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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0586  Friday, 7 September 2007

From: 		John Drakakis <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Sep 2007 15:17:25 +0100
Subject: 18.0571 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0571 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

Sorry to have been so tardy in my responses Joe.  I've intercalated them
with your questions.

Joseph Egert <
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 > writes,

 >John Drakakis, unclear as to what I mean by 'fact',
 >asks how he would recognize it. The answer, which
 >JD himself provides later in the "Gobbo" example, is
 >simply to gather, weigh, and judge the available evidence,
 >perhaps in conference with fellow jurors, then decide
 >what most likely happened in fact.
 >
 >Think of actual history as a reel of 3D film unspooling in time. Each
 >cel then constitutes an objective universal permanent record of each
 >instant. Different scholars may wish to study different parts of a given
 >cel, or different segments of the reel over time (say, a particular year
 >or decade), then reason together as to what probably occurred in fact.
 >Naturally, like sand-blind Hindus examining different parts of the
 >elephant, they bring their own interests, perceptions, and judgments to
 >the process, all conditioned by society and history (There's that truism
 >again.). The actual facts, while prior to and independent of their
 >valuations, nonetheless form the basis for them.
 >
 >Some may recognize that the "Gobbo" example and attendant quotes were
 >taken directly from Dr D's own "Present Text" piece in PRESENTIST
 >SHAKESPEARES---in the (vain?) hope JD would respond to the problems
 >posed. Let's try one more time:
 >
 >1. Does JD agree that past and present form one evolving continuum and
 >therefore cannot be in overall "dialectical relation" to each other?

[NO, I don't.  History is created through a dialogue between past and 
present. One version of it is Kojeve's 'History is the desire of the 
desiring subject' it has to be dialectical otherwise we stay still ergo 
no history.]

 >2. Must we wait to learn what name he would advise his fellow editor to
 >use in the stage direction example, and why?

[Yes you will, until next year]

 >3. Does Dr D still believe "speculating about authorial intention" to be
 >a "trap" or "guilty" endeavor? JD himself suggests he would accept which
 >name to use, had he Shakespeare's own manuscript. Even here I'd argue:
 >the fundamental question is not what he wrote but what he intended to
 >write. We'd still have to try to construct a perfectly proofread
 >manuscript from what was handed to us.

[It's fun to speculate, but pretty futile.  In any case, we need to 
rethink our concept of authorship.  The purpose of textual bibliography 
is to enable us to subtract from a hypothetical manuscript the input of 
the printing house.  Once we have done that we can speculate on what a 
hypothetical mss. may have contained. As for authorial intention and the 
'authority' that it implies, how do we deal with the speech prefixes in
Q1 Much Ado that name Dogberry 'Will Kemp' -- was this Shakespeare 
writing, or Will Kemp writing Shakespeare?  And in any case wouldn't a 
Shakespeare text be a palimpsest of citation?  So much for the romantic 
fiction that Shakespeare was 'original']

 >4. What then would Dr D choose as the model for his edition of a play
 >"by William Shakespeare"? -- a perfectly proofread final draft? a
 >perfectly proofread opening night script or promptbook?

[The term 'model' is misleading. The copy text for The Merchant of 
Venice is the quarto of 1600 that was minimally corrected in the print 
shop of James Roberts.  I say minimally corrected since we only have 
evidence from the small number of surviving copies.  If we had more then 
we would be able to find out more about its progress through Roberts' shop]

 >5. Does Dr D truly believe all scholarship should be sieved through a
 >"current social value" filter? I still don't know how John distinguishes
 >between "progress" and "reaction". Does he agree with Cary DiPetro that
 >"our priority must be to consider how and why these texts mean for us
 >now"? Or is this more noncense?

[I didn't say it 'should' be.  It IS.  What presentism does is to make 
us aware of the ways in which it is, of which Cary di Petro's 
observations constitute only a part]

 >Finally, I wish to thank Dr Drakakis for his valuable lesson in textual
 >analysis both here at SHAKSPER and in "Present Text".

[Very kind of you.]

Cheers,
John D

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