The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0073  Wednesday, 17 February 2010


[1]  From:      Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:      February 17, 2010 4:31:33 AM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0068  Musings on the Arden Shakespeare 


[2]  From:       Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:       Wednesday, February 17, 2010     

     Subj:       Re: SHK 21.0068  Musings on the Arden Shakespeare




From:         Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 17, 2010 4:31:33 AM EST

Subject: 21.0068  Musings on the Arden Shakespeare

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0068  Musings on the Arden Shakespeare


In a long and informative posting about the Arden Shakespeare, John Briggs wrote:


>When the Second Series was planned in 1946 -- in an Age of

>Austerity -- someone had the bright idea of keeping the

>text and page layout of the First Series, and the new

>editors inserting their notes and commentary into the

>available space. Eventually it was realised that the

>editions employed stereotype plates rather than standing

>type, and it would cost more to change them than reset

>from scratch! The first editors had to start all over



In fact, the first editors of the Arden2 didn't all start from scratch. Yes, the original plan was to reuse the texts of the first series by stereotyping, confining the editors to minor alterations. But this plan was abandoned after the first two volumes, which describe themselves as 'based on' the texts of the first series, Love's Labour's Lost and Macbeth. From Kenneth Muir's King Lear onwards, the editors were responsible for their texts, although they were free to borrow from their predecessors. M. R. Ridley, for example, used not only R. H. Case's Arden1 text of Antony and Cleopatra, with altered punctuation, but his introduction too. J. H. Walter elected to write his own introduction to Henry 5, but got his text directly from the 1891-93 second edition of Cambridge-Macmillan. Throughout the 1950s, each volume began with a summary by the editor of its relation to the predecessor in the first series; by the end of the decade this was most often used to disavow the original plan and assert editorial independence. 


At least I believe that's right. If John or anyone else can correct my narrative, I'd be grateful.


Gabriel Egan



From:          Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:          Wednesday, February 17, 2010     

Subject: 21.0068  Musings on the Arden Shakespeare

Comment:       Re: SHK 21.0068  Musings on the Arden Shakespeare


John Briggs in his posting, Musings on the Arden Shakespeare, also writes, 


>As a result of all this, when the Third Series was launched 

>in 1995 it was under the Routledge imprint. Thomson soon tired, 

>however, of trying to make the former ABP imprints profitable 

>and divested itself of them, retaining the Arden Shakespeare, 

>which became a separate imprint under Thomson's publishing 

>company Thomas Nelson & Sons. A few years later, however, 

>Thomson sold Nelson while retaining the educational arm which 

>was re-named Thomson Learning, and still included the Arden 

>Shakespeare. In 2007 Thomson Learning was sold to vulture 

>capitalists, who re-named it Cengage Learning. Cengage Learning 

>only managed to publish two AS volumes under their imprint - 

>they are chiefly noted for trying to make the AS both leaner 

>(in terms of costs -- sacking wayward editors in the process) 

>and fatter (in terms of profits), with a view to selling it off. 


Whereas to all appearances Cengage Learning was acting as venture capitalists, divesting itself of the Arden Shakespeare after an amazingly short-time as its publisher; however, I must take exception with Briggs's implication that Professor Patricia Parker's "sacking" by Cengage Learning was a consequence of her being a "wayward" editor. Those who are familiar with Parker's work on her edition of _A Midsummer's Night Dream_ suspect that something other than her not meeting impossibly stated deadlines was behind her contact's being cancelled as evidenced in this paragraph from an article about the "firing" that appeared in _The Chronicle of Higher Education_:


>Ms. Parker has presented her work on A Midsummer Night's 

>Dream at conferences and lectures and has shared it with 

>individual scholars. A number of those who signed the 

>petition expressed some familiarity with her approach to 

>the play. Some signers detected the sinister hand of 

>commercialism behind Arden's decision. Some wondered 

>whether a disagreement among the general editors might 

>be to blame and whether Ms. Parker might have been 

>punished for an approach to Shakespeare that was too 

>innovative for some of the old guard.


I included this article in my first posting about Parker's case on SHAKSPER on August 15, 2008 <http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2008/0474.html>.


My posting was in response to a plea urging interested persons to sign a petition that Prof. Parker be reinstated <http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2008/0463.html>. 


My last posting on SHAKSPER about Parker's treatment on March 25, 2009 <http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2009/0134.html>, included a message that I had received from John Drakakis regarding a proposal he made to resolve the injury done to the Arden Shakespeare:


>I still have one nagging concern, which is that the Patricia Parker 

>Midsummer Night's Dream issue has not, and will not, go away until a 

>proper solution is found. In the light of your recent announcement I can 

>now see why Cengage were eager to give the impression that the issue was 

>closed, and I can see that you had no alternative but to comply. But at 

>present there is still in existence a website that contains a very large 

>number of influential signatories whose opinions you should take 

>seriously in the new atmosphere that this sale has created. I am sure 

>that I am not alone in continuing to be concerned that the threat of a 

>world-wide boycott of Arden Shakespeare volumes still hangs over us. You 

>and I both know that that threat is real, and that it will jeopardise 

>our collective scholarly work as well as the future of Arden.


>The Halpern website is a more than ample testimony to the strength of 

>feeling that this issue has created, and in my view there are two things 

>that will result in its being removed. At the end of last year, both you 

>and Cengage (and in the light of various documents that I have seen, I 

>am still very reluctant to believe that you and they are the same) 

>indicated that there were no plans to re-assign A Midsummer Night's 

>Dream. Whatever the motive for that strategy, it was the right move, and 

>this seems an appropriate moment to reflect on the acknowledged 

>10-years' work that Professor Parker has already undertaken, and to 

>think about re-instatement. If, as you say, the series is nearing 

>completion, then the guarantee that the series will be completed in a 

>timely fashion would surely be to reinstate Professor Parker in the full 

>knowledge that an edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream will be 

>forthcoming within the current schedule. A particular proposal has been 

>on the table since August 22 that has attracted widespread support, and 

>may yet, in the light of Professor Gurr's own response to a letter from 

>Jill Jones of Cengage at the end of last year, provide the basis for 

>further discussion.


>The sale to Bloomsbury provides a unique opportunity to initiate a break 

>with the events of the last 6 months in relation to A Midsummer Night's 

>Dream and it is one that should not, in my view, be allowed to pass by. 

>I would be very unhappy- and again, I don't think that I am alone in 

>this- if a situation that can now be resolved amicably in a very 

>positive atmosphere should be allowed to deteriorate into 

>recrimination, and claim and counter-claim, all conducted in a far more 

>public forum than has been the case so far.


>This is a moment to reflect on the events of the last 6 months, and to 

>do whatever is necessary to lift the threat of serious damage that still 

>hangs over the Arden Shakespeare project. I would urge you to think 

>carefully and to resist any temptation to sustain the damaging 

>managerialist ethos so characteristic of Cengage. In doing so I have no 

>doubt that you would receive the overwhelming support of the Shakespeare 

>community, and I feel certain that many of the threats of boycott of the 

>Arden Shakespeare would disappear overnight. The alternative is too 

>horrific to contemplate at any time, but especially at the beginning of 

>a new year.


It is now approaching one year since this last mention of Parker's dispute with the Arden Shakespeare. 


Out of curiosity, I checked the Reinstate Pat Parker web site <http://reinstatepatparker.com/Home.html> and found that the petition currently has 1,016 urging that Parker be reinstated.


I have learned nothing more of the situation, and I write now to ask if any SHAKSPER readers have any more information about it.


Hardy M. Cook

Editor of SHAKSPER 




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