The Hamlets: Cues, Qs, and Remembered Texts

The Hamlets: Cues, Qs, and Remembered Texts

The Hamlets: Cues, Qs, and Remembered Texts

The Hamlets: Cues, Qs, and Remembered Texts

Synopsis

"While differences among the three early texts of Hamlet have been considered in terms of interpretive consequences, The Hamlets instead considers practical issues in the playhouses of early modern London. It examines how Shakespeare's company operated, how they may have treated the authorial text, what the actor's needs might have been, and how the three texts may be manifestations of the play's life in the theater. By studying cue-line variation in the three texts, the book introduces a unique method of analysis and constructs for Hamlet a new narrative of authorial, textual, and playhouse practices that challenges the customary assumptions about the transmission of Shakespeare's most textually troubling play."

Excerpt

For centuries, scholars interested in how Shakespeare's plays became Shakespeare’s works pursued—if not the author’s hand—then the author’s handiwork, the elusive manuscripts that promised the fons et origo of Shakespearean creativity. Fredson Bowers’ description of bibliographical inquiry aptly represents the twentieth century’s textual scrutiny of the absent object: “By stripping the veil of print from the texts, … [we can] recover a number of the characteristics of the manuscript that was given to the printer.” the “veil of print” was better poetry than scholarship. As Margreta de Grazia writes, the immaterial manuscript became the “enabling figment of the bibliographic and critical imagination.” Paradoxically, for work with pretenses to clinical dispassion, in its search for an absent maker the New Bibliography resembled a kind of faith-based scholarship.

In the last thirty years, however, the confidence of the New Bibliography about the transmission of Shakespeare’s plays has been steadily undermined, its limitations and rigidity exposed. the initial challenge came from the reintroduction of the idea of authorial revision and a renewed attention to texts as scores for performance. This work clustered initially around King Lear, culminating in Gary Taylor and Michael Warren’s landmark Division of the Kingdoms (1988), which gave us two Lears where before there had been only one. Simultaneously, post-structuralism undermined the very notion of the words “author” and “text,” elasticizing the function of author to include multiple acts and actors of collaboration. in addition, theater historians like David Bradley, Alan Dessen, William Ingram, Roslyn Knutson, Scott McMillin, and Tiffany Stern have demonstrated that playwriting and textual transmission are thoroughly embedded in playhouse practice. Finally, in a series of articles, Paul Werstine has systematically dismantled many of the guiding orthodoxies . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.