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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: June ::
Re: Hamlet Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1478  Monday, 3 June 2002

[1]     From:   Anthony Burton <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 May 2002 10:04:57 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1475 Re: Hamlet Texts

[2]     From:   Bernice W. Kliman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 01 Jun 2002 06:34:53 -0400
        Subj:   Hamlet Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Burton <
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Date:           Friday, 31 May 2002 10:04:57 -0400
Subject: 13.1475 Re: Hamlet Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1475 Re: Hamlet Texts

It is tempting to agree with Steve Ross' reluctance to replace the old,
conflated, versions of "Hamlet" with the three-version form intended by
Arden, but his reasoning in favor of old "favorite" lines is entirely
fallacious.   Sure, Folio requires that we give up the old favorite "How
all occasions do inform . . ." as well as the gold-plated "hoist . .
.with his own petar."  But, if these were never in the Folio, we can't
"miss" them, anymore than we "miss" passages and themes in one piece of
music that we love from another one; the Carmen Suite is not Carmen, the
First Hungarian rhapsody is not the Second.  And most certainly of all,
highlights from the works of X are not the works themselves, any more
than the "Beauties of Shakespeare" so much beloved of the 19th century
are themselves "the works of Shakespeare".

Though I have no great enthusiasm for the Arden 3 project, with its
emphasis on performance and, inevitably, ill-informed cuts and
interpretive choices which are themselves heavily influenced by the
unintelligible passages and distorted themes that have been introduced
by editors over generations of unapologetic conflation.  We are now all
the heirs to a sort of high-tone dumbing-down, having studied bastard
texts generated by editors who thought their best guesses did not need
explanation or acknowledgement, and were (even as editors disagreed
among themselves) somehow more authoritative than the printed works they
depended on.

For a compendium of literary scholarship, Arden 2 will remain the
standard, at least until Bernice Kliman and her team finish the newest
variorum.  Surely students who want a one-volume edition will use the
old Arden.  Yet, the Arden 3 project makes sense.  The arguments for the
integrity and performability of each of the early texts are too strong
to be ignored, and the intelligent reader may not wish to have choices
made for him based on the temporary appeal of one or another school of
socially self-conscious interpretation, or the pedagogical agenda of an
academic editor.  Indeed, I am sure that such a reader will find
coherences and satisfactory readings that have been overlooked, in the
rush by so many editors to identify and then explain cruxes that are
simply reflections of their own shortcomings.

We may of course never "explain" sullied/sallied any more than too much
in the son/sun.  These hard editorial choices are dense with suggestive
ambiguities that quite properly demand a consideration of the habits of
thought and wordplay of four hundred years back, which were even then
probably not something to be "explained," but to be richly enjoyed and
reflected upon.  And I certainly don't want any publisher's editor du
jour disposing of the matter for me.

Sort of like the Reformation to Elizabethans, where the availability of
the bible in the common languages made it [mis]readable by all, a new
direct access to Hamlet may also lead to confusion and error.  It will
surely invite more work by individual readers with a bent toward
independent thought, presumably such as the members of Shaksper.  If
that is the price of richer appreciation and enjoyment, it's surely all
for the best in the long run.

Tony B

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman <
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Date:           Saturday, 01 Jun 2002 06:34:53 -0400
Subject:        Hamlet Texts

Dear SHAKSPERians,

One of the best solutions I have seen to the editing problem of Hamlet
is Jesus Tronch's Synoptic Hamlet, an edition that has just recently
come out, published in Spain: Tronch is on the faculty at the University
of Valencia.

Unlike the Enfolded Hamlet, Tronch's edition is edited for the modern
reader, and yet shows in a readily grasped form the principal
differences between Q2 and F1.  In each line, all the words that the two
texts share are on  the main line of text. Where the two texts differ,
Tronch places Q2 variants slightly above the line and F1 variants
slightly below the line.  He has very rich textual notes.

The main beauty of the edition is that unlike a conflated edition that
must decide on the better of two variants and relegate the alternative
variant to a footnote (or, worse, endnote), Tronch can retain both
variants, even less likely ones, in the main text, because the
alternative variant is fully in view. His critical notes justify the
more unusual choices and provide a full range of textual notes.

Information about the edition may be had from the publisher:


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Internet address for orders (although it's in Spanish)
http://www.uv.es/publicacions/webcatalan/temporal/pdf/form4.2.2.pdf
FAX      34 (Spain) -63864067
Surface address:
Publicacions Universitat de Valencia
Carrer del Batxiller, 1 - 1
E-46010 VALENCIA

This is an edition that merits wide dissemination.

On The Three-Text Hamlet. The publisher (AMS Press) is at present
looking into the possibility of a paperback edition. The problem is that
the binding must be sewn in order to lie flat without tearing so that
all three Hamlet texts can be viewed. The less expensive glued binding
will not do because the pages will separate from the binding.

Thank you,
Bernice W. Kliman

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