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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1282  Monday, 26 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Ian Munro <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 10:26:13 -0600 (MDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1264 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 Jun 2000 20:34:41 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1264 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ian Munro <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 10:26:13 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: 11.1264 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1264 Re: Parallel Texts

David Lindley writes:

>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.

When I run across this attitude I'm reminded of Stephen Booth's aim in
his edition of the sonnets, to give "a Renaissance reader's experience
of the 1609 Quarto."  The result, of course, is 133 pages of poetry (in
parallel text) followed by 403 pages of commentary.

Ian Munro

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 Jun 2000 20:34:41 EDT
Subject: 11.1264 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1264 Re: Parallel Texts

RE David Lindley' s response

>I wonder what, exactly, fuels Marcus Dahl's rant against editorial
>'mauling'?

A: The issue of scholastic accuracy.

 >Surely there is a fundamental failure here to make necessary
>distinctions between the nature and purpose of different kinds of
>reproduction of early texts.

A: There is most certainly a difference between conflation and
reproduction. Conflation is meddling, reproduction is the re-producing
of the text concerned.

>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.

A: I have already indicated that there is a difference between the
utility of annotation / end-notes and conflated or interpretively edited
texts. Changing the reproduceable text is however not within the
boundaries of 'facsimile'.  Furthermore until anyone has any scientific
method of textual analysis (i.e. never) then sticking to the closest
(possible) reproduction of the original printed (be it Q1-16 or F1-6
etc) text is the only method of which a student interested in reading
renaissance texts should approve.

>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)

A: You are of course entitled to print whichever text you like in
whatever form - the issue however lies in the question of the clarity of
the history of texts. An amended text is amended after the printed fact
- it is subject to the additional and unnecessary historical speculation
of the editor involved. Re-print the closest possible text to Q1 and you
limit the aesthetic or historical intervention between renaissance text
and modern.  Though of course electronic texts are not the 'same' as the
original -the difference between Q1 Lear and Weis's Parallel text are
extreme.  I have yet to see an annotated facsimile, only amended
conflated (edited) modern theorised texts.

>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.

A: Attention here to the word 'try'. So we just trust you?

>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.

A: Why force the reader to go to yet another edition than the extant
renaissance texts? Why not point the reader to the existence of however
many multiple texts -as they were originally printed (by whomever of the
dodgy or costly printers available) and aid their understanding by
additional notes and historical introduction 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.

A: The use of the word 'good' here sounds dishearteningly like Pollard's
'Good'/ 'Bad' quarto distinction so influential on the Oxford Works - an
unfortunate link.

>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.

A: Suspicions, like fantasies are best let to themselves. Facts on the
other hand can be debated.

>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.

A: Opinion of this kind has no place here. Perhaps you are an expert on
Elizabethan punctuation (as I am not) however there is good evidence
that like a lot of editorial practise much of what goes for accepted
fact about 'correct' or 'Shakespearean' is subject to theory and
prejudice and that therefore once again it is of primary concern to the
student interested in resolving textual or literary issues that s/he is
not mislead by changes in meaning, intonation etc caused by amended
texts. Here I merely note the uncertainty as to the correct punctuation
of the sonnets. We simply do not know whether the first imprint of the
sonnets contains Shakespeare's puntuation or anothers -etc.

>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.

A: Providing some sort of premise list which is capable of falsification
would be a start to the practise of objectivity. Reproducibility of
statistical evidence etc. Here I point you to Gary Taylor's article on
1HVI - the statistical basis of which has rarely been questioned (the
essay forms the basis of the Oxford editors' argument concerning the
chronological and collaborative issues of the text). Taylor himself
notes in the introduction to the TC that even he can place no real
confidence in the statistical results of the minutiae of his attribution
studies. This does not stop him (nor as i mentioned the Norton editors)
referring to and relying on the weight of evidence accumulated through
their statistical and aesthetic import.

>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.

A: They let us know in a separate and highly expensive oversize addition
never seen in the hands of any undergraduate I've ever seen. As to how
hard the Oxford editors thought about it I have no opinion - appeals ad
hominem are purely subjective.

>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.

A: The point about unamended reprints of renaissance texts (a la Malone
Society) is that since we do not know what the theories or exact
activities of the printers, scribes etc, it is best to view their
combined textual work as it in fact attained print -- not as some modern
editor believed it was produced. Surely there is 'A false sense of
security' in a modern text which puts together texts printed and
possibly written at different times (by different people?) with a
sequence of hermeneutically styled notes that even textual scholars find
difficult to read. As i said, I have no objection to honest annotation
or end note explanation. Clearly marked editorial change within the text
might be a middle ground (which is however of little use to textual
studies in general but perhaps of worth to students unconcerned with
such issues ). The point is that in my view interpretative editing is
quite distinct from objectively motivated facsimile publication.

Should anyone be interested in the issue of textual interpretation (and
its problems) there is a brief article of mine on the subject of 1HVI
available on the Durham University (Internet) Literary Journal. I would
be very glad for anyone to challenge my statistical analysis of
Taylor's.

Yours,
Marcus Dahl.
 

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