Egan 2010b

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Egan, Gabriel. The Struggle for Shakespeare's Text: Twentieth-Century Editorial Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
note: named "Egan 2010b" because "Egan 2010" clashes with an edited volume
"This book aims to help push the pendulum back from a currently fashionable dispersal of agency and insist upon authors as the main deter- minants of what we read." (3)

useful brief sketch of history of editing Shakespeare; introduction of Lachmannian approach in 19c

The fall of pessimism and the rise of New Bibliography, 1902-1942

history of New Bibliography's rise framed by two facsimile editions of FF: Sidney Lee's collotype reproduction of the Chatsworth ofcopy (1902), Charlton Hinman's idealized line-offset reproduction of W W Norton (1968)

W. W. Greg's 1903 response in The Library to Lee's edition, pointing out errors, “introduced two elements of what came to be called the New Bibliography: a theory about the copyright notions of the period and an attempt to distinguish the kinds of manuscript used to make the Folio" (12)

1909, "A. W. Pollard provided the final element that allowed a shift from pessimism to optimism regarding our capacity to discriminate among the surviving early edition of Shakespeare" (12)

18c pessimism: “we cannot hope fully to recover what S wrote because all that remain are editions that are editions that are related in ways that make it impossible to tell which has greatest authority" or closes to S's own hand (13)

19c recension “opened up the possibility of discriminating between the surviving early editions" but still none seemed close enough to S's own hand (13) — so pessimism remains, evident in Lee's facsimile

Lee: “no print edition could, in Lee's view, be based directly on an author's papers, for these did not survive the theatrical processes for which they were created" (14)

Pollard: argued that Heminges and Condell's claim about “divers stolne, and surreptitious copies" referred only to bad quartos (first editions of R&J [1597], Henry 5 [1600], Merry Wives [1602], Hamlet [1603] and Pericles [1609]) — "pirated editions, printed but unscrupulous publishers from scripts made by surreptitious means such as stenography" (according to Pollard) (15)

“good quartos" were used for FF though

bad quartos produced by memorial reconstruction

Pollard: theory of continuous copy, “in which a single manuscript begins as authorial papers and ends up as a prompt-book" — without being copied in between by various scriveners (17) — later sent to printer

seems some authors did send mss to the censor without use of a scribe but the transition to prompt-book is dubious

continuous copy meant you could identify a line from author to printed text; even argued printing was then a way of getting a better text

"The central, groundbreaking assertion of Pollard's book was that the good early editions were authorized by the the playing company and were made directly from prompt-books that began life as Shakespeare's papers." (21)

implications for editing: those plays with good quartos should be edited from the quarto

"Pollard's Shakespeare's Fight with the Pirates was the first book-length argument for New Bibliography's key principles of editing. Its vital contribution was to raise confidence in the accuracy of the good quartos, since these Pollard argued had been printed from S's authorial papers that had been turned into prompt-books for the company." (22)
"The first of the new editorial principles was that no printing after the first good quarto has authority unless there are sound reasons for believing that rather than being a mere reprint it was also based on a manuscript of some authority" (23)
"The second of P's stated principles was that, although printers had scant regard for the 'spelling, punctuation and system of emphasis capitals' in their copy, their reluctance to exert themselves in these things makes the earliest non-piratical printing the greatest authority on these matters too" (23)

third principle: “Folio itself was, for some of the plays at least, an edited edition" (23)

later in collaboration with John Dover Wilson, claimed that Hand D in Sir Thomas More was Shakespeare, and that his unique spelling of certain words was retained in good quartos, proving that they were printed from an authorial manuscript (23)

Greg also rejects multiple transcripts theory but instead of single authoritative ms as Pollard believed, said there were always two: authorial foul papers and the prompt-book (24)

for Greg, 3 sets of documents in Elizabethan playhouse: 1) Book (authorized prompt copy), 2) Parts (written out for actors on long scrolls), 3) Plots, skeleton outlines of play written on long boards for use in playhouse

fair papers vs foul papers

McKerrow, prolegomena to his Oxford edition; editor should approach as closely as possible the fair copy of the author; definitiveness is unobtainable, but this is the most pragmatic choice (i.e. McKerrow is “not naively idealistic" 31)

