Precision, consistency and completeness in early-modern playbook manuscripts: the evidence from Thomas of Woodstock and John a Kent and John a Cumber

Date

2011

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

1744-8581

Volume Title

Publisher

Oxford Journals © the author

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

In three influential essays of the 1980s, William B. Long challenged the standard New Bibliographical characterization of early-modern promptbooks and established a new othodoxy (Long 1985b; Long 1985a; Long 1989). Contrary to the assertions of W. W. Greg and others, Long argued, the play manuscripts used in the early-modern theatres, called promptbooks by New Bibliographers, could be sloppy. Long's essays have been widely received as successful attacks on the New Bibliography.1 According to Long, the vague, permissive, or self-contradictory stage directions that appeared in a dramatist's manuscript were not necessarily tidied for the convenience of the prompter, and no systematic effort was made to regularize inconsistent speech prefixes that gave multiple names for one character. Because such authorial peccadilloes were acceptable to performers, Long argued, the author's manuscript itself (rather than a fresh transcript of it) could normally serve as the document that regulated the performance as it happened.

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Keywords

Citation

Egan, G. (2011) Precision, consistency and completeness in early-modern playbook manuscripts: the evidence from Thomas of Woodstock and John a Kent and John a Cumber. The Library: the transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 12 (4), pp. 376 - 391.

Rights

Research Institute

Institute of English