"Shakespeare's Typos" by Gabriel Egan
Whenever writing gets copied, by handwritten transcription, by printing with movable type, or by encoding in digital forms, errors inevitably creep in. [SLIDE] In Shakespeare's time plays often were poorly printed, not so much because plays were considered a low-brow genre but because books in general were poorly printed. Even religious books, which were a large proportion of all books sold, were poorly printed. Of all the books where a printer would not want to make an error, religious books surely the ones where it mattered most. And of all the religious books a printer would not want to make errors in, the Bible is surely the one where it mattered most. And of all the parts of the Bible that a printer would not want to make errors in, surely the Ten Commandments is the part where it mattered most. And yet, as you may know, in 1631 the printer Robert Barker [SLIDE] managed to produce a Bible in which the commandment about adultery lacked the word not.
So, even a carefully printed text of high status could contain obvious errors. I want this evening to talk about some moments in Shakespeare's plays that seem to contain some kind of error and to consider just what kind of errors these are, to see if we can put them into distinct categories, and so consider what a modern editor presenting the play to the modern reader should do about each kind of error. I'll start by using the word typos in its loosest sense to cover all kinds of errors as we survey them, and then I'll focus in on the kind of errors that properly are called typos, that is typographical errors made in printing. Most of the errors I will show you do not appear in the latest printed editions of Shakespeare because the modern editors have removed them, and in showing them I want to open the question of whether editors should do that, whether they should clean up Shakespeare for the modern reader.
With a single slight exception, Shakespeare is one of those writers who left us no manuscripts. Our only access to what Shakespeare wrote is in the form of early editions printed in his lifetime and shortly after his death. There are multiple locations where error could enter the line of transmission. Shakespeare was only human, so some of the errors we will be looking at are his own mistakes in his writing. Errors could also creep in when scribes copied his plays in order to distribute scripts to the actors in Shakespeare's theatre company or to make transcripts to be given to the printers. Finally, errors could creep in when the printers used the manuscripts they were given to set the words of the play in movable type by the process invented 150 years earlier by Johannes Gutenberg.
We'll start with the simplest kind of error, where Shakespeare seems to just make a mistake in the composition of his plays. Geography was not Shakespeare's strongest suit. Indeed those who think that the man from Stratford would have been too ignorant about the world beyond Warwickshire and London to have written the plays--those who suppose that some well-connected and well-travelled aristocrat like the Earl of Oxford or Sir Francis Bacon must have written the plays--have a difficulty to overcome here, since the plays make some fairly substantial geographical errors. Shakespeare's first play was probably The Two Gentlemen of Verona, written around 1590 or 1591 but not published until the first printed collection of Shakespeare's plays appeared in 1623, seven years after his death. This is the so-called Shakepeare First Folio, a copy of which Prof Shellard and colleagues took to Japan last year to inaugurate a series of collaborations. For about half of Shakespeare's plays, including The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the version that appears is First Folio is the earliest and most authoritative edition we have.
[SLIDE] In the 1590s Verona was located exactly where it is now, in the north east corner of Italy. The opening scene of the play The Two Gentlemen of Verona doesn't mention where its action takes place, but as it involves two young gentlemen an audience will naturally assume (if it knows the name of the play) that this is Verona. [SLIDE] In this opening scene, one of the young men, Valentine, confirms that he is going to Milan and exits. His method of transport for getting from Verona to Milan is repeatedly mentioned [SLIDE]. First Valentine says "my Father at the Road | Expects my comming, there to see me ship'd" and, after he has left, his servant Speed who just missed him says "Twenty to one then, he is ship'd already". As you can see from this map [SLIDE], one cannot get from Verona to Milan by ship. Shakespeare seems confused about just where Verona and Milan are, but modern editors of the play do not fix this error but rather they leave it standing and explain in their footnotes that it's a mistake. To fix this error would take the rewriting of a lot of Shakespeare's lines, and most people seem to think that doing that is beyond the remit of an editor.
