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Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey

While the articles in this volume are focussed on new research in Hamlet studies, this editorial ‘Afterword’ reverts to an earlier stage of the debate around Q1, specifically the ‘culture wars’ of the 1990s, and re-examines the controversy surrounding the publication of the Shakespearean Originals series, which was launched with a new edition of Hamlet First Quarto (1992). Shakespearean Originals sought to situate texts within the historical conditions of textual production by decomposing conflated modern editions into the various discrete, and to some degree incommensurable, textualisations that were produced by historical contingency in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A general recovery of such textualisations, as they existed before their colonisation by the modern edition, was at that point in time clearly a priority. Although the series was prompted by ascendant currents in critical theory, the academy was not ready for this particular editorial initiative.

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‘To Be, or Not To Be’

Hamlet Q1, Q2 and Montaigne

Saul Frampton

The differences between the second quarto (1604–1605) version of Hamlet’s soliloquy beginning ‘To be, or not to be’ and the version contained in the first quarto (1603) have often been used to argue for the authorial integrity of the former and the degenerate nature of the latter. However, recent research has questioned the customary primacy between these two texts, arguing instead that Q2 revises and expands Q1. This article will attempt to substantiate this interpretation by showing that Shakespeare’s revision of ‘To be, or not to be’ is inspired by Montaigne’s essay ‘By diuerse meanes men come vnto a like end’, translated by John Florio and published in 1603. Shakespeare’s indebtedness to Montaigne has been noted before, most notably in The Tempest. But it is significant that possibly Shakespeare’s first direct encounter with Montaigne is inspired by the very first three pages of Montaigne’s Essays.

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Introduction

Why Q1 Hamlet Matters

Terri Bourus

This introduction situates the special double issue ‘Canonizing Q1 Hamlet’ in the context of the early publication history of Shakespeare’s tragedy and the recent critical and editorial interest in the first edition. The first edition of Hamlet – often called ‘Q1’, shorthand for ‘first quarto’ – was published in 1603, in what we might regard as the early modern equivalent of a cheap paperback. Q1 Hamlet is becoming increasingly canonical not because there is universal agreement about what it is or what it means, but because more and more Shakespearians agree that it is worth arguing about. If we read or perform it, rather than simply dismissing it (as was done for most of the twentieth century), Q1 makes us think: about performance, book history, Shakespeare’s relationships with his contemporaries, and the shape of his whole career.

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Michael M. Wagoner

Using interruptions as a specific formal structure, this article explores the varying characterisation of Ophelia/Ofelia in Hamlet. The textual differences apparent in the ‘Nunnery’ scene present an Ophelia in Q2 that is interrupted by Hamlet and possesses little power, whereas her Q1 counterpart actively engages the prince and repeatedly interrupts him. These differences highlight not only a change in characterisation but also a reconceptualisation of the status of the two texts: Q2 presents a directed and writerly dramatic text, while Q1 offers an open and performative theatrical one. By considering the repeated interruptions not as corruptions in the text but as open and artful choices, Q1’s Ofelia becomes a more equal and interesting character who asserts agency and defies Hamlet’s misogynistic invective.

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‘Brief Let Me Be’

Telescoped Action and Characters in Q1 and Q2 Hamlet

Tommaso Continisio

The first quarto of Hamlet offers a fundamentally distinct play from the versions contained in the second quarto and in the First Folio. Taking Q1 as an autonomous, finished text, and assuming that Q2 and F were not only printed but also written later, this article sets out to explore Shakespeare’s conception of key characters in this first version, how it took shape, and how and why his approach changed in subsequent revisions. In particular, I will concentrate on the characterisation of both female and male characters as they appear in Q1 and Q2, trying to underline the different poses towards which they gesture and putting them against the backdrop of a narrative frame whose speed, in the case of Q1 Hamlet, seems continually to increase.

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Rory Loughnane

W.W. Greg first identified the dumb show in Hamlet as problematic: if Claudius sees the dumb show, which replicates his murder of Old Hamlet in mime, then why does he not react until much later? Many explanations have been offered, and this article responds to (in title and argument) John Dover Wilson’s influential account in What Happens in Hamlet (1935) which inspired much further debate. First discussing the anomalous nature of the dumb show in Hamlet, before turning to the different versions of the dumb show as they appear in the three substantive texts of Hamlet, this article considers the nature and content of the information supplied by dumb shows and the critical arguments that can be developed from these slippery inset performances.

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The Hybrid Hamlet

Player Tested, Shakespeare Approved

Christopher Marino

The first or ‘bad’ quarto of Hamlet is the subject of much debate. Is it an early version of the play as some scholars suggest? Or is it corrupted memorial reconstruction, a product of ‘fast writing’ transcription, or just a pirated version of the play rushed into print? In this article I posit that the first quarto is indeed a valid text that deserves to be recognised for its unique, unfussy, playable brilliance. That the text provides clues (if one knows how to look), that elucidate answers to many of the questions that productions must contend with. I believe it to be a time-capsule version of sorts that is a product of what the actors truly performed, rather than a celebration of the poet’s aspirationally complex verse.

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Harvey’s 1593 ‘To Be and Not To Be’

The Authorship and Date of the First Quarto of Hamlet

Dennis McCarthy

Ever since the discovery of the first quarto of Hamlet (Q1) in 1823, it has generated fierce debate among scholars about its origin. Recently, Terri Bourus has written a powerful book-length argument that Q1 was indeed by Shakespeare, as its title page states, and that he wrote it by 1589. The present article bolsters Bourus’s conclusion with a careful look at its title page claims as well as the literary satires of Thomas Nashe, Gabriel Harvey and Ben Jonson. Specifically, Q1’s title page and apparent allusions to Hamlet in the early 1590s pamphlet war of Nashe and Harvey independently confirm an earlier chronology for the tragedy. Jonson also attributes a line exclusive to Q1 to his caricature of Shakespeare in Every Man Out of His Humor (1600). The evidence suggests Shakespeare had written Q1 much earlier than conventionally assumed and that there was no ‘lost Hamlet’.

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John V. Nance

Of the fifteen verbal links Wiggins associates with Q1 Hamlet in his catalogue of British Drama, the inclusion of Dido, Queen of Carthage is potentially the most problematic in terms of establishing a 1588–1589 date for the play. This article re-examines the editorial and critical history of the most commonly cited overlap between these two plays – the entirety of ‘Aeneas’s tale to Dido’ – and it provides new evidence that challenges their continued association.

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Laurie Johnson

Study of the Q1 Hamlet (1603) has been characterised by analysis of its degree of similarity to the Q2 and Folio versions. Detailed consideration of the unique lines in Q1 – that is, lines for which there is no analogue in Q2 or F – has been ignored, with discussion of Q1 focusing instead on whether it ‘cuts’ or ‘remembers’ any lines from Q2 or F. This article demonstrates the consistent presence of a key image – the heart – in association with the character of Corambis in unique Q1 lines. This consistency means that whichever model of transmission one accepts, some account is needed of the prospect that unique lines were either cut or added systematically in conjunction with the change of name of the King’s counsellor.