May 13, 2012

And editors also talked with other readers (and editors) about their editions of Shakespeare.  Below, a letter from John Courtenay to Malone, discussing the reception of Malone’s edition by Boswell, Courtenay and Shakespeare editor George Steevens.   The curators are grateful to Ivan Lupic, graduate student in English at Columbia University, who pointed out that the letter discusses Steevens’ (rather than Boswell’s) objections to the edition, and offered the transcription cited below. 

As Courtenay relates, he met “at the Club” with Boswell and Steevens, who “seems at least to speak candidly on the merits of [the edition]; — sais your investigations had gone farther than all the commentators put together.”   Steevens, however, made a few “objections,” among which that Malone had given himself “precedence to former Commentators” in the arrangement of his notes.   “This he proposes to amend in his work,” Courtenay helpfully relays, “but professed his disinclination to any critical controversy.”

John Courtenay Letters to Dr. Edmond Malone and Mr. Lucas. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.  Call number: Gen MSS File 71

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