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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Hamlet and the White Cribs of Dover
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1515  Thursday, 12 August 2004

From:           Gerald E. Downs <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 01:04:53 EDT
Subject:        Hamlet and the White Cribs of Dover

When Arden 2 editor Harold Jenkins discusses the use of Q1 Hamlet in the
printing of Q2, he cites Dover Wilson's authority in his Manuscript of
Shakespeare's Hamlet (1934), where Wilson suggests of the evidence that
"The clue, I say, was first put into my hands by Dr Greg" (158), and
later refers to relevant publications by Greg in 1928 and 1933. These
dates correspond well enough to Wilson's prefatory statement on the
opinions expressed by Sir Edmund Chambers in 1930:

    I deliberately avoided reading this section of his book until I had
    my own. . . . I note in particular that he anticipates my explanation of
    the bibliographical links between Q2 and Q1 in act I. (xvii)

Whether readers of the age credulously accepted that Wilson had not read
Chambers before completing his published view -- one significantly
differing from his 1918 opinion -- he claims the hypothesis as his own
(162), with at least some success.

In a postscript to his 1924 discussion of Q1 in The Text of
Shakespeare's Hamlet, B A P Van Dam extensively criticizes Dover
Wilson's 1918 articles in The Library, and includes his opinion that Q2
was a partial reprint of Q1:

    A long time before the publication of Prof. Pollard's discovery [of
Q1 - Q2
    correspondence] the fact of the very limited identity had been
    by us [B, A, & P]. We felt little surprise at it . . . because on
the title page
    of the Q2 of Hamlet, just as on . . . Romeo and Juliet, we may read that
    Q2 is a kind of reprint. . . . In our opinion it means that the
printer of Q2
    may have had before him both the MS and the printed Q1 and may have
    made use of both. (70)

Van Dam is much more explicit in a later chapter:

    [T]he two editions have in common not only peculiar spellings . . . but
    also various mistakes, which show that the younger Q2 is partly founded
    on the older Q1. We mention the line-shiftings . . . the
transposition . . .
    the misprints . . . (177)

    [A]s has already been pronounced . . . by Prof. Dowden (see Halliwell-
    Phillipps's Outlines p. 274), there is hardly anything left for us
to assume
    but that the compositor of Q2 printed from the manuscript; but he had
    also Q1 before him . . . . After the first act . . . consulting Q1
was of
    hardly any use . . . . (178)

Dover Wilson notes, "My impression is that it was consultation only and
that it would be going much too far to suppose that act I of Q2 was
printed from corrected copy of Q1." (161)

Is it going too far to suppose that Dover Wilson got his hypothesis from
his critic? In his preface, Wilson acknowledges that he has "learnt
from" Van Dam (xvii), but that his "methods differ." Well, I'm convinced.

Gerald E. Downs

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