1991

Responses to Baconian Ciphers

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 72. Thursday, 28 Feb 1991.
 
(1)   Date:   Wed, 27 Feb 1991 23:33:04 -0500                (15 lines)
      From:   Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
      Subject:      Re: SHK 2.0071  Baconian Theories
 
(2)   Date:   Thu, 28 Feb 1991 04:58:54 -0500                (10 lines)
      From:   Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
      Subject:      Re: SHK 2.0071  Baconian Theories [2]
 
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:   Wed, 27 Feb 1991 23:33:04 -0500
From:   Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
Subject: 2.0071  Baconian Theories
Comment:      Re: SHK 2.0071  Baconian Theories
 
The question of ciphers, of Baconian or any other source, was firmly--
and wittily--put to rest by the Friedmans in *The Shakespearean Ciphers
Examined* some years ago.  The matter is simply of no interest to
Shakespeareans, I would hazard, in whatever form the old lure manifests
itself.  I am always a little suspicious (!) of those who show too
much interest in this subject..... No: just kidding.  But I think
the Friedmans put all attempts in this area--both past and present--
into the arena of farce.  If I recall correctly, they extracted, by the
same principles and practices as claimed by the Baconians, messages such
that Horatio Nelson wrote the plays of Shakespeare.  Ah well:  it's
late at night, so forgive my acerbic response.  Best of British.
 
Cheers. NR
 
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------26----
Date:   Thu, 28 Feb 1991 04:58:54 -0500
From:   Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
Subject: 2.0071  Baconian Theories [2]
Comment:      Re: SHK 2.0071  Baconian Theories [2]
 
My immediate response you received late last night when I didn't have
my resources with me.  The book should have been: *The Shakespeareran
Ciphers Examined*, by William F. and Elizabeth S. Friedman (Cambridge
U.P.).  The sub title was: "An Analysis of Cryptographic Systems Used
as Evidence that Some Author Other than William Shakespeare Wrote the
Plays Commonly Attributed to Him."
 
[This second message seems to have arrived somewhat damaged.  Any errors
in my reconstruction are mine, and not Professor Ranson's.  KS]

Baconian Theories

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 71. Wednesday, 27 Feb 1991.
 
Date:    Wed, 27 Feb 91 16:49:28 GMT
From:    Mike Ellwood <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Subject: New(?) light on the Francis Bacon theories
 
This may be "old-hat" to many of you, but I thought I would (should) pass
it on for anyone possibly interested. BBC domestic radio carried a
programme recently about scholarship done on the text of a scroll that the
statue'd figure of the Bard is holding up, in Westminster Abbey.
 
It is based on the text of one of his plays (I confess I have forgotten
which, but I'm sure it is well known to many), but the text differs from
accepted versions in some ways, which had been noted long ago.
 
Using ciphers which had been public knowledge for centuries actually, a
scholar had deciphered the name "Francis Bacon - Author" from the text.
I think this work was relatively recent, although Bacon's name is
supposed to appear in the Sonnets in cipher form, which has been known for
longer, I think. Theories about Bacon having authored the plays are as
old as the hills, but I THINK this was a new(-ish) piece of evidence.
 
I think that the fundamental thesis was that the statue of the Bard
had been put there by a group of "conspirators" who wanted to
perpetuate the "myth" of Shakespeare's authorship, while leaving a
clue as to the "real" authorship.
 
I confess I neglected to record any significant details, such as the name
of the person doing this detective work.  Perhaps the radio broadcast
will be repeated, and possibly on BBC World Service, for those (the
majority on this list, I presume), outside Britain.
 
Let me add a disclaimer that I have no views for or against any such
theories, and no reason to hold any views; I just pass this on as
a "conduit", as it were.

Authorial Revision

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 69. Monday, 25 Feb 1991.
 
(1)   Date:   Sun, 24 Feb 1991 22:17:56 -0500                (29 lines)
      From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
      Subject:      Re: SHK 2.0066  Authorial Revision
 
(2)   Date:   Mon, 25 Feb 1991 10:11:36 -0500                (24 lines)
      From:   "JANIS _ LULL" <FFJL@ALASKA>
      Subject:  RE: SHK 2.0068  Authorial Revision
 
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:   Sun, 24 Feb 1991 22:17:56 -0500
From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Subject: 2.0066  Authorial Revision
Comment:      Re: SHK 2.0066  Authorial Revision
 
