Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0288.  Wednesday, 30 March 1994.
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."
Date:           Wednesday, March 30, 1994
Subject:        New on the SHAKSPER FileServer: MATERIAL TEXT and CIBBER R3
As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retrieve from the SHAKSPER Fileserver my "Valuing
the Material Text: A Plea for a Change in Policy Concerning Selection of
Reference Texts for Future New Variorum Shakespeare Editions, with Examples
from the 1609 Quarto of <it>SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS<it>" (MATERIAL TEXT). This is
my paper for the Shakespeare's Sonnets: Mapping Uncertainty" seminar of this
year's SAA Annual Meeting. To retrieve MATERIAL TEXT send a one-line mail
message (without a subject line) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., reading "GET
MATERIAL TEXT SHAKSPER." If you are directly connected to BITNET, you may issue
SHAKSPEReans may retrieve from the SHAKSPER Fileserver Tom Dale Keever's
transcription of Colly Cibber's *Richard III* (CIBBER R3). To retrieve CIBBER
R3 send a one-line mail message (without a subject line) to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., reading "GET CIBBER R3 SHAKSPER."  If you are
directly connected to BITNET, you may issue the interactive command, "TELL
Should you have difficulty receiving any of these files, please contact the
editor, <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> or <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.
Selections from both are below.
         Valuing the Material Text: A Plea for a Change in Policy
      Concerning Selection of Reference Texts for Future New Variorum
       Shakespeare Editions, with Examples from the 1609 Quarto of
                    <it>SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS<it>
                           Hardy M. Cook
     In 1871, Horace Howard Furness initiated one of the greatest scholarly
undertakings of modern times: <it>The New Variorum Shakespeare<it> -- an
undertaking so vast in scope that it has not been completed to this day -- an
undertaking so vast that it can never truly be completed -- an undertaking
that of its very nature must like the Phoenix repeatedly consume itself in
flames and be reborn of its own ashes.  In the first of these editions, <it>A
New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: ROMEO AND JULIET<it>, Furness explains
his purpose and plan: faced with having the valuable notes of editors like
"Knight, Singer, Collier, Ulrici, Delius, Dyce, Hudson, Staunton, White,
Clarke, Keightley, and Halliwell" only available in different volumes, he
proposed to save time and effort by "collecting these comments after the
manner of a Variorum and presenting them, on the same page, in a condensed
form, in connection with the difficulties which they explain" (vi).  After
originally deciding "to adopt the text of some one edition from which all the
variations of the Quartos and Folios and other editions should be noted," he,
"in consequence of unforeseen obstacles," chose instead to adopt "the reading
of a majority of the ablest editors," producing a composite text to be used as
the reference text for his edition (vii-viii).  Composite texts were also used
as reference texts for next three volumes: <it>Macbeth<it> (1873),
<it>Hamlet<it> (1877), and <it>King Lear<it> (1880).
     In 1886, <it>The New Variorum Shakespeare<it> underwent the first of its
many transformations.  Evidently preparing the first four volumes caused
Furness to reflect more deeply on the nature of Shakespearean texts:
          But when we study Shakespeare [as opposed to simply reading him],
          then our mood changes; no longer are we "sitting at a play," the
          passive recipients of impressions through the eye and ear, but we
          weigh every word, analyse every expression, shift every phrase,
          that no grain of art or beauty which we can assimilate shall
          escape.  To do this to our best advantage we must have
          Shakespeare's own words before us.  No other words will avail,
          even though they be those of the wisest and most inspired of our
          day and generation.  We must have Shakespeare's own text; or,
          failing this, the nearest possible approach to it.  We shall be
          duly grateful to the wise and learned, who, where phrases are
          obscure, give us the words which they believe to have been
          Shakespeare's; but, as students, we must have under our eyes the
          original text, which, however stubborn it may seem at times, may
          yet open its treasures to our importunity, and reveal charms
          before undreamed of.  (<it>Variorum Othello<it> v)
The "original text" Furness found in the 1623 First Folio.
[Several paragraphs omitted.]
     Richard Knowles announced the next major transformation of the
principles governing <it>The New Variorum Shakespeare<it> in his "Plan of the
Work" for the 1977 <it>A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: AS YOU LIKE
          This edition differs somewhat from earlier volumes of the New
          Variorum Shakespeare.  The text is not a type facsimile, but a
          <it>modified diplomatic reprint<it> of the First Folio text which
          <it>ignores its significant typographical irregularities, corrects
          its obvious typographical errors, but retains its lineation<it>.
          All significant departures from F1 are duly recorded. [Emphasis
          added] (ix)
Under this editorial policy, which was followed by Mark Eccles in his 1980
<it>MM<it> and Marvin Spevack in his 1990 <it>Ant.<it>, many typographical
features of the original text are ignored or silently regularized:
[Long quotation omitted.]