"In theory, McKerrow's idealized document — the one the editor should set as her goal — stood at the boundary between author and playing company and was written in the author's handwriting. In practice he accepted the primacy of the extant early editions" (31)

McKerrow: notion that irregular names (e.g. calling Lady Capulet 'Mother' or 'Wife' instead of by her proper name throughout) indicates a closeness to an authorial manuscript since in the theatre this variation would not be tolerated (32) — this idea had deep impact on edition, but “McKerrow was wrong … speech prefix variation was not effaced in manuscripts used in the theatre" (33)

"Like Pollard, McKerrow held that a derivative edition has no authority whatever and that the edition standing first in the genetic line has full authority. All descendent editions are unauthoritative, even when they restore what is undoubtedly a correct reading where the parent has an incorrect one; this way of thinking comes close to saying that the errors of the most authoritative edition are themselves authoritative." (35)

summary: “First came the sudden dispersal by Pollard of pessimism about our capacity to discriminate between the early editions of Shakespeare and assess their relative authorities. Then Greg constructed precise classifications of early modern play manuscripts (surviving and lost), and he and McKerrow devised tests for determining which of the various categories of manuscript (authorial papers, fair copy, scribal transcript, prompt-book) the underlying copy for a particular edition belonged to. Finally came the beginnings of the cautious application, by McKerrow, of these new theories, categories and tests to the task of preparing an edition of Shakespeare aimed at the modern reader and deriving from fesh analysis of the original materials." (37)

New techniques and the Virginian School: New Bibliography 1939-1968

American post-war optimism in technical study of printing revealing more about mss-printed text relationship

Hinman collator

McKerrow's death; Greg responds to his work

Greg, The Editorial Problem in Shakespeare, “Prolegomena" (echoing McKerrow), outlines new principles: !) critical edition should present the text closest to the author's fair copy “of the work as he finally intended it", 2) with this aim, editor should select the most “authoritative" of the early prints as copy-text

preference for authorial over theatrical manuscript

Greg rejected McKerrow's conservativism; McKerrow believed once a copy-text had been determined, the editor should stick to it except when in obvious error, Greg said editor's judgement could be used to pick readings from other texts and combine to approach nearest authorial version

"Greg rejected the principle that there will always be one early edition that best represents the play; rather, he insisted that different editions each best represent different aspects of what the author wrote" (42) — eclectic approach

for Greg, “bibliography exists to enable editions to be made by transcending the particularities in which the scholarship is necessarily grounded" (44)

Greg, “The Rationale of Copy-Text," use of word “accidentals" — using it in the Aristotelian sense; “Greg invoked an idealist distinction between the work and a particular material embodiment of it that goes to the heart of the debates that structure this book." (45)

“Greg believed that there were no kinds of stage direction whose imprecision could be used to argue authorial rather than theatrical provenance." (51)

"Rather than accept that additional copies might serve useful purposes in the textual economy of the theatre, Greg insisted that anything beyond two copies — authorial papers and prompt-book — would have been 'extremely uneconomical'. … By clearing away other, complicating possibilities, Greg had implicitly set as a task for subsequent Shakespearian editors the binate determination of the underlying copy for the early editions on which theirs were to be founded, and many of them used his checklist without regard for the qualifications in it." (54)

shift to America

Bowers and his student Hinman worked in military cryptanalysis during WW2

American scholars doing spelling analysis to identify different compositors; skeleton formes (running titles) — two might be used, so slight differences can show order of printing

“from its first foundations the Virginian-school bibliography was erected upon precarious assumptions about the regularity of labour practices. As we shall see, the edifice collapsed when irregularity was proven to be the norm." (64)

Bowers: thought “there could be no halfway house between a diplomatic reprint and a critical edition, since as soon as one corrects any error the result cannot be called a diplomatic reprint; one might as well follow through and make a full critical edition, emending as necessary" (65)

