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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: "Reading" the Plays
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0416  Thursday, 14 February 2002

From:           Jimmy Jung <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Feb 2002 13:28:00 -0500
Subject:        Re: "Reading" the Plays

My thanks to everyone for kicking about my question on reading the plays
and to Jack Heller for the promotion and honorary degree.  He has no
idea, the librarians I had to bug to find out who Harbage was.

Jack wrote:  I think the question of reading the plays should be divided
into two separate questions: One, when did the idea arise that people
who weren't artistically involved in the creation of plays might have an
interest in reading plays? and Two, when did someone decide that plays
could become a publishable commodity? ... I think Dr. Jung probably
seeks an answer to the second question--an answer which I don't
have--but which I would look to the earliest extant printings of plays.
Is Harbage the place to look for these?

His restating of the question lends clarity to my musing and considered
in this light, I think the first question gets to the heart of the
matter, but seems unanswerable.  So I think of the second question as a
measurement where we might approximate the answer to the first question.
In as much as the county library doesn't carry Harbage, I took JD
Jowett's citations from Greg:

Fulgens and Lucrece (1512-1516?)
Hycke Scorner (?1515-6)
The Summoning of Every Man (1510-?1519)
The World and the Child (dated on the title page 17 July 1522)

This gives me a sense of when, but I get the impression I will never
know why.  I can't see any remarkable similarities between Fulgens and
Hycke.

I wonder if these dates were many years after the productions (i.e.,
these plays were so popular and produced so often that they were
considered publishable)?

jimmy

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