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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
First Folio Function
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0971  Monday, 23 May 2005

[1]     From:   M Yawney <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 May 2005 11:07:16 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

[2]     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 May 2005 17:10:12 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

[3]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Saturday, 21 May 2005 10:50:42 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

[4]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Saturday, 21 May 2005 22:57:56 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 18 May 2005 to 19 May 2005 (#2005-81)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M Yawney <
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Date:           Friday, 20 May 2005 11:07:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.0956 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

Peter Groves writes:

 >Why the compositors of Q2 and F1 set it as prose is
 >no doubt an
 >interesting question, but it is one for
 >bibliographers, not for critics,
 >actors and other readers of Shakespeare: there has
 >been much research,
 >beginning with Charlton Hinman, into the methodical
 >vandalism of
 >Shakespeare's compositors.

Is finding the best text just something done for the sake of doing it?
Ultimately the work is done so that it is of service to actors,
directors, audiences, and readers of Shakespeare, is it not?

The test of the bibliographers work (as well as a critics) is in how it
serves to illuminate the writing. Surely, the importance of a critic or
scholar is measured by how it impacts our experience of Shakespeare. (I
am thinking of Brandley, Jones, and Kott and the editors of the latest
Oxford edition, each of whom had a profound effect on Shakespearean
production.)

Since most scholars do not usually have the insight into Shakespeare
that comes from performing his work (just as actors and directors do not
usually have the the insight that comes from intensive texual analysis),
does it not make sense to encourage a two-way dialogue between the two
groups? Each has a window on Shakespeare's intentions that can aid the
work of the other.

The increasing use of quarto reading and stage directions by actors and
directors in the last two decades has surely helped scholars in
evaluating the value of these texts. And the work of academics and
editors who have advocated for these texts has invigorated productions
making use of quarto readings and stage directions.

The original comments on the Mab speech and the fight in R&J were
sensible and intelligent and any wise bibliographer working on this text
would surely be interested in them. I have read comments by editors on
these points. I think these editors would want to know about the
practical impact of the issues they raised.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 20 May 2005 17:10:12 -0400
Subject: 16.0956 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

 >Peter Groves writes:
 >Why the compositors of Q2 and F1 set it as prose is no doubt an
 >interesting question, but it is one for bibliographers . . . .

It is possible that the compositor who set the Mab speech in Q2 set it
in prose to save space. See Wells and Taylor, A Textual Companion, for
an explanation.  F1 was set from Q3, which in turn was set from Q2.
Apparently Pope was the first to set the speech in regular blank verse.
Q1 does set the speech in somewhat irregular verse, but many modern
editors consider Q1 "bad," or memorially reconstructed. The concept of
memorial reconstruction has been questioned, for example by my colleague
Yashdip Bains.

Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Saturday, 21 May 2005 10:50:42 +0100
Subject: 16.0956 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

I agree with Peter Groves' conclusions - but would part company from the
following:

 >there has been much research, beginning with Charlton Hinman, into the
 >methodical vandalism of Shakespeare's compositors.
 >The point, I think, is precisely that the 'vandalism' is not
 >'methodical', or, at least, not always consistent.  Compositors make
 >mistakes, and though one might be able to speculate about the causes -
 >foul case, turned letters, shortage or excess of space generated by
 >faulty casting-off of copy, eye-skip, difficult handwriting etc. etc.,
 >the results are often random and unpredictable, and it is not
 >infrequently impossible to produce a coherent hypothesis as to what the
 >text they were trying to set might have been.

Take the case of a missing line, where a compositor simply failed to set
what was before him - we might suspect that a line has been omitted, but
it is, of course, impossible to recover it.  I happen to think that this
is what has happened in Tempest, 2.1.238 - after the line 'Ambition
cannot pierce a wink beyond' - but the hypothesis is unprovable, and a
solution irrecoverable.

Or what of the notorious 'scamels'?

I still think that the demand that actors 'should' work from F1 rather
than modern editions rests on a false opposition between 'true original'
and 'messed-about-with-derivative', which fails to take account of the
heavily mediated nature of the Folio text, and the fact that the
cumulative work of editors and scholars has done much to illuminate the
nature of that mediation in ways which reveal things about the text that
an actor, like any serious student of the text (and actors, after all,
do study their texts with a closeness that few undergraduates ever
manage) ought to take advantage of.  Serious editions make clear what
they are doing and why - and one would hope that actors using F1 would
take note.

David Lindley

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Saturday, 21 May 2005 22:57:56 EDT
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 18 May 2005 to 19 May 2005 (#2005-81)

An unverifiable anecdote about using early printed versions:

About twenty years ago I was one of several university faculty each
giving a single Saturday morning session on Shakespeare to a group of
secondary school teachers from all over New Jersey.  At the first
general meeting I handed out copies of Q1 and Q2 Romeo and Juliet, and I
took a couple of minutes to explain what we were going to do with them
the following week.  After the next week's session, one of the teachers
said that she had been working on Romeo and Juliet with her middle
school classes.  Now, these are pretty little kids.  She xeroxed Q1 and
Q2 and spent the week continuing to work on R&J but with these old
texts.  At the end of the week she asked them to hand in the quarto
versions, and they would be going back to their modern versions.  She
said, "The refused!  They wanted to go on with what they called 'the
real' versions."

Sure, old spelling is hard.  Sure, it's nice to have the hard work of
editors there to help us through the grotty spots.  But it's not unlike
learning to eat with chopsticks, or even learning to cook, or learning
to speak another language.

Ah, well.  Back to work.

Steve Urquartowitz

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