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  • Title: Textual Introduction
  • Author: Michael Best

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    Author: Michael Best
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    Textual Introduction

    70Individual readings

    Further discussion of individual readings will be found in the commentary. Collations record, where possible, the first editor who adopted a particular reading; in some instances where I have been unable to see an early edition myself I have relied on earlier editors for this information. In some instances I have included speculative emendations from early editors because of their interest in understanding the reception of his work.

    Q1 first; F1 fast (TLN 43)
    Q1's first may well be a simple misreading of fast, the reading of the Folio, but, as I have discussed above, it makes excellent sense as it stands and is retained in the Quarto text.
    F1 only forests and wide skirted meads (TLN 69-70)
    The additional text in the Folio may possibly have been omitted by eye-skip if it was in the Quarto MS, but the Quarto line makes sense and scans effectively; Halio includes the F1 material in his edition of the Quarto; Wells, Orgel, Ioppolo, and Weis, as here, omit it.
    F2 mysteries; Q1 mistresse; F1 miseries (TLN 117)
    Q1 records "The mistresse of Heccat," F1 "The miseries of Heccat." F2 gets it right, without the added information of the Quarto, reading "mysteries." See Halio, Quarto, 20.
    Q1 strayed; F1 strain'd (TLN 183)
    I follow Halio, Orgel, Weis, Wells, and Ioppolo in keeping the Q1 reading in the Quarto modern text, though it may well be a simple misreading of strain'd.
    75Q1 not been little; F1 been little (TLN 315)
    Randal McLeod (167-9) argues that the quieter effect of Goneril's speech in the Folio, where her omission of Q1's not implies that Lear's erratic behaviour is recent, fits well with her more measured suggestion that the sisters sit together rather than the more aggressive hit of the Quarto. In the extended modern texts the variant is indicated by a mouse-hover.
    Q, F modern to the legitimate; Q1 tooth'le-gitimate; F1 to'th'Legitimate (TLN 355)
    Although Capell's emendation, "top the" is attractive, the original readings of both Q1 and F1 make complete sense.
    Q1 [Exit a servant.]; F [Exit an attendant.] (TLN 539-540ff.)
    The exits and entrances from this point until TLN 606 are variously signaled by editors. The overall movement of characters/messengers is consistent in both texts, though wording differs.
    Q modern Lady the brach; Q1 Ladie oth'e brach; F1 the Lady Brach (TLN 642)
    Q1's reading is an odd one, difficult to explain. Halio points out that Hotspur refers to "Lady, my brach" (1H4 TLN 1780), providing solid support for Steevens's emendation, followed here. Taylor (Textual Companion 533) points out that omitting the "o" makes the reading clear. F1's reading is slightly variant but similar in effect.
    Q1 accent; F1 cadent (TLN 799)
    I follow Taylor (Textual Companion 512) and Halio, Quarto (131) in accepting the F1's cadent in both texts, assuming that a difficult MS led to a misreading.
    80Q modern thee; / Untented; Q1 (state 1) the vntender; Q1 (state 2) the vntented; F1 thee: / Th'vntented (TLN 819)
    Possibly the original read "the the" (Blayney, see Textual Companion 512); the Q1 compositor then omitted the second article, while F1 retains it as "thee / Th'."
    Q modern attasked; Q1 (state 2) attaskt; Q1 (state 1) alapt; F1 at task (TLN 867)
    Halio, Quarto follows Greg (Variants 153-5) in reading "ataxed." I accept the correction and leave F unchanged.
    Q modern This out-of-season, threatening; F modern Thus out of season, threading; Q1 Thus out of season, threatning; F1 Thus out of season, thredding (TLN 1062)
    Halio, Wells, and I follow Stone's conjecture (see 193-4). Halio suggests an evolution from a simple misreading in Q1 to an erroneous correction in the Folio to "thredding." Since the Folio reading makes good (and attractive) sense, it is unchanged.
