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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Jenkins vs. Thompson
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0517  Tuesday, 30 May 2006

From: 		Sean King <
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Date: 		Friday, 26 May 2006 15:57:25 -0400
Subject: 17.0501 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0501 Jenkins vs. Thompson

Jeffrey Jordan wrote:

 >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 [...]

Well, personally, I *like* being made to wonder whether it's merely the 
weight of the editorial tradition (or as you put it, "Bartlett's") which 
makes a given reading "seem wrong", and to ponder as to whether an 
unfamiliar reading may in fact be correct...

So, yes, "credible" it is! ;-)

I did try to make clear, though, that I wanted to emphasise my questions 
about Arden policy with regard to this Hamlet, and not my own particular 
views about conflated editions, the superiority of
Jenkins, or the merits of a given reading.

To repeat, I think the F/Q1 volume should be available at the same price 
as the Q2: on general principles, and on what I take to be the 
principles the Arden people are working on -- as it stands, I feel we're 
being told with one hand that the new Arden Hamlet is a set of new 
editions of the three principal texts,  and with the other, that the Q2 
volume is "it"....

As far as editing in general...

...I enjoy some venturesomeness and "non-traditionalism" in individual 
editions of plays -- either of the make-you-think variety ("Richard 
loves Richard, that is, I and I" in the Arden2 volume) or the
hey-that's-brilliant-and-probably-right sort ("conjure up the blood" in 
the Arden2 Henry V)

I think my uneasiness with such "non-Bartlett" readings (in *such* 
"Bartlettic" passages....) in (for the moment) "the" new Arden Hamlet 
has to do with more than the fact that I'm a bit doubtful about those 
readings-but perhaps I'm kidding myself about that; at any rate I won't 
insist on my notions about that end of things. In my earlier post, I 
brought this up primarily as a way of underscoring my problems regarding 
Arden policy: as I put it, I'd think it "less weird" if (as I believe 
should be the case on other grounds anyway) both volumes were available 
on the same terms. *Why* anyone might feel weird, and whether the 
feeling really stands up under inquiry, is a little beside the point I 
was trying to make. (I think mentioning readings at all may have been a 
mistake. I didn't want to come across as all This Is Not The Shakespeare 
I Grew Up With... ;-)

 >S may have intended a brief,
 >dramatic pause after "cowards," which the Folio editor(s) unwisely
 >filled in with an unnecessary phrase.

Well, one would need to have a view as to how the phrase got into *Q1*
  as well, of course... (I'm not saying you don't have one!)

 >In attempting to bring Q2 to
 >greater public awareness, Arden 3 is doing the right thing.

I could say that since _The MS of Shakespeare's Hamlet_ at least, and 
the Q2 based editions which followed, that Q2 has to a large extent 
already been brought to greater public awareness. I'll go further, and 
say that Thompson & Taylor's effort is of greater note in some ways, in 
that they've included readings at which others have balked.

As for the "right thing", my issue is whether they've done the *whole* 
thing -- which on my view they won't have until both their volumes are 
on the shelves at the same price.

*I* won't call *that* the "right thing" (in terms of editorial 
philosophy) *either* -- but that's just me... matter for another 
discussion. I'd be willing to call it a *good* thing, and a **very 
interesting** thing-but then I like to have as many editions of a play 
as possible...

Just as a side note, you refer a couple of times to "what WS really 
wrote"-T&T profess agnosticism about underlying MSS, intentions and so 
forth... the attitude is, this is our copy text: let's edit it...  As I 
understand them, even if (say) they both held the view that WS wrote 
"be" not "boy", their working principles would have inclined them to 
"boy"... I find this interesting in terms of my own views about what 
editors ought to be doing, but...

(actually, I typed some of these views out, but gmail, or Windows, ate 
'em up... that may not be a bad thing... ;-)

 >Who knows what may lie just beyond the next heave?

I think we're still making discoveries. The H5 reading I mentioned above 
("conjure" instead of  "summon" for "commune") is a good example -- I'll 
just betcha it's right... and how long did it take us to come up with 
*that*?

 >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.

I guess "all" never means all (nor "everyone" everyone...) But folks who 
have big disagreements with HJ (as I have myself, for that matter) have 
nonetheless referred to his edition as "magisterial". This is primarily 
what I had in mind.

(Actually I think I *would* argue that bloody-everyone should call such 
an achievement a masterwork.... But perhaps I ought to do that [if 
indeed I really had to] in a context where I haven't made it sound as 
though I were using Jenkins simply as a stick to beat up Thompson and 
Taylor! ;-)

Best,
Sean

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