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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: June ::
New Shakespeare 'Works
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0360  Thursday, 7 June 2007

[1] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 15 May 2007 21:58:40 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0340 New Shakespeare 'Works'

[2] 	From: 	Sean King <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 16 May 2007 02:33:28 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0340 New Shakespeare 'Works'


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 15 May 2007 21:58:40 -0500
Subject: 18.0340 New Shakespeare 'Works'
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0340 New Shakespeare 'Works'

Replying to Tom Reedy.

 >From Sir John Harington's translation of Ludovico Ariosto's  *Orlando 
Furioso* (1607):

You didn't say why you copied and pasted what you did.  Any particular 
reason?  It's not very surprising "pollax" would be found in other 
writing shortly after 'Hamlet' was printed in the quartos.

Here's another translation of what is apparently the same passage.

XLI
Behind the curtains, I had hid the tried
And faithful follower, of whom I said,
Who moved not till the bridegroom he descried,
Yet waited not till he in bed was laid:
But raised a hatchet, and so well applied
Behind the stripling's head the ponderous blade,
Of speech and life it reft him; I, who note
The deed, leap lightly up and cut his throat.

If it's the same passage as we see in this translation, the weapon is a 
"hatchet" applied to the "head."  That is, the weapon in question is a 
"head" - "axe" (an axe for the head.)  Not, of course, a "pole- axe."

Harington apparently knew the word "pollax" from 'Hamlet,' and knew that 
it meant an axe for the human head.  Thus, he used the word for 
essentially the same meaning in his translation of 'Orlando Furioso.' 
Is that what you were trying to say, that you knew I was correct, based 
on Harington's "head-hatchet?"

Replying to Robert Projansky's reply to Tad Davis.

 >Isn't "angry parle" a metaphor here?

Very likely.  As Harold Jenkins pointed out in the Arden 2, although 
there's no parallel for "parley" itself as a figurative use, Sh. did use 
"speak" to mean "engage in combat," at least twice in other plays.  It's 
generally unwise to try to restrict a Sh. reading to literal definitions.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sean King <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 16 May 2007 02:33:28 -0400
Subject: 18.0340 New Shakespeare 'Works'
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0340 New Shakespeare 'Works'

Replying to William Proctor Williams

 >[Bate and Rasmussen] are not concerned, or say they are not
 >concerned, with the source of setting copy, underlying matters
 >of transmission (for example, from 1594 to 1623 through 3 variant
 >quartos in the case of Titus) or any of that sort of stuff, but are
 >only setting forth what actually got printed in F1.  That looks like
 >exiting the print shop rather than entering it to me, as I said in the
 >full text of my posting.

Well, I believe I see what you meant now, but found it very hard to 
understand (of which more below) when posting, and didn't quote it out 
of (given my thinking) politeness more than anything else. ;-)

...as soon B&R have corrected "nad" to "and" or whatever (as they 
mightn't in a diplomatic reprint) there must be an ideal underlying 
object, which can be taken to be something like, "what Heminge and 
Condell wanted to be printed." And I assume this is what they mean by 
"what entered the print shop" -- so then, wouldn't "what exited" be the 
actually existing F1: a bit of a mess, so to speak, which they have 
cleaned up with their ideal object in view. What I didn't follow was 
your *contrasting* what-exited with what-entered; for as I would look at 
it, and as I would imagine B&R were looking at it, they are the **same 
object**, leaving aside the difference between H&C's (presumably) 
shining vision and the grubby reality.

What I take you to be saying is, that the various things which editors 
generally take into account --"that sort of stuff" as you say above -- 
never actually entered any shop (that is, copy of some sort did, but 
"underlying matters of transmission" didn't): in that case, "editing 
what *exited*" is a perfectly reasonable way of putting things. But: 
once one has decided *not* to take that stuff into account (which, as 
you say, is what B&R have done -- they call it "cutting the Gordian 
knot") it is precisely then that what-exited and what-entered become so 
very nearly the same thing, as I try to say above, that *contrasting* 
them might be a wee bit confusing... ;-)

Anyway, I think -- as perhaps you do as well? -- that this policy is not 
a particularly good one. I want a text that is more than a cleaned up 
what-exited, or an approximation to an ideal what-entered...

The ideal object of editors who don't "cut the Gordian knot" is, I 
suppose, a little hard to define... "author's final intentions?"... what 
the author would say if you could summon him up at a seance? ("Was that 
'sallied' or 'solid,' Will?")

Such editors take into account all the things you mention, bring their 
aesthetic sense and critical judgement to bear, and take responsibility 
for the result.

What I find interesting about this edition is that Bate seems a little 
uneasy about the final product -- he misses those oaths for instance...

Quoting from an interview in The Independent:

"If I have [a] regret about Folio rather than Quarto, it's that because 
of the parliamentary Act against swearing on the stage, there are some 
places in the Folio text where those lovely 'Sbloods!' and 'Swounds' 
have been taken out, so it's a slightly cleaned-up Shakespeare."

Another quote:

"...certainly if I was a director I'm not sure that I'd be the Folio 
purist that I am as an editor..."

And:

"Generally, the editor will agonise over every, every decision in 
choosing which is the better reading, and in a way my idea was to cut 
that Gordian knot and just say 'If the Folio is not obviously a 
printer's error then we can stick with the Folio' and that made it a lot 
quicker."

And lastly:

"There are lots and lots of examples where you can apply your aesthetic 
judgement and find that in some cases the Folio is better, in some cases 
the Quarto is better. I do have genuine regrets with some lines, but the 
principle meant that we got a line that is as you say probably slightly 
less good than in the Quarto. The problem is, if you apply your model of 
wanting your lover to look their best, then you're simply doing what the 
18th-century editors did and making the choice on aesthetic grounds, 
which you've no right to do."

I should say I'm a great admirer of Bate's (Rasmussen too)--I wish he 
had followed different principles, and could then have gone ahead and 
applied his very fine aesthetic judgement. I know I'm bucking the trend...

(As for the "18th-century editors" about whom one seems to hear a great 
deal these days -- it needn't be *either* correcting obvious printer's 
error's *or* a return to the days when Pope and Warburton stalked the 
land, I'd think. There may have been a golden mean, once upon a time?)

At any rate I've liked the glimpse into the thinking of one following 
the procedure which yields readings like, "Thus conscience does make 
cowards."

And Michael Dobson, reviewing in the LRB, thinks he detects "some signs 
of faltering conviction in the footnote [to the 'table of green fields' 
passage]" I don't know whether that's so or not, but as he goes on to 
say, "it is impossible not to be impressed by the zeal and consistency 
with which their editorial principles have been applied, even when it is 
at the expense of printing a less obviously attractive reading."

Just so.

S.

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