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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
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
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
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