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The Shakespeare Association of America, Inc.

George Washington University

The Question of the One and the Many: The Globe Shakespeare, The Complete King Lear,
and The New Folger Library Shakespeare
Authors(s): Margreta De Grazia
Source: Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 245-251
Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington
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The Question of the One and the Many:

The Globe Shakespeare,

The Complete KING LEAR, and

The New Folger Library Shakespeare



that for centuries afterwards commemorated his triumph with an

annual voyage to Delos. Over time the rotten planks were replaced with

fresh ones until none of the original timber remained. As Plutarch and

others recount, the ship became a famous subject of debate among philos-

ophers: was the renovated ship the same ship in which Theseus had sailed?

a different one? or even a number of different ones-as many as there were

new planks?' In other words, was Theseus's ship One or Many?

Shakespeareans have been asking themselves for the past generation a

similar question with regard to some of Shakespeare's plays. Is a play in

which numerous lines and words differ from one edition to another the

same play or a new play altogether? Consider the case of King Lear. It was

printed in a 1608 quarto as The True Chronicle Historie of the life and death of

King Lear and in the 1623 Folio as The Tragedie of King Lear. Three hundred

lines in the former have no equivalent in the latter; one hundred lines in the

latter have no equivalent in the former. In addition, the two texts give

different readings for over eight hundred words. Is one then a version of

the other? Or is each a discrete work? Have we one text of Lear or many?

If limited to speculation, the question of one versus many could remain

moot, as indeed Plutarch claims it did among the philosophers. But prac-

tical matters compel an answer. Suppose the need arose to duplicate The-

seus's ship. What would serve as model? The ship in its present state? A

reconstruction of the ship as it was in Theseus's time? Numerous ships

representing the ship as it variously appeared through time? A composite

of those numerous ships?

When does something cease to be itself and become something else?

Socrates tackles this philosophical question throughout the Platonic dia-

logues. (Perhaps that is why Theseus's ship looms over the final dialogue, its

return to Athens delaying Socrates's execution.2) In the Republic discussion

of the problem focuses not on ships but on tables and beds. How can we

know that a table is identical with itself when it looks different from different

I Plutarch's Lives, trans. Bernadotte Perrin, 11 vols. (London: William Heinemann, 1928),


2 See Phaedo in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns

(Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1987), 58a-d.

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angles?3 Here, too, the problem must be settled when the time comes to

copy the table. What is the craftsman to use as model in building a table?

The craftsman, Socrates explains, "fixes his eye on the idea or form" of

the table in constructing his own particular table.4 The immaterial and

transcendent Idea renders difference merely apparent: "[The table] ap-

pears other but differs not at all."5 The innumerable material tables on the

ground are aspects of the great, single ideational table in the sky.

As with ships and tables, so, too, with texts. When duplicating King Lear,

what should the editor copy? How are multiple texts to be resolved into one

fixed play? The same problem can arise on a smaller scale when an editor

must decide how variants are to be resolved into a single word. Should it be,

for example, "by the mistress of Hecat" or "by the miseries of Hecat" or "by

the mysteries of Hecat"?6 At the levels of word and text, in emending or

collating, the editor's job has traditionally involved making One out of

Many. And some version of the Platonic solution has served to justify the

project. Behind the material pluralities, the editor must postulate a hypo-

thetical monad: the mind of Shakespeare.7 This ideational Shakespeare

serves to secure the identity of text and thus to justify the integration of its

disparate manifestations. Textual differences on the page are subsumed by

the unifying consciousness imagined beyond it. In this respect it can be said

that the rationale behind traditional editing of Shakespeare has been tacitly

but pervasively Platonic, producing what might be termed idealized texts in

conformance with that supposed higher Unity.

The best example of an idealized text is the 1864 Globe edition of

Shakespeare, a typographic marvel that dominated the world market for

the better' part of a century.8 The edition was not named for the Globe

theater built in 1599 (from, as it turns out, planks dismantled from another

theater). As its preface announced, the Globe edition was named instead for

something much less local and historical: the universe itself.

