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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Edgar and Edmund
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1077  Saturday, 20 April 2002

[1]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Apr 2002 18:43:04 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1068 Re: Edgar and Edmund

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Apr 2002 11:19:19 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1068 Re: Edgar and Edmund

[3]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Apr 2002 16:28:15 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1044 Re: Edgar and Edmund

[4]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Saturday, 20 Apr 2002 08:11:23 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.1056 Re: Edgar and Edmund


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Apr 2002 18:43:04 +0100
Subject: 13.1068 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1068 Re: Edgar and Edmund

Mike seems to have got a bit bad-tempered on this post, for some reason.
Bad day, I guess.

"Thank you Martin Stewart [sic] for actually thinking this through", he
wrote, but then added, "You seem to have missed my point, yet understood
it when Annalisa made it".

I think because Annalisa made a point rather than asking an unadorned
question, the answer to which could only be, as Brian Willis and I both
noticed, "Yes".

"Q is Q and F is F.  You don't have to chose one reading over another".

The first statement is true of every play in more than one version. The
second is false. One simply cannot employ two different readings. If one
puts the bits that are missing in F back in, one is not doing
F+excisions, but Q. I guess one could put only SOME of the Q lines back
in, but that doesn't absolve one from choosing. You might not have to
choose one play over another, in terms of preference, but if you are
planning a production, you most certainly do have to choose one reading
of a particular line or scene over another. How could it be otherwise?

"You seem to be unfamiliar with the large literature on this issue".

Appearances are deceptive, in this instance, I think because we have
simply failed to find the same wavelength. I do know all the
Wells-Taylor etc stuff on the texts of King Lear (one only has to take a
glance at the bibliog. of any edition). What struck me in Annalisa's
more constructive post was her thinking about the generic implications
of the textual problems. This is touched upon by the textual
commentators, but never really satisfactory.  Hence I asked her if she
had any references specific to this point.

"Since you ask Annalisa for sources, I'll let her answer".

This is a bit sulky. I'll take useful references from anyone. Just
because I liked Annalis'a name, doesn't mean I favour her footnotes over
others. But the references I wanted were not to hum-drum King Lear
textual problems; they were to the things Annalisa was writing about.
The assumption that I am incapable of finding such readily available
references as the Wells-Taylor work on textual problems on my own was
uncharitable. The refusal to help despite that assumption even more so.

Like I said - Mike must have had a bad day.

m

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Apr 2002 11:19:19 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1068 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1068 Re: Edgar and Edmund

> Brian Willis quotes me, then half-answers thus:
>
> > > Martin Steward wrote of King Lear:
> > >
> > > > I go with the Quarto reading every time on
> this
> > > > one:
> > >
> > > Must we choose?
> > >
> > > Mike Jensen
> >
> >Yes.
>
> Gee, Mr. Willis, remember when wise Peter Holland,
> just last week,
> pointed out to R. A. Cantrell that posts like this
> mean nothing because
> they lack ideas and arguments?  Yet your comments to
> Paul Doniger seem
> to agree with my point that we may embrace both Q
> and F.  So I wonder,
> was there was a point in this comment to me, or were
> you just being a
> smart ass?
>
> Thank you Martin Stewart for actually thinking this
> through.  You seem
> to have missed my point, yet understood it when
> Annalisa made it.  Q is
> Q and F is F.  You don't have to chose one reading
> over another.  You
> can let Q be Q and F be F.  You seem to be
> unfamiliar with the large
> literature on this issue.  Since you ask Annalisa
> for sources, I'll let
> her answer.

I suggest reading The Division of the Kingdoms and the Oxford Companion
to start. I am not ignorant on this issue, having read a good deal on
the argument for it and am merely asserting my agreement with the Oxford
editors' assessment to treat them as separate texts.  If I misunderstood
your point, or insulted you in some way, I apologize.

At the same time, editing plays are a series of choices. The question
"must we choose?" should be answered yes. There is always a choice to be
made.  Perhaps with Lear, there are two choices - Q or F. But that is a
choice isn't it? I didn't know one word could cause such a problem. But
then again, Cordelia's "nothing" causes all the problem in that play so
I suppose it can.

Brian Willis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Apr 2002 16:28:15 -0400
Subject: 13.1044 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1044 Re: Edgar and Edmund

Anna Kamaralli:

> But alas, what can be done about the fact that Edmund is dead sexy
> whereas Edgar's a drip?

No sense that Edgar starts out drippish, but rewrites himself by way of
the splendid fantasias that comprise his performance as Poor Tom into
something much, much drier?

Humefactantly,
Dave Evett

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Saturday, 20 Apr 2002 08:11:23 -0400
Subject: 13.1056 Re: Edgar and Edmund
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.1056 Re: Edgar and Edmund

"Having said that, Annalisa offers a cunning way out: "I am strongly of
the camp that sees the Quarto and Folio as two separate versions of the
play, and therefore I think both are valid". I could certainly go along
with that to a certain degree, and I rather like her suggestive
categorization of Q as "History" and F as "Tragedy" as an explanation of
how the two separate endings can both make sense. Annalisa, have you
published on this idea at all? Or could you provide some references that
I might follow up in pursuit of it?"

I very much wish I were the first person to realize this split, but
alas, I am only following in the footsteps of Steven Urkowitz and his
wonderful book *Shakespeare's Revision of King Lear.* Despite his
problematic core idea - that the changes from Quarto to Folio are so
brilliant that ONLY Shakespeare could have made them - the detailed
comparision immediately convinced me. In fact, there is an entire
chapter devoted the role of Albany, in which Urkowitz argues that in the
Quarto, Albany is a stronger, more moral character, preparing the
audience for his takeover of the kingdom. "Fully half of Albany's
speeches are noticeably different in the two texts....Additional
significant changes appear in other character's lines referring to
Albany when he is offstage"

You might also look at *The Division of the Kingdoms: Shakespeare's Two
Versions of King Lear* edited by Gary Taylor. Some of the essays are
technical to the point of inducing stupor, but overall I think the
volume demonstrates the real importance of treating these two texts as
equally legitimate and different visions.

I also wanted to respond to Ed Taft, who claims that I see Edgar as the
hero.  I do not. Only Lear goes through the moral revelation (maybe) to
allow that designation. But I do believe Edgar is squarely in the "good"
camp, clearly one "more sinned against than sinning." Your reading of
both brothers and their moral ambiguity is wonderful and especially true
in the fifth act. Edmund, on death's doorstep, seeks to do good, while
Edgar descends to the level of brute force and makes poor, if not
criminal decisions regarding his father. But that ambiguity does not
allow for a complete reversal. I have not yet seen a production of Lear
where I feel a Macbeth or an Iago is left on stage (although I've seen
lots with very weak Edgars).

The reason Lear is so tragic, far surpassing the other plays, is that
nothing is learned from the mistakes, and nothing is fixed. Albany
suggests exactly what caused all the problems (dividing the kingdom),
Edgar never rises above shallow moralizing and no one else of note is
left alive (assuming that Kent is either dying or dead). Even Lear may,
finally, be as deluded as he was in Act 1 ("Look on her, look; her lips;
Look there"). Surely in a play that suggests we all of us make mistakes,
suffer intensely for those mistakes and learn nothing that might help us
or the next generation avoid such suffering, there is no possibility for
a hero.

Annalisa Castaldo

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