    Q modern too entrenched to unloose; Q1 to intrench, to inloose; F1 t'intice, t'vnloose (TLN 1148)
    Q1's reading is clear (it lacks only a final "t") and makes good sense. F1 (as Halio points out) clearly revises the wording; it becomes a critical judgement to decide whether F1's intice (intrince—Malone) carries a richer meaning than Q.
    Q1 dialogue; F1 dialect (TLN 1185)
    The Folio's dialect has more immediate appeal, and emphasizes the play of language that Kent is apparently enjoying. But Q1's reading is defensible; the word is used by Shakespeare both in the sense of a formal dialogue between two people (a literary tradition of some weight), and in metadramatic reference to the dialogue of a play. For the first usage, see the Bastard's ironical dialogue with himself in King John: "Answer knows what Question would, / Saving in dialogue of compliment" (Jn TLN 205-6); for the second, see Ursula's reassurance that she knows her role in the baiting of Beatrice: "Fear you not my part of the dialogue." (Ado TLN 1119).
    85F1 ancient; Q1 (state 1) ausrent; Q1 (state 2) miscreant (TLN 1204)
    Q1's ausrent (state 1), was "corrected" in state 2 to miscreant, but the word is so different that it seems likely that the compositor simply found a word that makes more sense. F1's reading, whatever its source, is clearly more likely to be correct and is adopted in the Quarto.
    Q, F modern tomb; Q1 (state 1) fruit; Q1 (state 2) tombe; F1 Tombe (TLN 1409)
    Both the second state of Q1 and the Folio readings read naturally in the context. The oddity is state 1 of Q1, fruit. It's hard to see how one word could be mistaken for the other; Taylor ("Four New Readings" 122) suggests that the initial change was simply a plausible guess by the proofreader, and that the original word misread as fruit was scrine, a variant of shrine.
    Q, F modern depraved; Q1 (state 1) deptoued; Q1 (state 2) depriued; F1 deprau'd (TLN 1415)
    The Folio reading is very close to the second state of Q1. Wells argues for deplored (following Stone, 1980: 201) as a way of making sense of the Q1 reading without reference to F (see Wells 169).
    Q1 lamely; F1 tamely (TLN 1576)
    Editors have universally adopted the Folio's fiercer tamely as appropriate to Lear's anger and frustration. Nonetheless, lamely makes admirable sense if Lear's wish is that he not be inept in his rhetoric as he calls upon the gods to take his side. Shakespeare uses the word several times, most often referring to language or verse that is clearly awkward. Rosalind makes fun of Orlando's poems scattered throughout the forest. "the feet were lame, and could not bear themselves without the verse, and therefore stood lamely in the verse" (AYL TLN 1367); in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Speed responds to Valentines promise of poetry asking "Are they not lamely writ?" (TGV TLN 484). While the likelihood of a simple error or misreading is high, the advantage both of the two separate modern texts, and of the mouseover that indicates the alternative reading is that this possibility can be promoted from the commentary and collation to the text itself.
    F modern look [for]; F1 look, Q1 seek (TLN 1765)
    Most editions that use F1 as copy text retain look, glossing it as "look for" (or equivalent). Since it is probable that for was omitted in error, I include the missing word in square brackets.
    90F1 contentious; Q1 (state 1) crulentious; Q1 (state 2) tempestious (TLN 1786)
    The attempted correction of Q1 seems to have been made as an intelligent guess, with no direct reference to the MS. The Folio's reading very probably records the original accurately.
    Q modern and there, and there again; Q2 and there, and there againe; Q1 and there, and / and there againe; F1 and there / againe, and there (TLN 1842-1843)
    While the Q1 compositor may well have missed a second there at the turn of the line, the second and may be an accidental repetition. This text follows Q2 in omitting the second and.
    Q1 words iustly; F words Iustice (TLN 1861)
    See Foakes textual notes and annotation (276).
    F sesey; Q1 ceaese; Q1M Cease! (TLN 1880)
    See the collation for guesses. There seems little point in adopting Q1's reading in the Folio modern text or "correcting" what is clearly intended to be nonsense.
