The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1809 Monday, 25 September 2000.
From: Marcus Dahl <
Date: Monday, 25 Sep 2000 08:16:52 EDT
Subject: 11.1781 Re: Romeo & Juliet
Comment: Re: SHK 11.1781 Re: Romeo & Juliet
Sorry to delay in responding...however with regard to the 'open-arse'
(1) Having consulted my concordance (admittedly 19th century... I'll
check the Spevack today) I found only one Shakespearean compound word of
the type 'open-' and that is 'open-eyed' in the Tempest. I found no
entry at all for 'arse' . From this (lack of positive evidence) I would
therefore see no pressing reason for believing the emmendation to be
'authoritative' or particularly true to a general Shakespearean
vocabulary or tone.
(2) The issue of renaissance bowdlerisation is I think significant. It
is certainly possible that the reason my (chaste) concordance doesn't
have 'arse' or 'open-arse' isn't just because no text attributed to
Shakespeare was ever published with those words but that no text *could*
be given the editorial practise of the actors/ publishers / censors etc
of the day (here I of course suppose - others who know more please
correct me). This is not to say that Shakespeare *could not* have
written / spoken the emmended compound - but if there is no textual
evidence for him having done so we must surely leave it at that?
(2) As to David Lindley's question regarding the playing of the lines on
stage I suppose it depends on whether you wish the words to stand as
emphatic or casual. The modern emendation is of course emphatic and
obviously crude whereas I should say that the 'etcetera' is more a
casual act of ostention towards crudity which leaves it to the listener
to complete the intended thought. I would see the actor in this case as
sweeping along with the line's metre to make the gesture almost as if in
brackets -with a wink to the audience.
(3) On the textual issue I am not necessarily opposed to the performance
of Shakespearean texts in a more jaunty and textually emended fashion
-as say in Ian Macellan's (sp?) tremendous film version of Rich III in
which the (various) texts are vigorously cut, joined and reassembled
into a totally modern rendering of the renaissance source texts. I would
be opposed however to the publication of a text such as that screenplay
being published as 'Shakespeare's Rich III' which it clearly is not.