We trust that the title which has been chosen for the present edition will neither

be thought presumptuous nor be found inappropriate. It seems indeed safe to

predict that any volume which presents, in a convenient form, with clear type

and at a moderate cost, the complete works of the foremost man in all literature,

the greatest master of the language most widely spoken among men, will make

its way to the remotest corners of the habitable globe.

Only one other book in the language had such far-reaching aspirations.

Indeed it may be that the Globe Shakespeare was designed as a companion

to the King James Bible, replicating its octavo dimensions and double-

3 See Republic in Hamilton and Cairns, eds., 596a-98b.

4 Republic in Hamilton and Cairns, eds., 596b.

5 Ibid., 598b.

6 These variants are from Q 1, F 1, and F2 of King Lear, as given in William Shakespeare, The

Complete KIVG LEAR 1608-1623: Texts and Parallel Texts in Photographic Facsimile, prepared by

Michael Warren (Berkeley: U of California P, 1989).

7 On the Shakespearean mind behind bibliographic matter, see Margreta de Grazia, "The

Essential Shakespeare and the Material Book," Textual Practice 2 (1988): 69-86; and de Grazia

and Peter Stallybrass, "The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text," Shakespeare Quarterly 44

(1993): 255-83.

8 The Works of William Shakespeare, Globe edition, ed. William George Clark and William Aldis

Wright (Cambridge and London: Macmillan, 1864).

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columned pages. The title-page logo advertised a similar evangelical mis-

sion. The logo consisted of a globe encircled by two arms shaking hands; its

motto: "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." The word of

Shakespeare was to unite "the remotest corners of the habitable globe,"

drawing its readers together in one brotherhood of man.

Portable, affordable, and legible, the Globe edition was intended for

worldwide circulation. And its appearance was certainly inviting: lacking

any editorial apparatus, it looked immediately accessible. No introduction,

no notes, no lemma to entrammel entry and passage-only a brief preface

at the start and small glossary at the end. This is not to say that the text was

not scholarly, for the edition was based on the labors of the authoritative

nine-volume Cambridge edition of 1863-66.9 All traces of the Cambridge's

daunting scholarship were concealed, however, so that the Globe edition

gave the impression of being no edition at all. It seemed as if nothing

intervened between the reader and Shakespeare-except sheer text. With

the contingent and material subsumed, the edition appeared almost trans-

parent, as if the reader could see through the text to the mind in which it

originated. One Shakespeare for one world.

The text in 1864 exhibited all the signs of being established, every line

fixed in place so that a definitive count could be taken: a total of 114,792

lines. Numbering the lines was itself a universalizing measure, assuring that

at whatever longitude or latitude of the globe "One touch of nature makes

the whole world kin" could be cited/sited at 3.3.175 of Troilus and Cressida.

Such codifications (and the first concordance was keyed to the Globe

line-numbering) were intended to draw the world together in harmonious

kinship, much like another standard instituted just after the publication of

this edition, not far from Cambridge and London, in Greenwich. Starting

from the meridian at Greenwich-the prime meridian-cartographers

wrapped twenty-four meridians around the globe (not unlike the longitu-

dinal lines giving volume to the Globe's logo). These meridians synchro-

nized time throughout the world, mainly, incidentally, for the convenience

of the railroads, that great symbol and engine of imperialist expansion.

In print for well over a century, the Globe edition may be the closest the

world has ever come to possessing one text of Shakespeare. Significantly, its

virtues are those theorists and historians of print culture have identified

with the printed book itself: accessibility, fixity, standardization. 10 By these

criteria the Globe edition is a perfect example of print technology, a printed

book par excellence, Shakespeare uniformly fixed in type for the world for


And yet for this generation this textual fixity has become unacceptable. In

this poststructuralist and postcolonial age, the editorial labors that pro-

duced conflated texts are now held suspect, disparaged on theoretical

grounds as essentialist and logocentric, mistrusted on political grounds as

imperialistic or even totalitarian. The reproduction of such Shakespeare

9 The Works of William Shakespeare, ed. William George Clark and John Glover (Cambridge

and London: Macmillan, 1863-66).

