Kastan 2001

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Kastan, David Scott. Shakespeare and the Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
"Focus on the documentary particularities of a text frees our reading from the fantasy of literary autonomy. It demystifies the act of writing, clarifying the actual conditions of creativity, locating the text within a network of inentions, within which the author's, however dominant, are still only some among many -- and intentions, it should be noted, that are incapable of producing the book itself." (5)
"The printed play is neither a pre-theatrical text nor a post-theatrical one; it is a non-theatrical text, even when it claims to offer a version of the play 'as it was played'." (8)
"Text and performance are, then, not partial and congruent aspects of some unity that we think of as the play, but are two discrete modes of production. Performance operates according to a theatrical logic of its own rather than one derived from the text; the pritned play operates according to a textual logic that is not derived from performance." (9)

From playhouse to printing house; or, making a good impression

"We, of course, engage Shakespeare only in mediated form. One could say that this means that we never actually engage Shakespeare, but to the degree that this is true it is merely an uninteresting literalism. Shakespeare is available precisely because 'Shakespeare,' in any meaningful sense other than the biographical, is -- and has always been -- a synecdoche for the involved mediations of the playhouse and printing house through which he is produced." (16)

18/37 plays published in his lifetime; "none in an edition that Shakespeare avowed as his own"; 10 reprinted, so 42 separate editions reached print before his death -- 45 surviving editions of 19 plays if you count The Taming of A Shrew (20)

At his death, # of editions of Shakespeare's plays far exceeded that of any contemporary playwrights; "no single play to that time had sold as well as 1 Henry IV" (21)

some competitors for theatrical preeminence during his lifetime, "but what has often been overlooked is that as a publisehd dramatist he had none. ... Ironically, although he never sought his success as in print, he is the period's leading published playwright." (21)

in 1630s, booksellers sold ~20x as many religious books as plays -- which were considered ephemera. "Publishers did regularly assume the risk of printing plays (though, between 1590 and 1615, on average only about ten were published a year), but they could not have done so imagining either that they were preserving the nation's cultural heritage or about to make their own fortune." (22)

pirates were not those who stole a playwright's work and published w/o permission but "those publishers who undertook to print a book that properly belong to another stationer.' (25)

8 of Sh's plays published over 4 years before one appeared in print with his name on it; plays often advertised as played in a particular place; "all advertise the authority of the text as theatrical rather than authorial" -- printed plays tied to theatrical success (31)

"title pages usually advertised their plays as the records of performance rather than as the registers of a literary intention"; display of author's name "offered no particular commercial advantage", although 'at least in Shakespeare's case, this was int he process of changing"; Richard II and Richard III published with his name in reprints of 1598 (33) -- Kastan traces the development of including Sh's name on title pages

but "Shakespeare is here always the publishers Shakespeare, not the author himself, a simulacrum invented to protect and promote the publisher's property" (35)

"year by year on the bookstalls the commercial cachet of an old acting company weakend, whilt he commercial cachet of an old playwright grew" (40)

discussion of Danter; not the villain publisher supposed by new bibliographers (46)

example of Romeo and Juliet

  • "Since its first appearance in 1597, then, the play had belonged to four men, none of whom had felt obligated by either bibliographic scruple or commercial consideration to acknowledge Shakespeare's authorship. As the play became a less familiar element in the repertory of the King's men (and indeed no record survives of any production after 1598) the recurring title place claim that the play was printed 'as it hath beene sundrie times publiquely acted' inevitably became more gestural than descriptive, and as Shakespeare's name had become increasingly 'vendible' in the marketplace of print, it is hard to imagine that if he were recognized as the play's author his name would not have been used to help sell the editions (as indeed it is on the variant 1622 title page)." (48)

From quarto to folio; or, size matters

18c; Capell, Malone

"The theatrical authorizations that mark the quartos are gone; there is no mention that any text is here 'as it was played'; indeed the acting companies are never mentioned by name. The names of the principal players are printed, though interestingly enough on a page that is part of an afterthought to the preliminaries and indeed one which is headed 'the Workes of William Shakespeare.' The texts themselves are offered as new and improved, or, more precisely, as original and still uncontaminated, the title page promising that the plays are 'Truly set forth according to their first ORIGINALL.'" (71)
"But that Heminge and Condell, both of whom had spent their lives happily working in the theater and who knew Shakespeare primarily from the theater, would so readily disregard the theater in the commemorative volume is much more surprising." (71)

playbooks famously not entered in Bodleian collection; but in early 1624 had a copy of the Shakespeare folio, had it expensively bound (72)