    Halio, (Quarto) Come, unbutton—; Q1 (state 1), come on bee true.; Q1 (state 2) come on; F1 Come, vn-/button heere. (TLN 1888-1889)
    There is no simple explanation of the relationship between the readings of the Quarto and Folio. The Q1 (state 2) reading is possibly a sign that the proofreader could not improve on the original compositor's attempt, but found it unlikely and chose to leave the line unfinished. Halio sensibly suggests that "on bee true" may have been an attempt to decipher a garbled or obscured "vnbutton."
    95Q modern Smolking; Q1 snulbug; F1 Smulkin (TLN 1919)
    The name Shakespeare would have found in Harsnett is Smolkin, very close to the reading of the Folio. Since, however the Q1 attempt includes a final "g" I have retained it in the Q text. See Halio, Quarto, 133.
    Q modern Importune him [once more] (TLN 1940)
    The missing words are provided from the Folio. Although the line makes sense without them, the context provides strong support for adding them, and they create a metrically complete line. I follow Halio (Quarto 133), who follows Blayney; see Halio's summary of Blayney's explanation of the mechanism by which the compositor could readily have missed the words as he set the type.
    Q1 (state 2) Take up the King; Q1 (state 1) Take vp to keepe; F1 Take vp, take vp (TLN 2054)
    Although Q1 state 1 might be a misreading of a repetition of "take up," as in the Folio, the correction makes good sense, and need not be dismissed as a guess by the proofreader.
    Q modern intelligent; Q1 intelligence; F intelligent (TLN 2070)
    With Halio, I adopt the reading from F1. Wells prefers Q1's intelligence, punctuating the line as an incomplete sentence, interrupted by his farewell to Goneril.
    Weis on his bowed; Q1 (state 1) of his lou'd; Q1 (state 2) on his lowd; F1 as his bare (TLN 2131)
    I accept Blayney's argument in favor of bowd as the word the proofreader was trying to decipher, but prefer to keep the preposition on recorded in both states of Q1, as does Weis.
    100Q modern parti-eyed; Q1 (state 2) parti,eyd Q1 (state 1) poorlie,leed; Q2 poorely led; F1 poorely led (TLN 2189)
    The single error of substituting a comma for a hyphen makes the reading of the second state of Q1 to be preferred. It also provides an appropriately shocking visual image, and suggests that Edgar was immediately aware of his father's blinding. Q2 and F1 do their best to make sense of the first state of Q1; since the result makes sense, I retain it in F modern.
    Q modern A fool usurps my bed, Q1 (state 2) A foole vsurps my bed; Q1 (state 1) My foote vsurps my body, Q2 My foote vsurps my head, F1 My Foole vsurpes my body (TLN 2297)
    The early editions provide the editor with a splendid array of scornful jibes from Goneril to choose from, each, in its way convincing and critically stimulating. In the face of such riches, I follow the proofreader of Q1 as the most likely to have contact with Shakespeare's original, however possible it is that he was guessing rather than deciphering. The Folio's body can then be seen as a possible revision, avoiding the near-euphemism of bed.
    Q modern benefited Q1 (state 2) benifited, Q1 (state 1) beniflicted (TLN 2303.14)
    While I find Taylor's argument for benefacted attractive ("Four Readings" 121-122), I follow the proofreader's choice, reserving the discussion of the alternative reading to the commentary.
    Taylor flaxen biggin threats, Q1 (state 1) slayer begin threats, Q1 (state 2) state begins thereat (TLN 2307.3)
    In this instance, the second state of this Q1-only phrase is most likely to involve some guessing on the part of the proofreader, whether or not he consulted the MS. I accept Taylor's emendation (see Division 488 and Stone 184).
    Q modern shows; Q1 (state 2) shewes; Q1 (state 1) seemes; F1 seemes (TLN 2309)
    F1 Follows Q1 (state 1) and Q2; Q1 (state 2) reads shewes, followed in this edition of Q1. In the Folio text, however, I retain the F reading, since it makes good sense.
