2010

Musings on the Arden Shakespeare


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0068  Tuesday, 16 February 2010

 

From:         John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 15, 2010 1:44:37 PM EST

Subject:      Musings on the Arden Shakespeare

 

Late last year the most recent volume was published in the Arden Shakespeare Third Series: "King Richard III", edited by James R. Siemon (if the image on the Amazon website is to be believed, there was a last-minute title change from "Richard III"...) This has the dubious honour of marking the fourth or fifth publishing company for the Arden Shakespeare since the commencement of the Third Series in 1995. It also marks the re-uniting of the Arden Shakespeare with the Methuen name in the somewhat nebulous form of the "Methuen Drama" list. (How the present publishers acquired the Methuen Drama name is a bit of a mystery, since Methuen Publishing is once more an independent company, albeit one shorn of most of its famous backlist.) Another dubious honour is that the paperback of King Richard III is the first of the third series to be perfect-bound -- a doubtful economy in a 500 page book. Sewn binding for the paperbacks was introduced with the last of the Second Series, Harold Jenkins' magisterial Hamlet -- probably because it had a magisterial 592 pages...

 

The Arden Shakespeare began with the first series which started in 1899 and limped on until 1944. The texts of its plays were based on that of the Cambridge Shakespeare of 1863-6 (the predecessor of John Dover Wilson's Cambridge New Shakespeare and the present New Cambridge Shakespeare [1984-]) When the Second Series was planned in 1946 -- in an Age of Austerity -- someone had the bright idea of keeping the text and page layout of the First Series, and the new editors inserting their notes and commentary into the available space. Eventually it was realised that the editions employed stereotype plates rather than standing type, and it would cost more to change them than reset from scratch! The first editors had to start all over again...

 

The Second Series established itself as a scholarly and authoritative modern-spelling series, with increasingly detailed introductions and notes -- the later volumes are particularly fine. But this only showed up the relative inadequacy of the earliest volumes, and the typographical conventions for the text itself were becoming increasingly outdated. The series ground to a halt in 1982 (the Sonnets volume was never published.) Competition immediately arose with Oxford and Cambridge both launching rival series with a much more modern appearance. Both were initially 'leaner', but have become more detailed over the years.

 

The First Series and the Second Series were published by Methuen & Co. The second series was a stablemate of the Revels Plays, but the latter were sold to Manchester University Press in the 1970s. This was probably around the time of the merger with Eyre & Spottiswode, and later absorption into the bloated conglomerate Associated British Publishers -- which later absorbed Routledge and was itself to fall into the clutches of International Thomson.

 

As a result of all this, when the Third Series was launched in 1995 it was under the Routledge imprint. Thomson soon tired, however, of trying to make the former ABP imprints profitable and divested itself of them, retaining the Arden Shakespeare, which became a separate imprint under Thomson's publishing company Thomas Nelson & Sons. A few years later, however, Thomson sold Nelson while retaining the educational arm which was re-named Thomson Learning, and still included the Arden Shakespeare. In 2007 Thomson Learning was sold to vulture capitalists, who re-named it Cengage Learning. Cengage Learning only managed to publish two AS volumes under their imprint -- they are chiefly noted for trying to make the AS both leaner (in terms of costs -- sacking wayward editors in the process) and fatter (in terms of profits), with a view to selling it off. This duly happened in 2009, when it was purchased by Bloomsbury Publishing, who placed it with their A & C Black company where it became a stablemate of the New Mermaids!

 

The Third Series imprints have thus been:

 

Routledge

Arden Shakespeare (International Thomson/Thomas Nelson & Sons)

Thomson Learning

Cengage Learning

Methuen Drama (Bloomsbury/A&C Black)

 

If you are confused by all this, how do you think I feel?

 

John Briggs

 

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S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List

Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

 

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

 

Announcing The Shakespeare Standard


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0069  Tuesday, 16 February 2010

 

From:         Jeremy Fiebig <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 7, 2010 4:03:17 PM EST

Subject:      Announcing The Shakespeare Standard

 

[Editor's Note: I sent this announcement out without including the web address. This is a corrected version. -HMC]

 

I'm pleased to announce the arrival of _The Shakespeare Standard_.

 

http://theshakespearestandard.com

 

_The Shakespeare Standard_ is a news, feature, and blog hub for Shakespeare-related news on the web. We publish news items from around the world on a regular basis while featuring reports, blogs, vlogs, and podcasts from our editorial staff and community contributors.

 

Our goal is to be the first place you think of when you want the latest news and features on Shakespeare in performance, scholarship, education, multimedia, and foolery.

 

_The Standard_ has several key features that make it more than just a website. We're integrated with many of your favorite social sites like Twitter and Facebook, and we also feature our own "Social Shakespeare" network that allows you to update your Shakespeare status and interact with editors and other _Standard_ community members right on the site. For companies and productions, we have a "Production Hub" that serves as _The Standard_'s home base for press releases, interviews, photos, and video for individual productions.

 

_The Standard_ is an edited web site that relies on YOU to contribute news items, comments on stories, blog entries--anything you want to see in Shakespeare-related content.

