Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 48. Wednesday, 5 Sep 1990.
Date:   Tue, 4 Sep 90 22:17:54 EDT
From:   steve urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Subject: 1.0039  Compositors and Circularity
Comment:      Re: SHK 1.0039  Compositors and Circularity
Dear Eric Eliason,
That wise seeking after reliability of hypotheses will always depend
on personal taste and the agreement of the community.  In Shakespearean
textual studies, compositorial analysis seemed to offer very
convincing means to sidestep personal taste.  But different
investigators keep on coming up with different compositors.  More
important, however, it seems that all the labor invested has not led
to much insight about the playscripts being examined.  We know a lot
about the compositors.  They didn't do all that much to the texts they
set.  And as a byproduct of the arcane investigative processes used
to determine compositor stints, "regular" Shakespeareans have shied
away from reading the earliest versions of the plays.  Like the dragon
in Beowulf, EDITOR sits fuming over the treasures in the early
quartos.  That's sad.  The 1597 Romeo and Juliet, for instance, could
well be offered to students as an interesting version of the play,
whoever was responsible for it.  We could learn something about
theatrical process if only the editors didn't insist on generating an
authoritative product.  Drama doesn't work that way.  We may have to
live more happily with indeterminate and variant texts of Hamlet.
Why not?
                                     Steve Urkowitz SURCC@CUNYVM

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