The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2688  Wednesday, 28 November 2001

From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 28 Nov 2001 12:59:37 -0000
Subject:        Arden3 Henry VI, Part 3

As John D. Cox has discreetly drawn attention (in SHK 12.2655) to the
Arden3 edition that he and Eric Rasmussen have edited of Henry VI, Part
3, perhaps I might be permitted to make a few preliminary comments,
based on a cursory inspection?  One surprise (to me, at least) was that
the 176 page introduction has no real discussion of the date of
composition, the sequence of the Henry VI plays, and the authorship of
the play (the question of collaboration is raised, indeed it seems to be
assumed, but no names or entities are suggested).  It seems to be
assumed that the play was staged in (or is it "by"?) 1592 and at the
Rose.  There is an illustration of a model of the Rose prior to its
alteration in 1592.  The lack of discussion of sequence is puzzling:
perhaps it was thought that the Arden3 editions of Part 1 by Burns, and
Part 2 by Knowles had covered it sufficiently, but I would have thought
that the issue would be raised!  There is a lingering suspicion that
perhaps the editors don't believe in the "inverted" sequence, but have
been censored by the General Editors!  (An alternative explanation could
be that each editor thought that it was the other's responsibility!)
There seems to be no discussion of which company the play would have
been written for, which is surprising as Pembroke's Men are on the title
page of the Octavo "True Tragedy".  Incidentally, printing a reduced
facsimile of O as an appendix makes it obvious that it really is an
octavo, despite some previous reports.  I don't think that either Marcus
Dahl or myself will be satisfied by the way "date, sequence, authorship"
have been handled by this edition.  (I know I shouldn't speak for
Marcus, but any spectators of our recent spat will agree that we now
both have some understanding of the other's position!)  I was
particularly annoyed that the wearing of roses by the Lancastrians and
Yorkists in the opening scene has been interpolated [editorially] into
the SDs (from O).  While hardly amounting to the Sin of Conflation, this
does obscure what I maintain to be a small but crucial piece of evidence
for the "inverted" sequence: that the O text derives (in some fashion)
from a performance that postdates 1H6, whereas the F text does not
(postdate 1H6, that is!).  I had been eagerly awaiting this edition: I
shall now have to wait and see what Randall Martin says about these
issues in his Oxford Shakespeare edition!

John Briggs

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