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402 LETTERS IN CANADA 1977 where the sheer number of texts and editions offers a seemingly insuperable physical problem for the editor. The collection is 'framed' by two further papers - the most thoughtprovoking in the volume - by G.R. Proudfoot and Arthur Freeman. Proudfoot's paper on 'Dramatic Manuscripts and the Editor' argues convincingly that for the editor of Elizabethan drama there is still much to be learned from surviving dramatic manuscripts, but even more challenging is his concluding assertion 'that the history of textual studies of the Elizabethan drama in the past half-century reveals a growing and by now excessive concentration on matters of sometimes fruitless speculation and on bibliographical techniques which ... are oflimited p~actical utility.' Freeman's paper on 'Inaccuracy and Castigation: The Lessons of Error' is a salutary and entertaining analysis of the legacy of error and the effects, beneficial and otherwise, of the castigation that inevitably follows the appearance of a new edition. Freeman also provides some very practical suggestions concerning such matters as the proofreading of titles and large fonts, the need for editors to understand modern printing processes and how these can 'forestall, abet, or thwart' textual revisions, and the benefit that would derive from regular publication in a single place of queries, acknowledged mistakes, and corrigenda. While the general quality of all the papers is high, the collection is not without its disappointments. Surely Anne Lancashire in her editorial introduction could have given some account of the more significant points that arose during formal and informal discussions of the papers. One is disappointed too that the conference was concerned with only three literatures and that the emphasis in three of the five papers was upon English texts. The collection is thus neither balanced nor representative . Finally more could have been done by the editor to assess the enormous disparities that evidently exist in both theoretical and practical matters of editorial scholarship among the three literatures discussed . (ALAN R. YOUNG) P.]. Aldus. Mousetrap: Structure and Meaning in 'Hamlet' University of Toronto Press. xii,235· $15.00 The recent book-length study of Hamlet by P.). Aldus attests to the continuing capacity of the play both to provoke fresh critical thought and to be the test of critical principle. Aldus approaches Hamlet as poetic myth. His method is not, however, to come to the play with a presumptive scheme of archetypal symbols, but to offer an 'Aristotelian criticism of dramatic structure' that considers literary myth as 'a constructed figurative mode of art.' Since a regard for the playas myth implies an absolute conjoining of form and substance - a condition in which 'the HUMANITIES 403 poem is its own objective correlative' - the critic's search is for the expression of 'pure subjective meaning' and his identity as critic is ultimately as 'the poet's alter-ego.' The subjectivity that Aldus invokes as a quality of text and of response makes his task of analysis difficult for two reasons. First, there is, in a sense, no starting-point for analysis: the work as myth makes but one statement and makes it reiteratively rather than cumulatively. Second, there are no subsidiary issues: since every detail must corroborate the one statement, the number of potential glosses is very high and the decision of what constitutes a full argument is unusually arbitrary. A further consequence of the approach in Mousetrap is that for the reviewer the charge of conveying the content is difficult because the argument is not much less than the sum of its evidence. Perhaps it is best to begin by imitating Aldus's own initial strategy. At the close of the play Hamlet asks Horatio 'to tell my story.' For Aldus the plea signifies that the play is not done and that the story of Hamlet is a constant to be told over and over. The end is a repetition of the beginning ; and Hamlet may be read backwards as well as forwards. In the play Hamlet's story is presented in 'more than twenty narrated, acted, metaphoric, or ritual versions.' The story in its 'simplest sense' is 'that of a King/father defending himself in respect to the " owning" of a woman, but killed...


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