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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0610  Friday, 14 September 2007

[1] 	From: 		John Drakakis <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 17:09:41 +0100
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0602 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

[2] 	From: 		Ros King <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 13 Sep 2007 16:12:50 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0602 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Drakakis <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Sep 2007 17:09:41 +0100
Subject: 18.0602 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0602 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

I think you're right to pull me up on the semantics here Gabriel, though 
the example you choose isn't quite as open and shut a case as you think. 
  More of that in a minute.

Where there are different texts (quarto, folio) then one cannot avoid 
speculating.  BUT textual bibliography STARTS from the actual marks on 
the page, but not from what they 'mean' in a literary sense.  We add 
that at a later stage, though we continually short-circuit the process 
in practice.   They may have a limited bibliographical meaning or they 
may spur us to cross the boundary into considering 'literary' (I use the 
word in scare quotes, Lukas Erne notwithstanding) matters. I think 
Jerome McGann puts it well in his 1991 book 'The Textual Condition' 
where he makes a clear distinction between the demands of the two 
discursive fields: literary, and textual. Those fields are not 
interchangeable and if you think they are then you do so at your peril.

Let me now come to the case you mention. There is only the Folio text of 
Cymbeline, and while we might speculate that an 'm' might be read as 
'nn' in the name of 'Imogen'- just as we might (opportunistically) 
choose to regard some 'u' types as turned 'n' types, it might be helpful 
to search other Shakespeare Q or F texts to see whether the name 
'Innogen' occurs.  Sure enough, it does, and in Q1 (1600) of Much Ado, 
where the silent 'Innogen' - mistakenly, in my view, exorcised by 
editors- appears. Can we say that the spelling here is an error? and 
have 2 compositors made the same mistake in reading? OR do we look to 
see if this is an acceptable alternative spelling of a name that we 
would modernise and normalise as 'Imogen'. As editors there are plenty 
of names that we might modernise without necessarily reverting to 
speculation about what Shakespeare actually wrote.

On the more general matter of what the compositors who set plays read as 
their copy, then we speculate, and my phrase 'hypothetical manuscript' 
was not intended to imply that one did not exist, but that its detailed 
contents can only be speculated about. Let me offer you an example (from 
memory) from The Merchant of Venice. In Q1 (1600) in 4.1 Shylock says 
'Affection /Maisters of passion'.  Various editors have emended to 
'Affection / Master of passion' or 'Affection / Masters oft passion'. 
The problem is compounded because elsewhere in the quarto master is 
sometimes spelt 'maister', and this spelling occasionally occurs in 
Spenser also. What to do? Does 'affection', that is culturally thought 
to be subservient to any form of 'mastery' suddenly change its position 
in the cultural hierarchy, or can we think of another meaning for this 
vexed phrase that might make sense historically. If we go to Sonnet 20 
then we find in the opening lines there:

		A womans face with natures owne hand painted,
		Haste thou the Master Mistris of my passion.

The phrase 'Master Mistris' here prompts the thought that 'Maistres' in 
Q1 M of V may be a homophone for the now obsolete word 'Maistrice'.  And 
so in my edition I emend the line thus: 'Affection / Maistrice of 
passion', and speculate, NOT that 'Maistrice' was in the original mss, 
but that the word 'Maistrice' answers to an idiom for which there is 
some supporting cultural corroboration. 'Maistres' may well have been 
the spelling in our hypothetical ms. but I contend that its meaning in 
this context extends beyond the restrictive 'Master(s). Also, this 
reading responds to the gender(ing) question that the line raises. The 
personified 'Affection' is a mistress rather than a master but in this 
case 'she' becomes a 'he' by virtue of her mastery.  The only word that 
I can think of that points up the complexity of this rather dense little 
phrase is 'Maistrice'.

I've already told Joe Egert that he'll have to wait for the longer and 
even more bibliographically involved explanation that displaces 'Gobbo' 
from the text of M of V, though I now understand that this wasn't the 
answer to the question that he as seeking.

Finally, though, I think your 'philosophical' analogy only works if we 
forget about the nitty gritty of the textual bibliographical process, 
Gabriel. The road to 'Shakespeare's text is littered with landmines!

Very best,
John D

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ros King <
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Date: 		Thursday, 13 Sep 2007 16:12:50 +0100
Subject: 18.0602 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0602 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

The printing house corruption of Innogen to Imogen in fact occurs in 
Holinshed - in the index, where, of course, it refers to Brutus's wife 
not Cymbeline's daughter.

Cymbeline is sometimes Cynobelinus (and other variants) in Holinshed. He 
also offers a choice with regard to Guidarius - 'Guiderius or Guinderius 
(whether you will)'. All these dubious 'n's together raise the distinct 
possibility that the choice of Imogen in the Folio is not an error at 
all but authorial intention based on a desire for euphony, i.e. 
Shakespeare was offered a set of choices by his source and made the same 
choice of 'm' or at least 'not n' across the board, thereby achieving a 
kind of family resemblance in sound.

To my mind this far outweighs any evidence from Simon Forman who was 
only really interested in the play in so far as it reinforced his 
beliefs in the Brutus myth and who was therefore either pre-programmed 
to hear Innogen, or deliberately (!) made what he saw as a correction in 
his account. His spelling of that name is unusually consistent. His 
account of Macbeth spells Mackebeth, Mack Beth, Mackbet and Dunston 
Anyse (for Dunsinane!).

Best,
Ros

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