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TOPIC: Hamlet Q2 version

Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #360

This modern-language version of the second quarto (1604-05) of Hamlet has been prepared by updating the public domain text from Project Gutenberg with frequent reference to the old-spelling versions of Q2 mounted for internet access by Bernice Kliman (the Enfolded Hamlet) and Michael Best (New Internet Shakespeare Editions). The text follows Q2 mostly; a few readings from the first Folio or another quarto are in single carets: <F reading>, all in places where the alternative reading makes at least some sense of a manifestly damaged line.

The Project Gutenberg spelling and punctuation have been simplified and modernized. Stage directions have also been modernized, and occasionally moved to a theatrically more plausible place. Directions in brackets are added by the editor.

The text was originally developed for a theatrical production. It has subsequently been prepared for free distribution on the internet. It no doubt contains errors and infelicities; suggestions for improvements are welcome, and should be sent to

David Evett
Arlington, MA
24 January 2007

Click here to visit our document respository to download.
Last Edit: 2 years 7 months ago by William Shakespeare.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #380

In Act 1 scene 1, the following line is Horatio's in Q2, however the Evett text gives it to Marcellus, as shown.

Mar. What, has this thing appeared again to-night?

It makes better sense as Horatio's line, since he has an immediate motivation to ask. If the Ghost has already appeared, and Horatio has missed it, he can leave and go back to a warm fire and a warm bed.

Q1 and the Folio both give the line to Marcellus, but the Folio may simply have taken that from Q1, so it could only be propagation of error.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #381

Willedever is quite right, and I apologize for the error, carried over from the Project Gutenberg text and the production for which this text was originally prepared. I am sure there are others, and encourage site users to let us know about them so they can be corrected.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #382

Good catch! Fixed both in the DOC and in the online version.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #383

DavidEvett wrote:
... I am sure there are others, and encourage site users to let us know about them so they can be corrected.

Okay, I'll go through it, and bother you some more, then. 8) I do like Hamlet.

However, do you plan a gloss and commentary for the playtext? It might make a difference for word choices. I'll try to give an example of what I mean.

In Q2, A1s1, Horatio says.....

Horatio: A moth it is to trouble the mind's eye

The speech containing that line is not in the Folio, so the Folio is no help for comparison. It's almost always taken that "moth" means "mote" (which is currently how you have it in the playtext.) However, the Q2 word is exactly "moth," which does make sense, as follows.

1. Horatio is talking about the Ghost being an unpredictable thing, in terms of what it portends. A moth is, indeed, unpredictable as to where it will land, when you see a moth fluttering by at night.

2. Later, when the men try to attack the Ghost, it flutters from one place to another - like a moth - and disappears into the darkness.

3. Although moths are generally unpredictable, it's known they're attracted to light, such as firelight. That's exactly where the Ghost later tells Hamlet it ended up: in sulphurous and tormenting flames. The common expression is, "like a moth to a flame."

So, "moth" is probably Shakespeare's word, exactly as Q2 shows. It's probably the Bard's intended metaphor, for "an unpredictable thing, that nevertheless tends to end up in fire." It makes a nice metaphor!

In addition, there's likely an intended pun on "mote," in connection with "eye." Over the years, people have probably accidentally picked up the "mote" pun, instead of the main metaphor of "moth."

Now then, if you go with Q2 "moth," it may call for explanation (as above) to show why it's the right word. Without explanation, people may scratch their heads. And most people familiar with Hamlet are used to seeing "mote" in the playscript.

I guess what I'm talking about is actually a question for Mr. Evett and PlayShakespeare: how strict to Q2 do you want to be?

If you want to be strict to Q2, go ahead and make it "moth," even with no explanation. Or, if you want to be more conventional, leave it "mote." It's an editorial judgment call that you guys will have to make.

As I go through the playtext, it'll help me to know how strict to Q2 you want to be, versus a version such as people can get straight from Gutenberg and the other "usual suspects." I can probably give you a Q2 best reading, strictly according to that original text, (with explanations,) if you want that.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #384

There are two versions of Q2 on this site:

1) David Evett's version (attached to this thread)- David prepared this version in his role as dramaturg for a performance. It contains adustments relative to that performance and theatre.

