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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Jenkins vs. Thompson
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0479  Monday, 22 May 2006

From: 		Sean King <
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Date: 		Friday, 19 May 2006 14:27:06 -0400
Subject: 17.0451 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0451 Jenkins vs. Thompson

Re the Arden3 Hamlet (as a Hamlet junkie, I just had to have a look at the 
Q2 volume...) I have difficulty in understanding what the Arden people are 
about here-on the one hand, it could be said that the Arden third series 
Hamlet is a three-text Hamlet: the editors don't believe in conflation, 
and so present us with modern editions of Q2, F, and Q1. (Now, I don't 
myself agree with the anti-conflationist view, but I can see some merit in 
such a presentation nonetheless.)

On the other hand, the Q2 volume is "a fully self-contained free-standing 
edition" which contains "all...that a reader would expect to find in an 
Arden edition". Arden Q1/F is "an entirely optional supplement". Arden 
Q1/F costs four times as much as Arden Q2.  The editors "imagine the 
majority of readers will be content with just one _Hamlet_". (I daresay 
that would be true in any event, but surely the majority who don't take 
the "option" will be ever so much larger as long as Q1/F is only available 
as a $60 hardcover!)

So, for many intents and purposes, the Q2 volume is *it*: the new Arden 
Hamlet, folks! This has, it seems to me, some odd consequences... some 
innocent buys Hamlet in the prestigious Arden series, and will read in one 
famous speech: "Neither a borrower nor a lender, boy". In another: "Thus 
conscience does make cowards -- / And thus the native hue of resolution 
[etc.]"

Now, I can't *disagree* with what the editors are doing-their principle is 
"conservative emendation of the copy-text", and while they by no means 
refuse to take a reading from F when they see the need, I quite see that 
it wouldn't be just the thing to produce an edition of Q2 while emending 
away its most characteristic readings when those readings make fair sense, 
but...

*But* -- does anyone else think it's just plain... *weird*... that 
folks're going to be buying The Arden Hamlet and then dealing with 
"lender, boy" and conscience-does-make-cowards-dash?

The thing is, it *wouldn't* seem all that weird to me if we were *really* 
being presented with a three-text Hamlet, but I won't feel that we *are* 
if they never bring out Q1/F in paperback-that, I think would be the 
principled, and sensible, thing to do. Then, if people only buy one, well, 
they only buy one; then, if they wish to take up the suggestion to study 
the play in good editions of the three principal ways it was put into 
print, they can do that without breaking the bank...

Another matter that came to mind while reading this volume: in their 
discussion of ways the play might be presented, Thompson and Taylor 
mention the possibility of a *four*-text Hamlet, that is to say, F, Q2, Q1 
*and* a new conflated text...(that is, rather like what has been done with 
Lear in some cases) but the general editors didn't wish this. (T&T do 
print F passages absent in Q2 in an appendix.) They also tell us, that 
quite apart from the general editors' wishes, they "have no reason to 
believe that we can produce a better Q2-based conflated edition than that 
of our predecessor, Harold Jenkins"...

Ahh, yes, Jenkins' edition is a masterwork, as acknowledged by all, 
but-are the Arden people going to keep it in print? I rather fear not. If 
they keep it in print, are they going to bring it into the Third Series? 
That's what I think they should do-though of course if they did it then 
we'd be in the "four-text" scenario, which is not what is wished, it 
seems...

I don't think my own views on the greater desirability of an eclectic 
text, or the superiority of Jenkins, are affecting my judgement here -- I 
really do think the policy regarding this new Hamlet is rather confusing, 
to say the least of it.

Best to all,
Sean

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