10 On the staticizing effects of print, see Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making

of Typographic Man (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1962); Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as

an Agent of Change (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985); and Alvin Kernan, Printing Technology,

Letters, and SamuelJohnson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1987).

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texts over the centuries has come to look like bad faith, a grand editorial

hoax that has duped generations of readers into taking editorial composites

for authorial work.

As textual imperatives have changed, so, too, have reproductive technol-

ogies. Photography is better suited to the duplication of multiple texts than

typography. The shutting of a lens captures instantly what would once have

required bit-by-bit resetting in type. Photographic facsimiles release the

editor from the need to be selective or eclectic in, for example, the choice

of copytext. When there are a number of early printed texts for a given play,

each one can be readily reproduced as a discrete text. This single example

suggests that there may be a critical correspondence between new repro-

ductive technologies and new editorial goals: without photoduplication,

would multiple texts have been imaginable or desirable?

The technology of photoduplication has been fully exploited in Michael

Warren's awesome Complete KING LEAR 1608-1623. The play has been

duplicated as four units: the 1608 quarto True Chronicle Historie, the 1619

quarto True Chronicle Historie, and the 1623 Folio Tragedie, and Warren's

own two-in-one Parallel Texts of the first and last of these three facsimiles.

Furthermore, since all but the fourth unit consist of loose rather than bound

pages, the materials can be assembled into any number of additional textual

units. The Complete KING LEAR achieves with photography what the Globe

Shakespeare achieved with typography. As the Globe attained standard

fixity in print, so the Complete KING LEAR has attained combinatorial diversity

in photo. We know how many lines make up the definitive Globe Shake-

speare; the question cannot even be intelligibly asked of the indefinitely

variable Warren LEAR.

In order to represent textual multiplicity, the Complete KING LEAR has

broken out of the codex format that has dominated Western literary culture

for some twelve or thirteen centuries. There are still pages, to be sure, but

they are cut instead of folded, loose instead of stitched, boxed instead of

bound. In dismantling the book format, Warren's photoduplicated LEAR

anticipates the electronic screen. Roger Chartier has recently stressed the

historical importance of this new technology, arguing that a change of this

magnitude has occurred only once before: in the first centuries of the

Christian era when the codex was substituted for the volumen or scroll. " On

the brink of this epochal change, we cannot yet know when and to what

extent Shakespeare's texts will be experienced as electronic images on a

screen instead of printed pages in a book. Nor can we know what editing will

then entail, for its principles and practices have been devised for the

reproduction of texts in book form.

Meanwhile the works of Shakespeare are currently being reproduced in

an edition that attempts to represent the diversity of multiple-text plays

without dismantling the book structure: the New Folger Library Shake-

speare, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. The edition intro-

duces a system of square, angled, and half brackets ([ ] ( ) r 1) to designate

passages incorporated from different texts, either from early texts or from

later editions. While the system is new to editing Shakespeare, it is standard

II Roger Chartier, "From Codes to Screen: Trajectories of the Written Word" in Forms and

Meanings: Text, Performance, and Audience from Codex to Computer, forthcoming from the Uni-

versity of Pennsylvania Press.

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practice in transcribing manuscripts to indicate various irregularities: for

example, words written in another hand, words deleted, words written

between lines or in the margins.'2

As odd as the comparison might seem, words placed in editorial brackets

are not unlike words put under deconstructive "erasure."' 3 The Derridean

practice of superimposing an X over a word resists the same logic of identity.

By crossing out a word and letting it stand, this practice respects the

structure of difference within the sign. At once legible and deleted, it in

itself breaks down the binary logic of metaphysics: it is simultaneously

present and absent, there and not there. So, too, bracketed passages are

both text and nontext. Both of these symbols-of graphic enclosure and

graphic deletion-unfix the fixity of the text without undoing the text

altogether. They could be seen as ways of marking without resolving the

conundrum raised by both Theseus's ship and the Shakespeare text: iden-

tity appears neither selfsame nor other than itself.

