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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Hamlet Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1475  Friday, 31 May 2002

From:           Steve Roth <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 30 May 2002 07:02:04 -0700
Subject: 13.1426 Re: Hamlet Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1426 Re: Hamlet Texts

Mike Jensen <
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 > wrote:

>The arguments against the Arden 3 approach to *Ham* strike me as
>misguided and simplistic.

David Wilson-Okamura <
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 > wrote:

>What should Arden have done? Reissued Jenkins with a new introduction,
>text and notes revised where nice or necessary.


My objection to the Arden approach is that it's just going to be darned
unwieldy for the people who are most likely to buy and use it.

I say "use" because I don't think it will be bought as a first- or
second-reading text, rather as a reference text for students and
scholars who have read and still use conflated editions. Who would want
to read Hamlet the first time without F1's "ayrie of Children, little
Yases" or Q2's "How all occasions"? Those first readers want the most
beautiful/interesting/complete/comprehensible play an editor can put
together (with good and convenient annotations to help them along and
some text notes to show them key variations). It doesn't much matter
whose hands made it "beautiful."

People ask me fairly often, "how many times have you read Hamlet?" It's
like asking how many times you've read the Bible. After the first couple
or few times, you don't read Hamlet or other plays beginning to end,
you're just into them from various angles, checking out particular
passages, jumping around seeing connections, trying to understand
specific themes, etc.

People who want to do that have a lot of options, and the question for
me is, which editorial setup/apparatus makes that easiest? And which
printed texts best allow for effective editorial apparatuses?
(Apparati?) If you want to explore the sullied/sallied/solid question
(and Polonius's "sallies" to Reynaldo), which editions make it easiest?
It's a usability/user interface issue, with editorial implications.

First off, bracketed text doesn't help much. There are too many types of
varations. Multiple types of brackets designating different things get
too confusing and cluttered.

The Furness/Jenkins approach works awfully well, a conflated text with
textual notes on variations, and lengthy annotations citing critical
sources, all on the same page. This approach interferes some with the
edition as a reading text, especially in Furness because there are so
few lines on many pages. But it's not a big impediment to just reading.

Riverside's end-of-play textual notes are far less convenient--you have
to keep a finger or bookmark at the notes and flip all the time. And
they're selective (if judicious); they don't show all the variations.
The same-page annotations, while brief, are excellent. (They just need
to signal in the text which lines *have* annotations, so you're not
constantly playing battleship guessing whether the line you're reading
has a note down under.)

Oxford Complete, putting textual notes in a (big) separate book, is just
ridiculously inconvenient. The Oxford and Arden complete works have no
notes of any kind. Why would *anyone* buy them? Riverside is far
superior in this way and several others.

The online Qs and F (courtesy Michael Best) are searchable and
downloadable (and free). I just have the text files I can search in
Word. Very handy for specific research, but unwieldy for side-by-side
comparisons. And not edited or annotated yet.

Enfolded Hamlet, especially the online edition, is very convenient for
checking out variations in specific passages. No Q1, though.

Three-Text Hamlet is by far the most convenient for side-by-side
comparisons, but you can't buy the damn thing. Out of print. I've had a
standing search for a used copy on Abebooks.com for over a year. Not one
has come up.

Exploring sullied/sallied/solid in Arden 3 will be a pain. You'll have
two books lying open on your already cluttered desk (and if they're
typical paperbacks, other books lying on top to keep them open). Jump to
another passage? Pick of each book in turn and find the passage (thereby
dislodging cascades of ungraded student papers across the floor and out
under the door into the hallway). Textual notes and annotations (the
things we're really hungry for in this new edition) broken out/divided
between the two, somehow.

I'm with David Wilson-Okamura: update and reissue Jenkins--what
Kliman/Clary/Rasmussen/Aasand are doing for Furness in the MLA edition.

And, reissue Three-Text with Anne Thompson's (or someone's) text notes
and annotations. One big book that stays flat on your desk. Everything
about a passage on a single spread. Even perhaps add long notes in the
back a la Jenkins.

Or wait for the MLA Variorum and see how they lay it out. They're
putting in *everything,* though--all of Furness's stuff (back-checked
for accuracy) and most everything since. It will be the invaluable,
definitive source, but a more selective approach to annotation and
citation is more useful for most of our work.

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

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