Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 306. Thursday, 21 Nov 1991.
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1991 01:40:00 -0500
Subject: 2.0305 N&Q: [Bowdlerizing]
Comment: Re: SHK 2.0305 N&Q: [Bowdlerizing]
For Steve Urkowitz (and other opponents of Bowdler),
In the early part of the 18th century, it seems to me that many
of Shakespeare's editors "corrected" him, whether the editor was
Nicholas Rowe or Alexander Pope. As I recall, Pope wanted to
"fix" Shakespeare, thus touching off his quarrel with Theobald
(and the first version of *The Dunciad*). From our point of
view, Pope was all wrong as an editor, but I wonder how many
of these early editors "corrected" Shakespeare (and it was a
technical matter to correct a violation of "decorum")? Is
Pope outrageous, or was Theobald just a part of an emergent
type of scholarship?
Modern Bowdlers are without as much justification, I would say,
in their efforts to sanitize Shakespeare. I remember really
reading Shakespeare for the first time in college, when I found
out that "die" was a double entendre--"Antony and Cleopatra"
suddenly became *much* more entertaining. The same happens when
students read *Gulliver* for the first time in college.