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The Editorial Recuperation of Claudio Michael D. Friedman In a recent issue of Shakespeare Quarterly, W. B. Worthen proposes that the "justifying critical agenda" of Shakespearean performance criticism is "to locate the space and practice of criticism in relation to the practices of performance."! Looking back over earlier attempts to relate theatrical procedures to the signification of the dramatic text, Worthen finds inadequate those versions of performance criticism which "avowedly locate performance (and so 'performance criticism') as supplemental to the designs of the text, mapping the text's meanings onto the histrionic and pictorial relationships of the stage." By privileging the text, he asserts, this type of scholarship "sidesteps the definitive challenges that a performance criticism ought to address: how the text is traced and transgressed both by theatrical and by critical strategies for producing it as drama."2 Worthen suggests that such challenges might be met in the field of contemporary Shakespearean editing, where controversy currently rages over the distinction between "literary" and "theatrical " versions of a play like King Lear.3 But as A. R. Braunmuller points out, even when Quarto and Folio versions of a play do not constitute two substantially different dramatic works, editorial practices may tend to construct the play as either a "literary" or a "theatrical" artifact: Either the editor ignores the text as a theatrical script, a guide to performers and for performance, or the editor creates a performance of the play in notes, stage directions, and other commentary according to the theatrical conventions of the editor's own time, usually in fact the conventions of his or her youth. . . . No matter which avenue an editor follows . . . there are occasions when the imagined staging of a scene will actually influence what the editor chooses to print, and I do not mean simply what stage directions MICHAEL D. FRIEDMAN, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Scranton, has written on Shakespeare and Boswell and is currently working on a book on Shakespeare's Problem Comic Heroes. 369 370Comparative Drama the editor chooses to add or modify, but how the editor construes or distorts the ipsissima verba of the Bard himself.4 To the extent that imagined or recalled performances "create" the printed text, editorial practice and theatrical tradition mutually authorize certain versions of a play and invalidate others. An investigation into this process reveals the generic and ideological assumptions of editors, both those who establish the printed texts and those who edit them for stage productions. Such an exploration may also represent a method for achieving one of Worthen's objectives for performance criticism: to determine "how 'the text' has been produced as a cultural artifact , and how the process of production inscribes itself into— and perhaps constitutes—the 'text' it represents."5 Many of the textual obscurities whose resolution inscribes the process of production into the text may be attributed to the fact that some Quartos were printed from foul papers which underwent modification before performance but retained certain inconsistencies in stage directions, speech headings, and character names. Stanley Wells, in his study of the editorial treatment of foul-paper texts, chooses Much Ado About Nothing as a "test case" because the play contains so many of these minor imperfections.6 In most instances, the disputed designations identified by Wells do not arise from a disagreement between the Quarto and Folio (since F derives from Q and repeats many of its curious features) but from a discrepancy between what Q and F both read and what modern editors believe Shakespeare must have meant. Of course, as A. R. Humphreys, the Arden editor, remarks, one important consequence of F's derivation from Q is that "when a common error is suspected F's concurrence in the reading confers no stronger authority than belongs to Q alone. An editor, therefore, is more justified in emending, if he believes a reading wrong, than he would be if the two texts had passed through different channels of derivation ."7 Humphreys claims (p. 81) that most of his corrections of QF are "self-evident," and in many cases they are (for example, when he adds a speaking character's missing entry direction) ; but not all of Humphreys...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 369-386
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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