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The Struggle for Shakespeare's Text


  • 2 tables
  • Page extent: 332 pages
  • Size: 229 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.45 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107613157)

We know Shakespeare's writings only from imperfectly-made early editions, from which editors struggle to remove errors. The New Bibliography of the early twentieth century, refined with technological enhancements in the 1950s and 1960s, taught generations of editors how to make sense of the early editions of Shakespeare and use them to make modern editions. This book is the first complete history of the ideas that gave this movement its intellectual authority, and of the challenges to that authority that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. Working chronologically, Egan traces the struggle to wring from the early editions evidence of precisely what Shakespeare wrote. The story of another struggle, between competing interpretations of the evidence from early editions, is told in detail and the consequences for editorial practice are comprehensively surveyed, allowing readers to discover just what is at stake when scholars argue about how to edit Shakespeare.

• Provides a comprehensive account of the ideas which have shaped how modern readers apprehend Shakespeare's plays in print, allowing the reader to follow the changing trends of thought across the twentieth century • Details the point of disputes, or 'struggles', between different schools of thought about editing • Appendices provide useful reference material explaining how Shakespeare's plays were printed, listing all early editions up to 1623 and who made them, and evaluating the editorial theory underlying the important editions of the twentieth century


Introduction; 1. The fall of pessimism and the rise of New Bibliography, 1902–42; 2. New techniques and the Virginian School: New Bibliography, 1939–68; 3. New Bibliography, 1969–79; Intermezzo: the rise and fall of the theory of memorial reconstruction; 4. New Bibliography critiqued and revised, 1980–90; 5. The 'new' New Bibliography: the Oxford Complete Works, 1978–89; 6. Materialism, unediting and version-editing, 1990–99; Conclusion: the twenty-first century; Appendix I. How early-modern books were made: a brief guide; Appendix II. Table of Shakespeare editions up to 1623; Appendix III. Editorial principles of the major twentieth-century Shakespeare editions; Works cited.


'An eminently readable guide to all the key concepts and tools in engaging with Shakespeare's text.' Around the Globe

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