With this system of brackets, the New Folger edition displays the textual

heterogeneity concealed by the Globe and by most popular editions. And it

displays it as integral (though parenthetic) to the text rather than as

subscript in the lemma or postscript in the appendixes. The insertion of

brackets into the text transforms the appearance of the page. To borrow

Shakespeare's description of his own wrinkled and aging face, the New

Folger page is "beaten and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity."' 4 Brackets scar

or score the pages, which are themselves coarse and yellow even in mint

condition. There is every sign that Shakespeare's text has been worked on

and worked over, by many hands and through the ages. Explanatory

materials encase the play, back and front. Notes and illustrative woodcuts

and engravings flank each page of text. Unlike the transparent Globe, this

edition represents itself as heavily mediated; rather than smoothing or

glossing over textual irregularities, anomalies, and difficulties, it unabashed-

ly puts them on view.

There is indication that future editions will adopt similar typographic

systems for flagging textual hybridity. The forthcoming Norton edition

plans to use different typefaces in reproducing Hamlet; the third edition of

the Arden Shakespeare is likewise exploring typographical alternatives for

its third edition of Lear. But the New Folger's insertion of brackets produces

a unique visual effect. The brackets look like so many seams, hinges, and

joints, suggesting that the textual fabric itself is more like cloth, wood, and

stone than the stuff that dreams are made on. This appearance constitutes

evidence of the text's having been worked on, of its having been cut and

expanded and altered without ceasing to be the same text. And the evidence

points to a specific kind of work-more to a rude mechanics than to the

shaping fantasy of authorial genius. '5 It is made up of alienable and

12 For an explanation of the use of these conventions in the transcription of texts, see M. B.

Parkes, Pause and Effect: A History of Punctuation in the West (Aldershot, Hants: Scolar Press,

1992), xv-xviii.

13 On Derrida's writing sous rature and its Heideggerian precedent, see Gayatri Chakravorty

Spivak's introduction to Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (Baltimore and London: The Johns

Hopkins UP, 1976), xiii-xviii.

14 Sonnet 62, The Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint, ed. John Kerrigan (Middlesex, UK:

Penguin, 1986), 107.

15 On the priority of artisanal craft to artistic creation, see Patricia Parker, " 'Rude Mechan-

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convertible pieces, discursive units like patches, planks, and bricks: as short

as words and as long as scenes, with lots of shapes and sizes in between-

epithets, couplets, sententiae, soliloquies, songs. And like all material and

historical artifacts, Theseus's ship or the craftsman's table, the text over time

requires repairs to remain in use. The contrast with the Globe could not be

more striking: the Globe reproduced the text as aesthetic transparency

while the New Folger reproduces it as artisanal construction.

Like its predecessor, the Folger Library General Readership's Shake-

speare, 16 the New Folger is affordable, portable, and legible, making it, too,

ideal for secondary-school students. The fact that the New Folger is also

accountable enlarges its readership to include more advanced students. With

such an intrusive apparatus, the New Folger dispels the illusion that it is

possible (and desirable) to pass through the text to the consciousness of the

author. This effect may well lead to different ways of learning Shakespeare.

Transparent texts like the Globe inspire admiration. If imitation is the

highest form of admiration, then memorizing Shakespeare is the best way

to pay him homage; once existing in the student's mind, Shakespeare's

words would be disburdened of their material and historical trappings. The

New Folger text, however, cannot inspire this kind of awe. Indeed, if a

conscientious Victorian schoolboy had the New Folger Hamlet rather than

the Globe edition in hand, he might think twice before memorizing, for

example, this maxim:

... Rightly to be great

Is not to stir without great argument,

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honor's at the stake....


The passage appears in a soliloquy that the New Folger encloses within

square brackets, the sign that it occurs only in the Second Quarto Hamlet.

