Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Loughborough University Institutional Repository

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/6022

Title: Are there three Hamlets in the three early texts of Hamlet?
Authors: Egan, Gabriel
Issue Date: 2008
Citation: EGAN, G., 2008. Are there three Hamlets in the three early texts of Hamlet? A paper delivered on 20 July to the panel 'Editing' at the Conference 'SCAENA 2008: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: Performance and Adaptation' at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge, 18-20 July.
Abstract: The current Arden edition of Hamlet offers three fully-edited and modernized texts, based on the 'bad' quarto of 1603, the 'good' quarto of 1605, and the Folio of 1623. Editors used routinely to conflate the early printings to produce a single modernized Hamlet, but since the 1980s the arguments against such a policy have achieved dominance. This paper will consider how twentieth-century editorial theory has dealt with the relationship between the play as conceived in the mind of the dramatist and the play as performed or written down.. For most of the century this was treated as an unproblematic relation of Platonic idealism (play as Form, text/performance as Instance), but such idealism has in recent critical work (especially from the schools of New Historicism and Cultural Materialism) become decidedly unfashionable and associated with political conservatism. The Platonic model need not be so derided. As any materialist must accept, ideas have a basis in the organization of matter in the human mind--ideas are to that extent physically real--and the new scientific studies of consciousness (especially memetics and the related models of cognition) show that the Platonic analogy provides a good way to conceptualize the distinction between a play as abstract thought and its various extant physical embodiments in manuscript and print textualisations. In performance, we construct relatively stable and coherent dramatic personalities from what characters say to one another and to the audience, just as we do for real people. Paying particular attention to the cognitive strategies we invoke when the facts told to us--about biography, about recent actions, about beliefs--seem contradictory, the paper will argue for coherence across the three versions of Hamlet that editors no longer consider as a singularity. The following thoughts arise from a book that I am writing on the twentieth-century history of editorial theories in respect of Shakespeare. The New Bibliography that emerged from the work of A. J. Pollard, W. W. Greg, and R. B. McKerrow in the first decades of the century assumed a relatively unproblematic application of Platonic idealism for the relationship between the play as conceived in the mind of the dramatist and the play as performed or written down. Such idealism has in recent critical work (especially from the schools of New Historicism and Cultural Materialism) become decidedly unfashionable and associated with political conservatism. Coming to textual theory from the angle of Marxist ecocriticism, I wish to rehabilitate Platonic idealism as a reasonable way to unite progressive literary scholarship with the latest work in cognitive science. As any materialist must accept, ideas have a basis in the organization of matter in the human mind--ideas are to that extent physically real--and the new scientific studies of consciousness (especially memetics and the 'multiple-drafts' model of cognition) show that the Platonic analogy provides a good way to conceptualize the distinction between the play as abstract thought and its various extant physical embodiments in manuscript and print textualisations.
Description: This is a conference paper.
Version: Not specified
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/6022
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers (English and Drama)

Files associated with this item:

File Description SizeFormat
Egan_2008d.pdf276.99 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

 

SFX Query

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.