    105Q modern Let pity not be believed; Q1 Let pitie not be beleeft (TLN 2347.30. )
    The typesetting at this point suggests some confusion by the compositor, a fact that has may have led to a number of attempts to emend the passage; most recently Taylor and Wells adopt piety for pity. Wells's gloss on the phrase, "Do not believe that filial piety exists (if this be true)," however, can just as readily be adapted to "Do not believe that pity (in any form) exists, if this be true." See Halio, Quarto 21-22, Textual Companion 520-521.
    Q modern And clamor-moistened her, Q1 And clamour moystened her (TLN 2347.32)
    Though the language is dense, it it not impenetrable, especially with the addition of the hyphen (Steevens). Some editors omit her, in order to regularize the meter. Emendations include And clamor mastered (Stone 184g).
    F modern A century send forth; Q1 a centurie is sent forth; F A Centery send forth (TLN 2356)
    Taylor and Wells (Textual Companion 521, and Wells 226) argue for The centuries send forth, but in this instance the reading of the Folio requires less tinkering with the text.
    Q2 Gent. Good Sir. (TLN 2640)
    This short interruption of Lear's speech appears for the first time in Q2, but appears in neither Q1 nor F. For this reason it appears only in the two extended texts. It is worth noting that in Q1 there are two consecutive speeches assigned to Lear, with the interpolation coming between them; one distinct possibility is that Q2 was set from a version of Q1 with a corrected leaf, now missing, that included the speech.
    F modern on speedy foot. The main descry / Stands on the hourly thought; Q1 on speed fort the maine descryes, / Standst on the howerly thoughts; F1 the maine descry / Stands on the hourely thought (TLN 2657)
    Taylor argues at length for the Oxford reading "on speedy foot, the main; descriers / Stands on the hourly thoughts" (Textual Companion 523), the Folio reading makes good sense, however, though the syntax is somewhat elliptical, and it seems unnecessary to undertake more forceful emendation.
    110Q modern The bounty and benison of heaven / Send thee boot, to boot; Q1 (state 2) the bounty and benizon of heauen to boot to boot; Q1 (state 1) the bornet and beniz of heauen to saue thee; F1 The bountie, and the benizon of Heauen / To boot, and boot (TLN 2673-2674)
    The oddity of the significant difference between the first and second states of Q1 is discussed extensively by Blayney (Texts, 250-2), and summarized helpfully by Halio (18). See also Halio Tragedy 231n, Greg Variants 176, Textual Companion 537; Blayney, Texts, 250-2; Foakes 344.
    Q1 I doubt not of his temperance; F1 I doubt of his temperance (TLN 2775)
    Although the omission of not may well be a simple accident of eye-skip on the part of the compositor, the line makes sense, and metrically will be a short line in any case since F1 also omits the following response by Cordelia recorded in Q1.
    Q modern injurious; Q1 iniurious; F1 Enemies (TLN 2784)
    As Halio points out, there is no need to emend the Q reading. Cordelia claims that even a dog that injured its owner would be better protected than her father on such a night.
    F modern goodyears; F1 good yeares; Q1 good (TLN 2966)
    Q1 has clearly omitted years. Taylor and Wells suggest goodyear, a phrase that "came to be used for 'devil'" (Oxford Q 258; see Taylor "Addendum" in Division, 488-9). Jowett returns to the simpler good years. Like Halio (246) I retain the plural, listed as a variant of goodyear in OED.
    Q modern Yet, ere I move't, / Where is; Q1 yet are I mou't / Where is; F1 Yet am I noble as (TLN 3075)
    Q1 makes good sense ("before I explain the reasons for my action"); F1 is most likely a revision. Halio, Quarto adopts F, substantively.
    115Q1 By right of knighthood; F By rule of Knight-hood (TLN 3101)
    Wells adopts "My right of knighthood" (see also Stone 69-70). I retain the original reading since it makes sense, though perhaps does not read as smoothly.
    Q1 being, F1 tongue (TLN 3099)
    Halio adopts F's tongue, taking being as a misreading of tong. See HalioQ 136, and Duthie 424.
    Q modern vices; Q1 vertues, F1 vices (TLN 3131)
    This seems to be an odd, but not unique, substitution by the compositor of a word's antonym. See Textual Companion 526.