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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Modern Bowdlerizations
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1943  Thursday, 25 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	John Ramsay <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 12:17:29 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

[2] 	From: 	Tom Bishop <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 10:35:22 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

[3] 	From: 	Alan Dessen <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 11:46:08 -0500 (EST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

[4] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 	Friday, November 25, 2005
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

[5] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 	Friday, November 25, 2005
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Ramsay <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 12:17:29 -0000
Subject: 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

Jack Lynch <
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 >Richard Burt asks, about my request for bowdlerized texts of
 >Shakespeare:
 >
 >   [How] far back do you want to go?
 >
 >"Going back" is comparatively easy-not only to _The Family Shakespeare_
 >by the Bowdlers themselves, but to many of the stage versions of the
 >plays from the Restoration through the nineteenth century, where cutting
 >naughtiness was common.
 >
 >But more or less contemporary editions of the plays, things that might
 >still be read by students today, are harder to track down.  That's what
 >I'm keen to find.  Back to the 1960s or '70s, maybe?
 >Anything from the last ten years or so would be golden.

In the early 60's Ontario still had bowdlerized Shakespeare in the 
schools but the 60's spirit of anti-censorship combined with the 
availability of cheaper albeit non-censored paperback editions made 
bowdlerized Shakespeare obsolete.

I imagine it was the same in other educational jurisdictions.

When the 60's faded into the 70's and the would-be censors of what 
students read once again appeared on stage the agenda had changed.

Shakespeare's sexual references were comparatively mild compared to the 
modern books on the high school curriculum so the censors focused on 
getting books like 'Go Ask Alice' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' 
off the curriculum.

This was only part of the censors overall agenda. They also had to get 
Darwin out of the science curriculum.

Last I heard they're still working on that in an 'intelligently 
designed' way -:)

John Ramsay

P.S.  I've still got a couple of bowdlerized editions of Shakespeare 
from my early teaching days.

If Jack Lynch is interested I'd be happy to give him details via 
personal email.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Tom Bishop <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 10:35:22 -0500
Subject: 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

Some high school single and anthology texts of Romeo and Juliet, until 
fairly recently, if not still, omitted material deemed obscene. I was 
once warned, before teaching a high school class as a visitor, that 
there might be some blank looks if I discussed "certain parts" of the 
play. I had a graduate student writing a paper on this issue a couple of 
years ago who went into the history of school texts of the play fairly 
extensively and came up with some very interesting stuff. That's one 
useful place to look. Finding copies of old high school texts is a bit 
of a challenge though -- libraries don't usually keep them when they're 
replaced in the curriculum.

Tom

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Dessen <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 11:46:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

Jack Lynch should check A. L. Rowse's edition of Shakespeare's plays 
(late 1970s? 1980s?) in which (as I remember - it's been some time) he 
regularly changed words and phrases to make the text more accessible.

To document changes in the acting scripts is much easier, though the 
target is usually not bawdry but items that are deemed politically 
incorrect.  Usually the passage is cut - the Gordian knot approach. 
Prominent among the casualties are Portia's comment on the departed 
Morocco "Let all of his complexion choose me so" (The Merchant of 
Venice, 2.7.79) and the third witch's "Liver of blaspheming Jew" 
(Macbeth, 4.1.26).   Harder to cut, because it is the climax to a comic 
sequence, is Benedick's 'if I do not love her, I am a Jew' (Much Ado 
About Nothing, 2.3.263), so that Gregory Doran (RSC 2002) changed Jew to 
jack (other alternatives have been knave, fool, and even jerk).  To 
avoid any semblance of a racial slur, the director of a 1995 Macbeth 
(Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C.) changed Macduff's 'Be not a 
niggard of your speech' (4.3.180) to miser; and the director of a 1989 A 
Midsummer Night's Dream (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival), which 
featured an Asian-American actor as Snout-Wall, changed references to 
the chink in the wall (e.g., 'Show me thy chink' - 5.1.177) to hole (my 
thanks to Mike Jensen for this item).  In a virtually uncut Othello 
(Stratford Festival Canada 1979) Othello's famous speech building to his 
suicide was not interrupted by the brief lines from Lodovico and 
Gratiano, a standard adjustment.  In this instance, however, the two 
interjections were not omitted to enhance the dramatic rhythm but 
because, in a production that was to end its run with a series of 
matinees for high school students, the director and her actors were 
fearful of losing this climactic moment when Lodovico, in front of 2,000 
teenagers, exclaimed: "O bloody period!" (5.2.357).

Alan Dessen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ale Simari <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 21:42:25 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

In the Signet Classic's Romeo and Juliet (USA, 1963) edited by J. A. 
Bryant, Jr there is a change in Juliet's famous speech (II, ii, 40-42). 
Rather than saying

What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man.

Juliet's words are changed to:

What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face. O, be some other name
Belonging to a man.

If the "other part" in the original text is considered to have bawdy 
connotations, then this change may be of help.

Regards,
Ale Simari

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Friday, November 25, 2005
Subject: 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1938 Modern Bowdlerizations

One of the first rules Ken Steele taught me when I began editing the 
SHAKSPER digests was NOT to give into the temptation to comment on a 
submission before it has been distributed to the list. But I cannot 
resist this one, I don't want to forget, and I have a little time today. 
So . . .

Ale Simari cites the 1963 Signet edition of Romeo and Juliet's rendering 
of 2.2.40-42 as

What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face. O, be some other name
Belonging to a man.

rather than

What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man.

Simari suggests that the change is an example of bowdlerization. I don't 
think so.

I don't have a copy of the Signet in my library, but I suspect the 
editor by J. A. Bryant, Jr., chose to follow the Q2-F1 reading of the 
lines rather than the practice of most other modern editors of rendering 
2.2.40-44 as a mix-and-match from Q1, Q2, F1:

(What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,) 	(Q1, Q2, F1: TLN 834)
(Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part)		(Q1)
(Belonging to a man.) [O, be some other name!]  (Q2, F1: TLN 836) [Q2, 
F1: TLN 835 2nd]
(What's in a name? That which we call a rose)	(Q1, Q2)
(By any other word would smell as sweet.)	(Q2, F1: TLN 838)

For anyone interested, I reproduce Q1, Q2, F1 and several modern 
editions of these lines.

Q1
Whats <I>Mountague?</I> It is nor hand nor foote,
Nor arme, nor face, nor any other part.
Whats in a name? That which we call a Rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet:

Q2
Whats <I>Mountague?</I> it is nor hand nor foote,
Nor arme nor face, o be some other name
Belonging to a man.
Whats in a name that which we call a rose,
By any other word would smell as sweete,

F1
What's <I>Mountague</I>? it is nor hand nor foote,
Nor arme, nor face, O be some other name
Belonging to a man.
What? in a names that which we call a Rose,
By any other word would smell as sweete,

Riverside
What's Montague?  It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face, [nor any other part]
Belonging to a man.  O, be some other name!
What's in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;

Oxford
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

New Pelican
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.


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