The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0624 Tuesday, 1 April 2003
Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2003 16:51:36 -0500
Subject: 14.0614 Re: Heminge and Condell
Comment: Re: SHK 14.0614 Re: Heminge and Condell
>"Seems pretty clear to me", states Mr Grumman (24 March) on the subject
>of editorship of the First Folio and so absolves himself of the horrible
>anxieties of one of those irritating inconveniences of uncertainty that
>so beset Shakespearean studies. I applaud his clarity of vision in such
>an opaque world and wish I possessed such faith. Disappointingly there
>is nothing that I can see that supports his contention.
Let's go to what I said AND to what it referred to, which Mr. Hall
conveniently neglects to do.
Greg said Heminges and Condell "say nothing to make us believe that they
personally performed the arduous duty of detailed supervision."
This statement of Greg's is nonsense. True, they did not specifically
state that "they personally performed the arduous duty of detailed
supervision." But consider what they said (and I quoted):
"It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have bene wished, that the
author himselfe had liv'd to have set forth and overseen his owne
writings; but since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death
departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his friends the
office of their care and paine to have collected and publish'd them;"
Sure, if you want to work Heminges and Condell out of the picture, you
can assume they were not referring to themselves here as the departed
author's friends. However, you cannot claim they could NOT have been
referring to themselves. Indeed, that is the most probable
interpretation by far. But even if they were not referring to
themselves, they could be taken as having been-- which is SOMETHING to
make a sane person believe they personally "performed the arduous duty
of detailed supervision."
They went on to say: "But it is not our province, who onely gather his
works and give them to you, to praise him. . . . " signed, John
So they were clearly talking about themselves, and saying they had
gathered the works, and put them into the folio.
In their next preface they said, "what delight is in (the plays they've
collected) may be euer your L.L. (your lordships, the dedicatees) the
reputation his (Shakespeare's) and (n.b.) the faults ours."
I put that note well in because Heminges and Condell here claim that the
faults are theirs. How could that be if they didn't do the bulk of the
Again I say, "Seems pretty clear to me." By which I mean that Heminges
and Condell give plenty of reason to believe that they "personally
performed the arduous duty of detailed supervision." Which doesn't mean
they actually did, because they could have been lying.
I would add that the suggestion that they had no known editorial
experience is pretty irrelevant: they knew the plays.
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