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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0602  Wednesday, 12 September 2007

From: 		Gabriel Egan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 11 Sep 2007 11:09:56 +0100
Subject: 18.0586 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0586 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

John Drakakis wrote:

 >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.

Is that really the correct order of business?  That is to say, is it 
really, John, your view that only AFTER subtracting the printing house 
input can one speculate on what the hypothetical * manuscript copy may 
have contained? Surely the act of subtracting the printing house input 
cannot be carried out without a working hypothesis about what the 
printer's copy contained. To take a famous example, one could not remove 
the printing house corruption of "Innogen" to "Imogen" in Folio 
Cymbeline unless one already had an hypothesis that the copy was a 
handwritten document (in which it is easy for two letters 'n' to be 
misread as an 'm') rather than a printed document (in which this is not 
an easy misreading).  Thus the speculation about copy is prior to, 
rather than after, the subtracting of the printing house input.

To put it more simply: subtracting printing house input requires 
distinguishing printer's errors from other kinds of error, and making 
that distinction requires speculation about the nature of the underlying 
printer's copy (at the very least, the speculation that it was not 
itself a printed text).

Gabriel Egan

* Actually, the printer's copy isn't "hypothetical" by virtue of its 
being simply no longer in existence. My grandfather is no longer in 
existence, but my existence is living proof that he once existed; 
there's nothing hypothetical about this. That the copy was manuscript 
may be a hypothesis, but I don't think that's what you meant, John.

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