I'm slightly bewildered at how this view
keeps getting ascribed to me.

Cheers,
Se

 

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