There is, however, another mistake in this play that might be connected to the first. [SLIDE] In the third act, the Duke of Milan, at home in his own court, explains to Valentine that he is in love [SLIDE]: "There is a Lady in Verona here | Whom I affect". Why would the Duke of Milan, at home in Milan, say that there's a lady "in Verona here"? [SLIDE] Worse still, a little earlier the servant Speed welcomed the servant Lance with the words [SLIDE] "Launce, by mine honesty welcome to Padua". Perhaps Shakespeare got himself thoroughly confused himself about just where the main action of the play takes place: Verona, Milan or Padua. Perhaps he knew what he was doing and we are meant to suppose that not he but his characters are confused about where they are. That might explain a dim-witted servant thinking he's in Padua when he's really in Milan, but it's hard to accept that the Duke of Milan doesn't know when he's in his own dukedom. The interesting question for modern editors is whether to correct these apparent errors or to simply let them stand and, as with the error about taking a ship from Verona to Milan, to merely explain the problem in a footnote. The first editor of Shakespeare to tackle these problems was the eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope who in his edition of 1725 altered the lines so that Speed says "Launce, by mine honesty welcome to Milan" (2.8.1) and the Duke says "There is a lady Sir, in Milan here | Whom I affect" (Shakespeare 1725, 2.8.1, 3.2.31-32). All the subsequent major editions of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries followed this editorial alteration of the text.
It was not until the late nineteenth century that editors started to question such practices, and not indeed until editing was for the first time done by professional scholars in universities rather by than amateur gentlemen and poets. The change came with the ground-breaking Cambridge-Macmillan edition of 1863 to 1866 made by William George Clark, John Glover, and William Aldis Wright. They restored the first edition's readings of Padua and Verona and explained that ". . . it is impossible that the words can be a mere printer's, or transcriber's error. These inaccuracies are interesting as showing that Shakespeare had written the whole of the play before he had finally determined where the scene was to be laid" (Shakespeare 1863, 159). This was a new, and long-overdue, criterion for fixing error: if the error cannot plausibly be attributed to someone copying out the play before it got to the printshop or to someone making a mistake in the printshop, then it must have been Shakespeare's own error and we should not fix those. This seems a reasonable approach but as we shall see there are hard cases that test it to destruction.
The two kinds of geographical error in The Two Gentlemen of Verona--on the one hand the impossibility of getting to Verona to Milan by ship and on the other Speed apparently thinking he's in Padua and the Duke of Milan thinking he's in Verona--are in fact two very different kinds of error. The error of getting from Verona to Milan by ship only matters if you stop to think about and you know the geography of Italy; theatre audiences tend to overlook such things. But the second kind of error--characters misreporting where they are--entails inconsistency in the storytelling. And, most importantly, actors are rightly reluctant to say things that make no sense within the logic of the story they are telling. This gives us a new and quite different criterion by which to judge the errors in Shakespeare's plays: never mind what he meant to write, let's not have his characters talking nonsense. As we will see, this criterion comes into conflict with the first one about respecting what Shakespeare wrote.
You might suppose that by now editors of Shakespeare would have come to some kind of consensus about not having his characters speak nonsense. But in fact not all editors agree on these criteria for correcting errors, and some of them appear to have not given the matter much thought. I can illustrate this from a spectacularly badly edited Arden Shakespeare edition of The Merchant of Venice that appeared in 2010. In that play, the rich heiress Portia borrows from her cousin, a lawyer named Doctor Bellario, the clothes necessary for her to pretend to be a lawyer called Balthasar and so appear in the Venetian court to help the defendant in the matter of Shylock, the plaintiff, versus Antonio. Bellario himself doesn't appear at the court: the pretence is that Bellario sends Balthasar to deputize for him in the case and Portia pretends to be this Balthasar. But just where does Bellario live? [SLIDE] In the first edition of the play, printed in 1600, Portia sends her servant off to Bellario with the words [SLIDE] "take this same letter, | and vse thou all th'indeuour of a man, | In speede to Mantua, | see thou render this into my cosin hands Doctor Belario". [SLIDE] In the subsequent courtroom scene the Duke calls for Bellario, and is told that outside the court waits [SLIDE] "a messenger with letters from the Doctor, new come from Padua". When Portia's servant Nerissa enters with the letters she is asked "Came you from Padua from Bellario?" and she replies "From both". The edition of 1600 was reprinted in 1619 and again in the 1623 First Folio, and in all these editions the problem occurs: Bellario is said to live in Mantua when he is first mentioned but in Padua when he is next mentioned. What is the modern editor to do in this case? In the most recent Arden Shakespeare edition of the play, the editor chose to do nothing, to let the contradiction stand. His explanation was that "Shakespeare's own sense of Italian geography was imperfect and as a probable instance of Shakespearean confusion it should be allowed to stand" (Shakespeare 2010, 3.4.49n). But an imperfect sense of geography is not the point. You do not need to know where Padua and Mantua are to know that they are different towns, and if you want your text to be used by actors you should not ask them to tell the audience in Act Three that someone lives in Mantua and in Act Four that he lives in Padua unless you mean to suggest that in the meantime he moved.
