- Shakespeare and Textual Studies ed. by Margaret Jane Kidnie and Sonia Massai
Perhaps the most revealing indication of the public's general lack of interest in textual scholarship is the persistent failure of one of the world's largest booksellers, Amazon, adequately to distinguish one edition of a literary work from another. Yet, in its tendency to merge Arden, Cambridge, Folger, Oxford, Penguin, and a bewildering variety of print-on-demand texts of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century editions, Amazon also provides, in its own frustrating way, an impromptu snapshot of the ways in which our attitudes toward the Shakespearean text have shifted over time, and of the interventions that technology has made, and continues to make, in the fields of textual scholarship and editing.
These processes are central to Margaret Jane Kidnie and Sonia Massai's collection of essays, Shakespeare and Textual Studies, which seeks not only to offer a range of perspectives on the "paradigmatic changes" (2) that have shaped textual scholarship and editorial practices over the last thirty years, but also to pose fresh questions and challenges. The collection is divided into six sections of three to five short essays: "Scripts and Manuscripts" (Heather Hirschfeld, Paul Werstine, and James [End Page 400] Purkis); "Making Books; Building Reputations" (Massai, Helen Smith, Alan B. Farmer, Zachary Lesser and Peter Stallybrass, and Emma Smith); "From Print to Manuscript" (Laura Estill, Jean-Christophe Mayer, Jeffrey Todd Knight, Alan Galey, and W. B. Worthen); "Editorial Legacies" (Peter Holland, Keir Elam, Andrew Murphy, Leah S. Marcus, and Lukas Erne); "Editorial Practices" (John Jowett, Alan C. Dessen, Matthew Dimmock, and Tiffany Stern); and "Apparatus and the Fashioning of Knowledge" (Jill L. Levenson, Eric Rasmussen, and David Weinberger). Together, the essays explore a range of interlocking subjects: the practices of early modern writers, stationers, scribes, and readers; the interventions of editors, actors, directors, adapters, illustrators, coders, and the designers and manufacturers of apps; and the constituent parts of modern scholarly editions, such as introductions, glosses, commentary, and—possibly most vexed of all—collations. Tellingly, perhaps, Hirschfeld's insightful opening essay on "authorship, collaboration, and attribution" (13) begins with the image of a pen—that this is Robert Greene's pen, not Shakespeare's, is a nicely destabilizing touch—while Weinberger's essay on "Shakespeare as network," which concludes the volume, ends by calling on Shakespeare scholars to embrace the "new connections, new meanings, new links" (414) offered through the dissemination of knowledge on the open Web.
Important lines of connection and contention run throughout, centering on the ability of editors and textual scholars to explain the specific qualities of Shakespeare's texts, the relationship between text and performance, the forms in which Shakespeare's works have appeared and continue to appear, and the reception and transformation of the texts by readers and editors (the latter being, of course, privileged and highly trained readers). While many essays present overviews of contested areas of the field or offer striking examples of Shakespearean textuality at work, others make more calculated interventions. Three essays offer especially provocative new accounts of the publication of Shakespeare's plays. Farmer argues convincingly that between 1598 and 1609 Shakespeare was consistently marketed "as a dramatic author dedicated to the printing of his plays in correct texts" (89) in a way that is "truly unusual" (98). Massai revisits the reasons behind the "vertiginous drop" (57) in first editions of Shakespeare's plays between 1603 and 1616, looking closely at the publication of children's company plays and their impact on the print market for drama. Lesser and Stallybrass demonstrate that the Pavier quartos published in the late 1610s encompassed Heywood's Woman Killed with Kindness and thus destabilize our understanding of this publishing endeavor, which is usually viewed as an attempt to produce a set of Shakespeare quartos. Elsewhere, Emma Smith opens up an emerging area of study in her account of character lists in the 1623 Folio. Galey explores the interpretative value of the process of making digital representations of...