Diplomatic immunity on the early modern stage: verbatim repetition of documents

2006-04-26T11:55:29Z (GMT) by Gabriel Egan
Near the end of a ground-breaking study of the notion of authenticity in relation to the Shakespearian text, Margreta de Grazia observed a textual phenomenon which is disturbing for us, but apparently was not for the early moderns. Edmond Malone's 1790 edition of The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare marked a sudden shift in Shakespeare studies in which a new rigorous objectivity, based on factual records, was required, and by reference to the earliest available printings Malone attempted to reproduce Shakespeare with as little interference as possible, ideally 'verbatim'. But Malone noticed that Shakespeare did not share his concern with verbatim reproduction: in a play the same paper can be read by two different people using different words. Specifically, De Grazia cited 2 Henry 6 in which the articles of peace are twice read aloud with differences in wording. Malone put this down to carelessness on Shakespeare's part, but De Grazia sought an explanation using Michel Foucault's notion of the 'author function' ...