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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Recent Editions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1396  Wednesday, 23 May 2002

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 May 2002 08:51:18 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions

[2]     From:   Holger Schott <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 May 2002 13:30:26 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions

[3]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 23 May 2002 01:32:02 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 May 2002 08:51:18 -0700
Subject: 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions

The arguments against the Arden 3 approach to *Ham* strike me as
misguided and simplistic.  There are a wealth of conflated texts, and
one may wallow in them to one's heart's content.  None of them come as
close to what Shakespeare probably wrote as Q1, Q2, and F do
independently.  They are false constructs, cobbled together in an
editor's study that fool people into thinking they have Shakespeare's
*Hamlet.*

The Arden 3 will put on the market an accessible and reasonably priced
version of both Qs and F for those who can't find or afford the high
priced spread.  It will also make the instability of these texts
concretely known to many who would not otherwise be aware of it.

There will still be conflated texts aplenty for those who chose them.
There is also room in the marketplace for the Arden 3, and I believe it
is to be applauded.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 May 2002 13:30:26 -0400
Subject: 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions

David Bishop wrote,

>The Arden 3, from what I've seen,
>is going off in the direction of scholarship and history, and neglecting
>criticism. The only one I know fairly well is The Tempest, an edition
>bloated with performance history and colonial controversies. What actual
>criticism can be extracted
>from it is pretty thin gruel. Frank Kermode's edition, admirable as it is,
>is getting old. A new
>edition is needed, but it would be good if it were better than his, and
>better than the
>Arden 3.

What exactly is the distinction between "performance history," "colonial
controversies," "history," "scholarship" (!!!) and "criticism"? I
presume by the latter you mean some sort of formalist interpretative
endeavor? Surely all these ways of engaging with a text and its history
are modes of criticism? As for a good new edition of _The Tempest_, how
about Stephen Orgel's OUP one? To much "scholarship" in that one as
well?

In general, I wonder if a critical edition (critical in the sense of
_Textkritik_) is really the place for what you call "criticism".
Shouldn't it rather offer the reader the information necessary to begin
his or her critical engagement? And surely the efforts of Kastan,
McLeod, Orgel, Werstine, Stallybrass & de Grazia et al. have taught us
that "scholarship," by which I assume you mean textual scholarship, is
an essential basis for that engagement, given the radical instability of
Shakespeare's texts.

>So limp that I don't believe Shakespeare would have
>written it.

So you go for a version that strikes you as dramatically more powerful
and/or aesthetically preferable; in other words, you tweak the text to
produce a Shakespeare that is "better," because the Shakespeare you have
in mind will always write the better line. I agree that the Q2 version
is preferable on aesthetic grounds - to me and you, not necessarily to
Shakespeare & co., and even if that were the case, we still have no
grounds on which to decide why and how the line got changed - or even
when! Which takes me to my next point:

>To give "idle" and "wicked" equal weight, with "idle" presented as
>Shakespeare's
>final choice, seems to me to lose contact with Shakespeare.

Who says that? I don't know that we can regard _F_ as _Shakespeare's_
final version - it was probably the version then played by the King's
Men, but if that had anything to do with Shakespeare or not is another
question.  Alternatively, _Q2_ might just represent a _later_ revision
than _F_ -- it's easy enough to imagine a scenario where the company
reverted to an earlier version of the play later in its performance
history, sometime between 1604 and 1623, no? I don't know what the _A3_
editors argue - haven't had a chance to read the _New Yorker_ article
yet... Printing all three texts achieves at least one thing: it keeps
the question open, it doesn't suggest that there is a preferable choice
(because the road not taken is only recorded in a footnote): preferable
on textual-historical grounds rather than critical or aesthetic grounds,
that is. The latter really have no place in a scholarly edition.

>When editors can no longer hear that any reading is wrong, even in a case
>as
>obvious as this, they may be spending too much time studying texts
>instead of reading plays.

That's a very weird distinction. First you object to the presence of
performance history in the _A3_ _Tempest_, now you rail against editors
who can't see the play for the text... Surely, if anything, keeping the
options open, allowing the play to exist in various versions, is truer
to Early Modern performance _and_ publication practice, no? Modern day
actors and directors will make their own choices anyway - in a sense,
these new edition will show them the broad spectrum of possible
alternative directions even _within_ the "original" text(s), from they,
as performers, are of course free to deviate, just as their early modern
forebears did...

Best,
Holger

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Thursday, 23 May 2002 01:32:02 +0100
Subject: 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1389 Re: Recent Editions

Re-reading Burrow's account of the Hamlet texts, I find that it is not
as bad as I first thought, but what I particularly object to is his
contention that using one (or more) text to emend another amounts to
conflation.  It doesn't, of course, and it would be ridiculous to edit
texts separately without reference to one another.  (But if you are
editing conservatively, you would not emend if the reading makes good
sense on its own, even if the reading of another text seems better.)  I
think talk of three texts is misleading:  I don't think Arden are
intending to edit three texts of Hamlet.  It is Arden3 practice where
there is a "bad quarto" to include it as a reduced facsimile in an
appendix.  I read the original report to mean that Q1 would be a
facsimile in the volume with the edited F text, and that the edited Q2
text would be in a separate volume.

John Briggs

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