Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0135. Saturday, 19 February 1994.
From: William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date: Friday, 18 Feb 1994 22:55:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: The Oxford Editors and MEASURE FOR MEASURE
I would not send anyone to the Oxford editors (Jowett and Taylor) as the first
place to go. Jowett's edition of MEASURE FOR MEASURE is a unique blend of
conservative and radical, as if the entire Oxford COMPLETE WORKS, ed. Wells and
I have a bone to pick with Jowett. Back in 1972 in SHAKESPEARE QUARTERLY 23, I
published a little note, "'The Devil's Horn': Appearance and Reality,"
explaining two lines in MEASURE FOR MEASURE (II.iv.16-17): "Let's write good
Angell on the Deuills horne/'Tis not the Deuills Crest." This is the Folio
version, the only authority for this play. I explained the lines in the
"Angelo concludes that he will write 'good Angel' (i.e. his own appearance of
goodness, his 'gravity') on the 'devil's horn' (i.e. his evil sexual desires
for Isabel). Form and place (the illusion of good) will conceal the reality of
his evil; and the people will be deceived into believing (contrary to fact)
that the 'devil's horn' is not the 'devil's crest.' Those deluded by false
seeming will genuinely believe that evil is not evil. This explanation, which
is Warburton's and Johnson's, gains support in the rest of the play" (204).
I spend, in the note, more time explaining "devil's horn" and "devil's crest."
However, I submit that the above passage is a reasonable and adequate
explanation of the lines.
Jowett in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: A TEXTUAL COMPANION (p. 471, s.v. 2.4.17/936)
says that the Folio version "lends itself to no convincing gloss." I take that
to mean that he rejects my "gloss" without naming me. If Jowett finds my
explanation unconvincing, he should explain why. He simply says that "editors'
attempts to explain 2.4.16-17/935-6 are contorted and contradictory" (471).
Since I was not commenting as an editor, is my little note on the passage
I realize that this is a minor point, but Mr. Jowett's edition is built on a
series of similar judgments, it seems to me.
In any case, I would be interested in your judgment of this little controversy,
a controversy that I thought I had laid to rest twenty-two years ago!
Ah, the vanity of human suppositions!
Yours, Bill Godshalk