The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0054   Wednesday, 23 February 2011

From:         John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         February 18, 2011 2:50:31 PM EST
Subject:      Arden3 "The Merchant of Venice"

John Drakakis' Arden3 edition of "The Merchant of Venice" has been published [exactly when is a bit of a 
mystery: the book is dated 2010, but it seem to have been released -- or escaped -- this month.]

It has some odd features, whereas others take existing Arden3 trends further. The 159-page discursive 
(some would say rambling) introduction seems totally unstructured, and just doesn't cover some topics 
that one would expect -- I can find no discussion of the date of composition, for example. The annotation 
is satisfactorily ample -- so much so, that "Longer Notes" have had to be banished to a separate section 
(presumably because they wouldn't fit on the page.)

Somewhat surprisingly (and against current trends, Keir Elam's "Twelfth Night", for example), Shylock and 
Lancelot Gobbo have become "Jew" and "Clown" in the speech prefixes (there is a complicated -- and not 
particularly relevant - argument regarding shortage of type in printing Q1). Even more striking, the 
clown has become "Lancelet Giobbe" -- the original text alternates "Iobbe" and "Gobbo", apparently 
representing two different stabs (and misses) at the Italian for "Job". But I thought the Arden3 "The 
Taming of the Shrew" eschewed "Petruccio" in favour of "Petruchio"?

Appendix 1 has a somewhat confusing doubling chart -- which looks remarkably similar to the chart of type 
shortages in Appendix 2. Appendix 3 does actually discuss the text of Q1, for which I suppose we should 
be grateful.

On page 112, Drakakis sensibly concludes that Richard Burbage took the role of Antonio -- but on page 403 
he assigns it to James Burbage!

There is much puzzling over who might have originally taken the role of Shylock, and here I would like to 
make a suggestion -- as a quasi-comic role (but not a clown's one), I would suggest that it was played by 
Shakespeare himself.

John Briggs

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