The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1327 Friday, 30 June 2000.
From: Marcus Dahl <
Date: Thursday, 29 Jun 2000 12:28:13 EDT
Subject: 11.1314 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment: Re: SHK 11.1314 Re: Parallel Texts
Replies to all who responded to my gentle prods:
>There is the genetic text and the historicised text.
>Marcus Dahl seems to be (implicitly?) arguing for a genetic text, where
>every stage of the growth of the text (manuscript revisions, multiple
>editions, etc.) is part of the text.
A: Obviously I made no such assertion. I argue for a text presented as
close to the original imprint as possible. It is not a difficult thing
to do ( Gabriel Egan's facetious assertions concerning dissolving texts
aside - we have all read Greg and know the problems). I argue against
conflation of extant texts in order to distinguish between texts. Q1 's
often have much in common with Q2's and 3's etc however it is important
to note what each individual text offers to the meaning / textual
history. To reiterate a point I have made before I do not suggest (as
others on this site seem to think) that we should always read every
text, only that we do not make comments about texts as if they were
renaissance texts when they are emmended, conflated edited texts. I do
not think that the basic mechanical work done by the Malone Society to
reprint a sixteenth century imprint constitutes 'editing' in the sense
of the Oxford, Arden, Norton, Cambridge editions. If it was they would
not sell their editions on that basis. To conflate the Malone editions
with the modern edited texts to which I have referred is either
simplistic or argumentatively manipulative. With regard to the staging
(or filming etc) of texts this is a matter of adaptation and subsequent
variation and again in no way affects my argument as to the privileging
of primary texts.
> As a non-Shakespearean analogue, consider the ballad-texts presented in
> F.J.Child's +English and Scottish Border Ballads+ -- is the "text" of
> any particular ballad one or the other of the texts which Child>
> provides, or the sum of these texts?
A: Ballad studies is a very large field and has direct import on the
issue of mechanical / theatrical / aesthetic transmission. I recommend
(if you have not already read him) Max Luthi. Laurie Maguire briefly
delves into the subject but there is more to be done and said
...particularly with reference to the so called 'bad quartos' of
>I'm not sure who you have in mind here (did you mean "post-modem,"
A: I don't know - maybe you should emend the text to restore my original
intention? (Which of course I'm SURE you know...)
>The problem is that in pursuit of bibliographic purity you've put forward an
absolute >model that a) seeks to stop people from doing perfectly
>relying on the textual work of other scholars and b) has little to
>recommend itself as an especially accurate picture of early modern print
A: What is being mistaken here is that I have put forward a picture of
early modern print culture (whenever it is you believe 'early modern'
begins...fall of Byzantium perhaps?) My opinion concerning the study of
renaissance (their word not mine) theatrical texts is that if I am
interested to read renaissance literature then I ought to read
renaissance literature and not what a modern editor (however trustworthy
or historically knowledgeable) thinks is the intention of a renaissance
text, printer, poet etc. We have enough problems with the difference
between Q1, Q2, and Folio Hamlet without introducing Jenkins and
The Oxford eds. assume that 1HVI is a 'bad quarto' of some kind and yet
the quality of evidence for this assertion is debatable.
> Would you care to date and describe this quarto of 1H6, hitherto unknown
> to Shakespeare scholarship?
A: I spotted you early on as a joker Gabriel... See the Textual
Companion or Gary Taylor's article on the subject.
>The ethos of Malone society is to present the
>text as clearly and with as little change as possible
>from the texts which they attempt to reproduce.
But you pretend that your preferences represent minimal interventions
and others are maulings. That's unfair. So long as editors explain their
interventions, and don't pretend to have found an ideal kind of
intervention which suits everybody, their work should be taken for what
A: If scholars as painstaking and careful as Greg or Sir E.M .Thompson
could be create variants in tasks of 'simple' redaction or script
analysis is it not necessary we should err on the side of caution when
it comes to matters of trust in editing and textual analysis? Once again
I'd rather be wrong in my reading of a Malone society imprint and be
corrected by someone who knew more than me than to read Jenkins, Taylor,
Dover-Wilson and merely accept their (unspoken) opinion for which
'correct' text I should read.
>If I am studying the authors, players, printers etc of the
>years 1590-1623 (say) then I wish to read as close a
>text as is possible to the texts those authors, players,
> Again I think you need to examine more closely your notion of "the texts
> those authors, players, printers produced". The players might well think
>their text to be the performance, and that isn't available in any
>tangible form. The script might still exist, but if one wants to recover
> the "performance" (ie what the players did on the stage) one might well
> have to do certain things to the printed script to make it better
> represent the performance. That's what certain editors--particularly
> ones you disparage--do with great diligence.
A: Here there seems to be yet another mistake as to my intention. I do
not argue in favour of editing for 'performance' or editing for
'reading' or editing at all. I argue that we should read the facsimile
(or nearest possible) texts to the original renaissance imprints and
then discuss those texts whilst being quite clear to discern between the
texts and any textual variants we may light upon. If I want to read the
original (extant edition) of the First Part of the Contention for
example (first printed by Creede for Millington in 1594) then I want to
read the Millington imprint NOT the Folio only play 2HVI which is what I
would be reading (in a further conflated version with Q1 The Contention
and Q3 The Whole of the Contention) in the Oxford Works. As I have
said, the diligence or otherwise of an editor is not at issue.
(Personally I think there is no-one alive today in the same league as
Greg, Pollard, Schoenbaum or Chambers...)
On another note, Stephen Miller's suggestion is sensible (and returns to
the original question concerning parallel texts) however I may say that
I would rather have Q1 Hamlet facing Q2 Hamlet etc than Q1 vs Jenkins et
All the best,