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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Modern Bowdlerizations
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1963  Tuesday, 29 November 2005

From: 		Thomas Pendleton <
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Date: 		Monday, 28 Nov 2005 13:34:00 -0500
Subject: 16.1943 Modern Bowdlerizations
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1943 Modern Bowdlerizations

A fascinating thread, expectedly and especially so with Alan Dessen's 
contributions. I once saw Much Ado in a Broadway theater and waited in 
great expectation to learn if Derek Jacoby would announce that if he did 
not love Beatrice (Sinead Cusack?), he was a Jew to an audience of which 
a notable number would have themselves been Jews.  He didn't; he was a 
knave.

The opposite also interests me.  Editors of Henry V now seem to like the 
opportunity to say "fuck" and "cunt" in their footnotes to 3.4.  Gurr's 
revised Cambridge edition does; the revised Riverside doesn't; 
Bevington, seemingly hesitantly, supplies the latter, but not the former.

More notable, perhaps, because it's actually the text, editors of Romeo 
now have Mercutio saying "O, Romeo that she were, O that she were/ An 
open-[arse], thou a pop'rin pear! (2.1.37-38). Obviously, I'm quoting 
Riverside; Bevington concurs.  The Q2 reading is "open, or," and the 
other quartos and the Folio give "et cetera" in some form or other; 
snickering rather than blatant obscenity seems at least defensible to me.

The moral: It's fun to be able to say dirty words with impunity. (As 
this post demonstrates.)

Tom Pendleton

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