There are forty-one problematic play texts, variously classified as bad quartos or memorial reconstructions, from Shakespeare's time. Textual criticism of these quartos has been fraught with assumption and contradiction. Maguire examines all the texts in detail. She deconstructs the theories of W.W. Greg and his followers, scrutinizing the methods by which critics diagnose texts as bad, and examines the historical evidence for the concept of memorial reconstruction (compilation from the recollection of actors or spectators). The valuable contextual material includes fresh analysis of the New Bibliographers, the rise of English studies, Renaissance oral culture, and textual problems in nonsuspect texts. The assembly of textual information about all the suspect texts in tabular form makes the book an essential reference work.
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