"At a pound, the book was expensive and its market obviously more limited than that for the six-penny play quartos. Though there are some examples of collectors of playbooks in all formats, the buys of the folio were probably on balance different from those that bought quartos, both wealthier and more desirous of having their literary tastes flattered by the book they would buy. Thus the book presents itself as literary. the texts that ahve been 'collected & publish'd' are said to be set forth exactly as they flowed from their author's imaginings, uncontaminated by the contingencies of the printing shop or of the playhouse. it is the ideal text of editorial desire, or so it claims: a collection of plays 'Published acording to the True Originall Copies.' It cannot, of course, be so." (72)
"In Heminge and Condell's account, Shakespeare's absolute authority is left uncontested and intact -- or, more exactly, their account does not leave Shakespeare's authority unchallenged, it is the very means by which that authority is invented. Shakespeare never had it, and, unlike Jonson, he had never tried to claim it." (77)
"The commercial context of the folio must not be forgotten. Today it seems obvious to us that the volume was the necessary and appropriate memorial to England's greatest playwright, but at the time all that was clear to Blound and his partners was that they had undertaken an expensive publishing project with no certainty of recovering their considerable investment. If Shakespeare the writing must inevitably be found decentered and dispersed in the communities and collaborations of early modern play and book production, he has been purposefully and powerfully reconstituted as an 'AVTHOR' in the commercial desires of the early modern book trade." (78)

From contemporary to classic; or, textual healing

F2 -- "volume itself is essentially a line-by-line reprint of the first folio, though the second edition does in places 'correct' the text of the first. There is, however, nothing o suggest that any new material was consulted that would make these changes authoritative." (80)

F2, almost 1700 changes, 623 of which have been regularly accepted in modern editions (80); "it shows a fundamental alertness to the disruptions in the first folio text, and that its efforts to fix these are logical rather than scholarly. The correctors seemingly had no access to early quartos or to any manuscripts of the plays." (82)

"If the second folio is, then, of little bibliographic value, it is still of unmistakable cultural significance. It not only works to confirm and consolidate the literary status of Shakespeare's plays that had been asserted by the first folio, but arguably it also marks the true beginning of the process that has driven virtually every subsequent venture of publishing Shakespeare's plays: the second folio initiates the procedures by which Shakespeare becomes the contemporary of his readers. By submitting his work to a process of modernization that can be more easily seen than heard -- in the spelling of words, the normalizing of grammar, the standardization of capitalization and the use of italics, the regularizing of character's names, and so forth -- Shakespeare's plays on he printed page, or, more precisely, through the printed page, escape their moment of creation and appear as contemporaneous with their moment of reception. Certainly some modernization was done in the first folio, but int he second folio the very principle of the text's preparation was to produce a volume that minimized, if no fully erased, the linguistic distance that had opened up between Shakespeare's writing and his seventeenth-century readers." (82)

mid-century, Sh's popularity had waned; other playwrights like Beaumont and Fletcher "dominated the bookstalls" (83)

"Changeable scenery and mechanical devices, entr'acte musical entertainmen, and plots and idiom that were regularized and refined tamed Shakespeare's wild fancy to the service of a new sensibility. Characters were polarized, motivations untangled, morality clarified, song and spectacle amplified, and Sh's language simplified and sophisticated." (85) -- Dryden removed characters, straightened lines, etc.; "heavily cut" the originals
"Even as the new editions of the folio were issued in 1663 and 1685, Shakespeare was thriving in the theater, but only by having his texts reshaped according to aesthetic standards largely irrelevant and inhospitable to the originals. The alterations were made with no commitment to the intentions of Sh's originals and with litt,e if any, embarrassment about their violation." (85-6)


"But 'Sh's plays' did not haughtily declare noli me tangere. Shakespeare survived precisely by being accessible and pliant in the hands of his lovers." (88)
"The adaptations were serious and respectful efforts to make the excellence of the old plays visible to the new age." (88)
"Considered as theatrical scripts, Sh's texts received the precise treatment they requested. They were modified -- as indeed they always had been -- to play successfully o the stages of the time. Sh's oft-remarked genius did not inhibit the impulse to adaptation; rather, in effect, it demanded the effort to make the plays acceptable to the new audiences that assembled in the theaters." (88)