Dear Jean Brink:  EEK-mail reply to your call for more careful
definition of revision.  Why do we have to define a horse before we
ride it?  Must a specific line or poem be certified kosher before we
deign to read it or allow our students to read it?  What's to lose if
we discover that the Pirate Marcellus, on 3 February 1603 actually
memorially reconstructed Q1 Hamlet and, boyoboy wasn't Shakespeare
and those other player/sharers furious?  That's exactly why we SHOULD
read that naughty quarto so we may see what all the fuss is about.
As Skip Shand's paper demonstrates, and as I argued way back in 1986
("Well-sayd old mole" Burying Three Hamlets in Modern Editions," in
Georgianna Zeigler, ed., Shakespeare Studies Today [NY:AMS PRESS])
there's life in those texts.  Someone who  wrote them (and I think it
was WS, but who cares?) knew a lot about how those early plays were
constructed.  Even must've seen quite a few.  Even more than Gary
Taylor and Stanley Wells, more'n Kenneth Muir even.  Why wait til
they're certified "good" or "terrible"?  We don't know that chunks of
ANTONY & CLEOPATRA weren't suggested by the guy who delivered the
hazelnuts.  Does that make the whole project suspicious?  Sure it does,
but only if you demand texts virgo intacto.  Read 'em to learn how
they were manipulated or even (egods) penetrated.  Yuch, how violent
a term for the imagined pleasure of engaging a warmly imagined
theatrical experience.  Where is the dancer here? Where a dance?
 
Yrs, Urk.
 
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date:   Mon, 25 Feb 1991 10:11:36 -0500
From:   "JANIS _ LULL" <FFJL@ALASKA>
Subject: 2.0068  Authorial Revision
Comment:  RE: SHK 2.0068  Authorial Revision
 
Hmm.  I thought Werstine's point was that we should
somehow incorporate compositors, censors, bookkeepers,
hired menders, and everybody else into the body of
Shakespeare, if not by penetration, then maybe by
some kind of protoplasmic merger.  He fails to say
how this might happen, however, but I begin to get
an idea with Urkowitz's picture of using Q1 R&J in the
classroom.  I THOUGHT he was going to say, just
try showing students several different entrances
from several different quartos of a Shakespeare
play and watch them fall into a stupor.  It would,
it seems to me, require a real quarto enthusiast to
pull it off.  And this may be part of the resistance
to "revising Shakespeare," penetrated Shakespeare,
layered Shakespeare, and all the rest.  Some
classicists--and I guess we're all classicists--are
afraid that the upshot might be that nobody, maybe
especially students, cares about Shakespeare any more
at all.

Quartos in the Classroom (Authorial Revision)

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 70. Tuesday, 26 Feb 1991.
 
(1)   Date:   Tue, 26 Feb 1991 07:29:16 -0500                (51 lines)
      From:   Stevesteventhethebibinocnoculularar <SURCC@CUNYVM>
      Subject:      Re: SHK 2.0069  Authorial Revision
 
(2)   Date:   Tue, 26 Feb 1991 08:43:00 -0500                (14 lines)
      From:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
      Subject: RE: SHK 2.0069  Authorial Revision
 
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:   Tue, 26 Feb 1991 07:29:16 -0500
From:   Stevesteventhethebibinocnoculularar <SURCC@CUNYVM>
        [Steve Urkowitz, City University of New York]
Subject: 2.0069  Authorial Revision
Comment:      Re: SHK 2.0069  Authorial Revision
 
Oooh, the unhappy slide into denigrating the theatricality of those
early texts!  If students don't know what to do with Q and F 2HenryVI
and you fear that they will stuporify if you show them, then maybe
you're also similarly afraid of giving them 2HENRYVI alive or pickled
in a modern version.  Do I detect a whiff of irony in the appelation
"Q1 Enthusuast"?  I'll get a t-shirt made . . .  Any of this stuff,
edited or facsimiled, is deadly dull if it isn't presented carefully.
How come?  Well, scripts are not literature.  Try feeding someone
the recipe for chocolate cake instead of chocolate cake.  It ain't
mad enthusiasm that leads me to give my students, last night,
f'rinstance, the parallel texts of Alexander Iden's self description
just before he chops Jack Cade.  In Q he says he's equal in size to
Cade; in F he says he's MUCH bigger than Cade.  So the students grin,
and they see that scripts are contingent, at least in this case, upon
the physical creatures that are going to play them on any particular
day.  Hmmm. . . Fat shareholders in F vs impecunious underfed pirates
in Q?  I leave that to the TheoryofText Department.  Or the opening
scene in 2H6 where in Q Queen Margaret demurely talks of her modesty,
sits next to King Henry, and is welcomed by upright nobles.  In F
instead she proclaims her own boldness, she does not sit (or she's not
invited to sit) and the nobles kneel to her.  Oh, yes.  The pirates,
you see,  . . . or they pirated Shakespeare's revision (sez the OUP).
I see my job as teaching my students how to interpret theatrical
scripts.  The q-f variants help immensely in that task, whoever
was responsible.  They are tools, not relics of the true religion.
 
