Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Excerpt

Indebtedness for help with a book that has been long in writing lends itself poorly to formal expression. I hope that I have profited by Professor F. P. Wilson's advice one half as much as I have valued it. The many friends whose patience I must have taxed by apparently inconsequent questions and propositions would (I surmise) rather go unthanked than be named here.

Debts to published work I have of course acknowledged in the usual way, by reference in text or footnotes; but, as I look back over these references, they seem not to tell the story truly. The most stimulating antagonist for an admirer of Measure for Measure is not even named; but there is no arguing with Bridges: you bow to the magnificence of his language and his aristocratic temper, and then -- if you cannot agree -- seek another road. Johnson's name, on the other hand, may be thought to occur too often; but that is because I believe that modern criticism owes more to his comments on the play than the critics themselves recognize: surprise and petulance are the emotions most apparent when recognition is inescapable. Besides, veneration for his critical sagacity compels me to attend to what: he says, even when I believe him to be in error.

Many objections will be found levelled against the edition of the play in the New Cambridge Shakespeare. Their aim must not be misunderstood. They imply no want of recognition of the value of that body of work of which it is a part -- perhaps, not an entirely representative part. They are there because this is the edition most relevant to my argument: the most considerable, the most influential and, in its handling of the text, the most radical, of recent years. And my aim is to show that, however little I may have been able to contribute to the emendation of this text, it is not past mending, and is well worth the labour. The suggestions as to parti-

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