Shakespeare’s Revision of King Lear by Steven Urkowitz

By Steven Urkowitz

Of the 3 texts of King Lear--the 4to model revealed in 1608, the Folio variation of 1623, and the trendy composite of those early texts--it has been assumed that either the 4to and Folio models arc distortions of an unblemished unique" now misplaced and that basically the trendy textual content correctly ways Shakespeare's misplaced unique manuscript. Steven Urkowitz argues on the contrary that the 4to and Folio are easily various levels of Shakespear's writing--an early draft and a last revision--and that they display a lot approximately his technique of composition.

Originally released in 1980.

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Sample text

The variants "Sir-sirs" and "hand-hands" in the early texts give interpretive cues to the actor playing the Gentleman. " The modern text also joins "Sir" to the following sentence, making it part of an address to Lear. In recent editions the emendation is given without explanation. Perhaps one may argue that "decorum" dictates that some kind of formal salutation must precede an address to Lear. There is no basis for this change. Quite as accidentally and with the same good intentions Compositor B must have had when he set the Second Quarto, modern editors obliterate a fine dramatic point.

4, after the Fool's exit but immediately preceding the entrance VARIANTS AND ENTRANCES AND EXITS 45 of Oswald. Fifteen continuous lines in the Folio are not in the Quarto, and several isolated phrases are altered or added. Goneril is the center of the action in both texts. T h e Quarto shows her in vigorous and continuous action; the Folio, by introducing a delay between the time she calls for Oswald and the time he appears, shows her thinking aloud during the intervals between her brusque commands.

T h e punctuation of the corrected version remained unchanged, and it is still con­ sistent with the way speech interruptions were indicated at other places in the text. As it stands in either the corrected or the uncorrected form in the Quarto, Goneril's speech is de­ signed so that she appears ready to launch another verbal at­ tack on her husband. She delivers only the first four words before the messenger enters and Albany interrupts her. Modern editions present a third version of this exchange, disguising the interrupted speech figure by revising its punc­ tuation.

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