The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1379  Tuesday, 21 May 2002

From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 21 May 2002 15:35:39 +0100
Subject:        Recent Editions

Continuing the service of drawing attention to recent (UK) editions.  As
before, these are not reviews: my interests being textual and
bibliographical, I tend to concentrate on external aspects.
Takashi Kozuka has indirectly drawn attention to Colin Burrow's Oxford
edition of "The Complete Sonnets and Poems".  I was somewhat
disconcerted by Burrow's rather simplistic comments on the Hamlet text
controversy for a popular readership, but his editing appears to be
reassuringly competent.  The first thing to say is that the book is
massive: x + 750 pages.  At least there is a sewn binding (23 gatherings
of 32 pages and one of 24) and what I assume to be acid-free paper, but
no paperback should be that length.  The title is a bit of a nonsense:
nobody would be expecting incomplete sonnets, so "Complete Poems and
Sonnets" or better still "Sonnets and Complete Poems" would be
preferable.  Burrow's commentary on the sonnets has roughly the same
level of detail as Katherine Duncan-Jones' in her Arden3 edition of
"Shakespeare's Sonnets", but with a much less generous typeface.  I
measure his notes at 7.5 pt (although they seem smaller) and the poems
as 11 pt.  Duncan-Jones' notes seem to be 8.5 pt and the sonnets a
generous 14 pt (presumably 13 on 14 pt).

What about the content?  Including the poems with the sonnets means that
"A Lover's Complaint" can be included in its correct position, but still
kept with the other poems.  The first surprise is that the whole of
"The Passionate Pilgrim" is included.  The next surprise is that "The
Phoenix and the Turtle" is listed as 'Let the bird of loudest lay'.
This neatly sidesteps the question of whether it should really be called
"Phoenix and Turtle", but is, as I say, surprising.  'Shall I die?' is
included (I suppose Oxford are stuck with it!), but it is firmly
relegated to an appendix of dubiously attributed poems.  "A Funeral
Elegy" is not included (the Lord be praised!) on the eminently sensible
grounds that it is not by Shakespeare, and was not attributed to him in
the seventeenth century (although Burrow confesses that he had to select
these criteria in order to exclude it!).

Unless I haven't been paying attention, nobody has mentioned Charles R.
Forker's Arden3 edition of "King Richard II".  The first comment is that
it is also quite massive: xviii + 593 pages, against lxxxiv + 210 pages
for Peter Ure's 1956 Arden2.  Ure's edition was one of the most heavily
annotated of the Arden2 series, managing to fit only the first line of
the play on to the first page of text.  Forker emulates Ure and only
slightly exceeds him, although he does manage five pages of
double-column small-type footnotes for the Dramatis Personae, where Ure
only has "Not in Qq, F"!

The introduction runs to 169 pages, and textual analysis is relegated to
a 36 page appendix.  Other appendices have genealogical tables, and the
inevitable doubling chart (do people really find these useful?).  There
are 20 pages of longer notes in small (8.5pt?) closely-spaced type.
Ordinarily, I would welcome this, having been shortsighted all my life,
but recently age, and possibly the effects of hours spent hunched over a
computer terminal, has brought about a deterioration in my eyesight so
that I need reading glasses in poor light; I am therefore less
enthusiastic than previously.

The text is based on Q1, with interpolations from F (usually in SDs)
flagged by superscripts.  This flagging is probably superfluous.
Anyway, the Arden3 second tetralogy is off to a splendid start and I am
eagerly awaiting further installments, although I am seriously
considering an early visit to my optician!

John Briggs

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