Most careful editors these days would decide this matter of Bellario's residence by asking themselves the question: "What would Shakespeare have done if the problem had been pointed out to him in rehearsal prior to first performance?". Picture the scene [SCENE]. One of the minor actors playing a servant stops the rehearsal and say "William, it says here that I take a letter to Bellario in Mantua but in the courtroom scene we agree that he lives in Padua. Which is it?" Imagining this moment, an editor has to decide how Shakespeare would have responded. If the editor decides that Shakespeare would have answered "I see what you mean love: make it Mantua both times" (or make indeed make it Padua both times), then that editor should alter the text to make it Mantua (or indeed Padua) both times. It does not greatly matter which town the editor chooses, since Mantua and Padua are metrically identical: MANtuA and PADuA have the same stress so they are interchangeable in a verse line. On the other hand, if the editor imagining this scene decides that Shakespeare would have snapped back with a defence of what he'd written--perhaps saying "Ah, but you see, love, this Bellario is a slippery fellow of unknown residence: some think he lives in Mantua and other some think he lives in Padua"--then that editor would leave the contradiction in the play since it's part of the intended meaning. I said that it makes little difference whether Bellario lives in Mantua or Padua but these placenames did carry subtle connotations that certain members of the first audience might have picked up. In Shakespeare's time, Mantua was renowned for its art and culture, especially music, while Padua was renowned for its ancient university where, at the time the play was written, Galileo held the chair in mathematics. In modern English terms, the difference between Bellario coming from Padua or Mantua would be the difference between seeking the help of an intellectual from, say, Oxford or one from, say, Brighton.
Let's turn to a different kind of error altogether, where Shakespeare is not to blame but rather the fault lies with those who transmitted his writing. A Shakespeare play would have been copied out by hand at least a few times in the theatre in order to give actors their parts and to send a copy to the state censor, called the Master of the Revels, for approval. The letterforms for handwriting that we used to today were used 400 years ago and were known as the Italian (or italic) hand. But much more common in England was a homegrown set of letterforms known as the English Secretary hand, and its shapes are quite unfamiliar to us [SLIDE]. When considering what look like errors of scribal copying in early editions of Shakespeare, one has to take into account which letters looked like one another not only in the Italian hand but also in the Secretary hand, for example [SLIDE] c , e and t. In all joined up writing, a common error is the writing of too few or too many vertical strokes, called minims, when the letters m and n occur next to one another [SLIDE]. Even if the writer puts in the correct number of minims, it is easy for someone reading the handwriting to misread m and nn [SLIDE] and it was by such a misreading that the name Imogen entered the English language. [SLIDE] The name Imogen first appears in English in the first edition of Shakepeare's play Cymbeline, published in the 1623 First Folio, in which she is king's Cymbeline's daughter [SLIDE]. Shakespeare drew the story for this play from Raphael Holinshed's prose chronicles of English history [SLIDE], and although he gave his characters different names from the one in this source, this section of Holinshed's chronicles identifies Brute's wife as Innogen [SLIDE]. Cymbeline is one of the few plays by Shakespeare for which there survives an eyewitness account of its being performed in his lifetime. Shortly before his death in September 1611, the astrologer and medical practitioner Simon Forman recorded seeing Cymbeline on stage and he twice names the king's daughter as Innogen not Imogen (Chambers 1930, 338-39).
In the play, Innogen is married to Leonatus Posthumus, and Shakespeare's imagination seems to have linked the names Leonatus or Leonato and Innogen. [SLIDE] In the first edition of Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing, printed in 1600, the opening stage direction [SLIDE] brings on "Leonato gouernour of Messina" and "Innogen his wife". If you know Much Ado About Nothing from modern editions or from Kenneth Branagh's excellent film of it, you may be wondering why you don't remember that Leonato has a wife, and hence that the heroine Hero has a mother. Although Innogen is named in this opening stage direction, and gets a second entrance with Leonato a few pages in to the story, Shakespeare gave her no lines to speak and she is never mentioned by any of the other characters. Once the plot develops, she gets no more entrances. It seems likely that when he started to write the story Shakespeare intended Leonato to have a wife, but as the script developed he decided that Hero should not have a mother in order that when she is falsely accused of pre-marital sex she has no older female figure to turn to or to defend her. If Shakespeare wanted a create a role for Innogen, he surely would have given her something to say, although some critics have recently argued that the patriarchal values of the play--and especially the silencing of women--are best expressed by having Hero's mother standing dumbly by her husband as her daughter is traduced. Editors, however, almost always treat Hero's mother Innogen as what they call a 'ghost' character: someone the dramatist brought on because he thought he would use her, but then decided not to and really Shakespeare ought to have gone back and deleted Innogen from the stage directions that mention her. This, then, is another kind of 'typo' by Shakespeare and editors fix it by simply leaving Innogen out of the two stage directions she appear in. We should notice, though, that in making this kind of correction we are privileging Shakespeare's final intention over his initial intention, since when he started to write the play Shakespeare did want Leonato to have a wife called Innogen.
