Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 68. Tuesday, 2 Oct 1990.
(1)   Date:         Tue, 02 Oct 90 22:32:07 EDT             (150 lines)
      From:         [Tom Clayton <TSC@UMNACVX>]
      Subject:      [Single-Volume Shakespeares]
(2)   Date:   Tue, 2 Oct 90 16:07:44 EDT                     (16 lines)
      From:   Jonah Sinowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Subject: Re: SHK 1.0067 Expensive Collections
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:         Tue, 02 Oct 90 22:32:07 EDT
From:         [Tom Clayton <TSC@UMNACVX>]
Subject:      [Single-Volume Shakespeares]
    Hardy   Cook's   communication   (SHK   1.0066  Single-Volume
Shakespeares  (77))  prompts me to  wonder publically when  it is
appropriate to respond privately to an individual (as directly to
him), when to air  one's views over the  network (as here, for  a
third time but I hope not often or soon if ever again), and  when
to hold one's peace, an option  with the merits that it costs  no
effort, clutters no airwaves,  and ruffles no feathers  (of those
perched on the party line, especially).
    In  the  case  of  the  ideological implications of editions,
there are basically two  questions: (1) editions as  editions for
reading and  use, and  (2) editions  as the  embodiment of overt,
covert,  or  unconscious  ideological  projects--a  question that
interests me "academically";  that is, not  very often, not  very
much, and not theoretically, since it usually involves merely the
propagation of  foregone ideological  conclusions. And  the usual
answer to such a backward show of indifference as mine to Matters
of such Contemporary Magnitude and Moment--that "ALL is  ideology
and  those  who  deny  that  are  the  most  ideological(ly self-
deceived) of all"--seems  to me tantamount  to "there is  nothing
save opinion, and opinion be  damned." I leave such discourse  to
those who profess it and/or  enjoy it otherwise. I do  not neces-
sarily invite  others to  come and  do likewise,  but I certainly
welcome the company of those who do.
    The question which edition to  use can be sensibly and  prag-
matically entertained, and answered in various sensible and prag-
matic  ways,  favoring  now  individual  editions,  now collected
works, now both, none of these perfect, any more than the teacher
of  any  is  likely  to  be  perfect, except by relatively simple
criteria like political  (or editorial) "correctness."  Some edi-
tions,  teachers,  teachings,  and  miscellaneous projects may be
more politically  "correct" than  others, but  that, again,  is a
question for those for whom the question of political correctness
is prior to all others. In such cases, I am often reminded of Dr.
Johnson's observation about "the cant of those who judge by prin-
ciples rather than perceptions." A dangerous person, Dr. Johnson,
because he  is ever  thought-provoking and  readily understood by
any literate undergraduate.
    Editionswise (or  foolish), I  have sometimes  used collected
works, which CAN cost little if any more than a certain number of
individual-play  paperbacks,  depending  upon  the edition; but I
more  often  use  individual  editions,  mainly  because they are
likely to be carried about  more freely, read more regularly  and
readily, marked up more because the paper is thicker and there is
relatively more margin (and I think marking up a good thing,  not
a bad), and generally  used in a way  and to an extent  that col-
lected editions  very seldom  are, in  our mobile  culture. I use
different individual editions for  different kinds of course  (in
one  course,  this  term,  New  Arden, New Cambridge, and Oxford-
individual by turns, for purposes of--incidental--comparison). It
is good for most  students to have a  collected works, and I  can
sympathize  with  my  own  Alexandrian  teachers who thought that
every student should have a collected Shakespeare on the  shelf--
because it just might come down, now and again, and there are not
many books  better taken  down, even  if "Shakespeare"  (as he is
fashionably  depreciated  by  quotation  marks,  at present) were
merely the creature of imperialist cultural mythography that  any
literate reader can see he is not.
    One of the more sensible as well as short comparative evalua-
tions of Shakespeare texts  that still has value,  partly because
it extrapolates, is "the Shakespeare section" by Karl  Haffenref-
fer in F. W. Bateson and Harrison T. Meserole's *Guide to English
and American Literature,* 3rd ed. (London and New York:  Longman,
1976):  78-85.   These  few   pages  will   merely  exercise  boa
deconstructors and others for whom all assertion is grist for the
discourse mill, but for  the few otherwise-minded remaining  (and
fewer still forthcoming), they have their value.
