University of Virginia Library

FOR MOST OF SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS OF WHICH pre-folio quarto texts as well as the folio text itself exist, the relationship between Q and F has been determined.[1] About certain of the plays, however, some question remains. Troilus and Cressida is such a play. Two early printed editions of Troilus and Cressida exist: the quarto printed in 1609 by George Eld for the publishers Richard Bonion and Henry Walley, and the text in the first Folio published in 1623. Conclusive evidence as to the relationship of the Q and F texts has not been presented; it is the purpose of this article to offer new evidence that will establish, on a bibliographical basis, the textual relationship of the two extant early printed editions of the play.

Serious study of the relationship of the Q and F texts of Troilus and Cressida began with the work of the editors of The Cambridge Shakespeare in 1865. W. G. Clark and W. A. Wright expressed a theory about the relationship that was widely accepted for the next fifty years:

The two texts differ in many single words: sometimes the difference is clearly owing to a clerical or typographical error, but in other cases it appears to result from deliberate correction, first by the author himself, and secondly by some less skillful hand. . . . On the whole we are of the opinion that the Quarto was printed from a transcript of the author's original MS.; that his MS. was afterwards revised and slightly altered by the author himself, and that before the first Folio was printed from it, it had been tampered with by another hand.[2]


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Charles Knight, however, in his edition of the play in 1875, offered a somewhat different theory:
From whatever secondary source it [the quarto] proceeded, there can be no doubt that it was printed from a genuine copy of the great poet. The slight variations between the text of the quarto and of the folio . . . sufficiently show that the original was most accurately printed. The alterations of the folio are not corrections of errors in the original, but, for the most part, slight changes in expression. We have no doubt that each text was printed from a different but genuine copy.[3]

The only detailed study of the 1609 quarto in the nineteenth century was made by H. P. Stokes and appeared in his introduction of the Griggs facsimile of the quarto.[4] He pointed out that "The Folio is careful to give a separate line to the commencement of each speech; indeed this fondness for fresh lines is so great that if Q. by mistake has a new paragraph, F. is sure to 'say ditto'."[5] But he then adds: "This [the stage directions] seems to suggest that the 'Troilus and Cressida' as it appears in the 1st Folio, was printed from the Theater copy."[6]

Appleton Morgan, in his preface to the Bankside edition of the play, wrote: "The variants in the quarto and folio texts (so carefully listed by Mr. Stokes) seem to me all chargeable to typographical sources . . . the later printer might easily have been responsible for them all."[7] Nine years later, Sidney Lee stated that the editors of the folio "evinced distrust of the quarto by printing their text from a different copy."[8] And in 1909, A. W. Pollard concluded that the quarto had not been used in the printing of the folio.[9] Pollard's view, supported by J. Q. Adams,[10] seems to have prevailed for the next twenty years, for in the Yale


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edition, N. Burton Paradise states, "It is now believed that the Folio was printed from a manuscript belonging to the theater and the Quarto from a copy made for the private use of some friend of the actors."[11]

The first important work on Troilus and Cressida after Pollard was Peter Alexander's study of the quarto in 1928.[12] In this article, Alexander differs with Pollard and comes to the conclusion that the folio text was printed from a copy of the quarto that had been corrected from a manuscript in the possession of Hemming and Condell.[13] In the same year (1928), W. W. Greg had stated in a lecture before the British Academy that the folio text of Troilus and Cressida was printed "not from the previous quarto text, but from an independent manuscript representing substantially the same version."[14]

Two years after Alexander's article, E. K. Chambers wrote that he was "inclined to think that F was set up from a copy of Q, not so much because of a few misreadings and abnormal spellings [Chambers must here refer to Alexander's article] which they have in common, since these might be derived from a common original, as because of a traceable resemblance in typography and the like."[15]


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In an attempt to refute the views of Alexander and Chambers, Dr. S. A. Tannenbaum published an extended textual study of Troilus and Cressida in 1934.[16] Dr. Tannenbaum explained the similarities between Q and F (many of which he lists) by assuming that these were found in two manuscripts from which Q and F were independently printed, and, having listed certain corruptions in the F text, concludes:

Such absurdities serve to establish the facts that F was not printed from Q, was set up from a manuscript which was difficult to read (or that the copyist could not decipher his original), that the copies for Q [sic] were prepared by different scribes, and that the F text, though better than Q's, is not careful and was not authorized.[17]

Reversing the opinion expressed in his British Academy lecture, W. W. Greg in 1939 came to support Alexander's view: "F appears to have actually been set up from a corrected copy of Q. I think there can be no doubt of this. Besides common errors and unusual spellings there are several points where the arrangement of F can only be explained by peculiarities in Q that the latter is unlikely to have taken over from its copy."[18]

That the textual relationship of Q and F remains obscure is shown by the remarks of two recent editors of the play. G. L. Kittredge, in 1936, wrote: "The relation between the text of the Quarto and that of the Folio is not clear, but the differences are unimportant."[19] And G. B. Harrison, the most recent editor of the play, states: "The quarto issued in 1609 is fairly well printed, but differs in many small points from the text printed in the folio. Each version contains short passages omitted by the other. From certain similarities in the setting of the two texts, it seems either that the folio text was printed from a copy of the quarto carefully but not uniformly corrected from a playhouse copy, or that both texts derive from a common original."[20]


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Although it is evident that since Alexander's article in 1928, the trend has, in general, been away from the view of Clark, Wright, Pollard, and Adams, the foregoing survey shows that there is still uncertainty about the relationship of Q and F. Until this relationship is settled, study of the text of Troilus and Cressida must rest on doubtful grounds.