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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0619  Friday, 1 April 2005

[1]     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Mar 2005 12:40:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor

[2]     From:   Kevin J. Donovan <
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 >
        Date:   Thursday, 31 Mar 2005 12:39:55 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor

[3]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Apr 2005 12:52:45 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Mar 2005 12:40:04 -0500
Subject: 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor

 >7.  "Cymbeline" seems to be now generally accepted as a Crane transcript.

Wells and Taylor, William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion, are a trifle
more circumspect. "It is, through the medium of the Folio compositors
and Crane (or a similar, sophisticating scribe), impossible to say much
about the nature of the manuscript from which the copy was prepared" (604).

Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kevin J. Donovan <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 31 Mar 2005 12:39:55 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor

On Thursday, 31 Mar 2005, John Briggs wrote:

 >As we don't know why Ralph Crane employed his notorious "massed
 >entries", we cannot say that they are a "literary" device.  Expurgation
 >is also a characteristic of Crane's texts, and that certainly isn't a
 >"literary" one - nor likely to have been picked up from Ben Jonson!

I don't want to sound like I'm playing the game of vapors, but in fact
the expurgation of oaths seems clearly to have been not only literary
but Jonsonian as well. The excision or toning down of oaths and other
instances of possible blasphemy and profanity accounts for a large
number of the substantive alterations made in the texts of the plays
revised for publication in Jonson's 1616 folio. Though the changes have
sometimes been ascribed to the 1606 Act to Restrain Abuses of Players,
the evidence suggests that Jonson made the changes for literary reasons
rather than to accord with theatrical censorship.

Greg pointed out in The Shakespeare First Folio (1955) that "there
existed, some time before 1638, a purely literary tradition of
expurgation" independent of play texts' contact with the stage (p. 152).
  Instances of editorial expurgation where there is no question of
intervening contact with the stage can be seen in plays of the Beaumont
and Fletcher canon and in later reprints of The Shoemaker's Holiday and,
possibly, 1 Sir John Oldcastle.

Jonson's activity as expurgator of own texts is highly unusual not only
as deriving from the author (the author of the inspired obscenity of
Bartholomew Fair to boot) but also in preceding by so many years the
literary expurgation of play-texts noted by Greg. It seems to be of a
piece with his imposition of the massed-entry system on his previously
printed texts, and suggests that literary rather than theatrical motives
underlie Crane's activities as editor.

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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Date:           Friday, 01 Apr 2005 12:52:45 +0100
Subject: 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0603 Ralph Crane: Accidental Editor

In reply to John Briggs's points about Ralph Crane:

1.  The question "What did Ralph Crane think he was doing?" is not one
which, as far as I can see, can be addressed by any form of academic
enquiry.  Not being psychics or a crystal-ball-gazers, we're unequipped
to speculate on the thoughts of dead people.

2.  Because we don't know everything about playhouse documents, that
doesn't mean we know nothing.  Yes, Greg's binary categorization of
'foul papers' and 'promptbooks' seems to have been discredited, but
William B Long, for one, has done work on eighteen extant playbooks
which, he argues, show evidence of their use as working documents
(theatrical) and which he distinguishes from the kind of manuscript
copies that were made for 'non-theatrical eyes' (literary).  Of the
eight manuscripts thought to be in Crane's hand, only one - Barnavelt -
can be classified in this way as 'theatrical'.  Surely this has to be a
useful starting point for any discussion of what Crane was doing in the
playhouse.  As to what Crane was doing in the printing house, that may
be something different altogether....

3.  As I understand it, the habit of listing characters at the beginning
of the scene (the so-called 'massed entries') derives from classical
literature (hence literary) and can have had no useful purpose in the
playhouse, where it was necessary for the playbook to contain rather
more specific information about the timing of entries.

4.  Act divisions are perceived as literary for the same reason that
chapter headings are.  When a play is being performed without breaks,
there is no way for the audience to know when an act begins or ends and
so these divisions serve no purpose in performance.  The Shakespeare
quartos demonstrate that, because Shakespeare spent most of his career
writing for outdoor playhouses where performances were continuous, he
did not bother to observe these literary conventions.  Scene divisions
occurred when all actors left the stage.  The playhouse text would not
need to indicate what the audience can perfectly easily see, but perhaps
the literary text needs to draw attention to these.

5.  I'm sure that the First Folio compositors would have liked to work
from a Crane transcription - he had very neat handwriting.  But what
they seemed to have liked even better were texts that had already been
printed.  These texts, I would say, are the real core of the First Folio.

Finally, whilst I accept that expurgation would have been theatrical,
not literary, we don't know that Crane was doing the expurgating
himself: he may have been just transcribing an already-expurgated text.

And now I'm off to re-read Howard-Hill's summary of work on Ralph Crane
: The Life & Works of a Jacobean Scribe in the Next Millenium.

Kathy Dent

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