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Intention in the editing of Shakespeare

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journal contribution
posted on 05.10.2011 by Gabriel Egan
Play scripts differ from prose narratives and poetry because they are meant to undergo a further transformation by practitioners before being consumed. Shakespeare’s plays come to us via early printed editions showing corrections, unwarranted adjustments, and fresh errors by copyists, compositors, and pressmen. For one school of thought, Shakespeare’s intention all but disappears under these extra textual layers, and another school would have us consider the copyists, compositors, pressmen, and actors to be equal partners with Shakespeare in the creation of his works. Add to that collaborative authorship and multiple revision of scripts, and the temptations of postmodern insouciance about intention overwhelm all but the staunchest defender of the old certainties. Here it is argued that research into the material conditions that produced the early editions of Shakespeare shows that the recent rejection of New Bibliography (which embodies the most venerable of the old certainties) is mistaken and that intention remains a vital notion for editors.

History

School

  • The Arts, English and Drama

Department

  • English and Drama

Citation

EGAN, G., 2010. Intention in the editing of Shakespeare. Style, 44 (3), pp. 378-390.

Publisher

Department of English, Northern Illinois University

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publication date

2010

Notes

This article was published in the journal, Style, and the definitive version is available at: http://www.engl.niu.edu/ojs/index.php/style/article/viewFile/121/71

Publisher version

Language

en

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