Item 178 - Part of a letter from Kenneth Sisam to W. W. Greg

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Part of a letter from Kenneth Sisam to W. W. Greg


  • [c. Nov. 1940] (Creation)

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1 slip, cut at the top and bottom from a larger sheet

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[The Clarendon Press, Oxford?]—Maas is particularly interested in the considerations which lead an editor of Shakespeare to follow the copy-text.

(For the date and the identification of the correspondents cf. 1/87, which was probably typed with the same typewriter (note especially the capital ‘K’).)



Maas is, of course, not a Shakespearian scholar and knows nothing of “bibliography”. But he has an acute mind for any inconsistency, and tireless industry. He has made some excellent criticisms on McKerrow’s proofs and Introduction to Richard III. The point which really interests him is one in which I refuse to become enmeshed i.e. the basic considerations which lead a Shakespearian editor to stick to the copy-text. Exactly when does he alter the copy-text? Under what conditions does McKerrow discuss in notes {1} the variant readings of the Quarto? On all these points he thinks there is a lack of clear statement and consistent practice in the proofs. The first issue—the different approach to the text of the modern school of Shakespearians—is the one he would like to discuss with you some day; because he is interested in the general principles of textual criticism, and the extent to which they can be applied outside the classics.

[Typed in the margin:] x except the critical introduction {2}



{1} The three lines from ‘enmeshed’ to ‘notes’ have been marked with a pencil line in the margin.

{2} The initial 'x' is raised above the line. These words apparently refer to something in the next paragraph, of which only the top of a superior ‘x’ can be seen.

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Formerly inserted in a copy of R. B. McKerrow’s Prolegomena for the Oxford Shakespeare (1939) (Adv. c. 26. 5).

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