The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0118  Monday, 6 March 2006

From: 		Thomas Pendleton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 3 Mar 2006 15:44:08 -0500
Subject: 17.0106 Arden3 Hamlet
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0106 Arden3 Hamlet

First, let me absolve John Briggs.  I share his dismay at the pricing of 
the second volume of the Arden 3 Hamlet and his lament that the first 
volume will not include a reduced facsimile of Q1 as other "bad quartos" 
have been provided for other plays-which is an admirable thing for Arden 
3 to do.  But he did not echo my further misgivings about Arden 3, and I 
don't share his feeling that Jenkins' 1982 edition gives us a "text 
already out of date."

John-Paul Spiro seems to share my high opinion of Jenkins' edition, 
although I can't imagine that many of his "everyday readers" really want 
"to make their own choices" from among the three early texts of Hamlet. 
  Most readers do indeed want "someone else to do the work"; and this is 
what editors do-or should do, or used to do; and Mr. Spiro and I agree 
that Jenkins did it about as well as it gets done.

An edition of a literary work is something different from an archive of 
its earliest texts. David Kastan, one of the Arden 3 general editors, 
once told me (and for publication) that the goal of the series was to 
present the work in its full literary context, which means, I think, 
that the notes and introductions (which John Briggs seems to dismiss as 
tangential), are quite significant to the worth of an edition.

I value such things as the Bertram and Kliman Three Text Hamlet, and 
Kliman's Enfolded Hamlet, and Tronch-Perez's Synoptic Hamlet, and Rene 
Weiss's and Norton's facing page Lears (which, however. clearly 
demonstrate that perhaps 95% of these "two different plays" are 
identical). But I don't consider them editions of the play, much less 
authoritative editions, as Paul Doniger suggests. They give us the raw 
materials for an edition, and as such, they are very valuable, as are 
the Arden 3 facsimile bad quartos, and Hinman's facsimile First Folio, 
and so on. But they don't attempt to provide for "a generation [and 
especially a new generation] of students, scholars, readers, and 
playgoers" (stolen from Al Magary) a version of the work that is 
sufficiently rich and reliable to aspire to being authoritative or 
definitive.  This is what Arden 2, and even Arden 1, aspired to; this is 
what Jenkins at least came within shouting distance of achieving.

To what degree and how the editor should make his reader aware of 
differences between the text of early versions is an open question.  I 
have no real objection to the Arden 2's using reduced italic type under 
the main text, or to Riverside's relegating textual notes to an appendix 
after the play.  Most readers most of the time aren't interested, and 
those who are can inform themselves.  I share Tad Davis's sense that the 
Folger editions have become intrusive and confusing with their system of 
typographical indicators; I tend to feel the same about Norton and 
indented passages. If a reader does want more or less continual 
information about this sort of thing, Bertram and Kliman et al. are 
where to go.

Al Magary-whose postings on Shaksper I admire, but now, I guess, not 
unreservedly-condemns me to wandering lonely on the moor in foul 
weather. He says that Arden 3 is a product of its times.  Just so; and 
lamentably just so.  Al finds Q1 "playable"; of course it is, since it 
is about 1500 lines shorter than the more authoritative versions.  And 
since both of these versions (Q2 and F) are far too long for what we 
suppose of Elizabethan performance, does not this suggest that Hamlet is 
not properly considered as just a play-script, but is perhaps a literary 
artifact? Al also quotes with seeming approval Marjorie Garber's 
characterization of Q1 "To be or not to be" as "authentic," but is the 
passage not clearly a less than minimally successful attempt to recall 
the version we know from Q2 and F? Al, is a dry house worth it?

Finally, Gabriel Egan consoles my expectation that the Jenkins edition 
will be withdrawn when the Arden 3 Hamlet appears with the good news 
that it will still be in the libraries.  I had of course been fearful 
lest the Arden 3 editors track down and pulp all surviving copies of 
Jenkins. For this relief, much thanks.

Tom Pendleton

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.