Davenant; "Obviously he felt no obligation either to Shakespeare's staging prctices or to the structure or even the language of Sh's texts. Davenant turned Sh into a contemporary playwright, at once modern and highbrow, fit for the theatrical environment in which hew as now performed. ARguably it was this transformation that was responsible for Shakespeare's survival in the repertory. 'Old Shakespear' was made new, and in his contemporary dress he filled the theaters. Davenant's adaptations gave rise to more than fifty others in the next hundred years." (90)

"in the single figure of Lewis Theobald can be seen the era's schizophrenic relation to Shakespeare -- always admiring, but, in one mode, presumptuously altering his plays for success on the stage, while, in another, determinedly seeking the authentic text in the succession of scholarly editions that followed Rowe's." (93)
"On stage, Shakespeare's words were free to be rearranged, refined and revised, all in the service of keeping them current; on the page, in a different spirit of adultion, they were to be restored to their authentic form." (95)
"The Sh that the editors served was explicitly an author not a playwright, and his plays, for their purposes, were, therefore, not scrips to be performed (and thus inevitably to be modified) but plays to be read (and thus demanding a correct and stable text0. For them the task was to establish a text as close as possible to what Shakespeare himself had put on paper, recovering it from the imperfect record of the surviving printed editions." (96)

early quartos presented as "publicly acted"

"The plays, rescued from their Restoration appropriations, increasingly became a kind of secular scripture -- not, of course, the divine Word but the words fo the 'divine Shakespeare,' as Dryden seems to be the first to call him." (97) -- Shakespeare as established religion, a "lay bible" (quoted from Arthur Murphy); "Even before Sh's full cultural theogony in the 1750s, the language of religious engagement had already begun to surround the texts of the plays, and, as Marcus Walsh and Simon Jarvis have convincingly shown, knowledge of debates in biblical criticism affected the approached to Sh's text." (97)
"Even the holy word of God was in need of editorial attention, and the editors of Sh's plays increasingly accepted as an article of faith, one might say, that if the biblical word might be restored by the application of systematic techniques of textual criticism so might the text that Mary Cowden Clarke would in 1829 call 'the bible of the intellectual world.'" (97)
"Pope conceived of his editorial task more as mediation than remediation: Sh was made fit for Augustan readers. Unsurprisingly, the edition, published in 1725, is nwo best remembered for its conspicuous impositions of contemporary taste upon Sh's text: in the regularizing of the verse, in distinguishing 'the most shining passages' by marking them with commas in the margins, and, most notoriously, in identifying 'suspected passages, which are excessively bad', and which are, therefore, 'degraded to the bottom of the page.'" (99-100) -- ~1500 passages degraded

Johnson claimed Pope thought "more of amputation than of cure"

Theobald's editing anticipated much of new bibliography (101)

even as editors tried to fix Sh, "the succession of editions in fact declared the indeterminate nature of the project, the next edition required to address the failings of the last" (103)

"The commentary and other appartus sharing the page with Sh's words made the uncertainties about Sh's text unmistakable, and, worse," threatened to make the text incidental (103-7)
"The scholarly project that had begun with the goal of establishing a 'correct' text of Sh's plays, which could be easily and confidently read in that knowledge, in fact produced a text in which arguments about its correctness were the very justification for its existence." (107)
"In spite of its obvious industry and intelligence, a century of critical attention had succeeded primarily in making the instabilities and imperfections of the text matters of common knowledge." (107)

Malone -- Bowdler edition published the same year (1807) (109)

From codex to computer; or, presence of mind

"Digitally produced books are unmistakably still books; digitally displayed books are not." (112)

new bibliography, Greg; "strip the veil of print from the text" (Bowers quote) (118)

"Since the goal of critical editing so understood is the recovery of the intended work from its material circumstances, the resulting edited text has no necessar relation to any medium in which it can be presented. The motivating principle of such editing is precisely that the medium is at very best a neutral conveyor of the intended work and more likely a detrimental environment, disbursing authority to agents other than the author and obscuring or defiling the 'ideal text' of the author's imagining. If the medium is understood primarily as vehicular, the necessary choice of one text (or more) for the critical edition itself must, therefore, be a function of considerations external to it. A critical edition could be published as easily in an electronic form as in a printed book; whatever advantage one might have over the other is clearly independent of the internal logic of the edition itself." (118-9)
"The process of book production, no less than the process of play production, distrubes an author's intentions through the material and institutional conditions of production. Even Blake's singular efforts to control all aspects of the production process finally found their limits in the materiality of the medium itself." (121)

