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The Struggle for Shakespeare's Text
Twentieth-Century Editorial Theory and Practice


  • Date Published: July 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107613157

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About the Authors
  • 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
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    Reviews & endorsements

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

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107613157
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    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.

  • Author

    Gabriel Egan, Loughborough University
    Gabriel Egan began his academic career at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London, where, in addition to teaching theatre history and running workshops on the Globe stage, he taught students to print on a replica wooden hand-press using the methods employed in Shakespeare's time. He is the author of Shakespeare and Marx (2004), Green Shakespeare: From Ecopolitics to Ecocriticism (2006) and The Edinburgh Critical Guide to Shakespeare (2007). He edited the play The Witches of Lancashire by Richard Brome and Thomas Heywood (2002), and co-edits the journals Theatre Notebook and Shakespeare.

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