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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
Re: Shakespeare's Publications
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2312  Wednesday, 12 December 2000

[1]     From:   John V Robinson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Dec 2000 12:51:08 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publicatio

[2]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Dec 2000 10:01:00 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications

[3]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Dec 2000 23:35:27 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John V Robinson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Dec 2000 12:51:08 EST
Subject: 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications

> "When the First Folio of the complete plays was planned, Richard Field,
>  who had printed the bard's Venus and Adonis in 1593 and Lucrece in 1594,
>  stood aside because he didn't like the theatre (the audiences were so
>  unruly and the weather at times inclement); besides, he reflected, the
>  texts of the plays proposed were so corrupt that it would have been
>  dishonest to serve them up, it was not Shakespeare. So much for the
>  wages of integrity: the plays were served up, and he was not at table to
>  savour a portion of the profits. When I see the text of a Shakespeare
>  play I think of Richard Field, getting by on pamphlets and jobbing
>  printing, while a series of corruptions in the name of his friend the
>  poet spun out in an unstoppable circulation, to benefit his
>  competitors."

If it weren't for printers serving up corrupt versions of Shakespeare we
may have nothing at all. Furthermore, the First Folio might never have
been done if it wasn't for the market established by the good and bad
quarto's. Vive le Capitalism; Vive le market forces, for they alone have
brought us Shakespeare.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Dec 2000 10:01:00 +0000
Subject: 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications

There can be truth in fiction, so there's nothing really wrong with this
kind of thing as long as the reader knows it to be fiction. There's
certainly nothing in the records to indicate this take on Field's
attitude.

Stephanie Hughes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Dec 2000 23:35:27 -0600
Subject: 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2310 Re: Shakespeare's Publications

Marcus Dahl wrote:

>Given the recent discussion (re: S's association / responsibility for
>the texts attributed to him) which seems to have stopped just before it
>got past summary critiques of facts mere or otherwise I wondered what
>the other SHAKSPERians textualists thought of this paragraph in a new
>Lives of the Poets volume:
>
>"When the First Folio of the complete plays was planned, Richard Field,
>who had printed the bard's Venus and Adonis in 1593 and Lucrece in 1594,
>stood aside because he didn't like the theatre (the audiences were so
>unruly and the weather at times inclement); besides, he reflected, the
>texts of the plays proposed were so corrupt that it would have been
>dishonest to serve them up, it was not Shakespeare. So much for the
>wages of integrity: the plays were served up, and he was not at table to
>savour a portion of the profits. When I see the text of a Shakespeare
>play I think of Richard Field, getting by on pamphlets and jobbing
>printing, while a series of corruptions in the name of his friend the
>poet spun out in an unstoppable circulation, to benefit his
>competitors."
>
>* Does anyone know the source of these "Richard Field" thoughts? The
>passage seems to me to be a rather lovely but unlikely thought
>experiment.

I don't know the source of these "thoughts", and I'm fairly certain they
originate in the writer's imagination.  The only surviving writing of
Field's that I know of is the preface to Puttenham's *Arte of English
Poesie* in 1589, though there may be a couple of other prefaces and such
that I'm overlooking.  But I'm surprised to see the writer describe
Field as "getting by on pamphlets and jobbing printing", which is a very
inaccurate description.  Field's shop was one of the most sophisticated
and highly-regarded in London.  He printed and/or published many
elaborate and important works that are still read today, including the
aforementioned *Arte of English Poesie* (1589), Sir John Harington's
translation of *Orlando Furioso* (1591), Thomas North's translation of
Plutarch (all editions after the first), and the first full edition of
Spenser's *Faerie Queene* (1596), in addition to (of course)
Shakespeare's *Venus and Adonis* (1593) and *Lucrece* (1594) and Robert
Chester's *Love's Martyr* (1601), which contained Shakespeare's *The
Phoenix and the Turtle*.  Field was one of the most important London
publishers of foreign language manuals, a mantle he had inherited from
Thomas Vautrollier along with Vautrollier's business and his wife.
Field served as master of the stationer's company in 1619 and 1622, and
was very successful and respected.  It's true that he never printed any
plays, but he printed lots of poetry, and the thoughts attributed to him
in the above excerpt are pure speculation at best.

Dave Kathman

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