Bowers: emphasis on compositors; could get at the manuscript by anticipating how certain compositors would make particular errors

1960s: essays in Studies in Bibliography building on new technical procedures of running title analysis (Bowers), broken type reuse analysis (Hinman), type shortage analysis (George Walton Williams)


"The principle Honigmann established is important: Shakespeare dithered over details and made small changes whilst writing or between the first draft and the final fair copy. Honigmann looked at many dramatic and non-dramatic manuscripts of the period, and later, and argued convincingly that such tinkering is the ingrained habit of poets." (70) — we read dramatist's changes of mind over time in differences; no such thing as the definitive text in the mind of the dramatist


proof of setting by formes rather than seriatim using evidence of press variants and recurrent damaged type

Hinman's 1968 facsimile, using fine-screen offset process, of an idealized First Folio text that combined corrected best versions of each page from different exemplars; chose pages not formes, ignoring McKerro's principle that since the unity of press correction was the forme, not the page or the sheet, one should use this unit, bc Hinman believed the unit of proofreading was the page, not the forme

Hinman's facsimile could not have occurred in the printing house.. mixing recto and verso would have been impossible, e.g.

"Hinman's Folio facsimile of 1968 represents the high-water mark of a certain kind of idealization about early modern printing." (80)

New Bibliography 1969-1979

D. F. McKenzie, “Printers of the Mind" (1969): concurrent working was the norm; not just one project going, so many of the VA-school New Bibliography methods couldn't be applied; argued that extensive historical work was needed to validate bibliography's assumptions about normal printshop practice; work of the whole printshop must be examined, not just the individual book

McKenzie's work was at the same time as Barthes' and Foucault, arguing to place individual works within wider social/cultural context/formations

Peter Davison's response to McKenzie, drawing on Kuhn's paradigm shift in sciences

Philip Gaskell, McKenzie's mentor; believed McKenzie had destroyed “scientific" bibliography

Peter W. M. Blayney, saw McKenzie as a necessary corrective to New bibliography

T. H. Howard Hill, contracted by Oxford UP to produce original-spelling concordances of early editions; computer facilities were made available to help him mechanize the work

his concordance project's computer tapes became invaluable to creating the basis of the Oxford Complete Works of 1986

compositorial studies was recovering from shock of McKenzie by mid-1970s, “finding ways to overcome its cautions" (94) — “acknowledge-and-ignore approach"

Intermezzo: memorial reconstruction

"By the 1950s the theory of memorial reconstruction was firmly established as an orthodoxy that accounted for the bad quartos, and although small pieces of evidence consistent with the theory continued to turn up there were to be no new compelling proofs of the kind with which Greg and Alexander had founded the hypothesis." (113)

Laurie Maguire, Shakespearean Suspect Texts (1996); searching for hard evidence to support claim that plays could be constructed from memory; found that “many of the alleged symptoms of memorial reconstruction are present in the non-suspect texts, so either there was greatly more memorial reconstruction than previously suspected, or the tests were giving false positives" (119)

"The memorial reconstruction hypothesis alone cannot explain the existence of the bad quartos." (127)

New Bibliography critiqued and revised, 1980-1990

post-war study of performance beginning to undermine New Bibliography

G. E. Bentley, Stephen Orgel

"The image of a solitary dramatic author making a singular output was mistaken and needed to be replaced with a social and collaborative model of creation in which the script is unfixed and endlessly reshapeable." (130)

McKenzie, sociology of the text: material production and layout works together with author's words to make meaning

Randall McLeod, brought this work to the attention of Shakespeareans; “editors must think of the material realities of typesetting" (131); “unediting" — opposition to editorial interventions that regularize variations in spelling, etc.

arguments that quarto and Folio editions of a single play should be treated as distinct versions “acquired particular urgency in the early 1980s" (133)

revision hypothesis for King Lear in The Division of the Kingdoms; “extraordinary burst of work on King Lear in 1978-86 has a permanent effect: no longer will the quarto and Folio editions of the play be treated as two descendants of one archetype" (146)

