From the Globe Theatre to the World Wide Web
Edited By Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier and Jörg Helbig
Graham Holderness (Hertfordshire): Textual Shakespeare -55
GRAHAM HOLDERNESS Textual Shakespeare Bibliography, textual criticism, textual theory, in all their manifestations throughout the centuries, have been concerned with similar basic questions about 'text'.12 The first question is likely to be, what does this text mean? This question would certainly come first if the object of scrutiny were an inscription on a Mesopotamian tablet of the third millennium BC, or the Rosetta Stone. But it might well be skipped if a scholar or editor were dealing with a text whose 'meaning' has been much more generally explicated, and could therefore be regarded as already in common currency. This aspect of bibliography, where textual scholarship is cast as a Cinderella discipline, ancillary to critical interpretation, the poor relation of literary criticism that provides, often invisibly and unacknowledged, the raw materials upon which criticism works its interpretative operations, is today very much at the forefront of the debate. D.F. McKenzie questions the traditional notion of 'a border between bibliography and textual criticism on the one hand and literary criticism and literary history on the other'. My own view is that no such border exists. In the pursuit of historical meanings, we move from the most minute features of the material form of the book to questions of authorial, literary and social context. These all bear in turn on the ways in which texts are then re-read, re-designed, re-printed and re-published. If a history of readings is made possible only by a comparative history of books, it is equally true that a...
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