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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0361  Tuesday, 25 February 2003

[1]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Feb 2003 14:43:25 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0351 Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus

[2]     From:   Anna Kamaralli <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Feb 2003 13:08:18 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0351 Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Feb 2003 14:43:25 -0500
Subject: 14.0351 Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0351 Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus

John Briggs may berate me all he likes. Yes, I was not born to be a
textual bibliographer either.  But the fact remains that Briggs makes a
logically fallacious conclusion in equating what is certain with what
actually happened.  It may be true that there is "no evidence" that
printers collaborated with editors in producing Shakespeare quartos.
But there is also no evidence that they didn't.  Just because there is
no evidence of collaboration doesn't, in short, mean that collaboration
didn't occur (routinely).  And it strikes that the reasonableness theory
that there were editors (even Ben Jonson served as an editor in Brigg's
scenario) is testified to by Brigg's need to attack it.  Clearly, many
people (apparently almost all) Briggs would recognize as born textual
bibliographers disagree with him.

I agree with William Proctor Williams' judicious account of printing
practices, but do not see that they pose a problem for my theory.  If
"there is almost no evidence that the text of a play quarto mattered a
great deal to 16th- and 17th-century printers. .  . [and] very little
evidence that most Stationers of the Early Modern period were very much
concerned with such matters," why did the printers bother to make up an
ending for Q2 at all?   A new ending is hardly equivalent to a
regularization of the sort Williams describes as common printing
practice.   If the printers cared so little about Q2, why didn't they
just say something like "The hell with it.  This ending sucks, but who
cares?  The suckers will buy it anyway."  The ending of Q2 suggests that
someone, possibly someone other than the printers, cared "a great deal."

It seems to me that a case for Q2's ending ought to rest not on general
theories about printing practices (about which we know very little
because there is almost "no evidence" of how they worked) but on the
specifics of what we do or don't know about the printers who printed
it.  If we know who the printers were, do we know what else they printed
and, if so, are there similar kinds of changes we can detect in second
editions of texts they printed?  If we don't know who they were, then it
seems to me that my theory is as good as the theories (that's all they
are, theories) thus far proposed.

Best,
Richard

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anna Kamaralli <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Feb 2003 13:08:18 +1100
Subject: 14.0351 Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0351 Re: Endings of Titus Andronicus

In response more to the title of this thread than the contents, I have
my own theory about the ending of Titus Andronicus.

I believe that the director's overall attitude to the play, and the
cycle of revenge, can be distilled into the decision about what to do
with Aaron's baby at the end. Is it killed, or does it live?

If the baby is killed (Jane Howell), the director believes that the play
represents an inevitable cycle of revenge and brutality, that is only
pausing for breath at the end of the play, before the next round. If the
baby is preserved (Julie Taymor), the director wants us to believe in
the possibility of a way out of the cycle.

There are probably equivalent moments in the history plays. Any calls on
that?

Anna.

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