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If you were hired as the editor of a new edition of hamlet would you choose "solid" or...

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hannahs256 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:40 PM via web

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If you were hired as the editor of a new edition of hamlet would you choose "solid" or "sullied"?

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rienzi | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:32 PM (Answer #1)

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There are three received texts of Hamlet. The 1st Quarto (Q1) from 1603 uses  "sallied". The 2nd Quarto (Q2) from 1604 also uses "sallied". The Folio (F) from 1623 has "solid".  Harold Jenkins in his Arden Hamlet 2nd ed. uses "sullied", relying on J. Dover Wilson's The Manuscript of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' and the Problems of its Transmission. Also see Fredson Bowers' chapter, "Hamlet's 'sullied' or 'sold' flesh: a bibliographic case-history (1956)", pp123-127 in The Cambridge Shakespeare Library Volume I Shakespeare's Times, Text and Stages. Essentially, Wilson claims that "sallied" is a printer's error, mistaking a 'u' (of sullied) for an 'a' making the word "sallied". While I agree that "sallied" is the least favored, I think it is an even split between the other two. "Sullied" conveys more the tone of the soliloquy. "Solid" is more fitting to the context of Hamlet's initial line of thought. Personally, I would go with "solid" just because I prefer the Folio emended with the Q2 rather than the other way around. It is difficult for me to separate the two. Knowing the background on this point I tend to hear both words while reading the play or hearing it in performance.

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