    Whatever the edition, where it is wrong, and one knows it is,
one corrects. (To  the gratification of  every ego, this  happens
all the time: we all know SOMETHING that genuinely matters  which
no one else knows, one of the proper satisfactions of responsible
teaching, modestly deployed.) Where one disagrees with one aspect
or another of any part of an edition that is not a case of  right
or  wrong  in  matters  of  fact  or  historical probability, one
explains  the   grounds  of   disagreement--not  necessarily   at
excruciating length. Disagreement is part of scholarship and part
of life (but  of course not  of ideology, where  happily there is
only  one  correct  answer,  even  if  it  varies from quarter to
quarter, and year  to year). To  my way of  thinking, it is  more
interesting in relation to particular cases than to the theoreti-
cal or ideological  sub- or superstructures  that interpretations
proceed  from  or   imply  as  operational   whether  consciously
entertained or not.  In other words,  an interest in  literary or
dramatic works qua works,  writings, scripts tends to  entail the
practice of literary and  dramatic criticism. The entailments  of
ideology  and  theory  come  from  elsewhere  and  have their own
    A  few  quotations  from  Mr.  Cook's e-letter will show some
assured "sites of contestation," if  he and I, or others  so dif-
ferently minded, were to enter the same field.
    1. "I  would .  . .  prefer that  my students  *want* to have
copies of all  the plays for  themselves RATHER THAN  owning them
because I  compelled them  to purchase  a one-volume collection."
Where is  it that  one can  one COMPEL  students to purchase ANY-
THING? Not anywhere I have taught or studied. More to the  point,
by what logic is a text  that is REQUIRED, by the same  token NOT
WANTED? In my experience, students are often very pleased to  own
books they would never have thought of acquiring had those  books
not been "required." (They can be read on Reserve in the library,
after all.)
    2. "If I now want  to approach the plays as  dynamic scripts,
does not requiring a one-volume edition tend to enshrine them  as
something else?" ANSWER: NO. In  any case, the "tendency" of  any
edition can be "exposed"--or noted--by the teacher.
    3. "I am very conscious of the politics of bardolatry"--which
I would take to  mean: "I have been  told and come to  agree that
there is such a thing as 'the politics of bardolatry,' and there-
fore 'I am very conscious of  'it.'" This is the position of  the
true (dis)believer;  skeptics and  empirics tend  to think other-
wise, and that probably includes the majority of dramatists.
    4.  The  Globe  "edition  was  meant  to  be taken to the far
reaches of the empire." This is a sweeping interpretative  asser-
tion, not a statement of "fact" by any stretch of the  reasonable
imagination,  and  not  a  fact  even  with  the  reading  of the
iconography of the  title page. "The  Globe of the  title was not
that 'wooden O' in which the plays were performed -- it was 'this
solid globe' itself [as 'great' in *the Tempest*?] . On the title
page, one finds a globe surrounded by hands clasping, upon  whose
arms is written 'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.'"
This is an emblem of  international affinity before it is  one of
conquest, surely, or  must the "real"  meaning be covert  because
the one desired is not overt? The one-world ideal has been  vari-
ously desiderated and expressed over the centuries, and is  still
sought by  the best  as well  as the  worst, and  not every  such
"design" is a case of "Heute England, morgen die Welt."
    I would even venture to suggest that Shakespeare's works have
brought more  together by  shared enthusiasm  (leading to  mutual
understanding) than by imperialism and colonization. In my  EXPE-
RIENCE, that is a fact.
                                        Best wishes, Tom
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date:   Tue, 2 Oct 90 16:07:44 EDT
From:   Jonah Sinowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Subject: 1.0067 Expensive Collections
Comment: Re: SHK 1.0067 Expensive Collections
        I am a student at Rutgers University. I have been using the
Riverside for quite a while and the binding is starting to break. I
have decided that I must take it to a book binder or... buy a new book.
Will getting the book bound solve my problems ??? I am attached to it -
but I know another one ($45 at Rutgers) is well worth the investment.
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