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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Jenkins vs. Thompson
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0501  Thursday, 25 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 23 May 2006 18:54:02 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0479 Jenkins vs. Thompson

[2] 	From: 	John Briggs <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 May 2006 23:11:54 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0479 Jenkins vs. Thompson


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 23 May 2006 18:54:02 -0500
Subject: 17.0479 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0479 Jenkins vs. Thompson

Replying to Sean King.

 >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.]"

It's credible in those cases that the unsuspecting buyer is being 
treated to what Shakespeare actually wrote, and that the familiar 
quotes, taken from the Folio, are wrong.  So let us not jump the gun, 
against the Arden 3.  In context, "boy" is reasonable in Polonius's 
line, and brings in a nice irony to the utterance, since "boy" is from a 
root meaning of "commoner or "knave" (and S probably knew that.)  Also, 
in the "cowards" line, the terminal "of us all" is unnecessary to the 
sentiment, and may not be from S's hand.  S may have intended a brief, 
dramatic pause after "cowards," which the Folio editor(s) unwisely 
filled in with an unnecessary phrase.  In attempting to bring Q2 to 
greater public awareness, Arden 3 is doing the right thing.

It's a certainty that in some cases the unfamiliar Q2 phrasing is 
correct for what S really wrote.  A notable example is the phrase "a 
heave, a kissing hill" that Hamlet uses in the Closet Scene while 
talking to Gertrude.  The Folio change to "a heaven kissing hill" is 
wrong.  We can be confident of that, because at the beginning of the 
next scene Claudius says "heaves," and when he says the word, Claudius 
is referring to Gertrude's bosom.

First, Shakespeare had Hamlet say "a heave, a kissing hill," to  define 
(heave = kissing hill,) and then in the next scene he had  Claudius say 
"heaves" while looking at Gertrude's bosom, as she gasps  for breath. 
As S wrote it, in Q2, when Claudius says "heaves" he means the sighing 
of Gertrude's "kissing hills."

It's a bit of impish wordplay from Shakespeare that a person will 
totally miss if he casually goes along with the mundane phrasing of the 
Folio.  S changed the phrase "a heaven-kissing hill" to "a heave,  a 
kissing hill" for a reason in his dialogue.  It is not a misprint in Q2. 
  The Folio editor(s), at work years after S died, didn't catch it.

The play is not well understood enough to take the familiar quotes and 
phrasings for granted.  Bartlett's Quotations is not Hamlet, itself.  If 
a familiar phrase is different from the Q2 phrasing, buyer beware, it 
may not be "Shakespeare."  Whatever else we know of Hamlet, we do know 
that Q2 was printed during S's lifetime, and the Folio was not.  It's 
good to have Arden 3 bringing Q2 to prominence.   There could be many 
things waiting in Q2, from S's hand, yet to be discovered.  Who knows 
what may lie just beyond the next heave?

 >Jenkins' edition is a masterwork, as acknowledged by all,

Perhaps not quite all of us hold it in quite that high regard.  The 
Arden 2 has some problems.  But, skip that.  It's a very good book in 
many ways, no doubt.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 May 2006 23:11:54 +0100
Subject: 17.0479 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0479 Jenkins vs. Thompson

Sean King wrote:

 >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.]"

That isn't the beef I have with it.  I hate conflation with a passion, 
but I am not convinced, for all their words, that the editors understand 
what it means.  I am all for editing the texts separately, but importing 
readings from the other texts is not conflation.  So, I am happy that 
they keep a Q2 reading where it makes sense (as arguably "Thus 
conscience does make cowards-" does) - but "Neither a borrower nor a 
lender, boy" doesn't and there's an end on't.

I am also worried that they don't seem to understand what a modernised 
text is.  What is the point of printing "Like the quills on the fearful 
porpentine"?  Both Oxford and Cambridge print "porcupine" (in accordance 
with Stanley Wells' principles of modernisation).  If you are printing 
the 'unfamiliar' "fearful" what is the point of retaining the 'familiar' 
"porpentine"?

More alarming is the illiteracy of 4.2.10: "That I can keep your council 
and not mine own."  That is not modernisation!  (They even import 
"counsell" from F for 3.2.135 and print "The players cannot keep council"!)

A familiar bete noire of mine raises its head at 5.2.157: "I will win 
for him an I can".  Jenkins prints "I will win for him and I can".  One 
of his achievements was to banish the totally non-existent and 
editor-invented word "an" (for 'and' meaning 'if') from Arden2, but the 
damned thing keeps coming back!

On the other hand, I am not enthusiastic about them printing "profane 
and winnowed opinions" at 5.2.172, when the Q2 text has 'prophane and 
trennowed'.  The F reading is clearly "fanned and winnowed", but I take 
that to be an improvement on whatever was behind Q2.  "Profane and 
renowned" is not totally out of the question - 'profane' could have 
suggested 'fanned' and that in turn 'winnowed', even if Shakespeare 
could read his own handwriting!

John Briggs

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