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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: May ::
Arden3 "The Merchant of Venice"


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0080  Monday, 16 May 2011

[1] From:      John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:       February 18, 2011 2:50:31 PM EST
     Subj:       Arden3 "The Merchant of Venice"

[2] From:     John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      February 24, 2011 5:21:32 AM EST
     Subj:      RE: SHK 22.0054 Arden3 "The Merchant of Venice"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:          John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:           February 18, 2011 2:50:31 PM EST
Subject:       Arden3 "The Merchant of Venice"

John Drakakis' Arden3 edition of "The Merchant of Venice" has been published [exactly when is a bit of a mystery: the book is dated 2010, but it seem to have been released - or escaped - this month.]

It has some odd features, whereas others take existing Arden3 trends further. The 159-page discursive (some would say rambling) introduction seems totally unstructured, and just doesn't cover some topics that one would expect - I can find no discussion of the date of composition, for example. The annotation is satisfactorily ample - so much so, that "Longer Notes" have had to be banished to a separate section (presumably because they wouldn't fit on the page.)

Somewhat surprisingly (and against current trends, Keir Elam's "Twelfth Night", for example), Shylock and Lancelot Gobbo have become "Jew" and "Clown" in the speech prefixes (there is a complicated - and not particularly relevant - argument regarding shortage of type in printing Q1). Even more striking, the clown has become "Lancelet Giobbe" - the original text alternates "Iobbe" and "Gobbo", apparently representing two different stabs (and misses) at the Italian for "Job". But I thought the Arden3 "The Taming of the Shrew" eschewed "Petruccio" in favour of "Petruchio"?

Appendix 1 has a somewhat confusing doubling chart - which looks remarkably similar to the chart of type shortages in Appendix 2. Appendix 3 does actually discuss the text of Q1, for which I suppose we should be grateful.

On page 112, Drakakis sensibly concludes that Richard Burbage took the role of Antonio - but on page 403 he assigns it to James Burbage!

There is much puzzling over who might have originally taken the role of Shylock, and here I would like to make a suggestion - as a quasi-comic role (but not a clown's one), I would suggest that it was played by Shakespeare himself.

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:          John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:           February 24, 2011 5:21:32 AM EST
Subject:      RE: SHK 22.0054 Arden3 "The Merchant of Venice"

Many thanks to John Briggs whose eagle eye has spotted one of those 'whoreson' errors that I menti0on in my Preface to the edition, and that all editors dread being brought to their attention.  He is indeed right that on p.403 James Burbage should read Richard Burbage, and I must accept full and total responsibility for this slip of the keyboard.

On the matter of the dating of the play, there is a clear suggestion on p.31 that someone of Mr Briggs evidently sharp vision could not possibly have missed.

Also, as a matter of 'fact', as in other Arden 3 editions 'longer notes' are used as a means of augmenting information and discussion that would be inappropriate for on-the-page commentary.

Mr Briggs' claim that the discussion of type-shortages is 'not particularly relevant' seems puzzling.  May I direct his attention to the bibliography at the back of the volume and to those articles dealing with type-shortages (and their significance for the literary critic) in relation to the setting of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', a quarto that James Roberts also printed, and very close to the time that the first quarto of 'The Merchant' appeared. Maybe he will find the whole debate as little more relevant once he understands the nature of the evidence. If he has an alternative reading of the evidence, and one that does not repeat familiar views then we would all, I am sure, like to hear it.

On the dating of the publication of my edition, it was in an advanced stage of proof by early November of 2010. I'm sure he will forgive me for having followed the various publisher's announcements of its appearance, since I have a minor vested interest, but they do vary from December 2010, to February 2011 (the actual date when the volume appeared in bookshops) to March 2011 as it appeared on Amazon.  You pays your money and you takes your choice.

On the allegation that my Introduction is 'rambling' and 'discursive', I plead not guilty to the first but guilty to the second. The Introduction is very carefully structured, although its content may be a little too rebarbative for Mr Briggs' palate.  He may find it helpful, though perhaps mentally strenuous, to do a little limbering up in order to bring himself up to date with current issues in Shakespeare criticism. I have often found however, that with a little exercise of relevant faculties the mind becomes clearer.

Kindest regards,
John Drakakis


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