That Shakespeare had this original intention linking Leonato and Innogen in Much Ado About Nothing is yet further evidence that Posthumus Leonatus's wife in Cymbeline was called Innogen too, not Imogen as the First Folio has it. However, there has been considerable opposition to editors correcting this mistake and using the name Innogen rather than Imogen in modern editions of The Winter's Tale. The arguments against making this correction are that the only early and authoritative script we have of the play, the 1623 First Folio edition, consistently names the character Imogen dozens of times and that for 400 years Shakespeare's readers, playgoers, and critics have thought of her as Imogen, and that the name Imogen has connotations of imagination. Just how much weight we ought to give to each of those considerations is something we might pick up in the Questions and Answers after this talk. The last point, that the name Imogen connotes imagination, could be flipped over to make the opposite case, since the name Innogen has connotations of innocence, and that's the most important concept that attaches to her: she is innocent of the infidelity that her husband suspects her of. What is at stake in these arguments is how much authority we should attach to the words of the plays as they were first printed. If you place more faith in the words of the early editions than in the work of today's scholars trying to edit those words for modern readers, then the heroine of Cymbeline has to be called Imogen. But by the same token, this respect for the early editions would require you to retain the 'ghost' character Innogen in Much Ado About Nothing. Indeed taken to extreme, this policy would lead you to retain a lot of things in the early editions that are incontrovertible printers' errors.
So, let us turn finally to those errors that really are typos, in that they are typographical errors made in the printshop. The mechanical processes of setting movable type gave the printers ample opportunity to garble Shakespeare's words. Sometimes, knowing just a little about how typesetting was accomplished can explain a typo. [SLIDE] In the first good edition of Romeo and Juliet, published in 1599, the Prince Escales seems to forget the name of the city he rules, and yet again it's that's troublesome Italian city of Verona. Instead of referring to Verona's ancient citizens, [SLIDE] he calls them "Neronas auncient Citizens". A typesetter would select each letter one by one from a typecase [SLIDE], and this is the earliest known picture showing the layout of a typecase. The typecase was supported at an angle and divided into small sort boxes, each of which contained all the pieces of type for one letter of the alphabet. [SLIDE] If we look more closely we can see that the sort box for the upper case Ns is directly above the sort box for the uppercase Vs [SLIDE]. Typesetters did not look at each piece of type as they selected it: they relied on the right letter being in the right box. The effect of gravity is the likeliest reason that Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet think he rules in Nerona rather than Verona: the N box was perhaps a little over-full and a piece of type fell into the V box below and was picked up and used by the typesetter intending to set Verona but instead setting Nerona.
There are other things much stranger still in this first good edition of Romeo and Juliet and although they too must be the consequences of accident they are more difficult to explain. [SLIDE] At the end of the balcony scene, Romeo says goodnight to Juliet and then has a soliloquy about the approaching dawn: [SLIDE] "The grey eyde morne smiles on the frowning night, | Checkring the Easterne Clouds with streaks of light, | And darknesse fleckted like a drunkard reeles, | From forth daies pathway, made by Tytans wheeles". It's a beautiful description, characterizing the appearance of the dawn as the result of active processes by supernatural agents, but that does not help us account for why Friar Laurence then enters and says almost exactly the same thing [SLIDE]: "The grey-eyed morne smiles on the frowning night, | Checking the Easterne clowdes with streaks of light: | And fleckled darknesse like a drunkard reeles, | From forth daies path, and Titans burning wheeles". There might be a clue to what in going on in the fact that although these lines are similar they are not identical. [SLIDE] Whereas Romeo says "And darknesse fleckted like a drunkard reeles, | From forth daies pathway, made by Tytans wheeles", Friar Laurence says "And fleckled darknesse like a drunkard reeles, | From forth daies path, and Titans burning wheeles". If this were an identical repetition we might suppose that the typesetter's eye skipped up a few lines in his manuscript and so he accidentally set the same thing twice, but with these small differences between the lines it sounds more like a poet trying out alternative versions.