Jerome McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (1983); question of how much difference needs to exist between two texts for them to be considered distinct versions; applied New Bibliographical principles to modern American writers for whom authorial manuscripts survive; author is not Romantic loner but literary production is social; underlying preference for manuscripts is a Romantic notion — some authors prefer print; books are fundamentally social

“the socialized text" — final authority resides in the structure of agreements between cooperating authorities

critical editions are supposed to transcend historical exigency, but it will necessarily fail

"As articulated by McGann, the socialized approach treats the material objects created by writers, actual books, as more authoritative than the intentions that preceded them. The New Bibliography, by contrast, was predicated on the conviction that an editor might extrapolate from the material objects their preceding intentions, which will be of greater interest to the modern reader, and then mediate those afresh." (152)

Tanselle as successor to Greg and Bowers; use of the terms “work" for immaterial creation and “text" for documentary object; Platonic-idealist view; vigorous defender of Greg — often returned to “The Rationale of the Copy-Text" to show that the work can be recovered from imperfect texts

New Textualism

Goldberg: textual criticism was founded on a Platonism that post-structuralism had dispelled; wanted to unite bibliography with New Historicism and “slay essentialism" (153)

Steven Urkowitz, Randall McLeod, Paul Werstine, Michael Warren — New Textualism's bibliographical wing; Goldberg and Trousdale — “politico-theoretical avant-gard"; Gary Taylor, refined conventional NB into “new" New Bibliography (154)

Margreta de Grazia, “The Essential Shakespeare and the Material Book" — NB was really idealist since it was dissatisfied with surviving material texts of S

Egan sympathetic to the idea that this is antiquarianism, the “thingification" (Jean Howard's term) of Shakespeare studies

"Almost alone among the advocates of the emerging New Textualism, Werstine used hard-won empirical data — the habits of compositors — to undermine the rigid strictures of New Bibliography." (163)

The 'new' New Bibliography: the Oxford Complete Works, 1978-1989

Gary Taylor, updated “The Rationale of the Copy-Text by proposing “that where the authority for accidentals and substantives is split between two early editions, the familiar term copy-text be retained for the authority for accidentals and a new term, control text, be used for the authority for substantives." (171)

controversially argued to retain last name Oldcastle for Sir John in 1 Henry 4, even though it had offended the family at the time and was later renamed Falstaff — in Oxford Complete Works

"The Oxford editors did no fresh collation of press variants in the early editions, nor historical collation of variant readings in early editions or significant post-1709 editions. What they achieved was to develop new practices in modernizing spelling and punctuation, apply a socialized model of Shakespeare's dramatic intentions, determine the nature of the copy for all substantive editions, and for the first time give due place to revision and collaboration." (180)
"When the Oxford Complete Works was published, the emerging New Textualism gained momentum by opposing its editorial principles." (188)
"For Werstine, the 'new' New Bibliography was built on New Bibliography's false premisses." (188)
"The New Textualism and the 'new' New Bibliography began on common ground and shared a rejection of the author-centricity of the New Bibliography. In the early 1980s those who ended up in distinct camps such as Paul Werstine, Steven Urkowitz and Randall McLeod on the one side and Gary Taylor and MacDonald P. Jackson on the other were able to collaborate on the splitting of King Lear. The publication of the Oxford Complete Works in 1986 seems to have divided them. The boldness of the project smacked of intellectual hubris to those who went on to champion New Textualism. Hitherto, theoretical developments in New Bibliography were always far in advance of their practical application … and not until the Oxford Complete Works could it be said that editorial theory and practice coincided." (188)

Materialism, unediting and version-editing, 1990-1999

Leah Marcus, adoption of the term “leveling"; “equal-but-different" adapted from gender politics of 1970s to talk of different versions; no need to rank/hierarchize editions since each “is a distinct and internally coherent version" (190)

British Cultural Materialist Graham Holderness, Bryan Loughrey; claimed Oxford CW still believed in ideology of authorship; article launched series of reprints or first editions , whether quarto or folio, called “Shakespearean Originals: First Editions" (191)

