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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2383  Wednesday, 17 December 2003

From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Dec 2003 23:14:33 -0800
Subject: 14.2373 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2373 Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist

Holger Schott:

>the fact that a publisher's ownership of a particular
>title, say, "King John," gave him certain rights over _any_ text

No, not rights "over" another text in the modern sense, but the right to
enjoin a competitive text's publication.

>Does this mean that Erne argues that _every_ play Shakespeare
>wrote before 1603 was either published or entered into the register?

No, that's not it. We're to the point of my having to reiterate his
arguments, which I can't do as well as his book can, nor do I choose to
stand here as his champion. So I'll let a representative sampling from
the book speak instead of me:

     "King John was not printed until the First Folio in 1623, for
     reasons that may have had nothing to do with reluctance on the
     part of the Chamberlain's Men. The Troublesome Raigne of Iohn
     King of England had been published in 1591 by Sampson Clarke, who
     would no doubt have considered any edition of King John to which
     he had not consented a breach of his rights. As Blayney explains,
     "the owner of a copy had not only the exclusive right to reprint
     the text, but also the right to a fair chance to recover his
     costs. He could therefore seek the Company's protection if any
     book -- not necessarily a reprint or plagiarism of his own copy
     -- threatened his ability to dispose of unsold copies of an
     existing edition." Troublesome Raigne was not reprinted until
     1611, when, significantly, it was attributed to "W. Sh." When
     Heminge and Condell wanted to include King John (and The Taming
     of the Shrew) in the First Folio, they first had to obtain the
     consent of the owners of The Troublesome Raigne (and The Taming
     of a Shrew). The fact that King John was not printed until 1623
     thus provides no evidence for the players' alleged reluctance to
     have their plays printed."

Thanks,
Steve

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