• Emending Othello; Explaining Othello: A Critique of Contemporary Principles of and Practices in Editing Shakespeare and a Historical-Literary Interpretation of Othello’s Jealousy

    Author(s):
    Michael L. Hays (see profile)
    Date:
    2005
    Group(s):
    Renaissance / Early Modern Studies, Shakespeare, Textual Scholarship
    Subject(s):
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616, Criticism, Textual
    Item Type:
    Other
    Tag(s):
    Othello, editing Shakespeare, Courtly love, Shakespeare, Textual criticism, Literary criticism
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6X63B471
    Abstract:
    Modern editors of Othello unanimously and silently adopt the Folio (1623) text as their copy text but emend it in light of the quarto (1622) text at III, iii, 97. Neither of the two reasons for emendation, textual corruption or literary unintelligibility, applies. A critique of textual editing shows that, given knowledge of the many and various possibilities in the transmission of a text from authorial page to commercial print, emendation is problematic and probabilistic. The Folio is not textually corrupt at this point. A critique of literary criticism shows that diverse approaches to interpreting Othello's jealousy, all assuming the quarto reading, fail to explain its sudden and unexpected onset. The only effort to address the crux fails to show the Folio unintelligible because of flaws in its interpretation of the Folio text. Yet the Folio text was intelligible to Shakespeare, his company, and his audiences. For it depends on literary knowledge which modern editor lack or overlook. It exploits the features of courtly love in English chivalric romance, especially the role of the intermediary, with his propensity to betray his purported function. The dual conclusion: if editors use the Folio has their copy text, they should retain and explain the Folio reading; and they should consider that textual editing may require more literary history as an aide than they realized.
    Notes:
    Handout at 33rd conference of the Shakespeare Association of America
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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