‘A god / good kissing carrion’ : Hamlet II.ii.181

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Sadowski, Piotr
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Regents of the University of Colorado
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During his first public appearance as a ‘madman ,’ Hamlet treats the importunate Polonius with a number of equivocations, saying among other things what in most editions of the play is rendered as: ‘For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion - Have you a daughter?’ (II. ii. 181).' The contentious word in this line is ‘good,’ adopted after Q2 and F, although there exists an alternative emended reading as ‘god,’ first used in Sir Thomas Hanmer's The Works of Shakespear in 1744, afterwards in William Warburton 's edition of 1747, and - as Harold Jenkins remarks disapprovingly - ‘still occasionally resuscitated by otherwise reputable editors.' I contend that the reputable editors are, after all, right in following the eighteenth- century reading of ‘good’ as ‘god,’ and there are reasons of rhetorical nature to support this emendation.