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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Shakespeare the Taoist
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1238  Monday, 28 May 2001

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 May 2001 17:42:18 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1213 Re: Shakespeare the Taoist

[2]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 May 2001 14:06:24 -0400
        Subj:   Shakespeare the Taoist


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Friday, 25 May 2001 17:42:18 +0100
Subject: 12.1213 Re: Shakespeare the Taoist
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1213 Re: Shakespeare the Taoist

> From:           John Velz <
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> Until Ben Jonson
> dared to call his plays "Works" in 1616, no one had so dared.  Hemminge
> and Condell were aping Jonson, whose Folio was mocked, but who laughed
> all the way to the bank.

Jonson pick-a-backed his play texts onto his poems in the 1616 Folio.
He used the "respectable" status of the publication of his poems to
sneak the plays in.  The H&C First Folio seven years later is the first
publication in England of a "Collected Plays (only)".

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 25 May 2001 14:06:24 -0400
Subject:        Shakespeare the Taoist

John Velz writes,

"Shakespeare surely died in April of 1616 thinking of his plays only as
scripts."

Contrast John's view to that of Kenneth Muir (quoted from memory): "It
is impossible to believe that Shakespeare died not knowing what he had
achieved."

The tension between these two views is mirrored in the movement from
orality to the written word that John himself mentions. Where on the
curve was Shakespeare circa 1613-1616? Now, it may be that Shakespeare
did not care whether his plays were collected and printed or not. But
this conclusion is not as self-evident to me as it seems to be to John.
Here are two scenarios:

1. Shakespeare works on revising KL and other plays during his
retirement (maybe starting even earlier than 1613 to revise), but
suddenly falls ill of typhoid fever (as Honan speculates). He can't even
start the job of publishing the plays, so his buddies Hemminge and
Condell agree to do it for him when they have the time and money to do
so.

2. Shakespeare is exhausted by the time he retires, and can do little
more than polish some of his plays. He makes a deal with H & C to
publish his plays after his death.

We will probably never know what hand, if any, Shakespeare had in
publishing his plays, but the assumption that he had no hand in it seems
to me curious.  Why else revise KL (and perhaps other plays)?  That he
thought his plays not worth collecting and publishing seems to me to be
the weakest hypothesis, not the strongest.

Best wishes,
--Ed Taft

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