‘The Operation of Individual Judgement’: in Praise of Critical Editing: With an Afterword by Carla Suthren


Sonia Massai


Critical Editing , Shakespeare, Alessandro Serpieri, Richard III


The topic of the inaugural ‘Alessandro Serpieri Lecture’ from which this essay developed – what ‘critical editing’ means and how it affects current editorial practice – reflects areas of research interest that defined this scholar’s lifework and that intersect with my own, both as a Shakespeare textual editor and as a literary critic. I was therefore delighted to be asked to open this lecture series and to have the opportunity to pay homage to the legacy of Serpieri’s scholarship. Although I was not taught by Serpieri, his influence on my appreciation of what pertains to the study of early modern (dramatic) literature has been important and pervasive: Part 3 of this essay gives a representative example of how my work towards a new Arden edition of Richard III, briefly discussed in Parts 1 and 2, aligns in significant and serendipitous ways with how Serpieri understood the evocative quality and semantic instability of Shakespeare’s language.



May 16, 2024

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