Who Edited Shakespeare?
July 13, 2013 8:21 AM Subscribe
New technology has changed scholarship. Whereas previous generations of experts have sought to reconcile the differences between quarto and Folio, current thinking highlights the difficult relationship between the various incarnations of Shakespeare's texts, something made easier by the availability of rare Shakespeare quartos in digital databases such as Early English Books Online. The scholar Eleanor Prosser thus detects "considerable evidence" for the elimination of metrical and stylistic "irregularities" in the Folio: short lines are lengthened to 10 syllables, verbs agreed with subjects, double negatives resolved. In addition, a range of unusual words are added to the text, words not used elsewhere by Shakespeare. Prosser concludes: "somewhere behind the Folio … lies a conscientious and exacting editor with literary pretensions", albeit one "more experienced in the transcription of literary than of theatrical works". But who was it?—Who edited Shakespeare? by Saul Frampton.
Frampton makes the case for John Florio, the son of Italian religious refugees in London who became a courtier to King James, and is today best known as an early translator of Montaigne's essays. Florio's version is available online. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature describes his translations thusly:
He made no attempt to suppress himself as we are told a good translator should. The reader never forgets that “resolute John Florio” is looking out from the page as well as Montaigne. He is often inaccurate, and not seldom he misses the point. But compare his version with Cotton’s, and you will not hesitate to give the palm to Florio. Cotton’s translation is a sound and scholarly piece of work; Florio’s is a living book.Florio is also known for having made an Italian-English dictionary called Queen Anna's New World of Words, also available online.
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