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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1296  Tuesday, 27 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Ian Munro <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Jun 2000 11:59:30 -0600 (MDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1282 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Jun 2000 12:22:58 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1282 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ian Munro <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 11:59:30 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: 11.1282 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1282 Re: Parallel Texts

Marcus Dahl writes:

>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.

What would you do with _A Game at Chess_, to take a particularly florid
example?  For myself, I would rather trust the bibliographic skills of
Richard Dutton or Trevor Howard-Hill, both better textual scholars than
I will ever be, than tackle the 6 manuscripts and 2 quartos
myself--particularly when my interests in the play (either in the
classroom or in my research) have little to do with bibliography.  Do
you think that because you are rigorous there will be no more literary
interpretation?

Ian Munro

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Jun 2000 12:22:58 +0100
Subject: 11.1282 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1282 Re: Parallel Texts

Marcus Dahl has some simple rules for textual transmission:

>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.

This rule assumes that all the texts come down to us in printed form,
which is not so. Of the printed ones, Dahl doesn't offer a means of
determining which, if any, is "the original printed (be it Q1-16 or
F1-6) text". Do you mean they are all equally valid? If so, why stop in
the seventeenth century when you could choose an eighteenth or
nineteenth-century edition and say that's the one "a student interested
in reading renaissance texts" should attend to. If they're not all
equally valid, what method of discrimination are you in favour of?

>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.

This appears to be Dahl's answer to my last question: you go for the one
with the lowest number. Dahl seems to  think the '1' in Q1 indicates
something special about it, as though it denoted uniqueness, wholeness,
and 'beginning'. Since the numbering system itself is a modern
sequencing of the documents (it's not like Okes said to himself "I think
I'll print Q1 King Lear today") why isn't Dahl as suspicious of the
numbers (which encode modern ways of thinking) as he is of the other
actions of modern editorial theory? Even if Dahl thinks the numbers
merely denote chronological order of printing, that surely is not
available to us as "printed fact" but rather must be recovered from the
texts themselves and other evidence. For example, printers could put a
false date on the titlepage or indeed change the date during the run.

>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.

Dahl goes back to his first approach: offer the reader the textual
multiplicity and some notes. Apart from all other considerations, the
complexity of the additional notes and historical introductions needed
to do this properly excludes readers below a certain threshold of
education. (Good undergraduates can handle it, weak ones can become
bewildered.) There are plenty of interesting things to do with
Shakespeare and his contemporaries which don't require the reader to use
early printed texts.

>. . . 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.

The greater danger surely is that the student will be misled by changes
in meaning, intonation etc caused by historical difference. How many
undergraduates know the meaning of "wherefore are thou Romeo?"

>They [the Oxford editors] let us know [their editorial theory] in
>a separate and highly expensive oversize addition never
>seen in the hands of any undergraduate I've ever seen.

The cost of books is an important issue. The Textual Companion is now
available (with original pagination) from Norton in paperback. I got a
copy in the US and am fairly sure Amazon would ship it worldwide. (If
not, I know several US SHAKSPERians have in the past offered to
facilitate dissemination by buying locally and forwarding.)

>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.

The Malone Society Reprints have modern editors and they make
decisions.  They might try to represent particular features of the early
printed text (or indeed the manuscript) but they cannot represent all of
the features with absolute fidelity. Two texts cannot be identical, as
you seem to believe. You might say "I'm happy with what's been ignored
in the copy text" if, say, holes made by bookworms are of no interest to
you. But that's your decision for your work and you are mistaken to
think that everyone's needs are served by the editorial practice which
suits you. Peter Blayney solved a problem concerning the order of the
pages in the manuscript of _The Book of Sir Thomas More_ by attending to
the progress through the bundle of a particular bookworm, and he could
not have done that using the Malone Society Reprint because Greg
(wisely, most readers believe) ignored the bookwork holes.

Gabriel Egan
 

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