Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." — H.G. Wells

"Many of the [Shakespeare's] plays existed in a number of versions: all needed to be edited and prepared for the press. Neither [John] Heminges nor [Henry] Condell [the actors who published Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies after his death] had produced a book before, nor would they afterwards. And it is unlikely that the backers of the Folio, the printers Isaac Jaggard and Edward Blount, would have risked putting such an expensive project in their hands. As one expert puts it: 'it is doubtful' whether they would be capable of such 'exacting work.'…
     New technology has changed scholarship. Whereas previous generations of experts have sought to reconcile the differences between quarto and Folio, current thinking highlights the difficult relationship between the various incarnations of Shakespeare's texts, something made easier by the availability of rare Shakespeare quartos in digital databases such as Early English Books Online.
     The scholar Eleanor Prosser thus detects 'considerable evidence' for the elimination of metrical and stylistic 'irregularities' in the Folio: short lines are lengthened to 10 syllables, verbs agreed with subjects, double negatives resolved. In addition, a range of unusual words are added to the text, words not used elsewhere by Shakespeare. Prosser concludes: 'somewhere behind the Folio … lies a conscientious and exacting editor with literary pretensions,' albeit one 'more experienced in the transcription of literary than of theatrical works.' But who was it?"
— Saul Frampton, The Guardian

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