Cambridge UP's “Early Quarto" series (sub series of New Cambridge Shakespeare) began to offer edited texts of the Shakespearean Originals' early editions and third series of Arden Shakespeare turned attention to bad quartos, undercutting the SO project

de Grazia, pointing out that New Historicism and New Textualism share core concerns, “The Materiality of Shakespeare's Text" (co-authored with Stallybrass); argued that stop-press corrections show that no Folio is the same — Egan quoting Blayney says this case is overstated

Hoderness, Loughrey, and Andrew Murphy, calling themselves “materialist bibliographers," stuck to earliest editions as best, reprinting Shakespearen Originals

Barbara Mowat, Paul Werstine — began Th eNew Folger Library Shakespeare series in 1992; shared disdain for conflation of early editions but was a conservative form of McKerro's best-text principle; conveyed multiplicity by surrounding modernized text with brackets showing where editions differed from each other — puts the mediating process on show

Michael Warren, four-text King Lear with unbound facsimile leaves of Q1, Q2, and F

collapse of theory of memorial reconstruction bolstered the New Textualism

"Critical reinterpretation as much as bibliography raised the status of the bad quartos as distinct versions." (198)

New Textualism unconsciously clung to idea of bad quartos as closer to performance

Conclusion: the twenty-first century

collapse of some compositor's evidence

New Textualism's proposals have not been widely adopted; mainstream editions “ continue to be edited along essentially New Bibliographical lines, albeit usually with less editorial confidence than at any time since the beginning of the twentieth century." (216)

Lukas Erne — argued that Shakespeare was interested in print publication (contrary to common views)

"At the height of author-centred New Bibligoraphy, Erne's conclusions would have mattered little, but for a stage-centred 'new' New Bibliography attempting to recover the play as performed, Shakespeare's use of print to convey to readers material that could not be performed would be devastating." (221)

Edward Pechter, parallel argument that although emphasizing performance is intended as anti-elitist “this attitude towards theatre suppresses the truly radical aspects of literary creativity" (222)

2500 lines as about 2-hours' play; longer versions were more literary, would be cut for performance

Andrew Gurr, disagreed that long plays represent not literary extravange but “the value placed upon the Master of the Revels' license"; playing companies would carry licensed play script (long version) and not edit it; would cut for specific performances (223); if entire play was authorized, any subset would be too (it is assumed) — leaving bits out didn't change meaning, or perhaps the censor didn't see it as his job to judge the meaning as a whole, only to censure local readings (224)

follows that 'new' New Bibliographical aim to recover first performance is misguided, since performance is only ever a subset of the writer's ideal

"Gurr's approach shows that accepting the proliferation of documents does not disable a conceptual model in which writers and players idealized their endeavors, and it provides a particularly appealing narrative for those who see the exercise of power as central to cultural labour, for the idealized script embodied in the licensed playbook was a negotiated settlement between authorial wishes and the censorious power of the early modern state. … For all that the script circulated in fragments such as actors' parts, it also presented a singularity when authorized by the censor. State power rendered the dispersed, fragmentary, unstable and plural text into something unitary for which the writer was responsible, just as pre structuralist models of authorship always supposed." (225)

Jeffrey Knapp, sole authorship was not a recent paradigm in 17c but had long been paradigm

Farmer and Lesser, title page study, shows notion of dramatic author emerged as part of theatre industry, not separate from it

"If Gurr and Erne are right, the principles of high New Bibliograph (prior to the 'new' New Bibliography's stage-centred adjustments) suit our present state of knowledge." (229)
"The new arguments about actors' cuts and Shakespeare's literary consciousness need not return us to the state of relative pessimism about his texts that obtained before the rise of New Bibliography int he early twentieth century. Contrary to the thrust of most of the New Textualism, the struggle for Shakespeare's texts has not been pointless. There remains fundamental bibliographical work to do, for example in the comprehensive collation and explanation of press variants in the early editions, for the treatment of which editorial theory currently has no coherent criteria. In both senses of the title of this book — the Herculean (admittedly, at times, Sisyphean) and the combinatorial senses — the struggle for Shakespeare's text is not over." (230)