2011


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0085  Thursday, 19 May 2011

From:         John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         May 17, 2011 1:41:04 PM EDT
Subject:     Re: SHK 22.0080 Arden3 The Merchant of Venice

I don't really want to get into a protracted argument with Professor Drakakis, partly because my few words weren't intended as a considered review, but mostly because I wish to move on and take a few swipes at John Jowett's bloated Arden3 edition of Sir Thomas More, which I regard as "More matter for a May morning."

But I can't let John Drakakis get away with the idea that the "clear suggestion on p. 31" can in any way substitute for the "discussion of the date of composition" that I was seeking - nor his implication that I might have overlooked it. For it was precisely his "clear suggestion" that provoked my grumble, and I can do no better than print it in its entirety:

"From the moment of its composition - some time after the midsummer of 1596 and" [here I think the word "before" has dropped out] "the date of its appearance in the Stationers' Register in July 1598 - and its first performance, probably in the twenty months or so between autumn 1596 and July 1598, the 'Merchant of Venice'..."

Now, every word here is carefully chosen, and balanced, and pregnant with meaning, but - even with my emendation - it will not lightly yield up its secrets unless you are either psychic, or have to hand John Russell Brown's Arden2 edition (1955) pp. xxi-xxvii. (To be fair, Drakakis does give a reference to the relevant pages in an annotation to 1.1.26 on p.172.)

As for Professor Drakakis' baffling suggestion that James Roberts printed A Midsummer Night's Dream (I think he must mean Titus Andronicus Q2) and that the type shortages there are also relevant, I can only surmise that, like Dirk Gently, he must take a holistic approach to the subject of "relevance".

As it happens, I think that I probably take a greater interest in bibliographical issues than most on this list, and probably greater than most of the likely readers of the Arden3 edition, so if I consider a bibliographical issue "not particularly relevant" (with the subtext of "unconvincing") one really wonders who would.

John Briggs
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