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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1264  Thursday, 22 June 2000.

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 15:47:21 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 08:59:43 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts

[3]     From:   Briggs John <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 Jun 2000 10:16:34 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 15:47:21 GMT
Subject: 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts

I wonder what, exactly, fuels Marcus Dahl's rant against editorial
'mauling'?  Surely there is a fundamental failure here to make necessary
distinctions between the nature and purpose of different kinds of
reproduction of early texts.

I would certainly agree that one of the most valuable functions the
internet can serve is to make available photographic reproduction of
'originals' - though even that, as the argument some time ago on this
list about the Hinman facsimile of the First Folio demonstrated, is not
necessarily as straightforward in its implications as might be thought.

But facsimile reproduction is different from, and serves different
purposes to an 'edition'.  As one currently in the last stages of
'mauling' The Tempest (though, of course, with the best of intentions),
I would see my job as making a text available to a modern readership -
including school and university students - in a form which renders it as
clear and accessible as possible, with a commentary that enables readers
to think with some understanding of the contexts within which the
language of the plays operated, and a textual analysis which makes it
clear why I have come to the conclusions I have.  (Or at least, that's
part of it)

In the collation (and thanks to those who reassured me some weeks ago
that the collation line was indeed consulted) and in the commentary I
try to record all my 'maulings' in a form which enables the reader to be
aware of what has been done.

Yes, all editions are in some sense 'performative'; but it is precisely
the availability of facsimile texts that enables the reader who wishes
to do so to go back to the 'original' and become aware of what has been
done - just as one can go back to the text after a theatrical
performance and see what the director has omitted, transposed, etc.

It seems to me, in other words, that a modern edition is doing a
particular job, and one I happen to think is important.  Of course it
raises important questions, questions that are properly much debated in
recent years as the hold of the 'New Bibliography' has weakened - but
since any good edition explains clearly what it is doing and why, I
don't feel that characterising the activity of the editor as well
intentioned mauling is justified.

But I suspect that behind Marcus Dahl's posting lies a fantasy that
somehow to read texts in their 'original' form gives a privileged and
unmediated contact with an early modern reality that modernised texts
efface.  Since the effect of this fantasy has been to produce a good
deal of nonsense, for example about the way 'Shakespearean' punctuation,
or the lineation of the Folio text functioned as a performative guide to
actors, I'm not disposed to agree.  I'm not sure I understand what
Marcus Dahl's 'objective exegesis' might be; but I'm absolutely sure
that his charge of 'largely unexamined historical generalisation,
textual interpretation and editorial theory' laid against the Oxford
editors is unjust in the extreme.  It's not that I think they
necessarily got everything 'right' - but I'm sure that they thought very
hard about their editorial theory etc. - and they let us know what it
is, so that we can question it if we wish. By contrast, the modern
reader faced with the unmediated Folio is precisely in the position of
not knowing, and not understanding the kinds of 'editorial theory' that
possessed the scribes, compositors and printers who produced that
original text, and therefore liable to fall victim to a false sense of
security as they read it as if it were a text produced under modern
conditions.

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 08:59:43 -0700
Subject: 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1259 Re: Parallel Texts

Marcus Dahl writes:

> I'm not sure what "Obvious interpolations" Sean Lawrence refers to,

I offered Hecate's harangue as an example.

> however if one is interested in how a text attains print and the
> 'origins' of that text - namely - Shakespeare, Greene, The Queens Men,
> Tilney, Creede, Pavier etc then it is most important that the text is
> not mauled by yet further hands (however well intended).

Of course I agree, and like you, I keep facsimiles lying around when I'm
working on any given play.  But your original posting said that "Edited
texts are ... without scholarly value".  You didn't say without value to
a reconstruction of the process of bibliographical compilation, or
anything of the kind.  In fact, without some sort of condition or
specificity to this statement, you would seem to be indicating that
edited texts are without any scholarly value for anything whatsoever.
And it was the broadness of that statement to which I objected.

Cheers,
Se

 

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