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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Lucrece Variants
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.11648  Friday, 1 July 2005

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Jun 2005 09:03:42 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.11640 Lucrece Variants

[2]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Jun 2005 21:56:28 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 27 Jun 2005 to 28 Jun 2005 (#2005-109)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Jun 2005 09:03:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 16.11640 Lucrece Variants
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.11640 Lucrece Variants

As Gabriel Egan suggests, one would want to read Marcus's later article
after reading her monograph. However, as William Proctor Williams's
examples show, variants can and do change the meaning of a text. An
example that I worked on appears in Thomas Middleton's play A MAD WORLD,
MY MASTERS: What is Penitent's name in Acts 4 and 5? It changes from
Penitent Brothel to Penitent Once-Ill, a change frequently lost as
editors emend the change back to Brothel. And then critics discuss
Penitent's character as if he always remains Penitent Brothel. Variants
can make a difference in meaning.

Kathy Dent writes:

 >Whatever discussion were to be had about this single
 >word variation, I contend that it would not and could not alter the
 >meaning of the whole play.

But maybe it can, and sometimes it should. About 18 months ago, we had a
discussion on this list about Richard, Duke of Gloucester's lines, "I am
determined to prove a villain/ And hate the idle pleasures of these
days." I don't know of any difficulties involving variants with these
lines, but the meaning (as was then discussed) varies greatly: "I am
determined" can mean "I intend to" and "I am made to." For my teaching
of the play, that was a useful discussion.

Jack Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 30 Jun 2005 21:56:28 EDT
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 27 Jun 2005 to 28 Jun 2005 (#2005-109)

On single word variants:

Whole plays don't necessarily revolve around a single word variant, but
many small, individual textual variants are part of extensive patters
that I among others have argued do indeed demonstrate major changes of
meaning and emphasis.  An example: the speech-prefix variant that
changes the speaker of the last speech in LEAR from Albany to Edgar.

Michael Warren's essay from the late 1970s and my way-out-on-a-limb
"Shakespeare's Revision of King Lear" in 1980 and lots of other folk
have argued that this minor change (along with many others, similarly
minor in themselves) shifts the play from a relatively grim ending where
good-but-stupid Albany ends up still running the show to a
grim-but-looking-like-a-hint-of-sunrise with resourceful, loyal, and
tested Edgar leads us into the time of mourning.

Hardy's kind of discovery of press variants helps us all to remember
that we're looking at texts that seem to flex, to bend and transform.
That's not a bad sense to develop in a world (or rather in a particular
community of discourse) where abstract ideas tend to be treated with
rigidity.

Ah well.
Steve Urquartowitz

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