What is our stock in trade anyway in these classrooms?   Well, I
work with the documents written and transmitted from the past, my own
achievements of professional analytic skills and strategies, and,
(wheee!) against all worldweariness, my pleasure, my delight, my giddy
enthusiasm over "the achieve" of that theatrical recipe-book-in-many-
versions.  Werstine sneers at my enthusiasm and he repeatedly
misrepresents my conclusions and my program.  Well, he's gotta live
inside that grumpiness; I, on the other hand, gotta dance.  Ya wanna
dance?  Try finding not the "errors" in the naughtyquartos but the
pleasures they offer.  One last cookie to look at in 2H6: check out
the two versions of the fellas who undo good duke Humphrey.  In one
they are lively dudes, "All things is handsome" one says about the
execution of their command, and in the other they sound like grim
functionaries, one with a guilty conscience.  Go on, lookit!  All
it'll take is the time to open that 2H6 facsimile and the Folio.
And try it out on your freshmen, or your graduate class.  C'mon.
Take a brave taste.  Ignore the grotty bits that come with any
old-typeset stuff.  Dig in or sniff and sample.
 
Just a dancin' fool, Urk.  When ya gonna grow up?  SURCC@cunyvm
 
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------29----
Date:   Tue, 26 Feb 1991 08:43:00 -0500
From:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   [Skip Shand, Glendon College]
Subject: 2.0069  Authorial Revision
Comment: RE: SHK 2.0069  Authorial Revision
 
Janis says that it would take "a real quarto enthusiast" to succeed in
giving classroom life to different entrances from different quartos, etc.
Not so, I think: It simply requires that we learn, as one of the many
strings to our bows, to read playtexts, whatever their authorial
provenance, as scripts for performance, manifesting at all sorts of points
an intelligent and intelligible openness of a sort which is closed by actorly
performance in a BROADLY determinate fashion--that we seek in these texts
the living and demonstrable drama and theatre, rather than the will o' the
wisp author. I sort of thought this was the old orthodoxy!

Authorial Revision

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 68. Sunday, 24 Feb 1991.
 
Date:   Sun, 24 Feb 1991 21:48:37 -0500
From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Subject: 2.0063  Authorial Revision
Comment:      Re: SHK 2.0063  Authorial Revision
 
[This message arrived just moments after I sent the digest containing
Jean Brink's message to SHAKSPER.  Rather than holding it for another
24 hours, I forward it now, separately.  My apologies for any
inconvenience this duplication of subjects may cause.  KS]
 
Dear Janis,
 
As the lead lunatic in the "Shakespeare Revises" ward of this
home for thethe academically out, I'd like to enter the conversation
about why consider Shakespeare as the reviser of those funny scripts.
Paul Werstine's psychoerotic fantasies of dirty little compositors and
apprentices penetrating Shakespeare's manuscripts sounds sadly like the
back rooms of nasty adult book stores.  Playscripts of most periods
may be the product of individual effort, or they may pop out of a
community of interest and suggestion and hard thought over tough
problems.  The consequence of the different imagined narratives though
seems to have been significant.  When we fantasize that Shakespeare
and his company revised a text then we are encouraged to look, to READ,
such a text.  But when the whole camp, pioneers and all, may have
spewed onto the "bad" quarto of MERRY WIVES, then PFUI!  Don't Wannit.
Though Paul Werstine says otherwise, I keep on encouraging people to
Lookit!  Whoever may have inscribed those words, they did fascinating
work, and we have a lot to learn from it.  Werstine says, "Nope.
Unclean, unclear.  Give 'em edited versions because we can trust us
editors."  Try, just try, one or two times, to show several neat
alternative versions of an entrance from 3HenryVI or a father-daughter
dialogue from R&J with your undergraduates.  They'll begin to see how
text or script may be manipulated to create theatrical effects.  Isn't
that the goal of reading these old dogs anyway?  I tell ya, the "bad"
quarto of R&J will help your students understand more about R&J than
setting them to read through Brooke's Romeus and Juliet.  But I'll
betcha not a dozen students (or teachers either) a year read Q1 R&J
in a year in the whole wide world.  Okay, Urk, back in yer cage!
. . . . Steve Urkowitz SURCC@CUNYVM

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