Saturday, April 9, 2011

Troilus and Cressida 7 of 9

Troilus and Cressida 7 of 9

Point 5
First, the Quarto text is a good one. This suggests that the play was printed from the author’s original draft or a copy of it. But if Shakspere wrote the play, how could Bonian and Walley have obtained that draft or a copy, in view of the company’s unwillingness to release the play, as shown by the Epistle’s reference to the play having escaped from them? Secondly, though the text is good, the stage directions are wholly inadequate for performance. In particular, 30 entrances and a like number of exits are unmarked. This points to an amateur author.

To meet the first of these two points, W.W. Greg in The Shakespeare First Folio (1955), p. 347, suggested, on the assumption that Shakspere wrote the play for performance at an Inn of Court, that his company may have presented the Inn with a copy of it, which was later obtained from the Inn by Bonian and Walley. But I have pointed out that Will Shakspere would only have written the play for performance at an Inn of Court if he retained the ownership with a view to using the play later on the public Stage. But if he retained the ownership, he had no need, in the absence of special agreement, to supply the Inn with a copy for the Inn’s permanent retention. It would have been expensive to make one, and his company would have been reluctant to let a copy out of its possession. Even when a play was presented at Court, there seems no reason to think that the company in question would leave a copy with Court officers after the play’s performance. See E.K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 1. 223-4.

Point 6
Elizabethan publishers usually wrote their own advertising blurbs. So why get a young lawyer to write the Epistle, especially one who had never written before? And what was his interest in the matter? A feasible answer is that the play was the Inn’s own work - a member of the Inn had written it. Perhaps members of the Inn approached Bonian and Walley to publish it, or the approach may have come from them. Whichever, it seems likely that Bonian and Walley obtained the play either directly from the author who was an Inn member or, more probably, from other members of the Inn interested in dramatics. In the latter event, the author may or may not have approved of the play’s release. If he disapproved there may have been little he could do about it without disclosing his authorship.

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