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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Shakespear's(?) Titles
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0274  Friday, 11 February 2005

[1]     From:   Holger Schott Syme <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 12:38:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0264 Shakespear's(?) Titles

[2]     From:   Kevin J. Donovan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 11:46:18 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0264 Shakespear's(?) Titles

[3]     From:   Stanley Wells <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Feb 2005 11:23:28 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0251 Shakespear's(?) Titles


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott Syme <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 12:38:42 -0500
Subject: 16.0264 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0264 Shakespear's(?) Titles

Gabriel Egan wrote --

 >That's not right because we have eyewitness accounts of the plays in
 >performance. ... These titles, then, are not attributable
 >to printers or publishers. ... There's evidence alright.

I beg to differ. Obviously we have evidence that certain plays were
_performed_ under certain titles (the records of court performances are
a rich source for those as well). Henslowe's use of titles might cast
some doubt on the reliability of these sources, but I'm happy to grant
(as I did in my original email) that there's evidence for the titles
used by companies of actors. However, I insist that we have no evidence
whatsoever that those titles were coined by Shakespeare -- which was
Roger's question.

Sarah Cohen wrote --

 >A publisher may have modified the titles of plays to avoid confusion,
 >but I doubt he would have done so to avoid copyright issues. As far as I
 >know, the first copyright statute in England was enacted in 1710.

"Copyright" as a technical term was sloppy. But we do know that
publishers who had entered a book under a specific title had the power
to challenge the right of other publishers to print entirely different
texts if their titles corresponded too closely to the previously entered
one. Hence changing a title in such a situation might have been legally
and economically wise.

Best,
Holger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kevin J. Donovan <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 11:46:18 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 16.0264 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0264 Shakespear's(?) Titles

Regarding Shakespeare's authorization of the titles of the plays (as
opposed to the suggestion that printers or publishers may be responsible):

In addition to the contemporary references cited by Gabriel Egan, Jonson
refers (dismissively) to Pericles (in the Ode on the failure of The New
Inn) and to "Tales, Tempests, and such like drolleries" in the Induction
to Bartholomew Fair, in the latter case, at least, well before these
late plays were published. Perhaps his reference to "York and
Lancaster's long jars" in the Prologue to the 1616 version of Every Man
in His Humor suggests the authority of the Quarto title of 2H6 (The
First Part of the Contention. . .)?

Kevin Donovan <
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 > 615-898-5898
English Department, Middle Tennessee State University
P.O. Box 401, Murfreesboro, TN 37132

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stanley Wells <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Feb 2005 11:23:28 -0000
Subject: 16.0251 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0251 Shakespear's(?) Titles

In case anyone is still interested, the connection between Greene's and
Polonius's use of the word 'beautified' goes back at least as far as M C
Bradbrook in her Shakespeare: The Poet in his World (London, Weidenfeld
and Nicolson, 1978), p. 50: 'Yet it must be assumed, from the pains he
took to  counter it, that the attack cut deep. Years after, Polonius
remembered that "beautified" is a vile word.'

Stanley Wells

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