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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Shakespeare's Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2197  Thursday, 30 November 2000

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 13:00:17 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Characters

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 13:33:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 13:33:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

[4]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 15:10:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 13:00:17 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare's Characters

Oops!  Several folks have e-mailed me privately to point out that in
yesterday's post I seemed to imply that Shakespeare PERSONALLY saw the
First Folio through the press.  Sorry for the sloppy sentence.  I meant
to say that he seems to have taken a great interest in revising his
plays as preparation for the time when they would be published.

--Ed

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 13:33:37 -0500
Subject: 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

Brian Vickers writes:

>As for W. L. Godshalk's corrosive scepticism, concerning the meddling
>intervention in Shakespeare's text of scribes, correctors, compositors,
>editors, uncle Tom Cobley and all, arguments of this kind, although
>handy for scoring a point in a debate, would soon reduce the text of
>Shakespeare to a morass of undecideability that would defeat all forms
>of criticism, not just communicative analysis.

My initial response is: he babbled of green fields.

Second, if we are scoring points, how many did I make by pointing out
the problems of transmission and the instability of Shakespeare's text?
Have I caught up with Honigmann yet?

Third, I believe (a tip of the hat to Ludwig) that understanding the
problems of transmission and instability is not corrosive, but
liberating.  We no longer believe that Shakespeare never blotted a line
or never revised a play.  We now have two King Lears (scripts that is)
as Ed Taft reminds me -- to discuss. And we have three scripts of Hamlet
and so on. We no longer have to believe that there was one manuscript --
Shakespeare's foul papers -- from which all these scripts have, in some
way or another, descended.  The waters have been muddied by twentieth
century scholarship, but, Brian Vickers, the fishing is good!

Fourth, Shakespeare may well have taken a greater interest in the
publication of his plays than was one time believed.  In fact, I believe
this to be true, but the problems of transmission remain.  Shakespeare
may have been planning to publish his "works" in competition with
Jonson, but he died in 1616, and the Folio appeared in 1623 -- to late
for Shakespeare to do any proofing. Did his editors spend hours at the
printing house reading proof?  How many errors did they miss?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 13:33:37 -0500
Subject: 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

Sean Lawrence writes:

>I do not accept that we entirely create our worlds.  To accept
>that would be to elevate people into gods.

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.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 15:10:10 -0500
Subject: 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2184 Re: Shakespeare's Characters

Ed Taft wrote, " But isn't it also true, Bill, that if Gary Taylor and
Michael Warren are right, Shakespeare may have taken far more of an
interest in seeing the First Folio through press than we used to think?
The changes between Q and F _King Lear_ suggest authorial revision and
the strong possibility that Shakespeare was much interested in getting
the First Folio right, no?"

Now hold on just a minute here!  Unless I've missed something in all
this I believe we are all pretty much agreed that William Shakespeare
died in 1616 and that the First Folio came out in 1623.  To quote
Hamlet, "How long will a man lie i'th earth ere he rot?" or in this
case, see the First Folio through the press.  I think something has been
lost in the ether in this argument.

William Proctor Williams
 

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