Having written this dawn-breaking speech for Romeo, Shakespeare perhaps thought he could improve on it so he took a second stab at it when writing the Friar's first lines in the play. It is scarcely believable that Shakespeare expected both versions to be spoken in performance, and the likeliest explanation here is that Shakespeare lightly marked his manuscript to show that one or other of the speeches was deleted--a vertical line in the margin was the conventional way to do this--but the typesetter did not notice the deletion mark so he set both. If we accept this explanation, we have to accept that the printer must have been setting the play from Shakespeare's own authorial manuscript reflecting the play as it stood before rehearsal, since any copy of the script made for rehearsal would have fixed this problem, or if it didn't then in rehearsal itself the problem would have been noticed and corrected.
You might perhaps be thinking that I'm too prescriptive about just what the actors could have performed: why might not Friar Laurence enter and say more or less exactly the same thing about the dawn that Romeo just said? I grant that this is just about possible, but there is another occurrence of the same problem later in the same edition when Romeo commits suicide and this time I think you'll agree that the result is something that cannot be acted. [SLIDE] Romeo swallows the poison he has bought from the Apothecary and says "[SLIDE] O true Appothecarie! | Thy drugs are quicke. Thus with a kisse I die". But he does not die immediately, for he has 13 more lines to deliver, the last of which [SLIDE] are a repetition of previous his dying words "O true Appothecary: | Thy drugs are quicke. Thus with a kisse I die". Even the best of actors cannot convincingly die twice, and we must accept that Shakespeare gave himself two goes at Romeo's death and meant for one of them to be deleted. The typesetter didn't notice the deletion and set both in type. The modern editor is left with the tricky problem of deciding which of the two versions Shakespeare would finally have preferred and then deleting the other one. If you're prepared to accept that this example cannot be acted and that the repetition here must be the result of Shakespeare's first and second thoughts appearing together in his manuscript, then, I submit, you are obliged to accept that same explanation for the earlier example of Romeo and Friar Laurance saying virtually the same thing about the appearance of the dawn breaking: that is, that the repetition reflects authorial second thoughts.
My very last example is another doubled death and I offer it because presente a long-standing mystery until a very clever scholar explained it to everyone's satisfaction, only to be followed by another even cleverer scholar who demolished this explanation and took us back to where we started. [SLIDE] The problem is in 4.3 of Julius Caesar, in which Brutus tells Cassius that his wife Portia, that is Brutus's wife Portia, is dead. [SLIDE] On the very next page Brutus welcomes the arrival of Messala and asks if he brings any word of Portia and upon being told that she is dead Brutus reacts as if this is news to him [SLIDE]. It is possible to make sense of this behaviour as Brutus demonstrating his Roman philosophy of Stoicism in which not reacting to one's emotions, but instead allowing Reason to govern all, was considered admirable behaviour, especially by powerful men.
On the other hand, many people have wondered if this is yet another example of Shakespeare trying out two alternative ways of handling Portia's death, meaning to delete one of them later. [SLIDE] Brents Stirling noticed what he thought was crucial evidence in the first telling of Portia's death [SLIDE] For most of the play, and right up to this point, the abbreviated speech prefix for the character Cassius is italic C-a-s-s-i. But just at the point of the first telling of Portia's death, Cassius's speech prefixes change to C-a-s [SLIDE]. These's no obvious reason for the change [SLIDE]. We know that a single typesetter worked on these pages so it can't be that a change of personnel in the printshop at this point brought in a different man who imposed his own preference for a shorter prefix. The change in speech-prefixes would seem to reflect a change at this point in the manuscript from which the typesetter was setting the type, and Stirling decided that Shakespeare revised the scene by adding in (perhaps on an additional slip of paper) this part of the play, the first telling of Portia's death. On this slip of paper--written some time after his first composition of the scene--Shakespeare used the short-form speech prefix for Cassius, and when setting the play the typesetter faithfully followed this variation in speech prefixes.
