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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: June ::
Jenkins vs. Thompson
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0556  Monday, 12 June 2006

From: 		Sean King <
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Date: 		Thursday, 8 Jun 2006 14:16:56 -0400
Subject: 17.0537 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0537 Jenkins vs. Thompson

[Editor's Note: I find that the usefulness of this thread as a topic for 
discussion AMONG the members has passed, so I am calling an end to it. 
Further discussion may, of course, continue privately BETWEEN members.]

Replying to Jeffrey Jordan

I should say I enjoyed every bit of your post (and the last one for that 
matter) even though I've excised much of it...

And I see that Thomas Pendleton has very kindly let the list know about 
the forthcoming Q1/F paperback (thanks!) which puts us a bit out of date...

 >I can't argue very energetically with you about Arden's policy with the
 >Arden 3.  I'll toss in some advice for them, myself.  I'm sure they'll
 >appreciate it.  :-)    What Arden shudda oughta coulda mighta done
 >instead, with the Arden3, was to make the lower-priced edition of
 >Hamlet, for the general public,

My "innocent" (or whatever I called him/her) -- "lender, boy" *is* kinda 
weird, ain't it?... ;-)

 >a conflated text, a best-guess combination of the originals.

Sure. Note that T&T tell us that they don't think they could have 
produced a better conflated edition than the Arden2 -- so apart from any 
partisanship for Jenkins pe se, were they to have followed your 
shudda-oughta-coulda, the thing to do would have been to bring Jenkins 
into the third series (perhaps with some updated matter). *But*, since 
we're told, that they (or the general editors) wouldn't countenance a 
four-text scenario, I suppose the s.o.c. would've fallen on deaf ears...

Now, what they said about Jenkins made me think it might be kept in 
print, but then I said to myself, if they did that, then they *would* be 
presenting us with four texts!... I'll only say that if they let HJ go 
out of print, as I suspect they will, I don't believe it will be because 
of some "no four-text Hamlet" policy! ;-)

 >Then, if Arden had made the "scholarly
 >supplement" a transcription of all 3 originals, with suitable
 >commentary, I think there might have been less complaint about the
 >second volume being so relatively expensive.  Maybe.  Allow me to ask
 >you, would the price of the second volume be so objectionable if it had
 >included all 3 originals?

I don't think so. But the main thing that strikes me is that what you're 
laying out has an **air of consistency** about it, just as the 
three-texts-in-two-paperbacks does-when it seemed that the present 
dispensation was set in stone, there was an unsatisfactory, 
between-two-stools feeling about the matter...

 >S's closet drama manuscript.

Well, the play was certainly very important to WS, and it's hard to 
imagine it's having been acted at the length it is.... generally, I like 
to think of a "poetic" or "closet" element in some tension with the 
"theatrical" in *all* of Shakespeare, so I have no problem with him 
having an actual closet MS.

As far as the text, there are all the well known issues-the actors, the 
"stability" (did he make changes as he copied out), simple revision.... 
my problem with the I'm-not-going-to-emend-my-copy-text-unnecessarily 
business as it often seems to work out today is that the issue of simple 
corruption seems to get lost sight of-my difficulty is always with 
particular readings (the *principle* is fine: no one wants to emend 
unnecessarily... but, what's "unnecessary"?) That is, I can believe that 
WS had Lear say "Lear's shadow" at one stage, and then slapped his thigh 
and said, "Say! I'll assign those words to the Fool!" (I don't know that 
I think it happened, but I can *believe* it). I have great difficulty, 
though, in believing that at one stage he had *Lear* saying "Break, 
heart, I prithee break" and then gave the line to *Kent*. I think the 
quarto is simply corrupt.

Of course, my "unbelievable" is another person's "quite believable."

 >There's a deplorable tradition of trying to argue, in various ways,
 >against the original printings of Hamlet, instead of trying harder to
 >understand them, that goes back to Warburton, the sad Mr. Collier, and
 >includes many others.

In some ways to comes down to a question of emphasis-or subjectivity. 
The editorial tradition had got rather barnacle-ridden: it's been good 
to see a lot of them scraped off. But everyone's definition of 
"unnecessary", "going too far", and so forth will differ...

What I like to do is learn all this stuff from annotations and articles, 
and at the end of the day kick back with Peter Alexander or whoever-as I 
read I can say to myself, that bit was probably never acted; I prefer 
so-and-so's reading here; and so on.

 >It's a bad tradition that has caused people to
 >miss significant things that S included in Hamlet.

It's never a bad idea to ask whether editors have tried hard enough to 
understand their copy-texts before emending: I just sometimes wonder 
whether we've gotten a little too far away from the idea of an editor's 
taking *responsibility*. Nonetheless, I learn something from every new 
edition I pick up. I daresay I'll get the Q1/F paperback when it comes out.

Best,
Sean

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