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Full text of "[untitled] Modern Philology, (1918-01-01), pages 573-575"

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REVIEWS AND NOTICES 



The Sonnets of Shakespeare. From the Quarto of 1609 with Variorum 
Readings and Commentary. Edited by Raymond Macdonald 
Alden. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1916. Pp. xix+542. 

A New Shakespeare Quarto. The Tragedy of King Richard II. 
Printed for the third time by Valentine Simmes in 1598. Repro- 
duced in facsimile from the unique copy in the library of William 
Augustus White. With an Introduction by Alfred W. Pol- 
lard. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1916. Pp. 104+Sig. A-I. 

Shaksperian Studies. By Members of the Department of English 
and Comparative Literature in Columbia University. Edited 
by Brander Matthews and Ashley Horace Thorndike. 
New York: Columbia University Press, 1916. Pp. vii+452. 

These volumes, representing in three different fields notable products 
of the Shakespeare Tercentenary, show a degree of excellence that makes the 
reviewer's task comparatively simple. 

Professor Alden's edition of the Sonnets, following the plan and method 
of Furness' New Variorum editions of Shakespeare's plays, and uniform with 
those volumes in presswork, size, and binding, is worthy of its place in the 
series. As far as I can judge, the immense task of reprinting the original 
text of 1609 and recording variant readings of later editions, of selecting and 
abridging all important annotation, and of digesting the vast literature on 
the Sonnets, has been performed with excellent judgment and remarkable 
accuracy. The introductory pages and the appendix give the history of the 
text and of the schools of interpreters, select passages of criticism, the impor- 
tant sources, and summaries of the varied arguments on the arrangement 
of the Sonnets and on the biographical interpretations centering around 
"the onlie begetter," the Friend, the Rival Poet, and the Dark Lady. Per- 
sonally I regret that in this edition special attention has not been given to 
the influence exerted on Shakespeare's Sonnets by Petrarchan, Platonic, and 
Court-of-Love conventions. If, however, one were inclined to regret the 
absence of a full record of the vagaries of biographical and other interpreta- 
tions, a glance at Mr. Alden's enormous bibliography for the Sonnets will 
give him pause. Yet either a short summary of other theories in regard to the 
Dark Lady should have been included with the survey of the influence of 
573] 189 



190 Reviews and Notices 

Willobie's Ansa on the surmises in regard to her, or cross references should 
have been given to parts of the appendix and notes where other theories are 
stated, for Dark Lady, Friend, and Rival Poet do not appear in the index to 
aid one in following the history of the interpretation of the Sonnets. 

For students of Shakespeare interested especially in bibliography and 
text, the most important contribution of the tercentenary year of Shake- 
speare's death is the discovery and publication in facsimile of a new Quarto 
of Richard II. The volume is a beautiful specimen of book-making, and the 
reproductions are remarkably clear and uniform. It is gratifying that this 
Quarto is edited by A. W. Pollard, whose recent bibliographical works have 
contributed so much to the understanding of Shakespeare and his fellows. 
His long introductory essay on the text of Richard II gives a systematic 
catalogue, analysis, and classification of all the errors and the notable 
variations of the texts in the order of their publication, from the Quarto 
of 1597 through the Folio. Some critic may rise to challenge details of his 
conclusion, but the method must remain a model. In this investigation 
the new Quarto, the second belonging to the year 1598, based on the first of 
that year, aids materially. It derives further importance from the possi- 
bility, considered by Mr. Pollard but rejected, that it was used for the Folio 
text. Mr. Pollard's conclusion is that the Quarto of 1597 furnishes the text 
nearest to Shakespeare's original form, and that the Folio was set from the 
fifth Quarto, that of 1615, with some revisions from a copy of the first Quarto 
used by Shakespeare's company, in which certain corrections of the text, 
variations in the stage directions, and omissions of passages were found. To 
my mind, the chief difficulty in accepting this conclusion as final lies in the 
doubt as to whether fifty lines found in the Quarto of 1615 would have been 
omitted in the Folio. An interesting deduction of the editor is that Shake- 
speare's original manuscript was probably used for setting up the first Quarto, 
and that the punctuation of this Quarto, scant in the main, was intended to 
guide the actor in the rendering of the lines. 

The Columbia Shaksperian Studies, with no brilliant essays giving 
individualistic interpretations or striking discoveries, is very valuable for 
its inquiries into the methods and purposes of Shakespearian study and for 
its application of modern logical methods, in various ways, to Shakespearian 
problems. One essay surveys the points of view and the methods of those 
who have sought to interpret Shakespeare's personality. Others deal with 
his use of his sources, with the principles of pronunciation in his day, with 
stage tradition as contributing to interpretation, with the points of view of 
American editors, with the interpretation of Midsummer Night's Dream in its 
presentations on the New York stage at various periods, with the structure 
and characterization of Julius Caesar in the light of Shakespeare's sources 
and his variations on them, with the meaning of Troilus and Cressida, with 
the artistic power of Romeo and Juliet, with Parolles not as a weak reflection 
of Falstaff but as a reflection of Elizabethan manners, with a comparison of 

574 



Reviews and Notices 191 

the modern point of view in regard to Henry V with the Renaissance idealiza- 
tion of him as a man of action, with a rational analysis of Hamlet ("Reality 
and Inconsistency in Shakspere's Characters"), with "Shakspere on His 
Art," with "Shakspere and the Medieval Lyric." On the whole, the volume 
furnishes an excellent example of modern historical and common-sense 
criticism. 

C. R. Baskekvill 
University of Chicago 



English Literature from Widsith to the Death of Chaucer. A Source 
Book. By Allen Rogers Benham. New Haven : Yale Uni- 
versity Press, 1916. Pp. xxviii+634. 

The title of this book is misleading since the work itself contains little 
material dealing directly with literature. A survey of the table of contents 
reveals this fact and at the same time the real character of the book. The 
two chapters into which the work is divided, the first treating of England 
to the Norman Conquest (pp. 1-139), the second, of the period to the death of 
Chaucer (pp. 140-613), are arranged under the following headings: The 
political background, social and industrial background, cultural background, 
linguistic background, literary characteristics, representative authors. 
Obviously the aim of the book is not to present the literature of the period 
but to give such a historical and cultural background as will make an under- 
standing of the literature possible : it is in fact a source book for mediaeval 
English history. This purpose it fulfils very well. It gives extracts (in 
translation) from chronicles, sermons, poems (chiefly illustrative of aspects 
of mediaeval life) ; in footnotes it offers extensive bibliographical information. 
In nearly all cases the passages selected are well chosen, and the total effect 
of the book is to give perhaps the best general impression of mediaeval 
English life to be found between the covers of a single volume. 

Individuals will naturally differ in their opinions as to what such a book 
should contain. To one reader at least the treatment of literature seems 
inadequate. Only three literary types — romance, drama, history — are 
exhibited in the Middle English period. Of the translations from Old English 
poetry none is in the old metrical form. There are, moreover, errors in some 
of the translations: on page 35, for example, since is rendered "treasured life" 
and after maddum-welan, "thereafter." The literal meanings fit perfectly. 
More important, however, is the mistranslation of the refrain in "Deor's 
Lament" (see Lawrence, Mod. Phil., IX, 23 ff.). In a note on page 72 
Beadohild and Msethilde are said to be the same despite the wide divergence 
of opinions among scholars. The translation of bryne as "shield" on p. 371 
(Gawain and the Green Knight) makes nonsense out of the passage. The 
sentence on p. 91, "Old English literature is characterized by its simple 

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