2) version- This is a version which David Evett prepared, effectively "purifying" what he'd done so it would be a modern-spelling version of Q2. It should be a straightforward version with only conservative editorial "interference." This is the version in the Hamlet section of this website (Hamlet-->Quartos).

That being said, Schmidt's lexicon defines "mote" as "the smallest thing imaginable, an atom" or "anything hovering in the air" and citing references in Lucrece and Pericles (IV, 4). Therefore, technically one could make the case that a "mote" might be an electron (being smaller than an atom itself and "hovering" as it spins around the nucleus). I's a bit far-fetched for Elizabethan England, but so were a lot of other things. :)

But I agree wholeheartedly that the imagery of a "moth" is far stronger (and less cerebral) in a dramatic sense. I've changed the site to say "moth" and will let David decide which choice he prefers.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #390

Rather than complicating things as I did in that last post, I'll simply go through the version attached to this thread, and I'll post replies here about where it departs from Q2. Then you and David Evett can decide.

The idea of "moth" - > "mote" goes back at least to Malone, 1790. It's true that "moth" was a spelling used for "mote" in Elizabethan England, and earlier. However, Shakespeare certainly used the word "moth" as well, and of course Moth is a character in Love's Labors Lost. I don't put much reliance on the fact of "mote" sometimes being spelled "moth," in those days, and instead I go with the meaning in context, which looks firmly like "moth" in the modern sense to me.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #391

Here's an important one. It's near the end of A1s4.

Hor. He waxes desperate with imagination.

Q2 shows "imagion" and that is the right word. The word "imagion" is an unacknowledged Shakespeare coinage, and it very much needs to be promoted.

"Imagion" is formed from the word "image," with a suffix of "-ion." The "-ion" suffix means "the result of."

Horatio is saying that Hamlet has grown desperate as a result of the image of his father. Imagion = the result of an image.

Since the Q2 word "imagion" is apparently not known from anyplace earlier, it qualifies as a true Shakespeare neologism, and it's long past the time when the Bard ought to have gotten his due credit for it. I strongly suggest using "imagion" in the Q2 playtext, the same as the original Q2 shows it, and also publicizing the word, as much as possible. It's the real thing, a Shakespeare coinage, but people in the past have just assumed it's a printing error, and haven't noticed it! It's time to correct the oversight. That's why I said it's important.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #392

In combing through David's version, I also found some other points of discussion:

I, 5

Ghost. I find thee apt;
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,

Some editions prefer "rootes" (or "roots") to "rots"

Further in the same scene:

So but though to a radiant Angle linckt,
Will sort it selfe in a celestiall bed

Some editions prefer "sate" to "sort"

Ham. O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee?
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,

I think this one is a matter of preference: found vs. fond

II, 1

Pol. Marry, sir, here's my drift,
And I believe it is a fetch of wit.
You laying these slight sullies on my son

The old "Sally's Debate"...

II, 2
Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
When I had seen this hot love on the wing,
As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me, what might you,
Or my dear majesty your queen here, think,
If I had played the desk or table-book,
Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb,
Or looked upon this love with idle sigh—
What might you think? No, I went round to work,
And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
“Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy sphere;

This is an interesting deviation: sphere vs. star

I haven't gotten through the whole play yet, but these are some of the things I've found so far. While the online version should remain as faithful to the original as possible, the attachment above reflects liberties David has taken for his specific performance needs/desires. It might be wiser to review the online version here:
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 5 months ago #393

Okay, going by the online version that you linked, for this, from A1s1:

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
And foreign mart for implements of war,

Q2 shows "cost," (and with no comma after "cannon.") The Folio shows "cast," (again with no comma after "cannon.")

Q2 is very probably right, because "cost" works with "foreign mart," but "cast" doesn't. The word needs to work for both "cannon" and "mart."

I suspect the Folio editor took it as "cast" purely in connection with "brazen cannon" on the same line, without noticing that the word had to work with "foreign mart" also.

Be that as it may, I suggest following Q2 exactly here, with "cost" and then no comma after "cannon."
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