new bibliography, remove the physical

"there must be alternative ways to conceive of the goals of editorial activity, ways in which the processes of materialization would not be understood as unwanted obstacles to the realization of the author's intention but as the ncessary conditions of it." (122)
"An ideal text ('ideal in the sense that it represents the word of the author's imagining before it has suffered the various intrusive processes of its materialization) can be more or less successfully reconstructed and presented to view. If, however, our interest isnot in the unrealized and probably unrealizable intended text but in the physical manifestations of it that, even in (or, rather, precisely in) their imperfection, testify to the actual conditions of historical existence, then the editorial task and challenge is different." (122)
"Once one takes as one's goal not the isolation of authorial intentions from their enabling forms and circumstances but precisely the opposit -- the location of the text within the network of social and institutional practices that have allowed it to be produced and read -- it becomes more difficult to imagine the form such an edition would assume and the procedures by which one would edit. Indeed arguably it becomes more difficult to justify editing at all, since the unedited texts, even in their manifest error, are the most compelling witnesses to the complex conditions of their production. Editing can only obscure or distort some of the evidence provided by those early texts, erasing marks of the texts' historicity." (122-3)
"In truth, as this book is in part designed to show, Sh's texts remain unnervingly (exhilaratingly?) fluid in spite of over 375 years of editorial efforts to stabilize them. In the absence of an authentic original, indeed in the absence of a general agreement about what an authentic original might be, each edition, like each performance, of a play becomes part of a cumulative history of what has been experienced as the play; and the more of this history that is available the more it becomes possible to measure the play's achievement and its effects. The individual print edition, however, almost always has to think otherwise about the text; it usually must choose a single instantiation, a choice usually driven less by editorial confidence than by inescapable considerations of space, of cost, or readability, all exposing the limits of the code as a tool of information technology." (124-5)

electronic edition lets reader navigation in particular, individual ways; "potential copiousness of what is there is to navigate that seems to suggest a way out of the disabling binaries of recent editorial theory" (127) --- return of editorial accretions, but each individual??

"But such contingencies no longer force an editor to choose between versions, because in hypertext there is no physical limit to the number of textual manifestations that can appear." (127)

"either ends the need for editing or, more likely, re-establishes it." (128)

"If such resources, in their ability to offer a desnity of relevant material that no print edition could ever manage, perhaps suggest that we are now free from the traditional obligation of textual editing to produce versions of the plays as 'their author intended them to appear,' that very density may itself reinaugurate the desire for a single text that the elecronic archive has seemingly rendered both inadequate and unnecessary." (128-9)

exhaustive edition would make the play "virtually unreadable" (129); yet such electronic editions are not designed to be read, "It is an archive, and like any archive it yields its treasures only to diligent and capable researchers. An edition, however, is designed to present not the archive but the results of one's investigations there. If such results can be no more authoritative than the completeness of the archive and the competence of the investigator permit, they can, within those limits, present a text that can confidently and conveniently be read" (129)

"The familiar dichotomy of the play ont he page and the play ont he stage gives way to another: the play on the printed page and the play on the computer screen. On the page, the play is stabilized, by print and by editorial commitment: a commitment to the author's final intention, to the surviving best text, to the performance text of a particular production, or, as often as not, merely to the text that is out of copyright and can be reprinted without cost. The codex is always about choices and boundaries; that is both its advantage and its limitation. On the screen, the play is always potentially multiple and unstable. There is no necessity to choose between textual understandings: all available versions of the play can theoretically be included, and we can move easily between them. That is both the advantage and the limitation of the electronic text. The book disciplines; it makes us take responsibility for our decisions and live with their consequences. The electronic text offers a fantasy of freedom: there is no need make choices; there are no consequences to accept." (130)
"faced with the challenge from a digital technology that is unquestionably more capacious, more flexible, and more easily disseminated than print, can the book's self-confident offer of coherence and authority continue to compel?" (132)
"In the shift from codex to computer we will not lose Shakespeare, but neither we will find him in some more authentic way. As I have been arguing throughout this book, he has never really been in any of those textual spaces where we pretend he resides. Nonetheless, we endow each of them with his name, discovering int he various forms of their materiality imagined signs of his presence." (136)