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Who edited Shakespeare?

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0348  Friday, 19 July 2013

 

[1] From:        William Proctor Williams < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 18, 2013 4:50:56 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Who edited Shakespeare? 

 

[2] From:        Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 18, 2013 7:03:34 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Who edited Shakespeare?

 

 

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

From:        William Proctor Williams < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 18, 2013 4:50:56 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Who edited Shakespeare?

 

Hardy M. Cook wrote:

Who edited Shakespeare

 

Larry Weiss is absolutely right, we will have to wait and see the book, but for all the reasons he brings up it seems to me a very unlikely proposition.

 

William Proctor Williams

 

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

From:        Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 18, 2013 7:03:34 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Who edited Shakespeare?

 

Larry Weiss wrote that:

 

> Two hundred years or so of bibliographical research

> has identified ten separate compositors, each with

> his own unique tendencies, who set the Folio from

> a variety of earlier texts, including the author’s

> foul papers, his fair papers, scribal copies, prompt

> books and one or more quarto editions, or a combination

> of these.

 

In fact it’s rather less than 200 years of work: the first identification of Folio compositorial stints was by Thomas Satchell in a letter to the Times Literary Supplement in 1920, and the first substantial exploration of the topic was a book by Edwin Eliott Willoughby in 1932. Once the count of compositors got above two, the tendencies were by no means “unique”: they were preferences, and sometimes not very strong ones. The highest claimed count of Folio compositors is 9 not 10 (A, B, C, D, F, H1, H2, I and J) and it rests on the unfirm foundation of so-called ‘psychomechanical’ habits of the spacing of punctuation.

 

Weiss goes on to ask:

 

> If he [Florio] prepared new "edited" copies of

> the plays, why is there no hint of this in the

> F1 versions, and why did he do nothing to smooth

> out the stylistic variants introduced by the compositors?

 

The argument that Florio edited the Folio’s underlying copy is based on claims that some of its features DO betray his presence. The compositorial labour is an irrelevance here: whether or not their copy was edited by Florio, the compositors would have introduced the features by which we detect their stints.

 

I write the above not to defend the claim that Florio edited the Folio’s copy, but to argue that Weiss’s response isn’t an adequate refutation of it.

 

Gabriel Egan

 
 

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