Original Research

Editors, texts, and performance: the value of textual criticism in the age of relativity

A. M. Potter
Literator | Vol 12, No 2 | a763 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v12i2.763 | © 1991 A. M. Potter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 1991 | Published: 06 May 1991

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Abstract

The article is an attempt in part to refute what are seen as gross distortions of the work of Shakespeare’s editors in a recently-published article by Johannes Birringer. Initially the work of such editors is analysed, with particular emphasis being placed on their acknowledgement of the tentative nature of their conclusions, in refutation of Birringer’s claim that they are obsessed with ‘authority’ and definitive texts. It is then pointed out that Birringer bases his argument on a false perception of the relationship between text and performance in the Elizabethan theatre, and the value of sound editorial work is then indicated, based on a more accurate assessment of this relationship. The argument is then extended into a more general discussion of the attitudes underlying Birringer’s article, which are questioned in a number of ways on the basis of the contradiction between theory and practice.

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