Could the boy then be confident he was memorizing lines from Hamlet?

With such traces of intervention, the Folger edition sets the stage for further

work (and even play). Looking provisional rather than definitive, it asks to

be thought about as possibility and process rather than admired (and taken

to heart) as finished and polished.

The ideal of a uniform Shakespeare text is as much a thing of the past as

the Globe edition and the empire it was designed to unify. The Shakespeare

text is starting to look multiform, whether in Warren's monumentally

pluralized Complete KING LEAR, the Oxford edition's printing of both the

1608 and 1623 Lear'7 (to which the forthcoming Norton will add a conflated

Lear), or in the textual accounts now routinely accompanying more modest

scholarly editions. Electronic technology may be driving this development.

Even more than photoduplication, it splits text into multiple forms. Its vast

icals': A Midsummer Night's Dream and Shakespearean Joinery" in Renaissance Objects and Subjects,

forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. On the philological connections between

writing and forms of material construction (weaving, carpentry), see D. F. McKenzie, Bibliog-

raphy and the Sociology of Texts, The Panizzi Lectures (London: The British Library, 1985), 5-6.

16 Ed. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. Lamar (New York: Washington Square Press, 1957).

17 William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, ed. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1988).

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capacity for storage and retrieval is best realized in differentiated and

diversified images. 18 In the late twentieth century, as in the mid-nineteenth,

textual imperatives seem to be strangely in sync not only with available

technologies but also with political claims: gender difference, ethnic differ-

ence, identity politics generally. Shakespeare, then, is under both techno-

logical and ideological pressure to be multiform.

There is historical pressure, too. We do not want to read Shakespeare's

two greatest tragedies, for example, in the composite texts constructed by

eighteenth-century editors. But are multiple Lears and Hamlets more his-

torical? Though they certainly were printed, bought, and sold as discrete

texts in the seventeenth century, did early modern readers ever read them

as such? Libraries in the period showed no interest in collecting multiple

copies of a given work: the most recent edition generally superseded its

predecessor. Thus, in the most famous instance, the Bodleian Library

replaced its First Folio of Shakespeare with the Third. 19 Even if we found

a seventeenth-century library that had collected multiple texts of, say, Lear,

we still could not conclude that the play was read in multiple copies. How

could it have been? In what physical form would passages have been read

against one another? Would the texts first have had to be taken apart to be

read, as in the Complete KING LEAR?

It is not just practical considerations that make such reading implausible.

To read Lear plurally requires collation: the reader must know how to note

variants from text to text. In addition, he or she must know how to read

"differentially," pitting one text against the other in order to make critical

sense of the variants noted. But collation, certainly of vernacular works, is

a later editorial practice, not applied to Shakespeare's works until the

eighteenth century.20 Differential reading depends on an even later phe-

nomenon: post-Saussurean linguistics, which locates sense in the difference

between signifiers rather than in the signifiers themselves. Multiple texts

may thus be no more historical than conflated ones, dependent not only on

a later technology and politics but also on later editorial and hermeneutic


It appears, then, that both uniform and multiform reproductions of

Shakespeare's texts are anachronistic. This is not to say that our experience

of Shakespeare's text is doomed from the start to unhistoricity or ahisto-

ricity. It is, however, to concede that its historicity eludes the binary logic of

the One and the Many, as well as the two reproductive technologies of

staticizing print and generative images.

18 On the generative powers of electronic technology, see D. F. McKenzie, "What's Past is

Prologue", The Bibliographic Society Centenary Lecture (London: The Signal Press, 1993),


'9 See The OriginalBodleian Copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare, ed. F. Madan, G.M.R. Turbutt,

and S. Gibson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), 5.

20 See de Grazia, Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus

(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 56-63.

21 Photocopies of the separate early texts are, it must be stressed, indispensible. The very

printed look of the early quarto and folio pages bears irrefutable witness to the historical

distance between us and Shakespeare as well as to the cultural labor generations of scholars

have applied to spanning or denying that distance.

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