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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2299  Monday, 8 December 2003

[1]     From:   John D. Cox <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Dec 2003 08:50:22 -0500
        Subj:   Lukas Erne's Book

[2]     From:   Robert C. Evans <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Dec 2003 11:42:53 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2293 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist

[3]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Dec 2003 14:00:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2293 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John D. Cox <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Dec 2003 08:50:22 -0500
Subject:        Lukas Erne's Book

If anyone is interested in more details about Lukas Erne's book,
Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, the Cambridge website has a handsome
ad for it, including four one-paragraph reviews:
http://books.cambridge.org/0521822556.htm  It might be helpful to note
that Erne's claims are for the Chamberlains' Men, not the King's Men, as
indicated in the recent post on Shaksper.

John Cox
Hope College

[Editor's Note: At the CUP website from the link above, you can also
download the front matter and the first twenty pages of chapter one.
-Hardy]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert C. Evans <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Dec 2003 11:42:53 EST
Subject: 14.2293 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2293 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist

>I have just finished reading Lukas Erne's _Shakespeare as Literary
>Dramatist_ and agree with Seb Perry that it is among the most
>significant works of Shakespearean scholarship in recent years. I think
>it will take everybody a while to evaluate Erne's arguments, but if they
>are judged persuasive, the book must have a profound effect on
>Shakespearean textual study and on the editing of Shakespeare's
>plays.
>
>Mac Jackson
>University of Auckland

For what it's worth, I have a fairly review detailed review of the book
in the latest volume (volume 10) of the Ben Jonson Journal (see
www.benjonsonjournal.com). The position I take in the review is an
expanded version of Mac Jackson's opinion.

With best wishes -- Robert C. (Bob) Evans

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Dec 2003 14:00:04 -0500
Subject: 14.2293 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2293 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist

I haven't read Erne's new book, which looks interesting, but let me ask
whether the following thought has been considered there or elsewhere.

Beginning with the presumed problem that stolen and surreptitious copies
were a financial threat to Shakespeare and his company, and passing by
the problematic details of how the rights to "Hamlet" might have been
re-acquired in order to print Q2, there is the extra material in Q2 -
most prominently the much loved but troublesome "how all occasions
speech" of Act 4 -- that doesn't appear in F1.  Since registry with the
Stationer's office was the loose equivalent of obtaining copyright
protection I have long suspected that the company had compilations of
works in various stages of completion, one of which being a hypothetical
"Hamlet file".  It would comprise all material written for the play,
much of which already circulated informally and perhaps praised and
quoted.  It would include usable material as well as unusable good
passages, that might be useful in the future in some play yet to be
written,  So the "Hamlet file" would be what the company needed to
protect, regardless of whether all the material protected was to be
performed; at least it couldn't safely be misappropriated.

In this view, Q2 might have been a "copyright text" all along, but one
never meant by the company to be a played as it stood (a possibility
that has elsewhere been urged on the basis of its overall length, but
not for the reason I am suggesting).  This leaves it entirely open
whether and what portions of the text might have been combined for use
from time to time, on various occasions, or whether some passages (the
attractive "all occasions" soliloquy for one) were never performed.  It
also invites the objection that the company would surely not have wanted
inaccurate copies of their play floating around; to which the response
might be that the company did not necessarily control the printer, and
in any event that protection was more important than literary
considerations and required a full printed text to be in existence to
overcome the damage caused by Q1.

Can anyone say whether Erne or anyone else has made (or dismissed) a
similar suggestion?  Or offer arguments for or against it?

Tony Burton

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