It's a neat suggestion and one that uses the subtle and easily overlooked physical evidence from printing together with an informed hypothesis about the lost manuscript from which the play was printed to solve a conceptual problem in the action of the play. But unfortunately it's wrong. [SLIDE] The speech prefixes on the left, the C-a-s-s-i form, contain what is called a ligature, a single piece of type holding more than one letter. The s-s-i of Cassi was not three separate pieces of type but a single one containing these three letters. How do we know this? Because the dot over the i is in fact part of the long s that precedes it. It's not a separate i like this [SLIDE] but rather is formed as part of the same shape as the preceding s like this [SLIDE]. Here is a picture of a pair of such pieces of type [SLIDE], shown in mirror image because of course the printed page is a mirror image of the type that impresses it. The change we're interested in, then, is not a change from five letters, C-a-s-s-i, to three, C-a-s, but of three pieces of type, C-a and the ssi ligature, to three, C-a-s [SLIDE]. Why might a typesetter start to substitute a single s in place of the ssi ligature? Because, it turns out, he ran out of ssi ligatures.
[SLIDE] The picture of a typecase we saw earlier has a few sort boxes for ligatures, but in fact it does not have one for the ligature ssi although the typesetters creating the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare must have had ssi ligatures in their typecases. Pondering the problem of Portia's doubly told death in Julius Caesar, John Jowett realized that with so many occurrences of the unusual name Cassius -- C-a-s-s-i-u-s --the compositor was bound to need rather more ssi ligatures than would normally be provided in a typical typecase. Jowett noticed that earlier in the play the compositors had, at certain points, started to set Cassius's name when it appeared in dialogue and in stage directions without using ligatures, but rather using instead separate pieces of type for the letters s-s-i. Because of complex studies made in the 1960s of just how the 1623 First Folio was made we know exactly which pages were set up in type at any one time. As each page was set in type, the supply of letters in each sort box in the typecase would be depleted, and when a page had been printed the type used to make it would cleaned and returned to the typecase in a process called distribution that replenished the sort boxes. Jowett counted how many ssi ligatures were used in setting earlier pages of Julius Caesar and established that after setting 23 ssi ligature the compositor would switch to setting individual s-s-i instead. This happened more than once, so 23 must be the exact number of ssi ligatures available to the compositor. [SLIDE] By keeping a running count of how many were in use at any one time--depleted by the pages currently in type and replenished by distribution of type for earlier pages after they'd be printed--Jowett tracked the ebb and flow of this one particular sort box. It turns out that the ssi ligatures used just before the first telling of Portia's death were the last ones left in the sort box [SLIDE] [SLIDE] [SLIDE] [SLIDE] [SLIDE]. The compositor had to then change the speech prefix for Cassius, which is why it becomes C-a-s at that point.
Thus the change in speech prefixes was nothing to do with a revision of the scene by Shakespeare: it happened because the printer ran out of a particular piece of type. Depending on how you think about human knowledge, you might find this to be a depressing conclusion, since Jowett's ingenious piece of detective work only really adds to the sum of human ignorance. With Brents Stirling's work we thought we had an explanation for the peculiar double telling of Portia's death, one that made sense of the printed text and the lost manuscript from which it must have been printed. Jowett's counting of ligatures took that explanation away from us, so now we're back where we're started, still not knowing why Brutus tells Cassius about Portia's death and then receives from Messala an account of that death as if it were news to him. The mystery remains. [SLIDE] But at least we can say now that, so far as we know, there no's reason to suppose that Shakespeare revised the scene, no reason to suppose that one telling of Portia's death was meant to replace the other. Perhaps Shakespeare did want us to think that Brutus is being Stoical, is doing what high-class Roman men were taught to do in putting a brave face on things in a crisis. Perhaps in the heat of writing the play Shakespeare simply forgot that Brutus already knew of Portia's death so he mistakenly wrote a second version of it. Getting to the solutions of Shakespeare's typo is a process of elimination, and sometimes we hit a brick wall. But we owe an editorial duty of care not only to Shakespeare's modern readers but also to the author himself to find solutions to the problems [SLIDE] and to fix these problems where we can.
Chambers, E. K. 1930. William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems. Vol. 2. 2 vols. Oxford. Clarendon Press.
Shakespeare, William. 1725. The Works. Ed. Alexander Pope. Vol. 1: Preface; The Tempest; A Midsummer Night's Dream; The Two Gentlemen of Verona; The Merry Wives of Windsor; Measure for Measure; The Comedy of Errors; Much Ado About Nothing. 6 vols. London. Jacob Tonson.
Shakespeare, William. 1863. The Works. Ed. William George Clark and John Glover. Vol. 1: The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors. 9 vols. Cambridge. Macmillan.
Shakespeare, William. 2010. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. John Drakakis. The Arden Shakespeare. London. Methuen.