The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0602 Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Date: Tuesday, 11 Sep 2007 11:09:56 +0100
Subject: 18.0586 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: Re: SHK 18.0586 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
John Drakakis wrote:
>The purpose of textual bibliography is to enable us to subtract from a
>hypothetical manuscript the input of
>the printing house. Once we have
>done that we can speculate on what
>a hypothetical mss. may have contained.
Is that really the correct order of business? That is to say, is it
really, John, your view that only AFTER subtracting the printing house
input can one speculate on what the hypothetical * manuscript copy may
have contained? Surely the act of subtracting the printing house input
cannot be carried out without a working hypothesis about what the
printer's copy contained. To take a famous example, one could not remove
the printing house corruption of "Innogen" to "Imogen" in Folio
Cymbeline unless one already had an hypothesis that the copy was a
handwritten document (in which it is easy for two letters 'n' to be
misread as an 'm') rather than a printed document (in which this is not
an easy misreading). Thus the speculation about copy is prior to,
rather than after, the subtracting of the printing house input.
To put it more simply: subtracting printing house input requires
distinguishing printer's errors from other kinds of error, and making
that distinction requires speculation about the nature of the underlying
printer's copy (at the very least, the speculation that it was not
itself a printed text).
* Actually, the printer's copy isn't "hypothetical" by virtue of its
being simply no longer in existence. My grandfather is no longer in
existence, but my existence is living proof that he once existed;
there's nothing hypothetical about this. That the copy was manuscript
may be a hypothesis, but I don't think that's what you meant, John.
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