 

_______________________________________________________________

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List

Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

 

Shakespeare's F Words



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0071  Tuesday, 16 February 2010

 

[1]  From:      John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:      February 11, 2010 12:35:35 PM EST

     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

[2]  From:      Christopher Baker <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:      February 11, 2010 1:31:21 PM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 11, 2010 12:35:35 PM EST

Subject: 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

 

It would be even more fascinating to know what contemporary Renaissance readers' responses to the long 's' were. I like Eric Johnson-DeBaufre's suggestion re Donne's 'The Flea', though I wonder whether this might not be an anachronism. Superficial forms of materialism can be misleading, for which the better term is 'presentism'. The Shakespeare song 'Where the bee fucks there fuck I' has long been the stuff of modern schoolboy jokes, but there are occasions where in words ending with double 's' you get a combination of long 's' and modern 's' even though ligatures may have been available to the compositor. If the 'f' word in its modern form was NOT in common currency then its indicating of obscenity might not have occurred so readily to early modern readers as it might to us.

 

Cheers,

John Drakakis

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Christopher Baker <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 11, 2010 1:31:21 PM EST

Subject: 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

 

I have just finished teaching "Lord of the Flies" and note that when Piggy says he was forbidden to swim because of his asthma, Ralph replies, "Sucks to your ass-mar!" (Perigee Casebook edition, 11). Perhaps "sucks" in this sense is somehow related to the punning long s and that Ralph is too polite to say "fucks," or perhaps Golding himself refrained from going all the way with schoolboy bawdy (though that seems unlikely for an ex-Royal Navy man). The First Folio has Ariel sing "Where the bee sucks, there suck I" with a long s but a sexual innuendo here doesn't seem as appropriate as it does in Donne's "Flea" nor quite right for the rest of the context. The OED reads "fecks" as "fegs" and cites several Tudor-Stuart dramatists, but not Leontes; not surprisingly, it makes no mention of any off-color meaning. David Crystal's Shakespeare Lexicon sticks with "i' faith" for "fecks."

 

Chris Baker 

 

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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

 

Staying Entries



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0070  Tuesday, 16 February 2010

 

[1]  From:      Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:      February 11, 2010 11:44:14 AM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0061 Staying Entries

 

[2]  From:      John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:      February 11, 2010 12:12:51 PM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0065  Staying Entries 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 11, 2010 11:44:14 AM EST

Subject: 21.0061 Staying Entries

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0061 Staying Entries

 

A few questions.

 

>There was no copyright in Shakespeare's day. But a publisher who 

>was a member of the Stationers' Company could (by payment of a fee) 

>enter a text in that company's Register and obtain the exclusive 

>right to publish it (and any other text with a title which suggested 

>that it was the same work!) This was effectively a publisher's right, 

>and other publishers could only publish the work by arrangement with 

>the 'owner' of the entry. There were also "staying entries" (a work 

>"to be stayed") which seem to have been provisional entries, offering 

>the same exclusivity, preventing other publishers printing the work, 

>but not committing the publisher to publishing the text, or to paying 

>the full fee. Again, this was to the benefit of the publisher,

 

What would be the benefit to the publisher, if he did not publish the work? And is there any record of exactly how much that fee was?

 

>The London playing companies enjoyed exclusivity in the "acting 

>right" for their own plays -- so it made no difference in that 

>respect whether they were published or not.

 

Is there any documentary support for this? I seem to remember being taught long ago that once a play script was public, any troupe could produce it (but as I say, that was long ago and the thinking has definitely changed about many things since then).

 

>I would like to suggest that the companies had an interest in 

>selling manuscript playtexts to publishers: the demand for 

>printed plays would have meant that publishers would have been 

>willing to buy manuscript playtexts. Perhaps not offering as 

>much as the company had had to pay the original author, but 

>every little helped, and the absence of copyright meant that it 

>was in the company's interests to sell a text before an 

>"unauthorised" manuscript found its way to a publisher. I would 

>suggest that a staying entry represented an option to purchase a 

>manuscript from a playing company. This would have had the 

>advantage to the playing company of preventing any other 

>party selling the playtext while they were negotiating the 

>sale. The stationer making the entry could be buying time 

>to get a publication project off the ground (e.g. raising 

>finance, or doing what passed for market research), or 

>acting as an agent for the playing company in attempting 

>to sell on the project, all parties being protected in the 

>meantime. 

 

This seems reasonable. If a play cost the company ?6, which I understand was around the going rate, the ?2 or so the company earned back by selling it to a publisher would defray the original cost by a third and make it worthwhile. 

 

Tom Reedy

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 11, 2010 12:12:51 PM EST

Subject: 21.0065  Staying Entries

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0065  Staying Entries

 

Steve Roth wrote: 

 

>If Shakespeare only got his company sharer's share of the 

>ms price (who knows what their deal was), it was truly small 

>change--the equivalent of maybe $300 -> $400 today? So not a 

>lot of incentive to write plays twice as long as could be 

>played.

 

I'm suggesting that Shakespeare wasn't paid at all -- he was a Sharer, after all: his payment came as a share of the profits (both of the playhouse and of the acting company -- which one owned the plays would be an interesting question!)

 

So it would have made no difference to him how long the play was. But perhaps he just wrote long plays anyway: Richard III held the record until Hamlet came along, and nobody has suggested that he was a sharer in anything when he wrote Richard III.

 

But Shakespeare wasn't interested in his plays as literature: poetry was the thing for him.

 

John Briggs

 

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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

 

Arden3 Double Falsehood



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0072  Wednesday, 17 February 2010

 

From:         Peter Holland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 17, 2010 9:56:14 AM EST

Subject: 21.0067  Arden3 Double Falsehood

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0067  Arden3 Double Falsehood

 

John's suspicion about a late transfer isn't right, I'm pleased to say. "Double Falsehood" has long been planned as an Arden Shakespeare volume - and it will be wonderful to have a full-scale edition of it at last!

 

Peter Holland

 

_______________________________________________________________

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List

Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

 

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

 

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