My work in preparing the first volume of The Public-Domain, Old-Spelling,
Electronic Shakespeare, <it>SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS<it> and <it>A LOVER'S
COMPLAINT<it> (forthcoming from the Centre for Computing in the Humanities,
University of Toronto), and my reading of the work of Jerome J. McGann and
Randall McLeod have convinced me that the Variorum Shakespeare's new policy
concerning the old-spelling reference texts for Variorum editions is a
                                Tragical History
                                King Richard III
                             As it is Acted at the
                                 Theatre Royal
                                 By C. Cibber.
                                         -------Domestica Facta
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                                 *  *  *  *  *
                         Etext Editor's Introduction
Richard Garrick first made his fame in the role of Richard III and it
remained the character for which he was most reknowned.  The backstage
blessing, "Break a leg!" is attributed by some to a Garrick performance as
the hunch-backed villain during which the actor was so transported by the
role that he did not notice he had suffered a fracture.  Yet Garrick never
spoke the lines modern readers most readily associate with the play, "Now
is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of
York."  Like virtually all other Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century actors
Garrick performed not Shakespeare's script but the adaptation premiered in
1700 by Colly Cibber who cut the opening lines of Richard's famous
soliloquy.  When Macready tried in the 1820's to reintroduce more of
Shakespeare's text critics sniffed that he had only shown how hopelessly
awkward the original was and audiences expressed their disappointment.  He
bowed to the outcry and returned to Cibber's familiar "improved" script the
next season.  As late as the turn of the century Samuel French distributed
Cibber's rewrite, as performed in a New York staging of the 1840's, as the
"acting version" of Richard III.
In our century opinion has turned a hundred eighty degrees.  The once
despised original now rules the stage unchallenged and Cibber's version,
which was the most oft-produced "Shakespeare" play in Nineteenth Century
America, is relegated to the research stacks.  Though Olivier preserved a
couple of Cibber's best known lines, "Off with his head!  So much for
Buckingham," and "Richard is himself again," in his classic film version,
few other directors dare brave the rath of "traditionalists" who stand
guard against vandals who'd tinker with the "genuine" text.  Given the
Cibber script's long and distinguished stage history it is hard to
understand what "tradition" these guardians so fiercely defend.
Though Shakespeare's original is not so unstageable as Cibber and his
contemporaries thought, neither is Cibber's play so unworthy as our century
has concluded.  Cibber was not a poetic genius, his widely ridiculed
appointment as Poet Laureate notwithstanding, but he was a skilled
craftsman who understood how to make the theatrical conventions of his age
work effectively on stage almost as well as Shakespeare knew the tricks of
late Elizabethan theater.  If his text didn't work well in performance it
would not have outlived all the other Restoration adaptations as long as it
Though this text will interest curious scholars I hope it also draws the
attention of directors and performers.  A theater company planning a season
might consider surprising its subscribers with a "Shakespeare" they are
certain never to have seen before.  A director who is doing Shakespeare's
version might consider adding a little Cibber to the mix or trying some of
Cibber's cuts and doubling to reduce the often unwieldy size of
Shakespeare's cast or to tighten up the action.  Richard's murder of Henry
VI in Cibber's first act or his brutal treatment of Ann in the third could
be added to an otherwise "traditional" production.  The former is, after
all, mostly Shakespeare's, and the scene with Anne, though entirely
Cibber's invention, is in keeping with Richard's character as limned by
Shakespeare, and, though not immortal verse, is excellent melodrama.
For this etext edition I relied on the 1700 text, but I have noted some
additions made to the text and to the cast list in the 1718 version.  The
later edition omitted Cibber's "Epistle Dedicatory" and "Preface" and did
not identify which lines were Cibbers and which Shakespeare's.  As ASCII
does not have an italicized font I have marked the lines Cibber identified
as Shakespeare's by enclosing them in %'s.  I have substituted ASCII's (')
for Cibber's reversed mark to identify the lines he claimed were "generally
[Shakespeare's] thoughts,"  trusting readers to cope with the occaisonal
initial "'Tis" or "'Twere."  All others I left unmarked, tacitly accepting
Cibber's claim they are "intirely my own," even when in cases like, "I
would not pass another hour so dreadful / Though 'twere to buy a world of
happy days," I have my doubts.  I have tried to reproduce the stage
directions in their full variety, some centered, some flushed right, some
bracketted, others with a parenthesis.  The only change I have made in the
original's layout is to center the speaker's name in the line before each
speech to make the text more useful as a performing script.  Both the 1700
and 1718 editions divide the play into five acts and, though scene changes
are noted, they are not numbered.
Alert readers will spot lines not only from Cibber's primary sources, RIII
and 3HVI, but also from 1&2HIV, HV, and 1&2HVI. Tables tracking the number
of these borrowed lines appear in Furness' _New Variorum_ and the appendix
to _Five Restoration Adaptations of Shakespere_.  They differ slightly.
Tom Dale Keever

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