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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Shakespear's(?) Titles
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0251  Tuesday, 8 February 2005

[1]     From:   Duncan Salkeld <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 Feb 2005 13:58:22 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles

[2]     From:   Holger Schott Syme <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Feb 2005 17:32:47 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Duncan Salkeld <
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Date:           Monday, 07 Feb 2005 13:58:22 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles

I am currently writing a chapter for a book in which I argue, among
several other things, that titles of Shakespeare's plays listed on the
Stationer's Register are likely to be the earliest and the 'closest' to
that bestowed upon it by the author and/or the playing company.  Peter
Blayney's chapter on 'The publication of playbooks' in A New History of
Early English Drama, ed. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan, Columbia
University Press, 1997 points out that a company would usually supply a
transcript of the 'allowed book' to a publisher/printer, and it is
therefore possible that titles may have been tidied up or amended in
that process.   The first thing anyone learns about 'Pyramus and Thisbe'
in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1.2) is 'what the play treats on', that
is, its title.   But of course that title is later tailored to 'A
tedious brief scene' (5.1).  Printers would expand the title as
advertising either in the booksellers or posted up in the streets. I
have often wondered why the Oxford editors - who restored the quarto
titles to plays we know from the Folio as 1, 2 and 3 Henry VI - did not
apply the same principle to 'Merry Wives', the 1602 SR (and Q1) title of
which was 'An excellent & pleasant conceited comedie of Sr Io Faulstof
and the merry Wyves of Windesor' (indicating that this was Falstaff's
own play).

Duncan Salkeld

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott Syme <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2005 17:32:47 -0500
Subject: 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles

Roger Schmeeckle asked:

 >Is there any evidence that the titles of Shakespeare's
 >plays are attributable to Shakespeare himself, either as the author or
 >having approved of them? or are they attributable to others (printers,
 >publishers, etc.)? or do we not know?

We have absolutely no evidence either way. (The most one could say is
that the titles of printed plays which correspond to those given in the
Stationers' Register probably reflect the titles the company used; but
it's entirely possible that publishers would enter texts under modified
titles to avoid copyright issues.)

Holger

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