An old-spelling critical edition of William Davenant's The platonick lovers



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Texas Tech University


The Platonick Lovers (p. 1636) was published and produced during Davenant's resurgence of productivity after his 3-year bout with the Grand Pox and its cure. The primary focus of this study is the establishment of the genealogy of the text and of the nature and authority of the revisions made in two of the three seventeenth-century editions. The transmission of the text is direct and linear: the 1636 quarto is the only substantive edition (likely set from author's manuscript); this served as the basis for the text found in the 1665 octavo. Two Excellent Plays, which contains less than a score of very minor alterations, of which only a small handful are likely authorial; this edition was the basis for the text found in the 1673 folio Works (F) published by Henry Herringman, in which are found some 150 substantive alterations, affecting primarily the language of the play, with very little impact on plot or basic characterization.

It is most likely that the revisions found in the Folio text were made by Davenant in anticipation of a stage revival of the play by his Company, as had occurred in the case of others of his plays, most notably The Wits, in which is found a pattern of revision congruent with that found in the present play. These alterations serve to make the language of the play more coldly efficient, to excise many figures of speech and other elements of the earlier elaborate comic style, to render the dialogue milder and more decorous, and generally to make fine adjustments in the diction, precision, and idiom of the language.

Eleven copies of the Quarto, three copies of the Octavo, and six copies of the Folio were consulted in the preparation of this critical edition; the Bodleian copy of the 1636 Quarto serves as the copy-text (for it contains none of the altered accidentals of the Quarto's three corrected formes, C, F, and K). All corrections from the corrected Quarto formes and all substantive alterations in the second and third editions have been admitted to the text as authorial, except in cases that are clearly attributable to error or to nonauthorial intervention.