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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Re: *MM* Revisions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0520.  Wednesday, 28 June 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Tueesday, 27 Jun 1995 10:43:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0493  Re: Taylor/Jowell Argument: *MM*
 
(2)     From:   Georgianna Ziegler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Jun 95 13:48:00 PDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0489  Qs: Taylor/Jowell Argument: *MM*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Tueesday, 27 Jun 1995 10:43:39 +0100
Subject: 6.0493  Re: Taylor/Jowell Argument: *MM*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0493  Re: Taylor/Jowell Argument: *MM*
 
In answer to the recent queries about revision in *MM*:
 
SHAXICON indexes three possibly distinct lexical pools in *MM*, identified as
"MM" (most of the play), "MM-b" and "MM-c" (possibly containing late additions
or revisions). These three index terms can be processed together (thereby
constituting the entire "rare word" lexical pool of MM-F1), or separately (to
investigate the issues raised by Jowett and Taylor and others). A typical
SHAXICON reference looks like this:
 
Dx3> resemblance (n.): MM-b 4.2.188 [DkVi-b]. WT 5.2.36 [3GentWn]. R3-fz 3.7.11
[Buck-fz].
 
<<meaning that *resemblance* (n.) appears three times in the dramatic works
("Dx3"), once in the "-b" strand of F1 *MM*, where it is spoken by the Duke
Vincentio; once in *WT*, where it is spoken by 3.Gentleman; and once in a
folio-only passage in *R3*, where it is spoken by Buckingham.  There are 1,035
SHAXICON citations to MM, 24 to MM-b, and 58 to MM-c, for a total of 1,117
words in F1 *MM* that appear 12 times or less in the canonical plays.>>
 
Those of you who are unfamiliar with SHAXICON will find this bewildering; but
to be as brief as possible:
 
It appears to SHAXICON as if Jowett and Taylor are right, at least in part,
concerning late revision in *MM* (but see the refinements of George Williams,
in his edition of Fletcher's *Rollo*, especially concerning the song in 4.1).
 
SHAXICON identifies MM-b and MM-c as the most likely sites of late revision
(one must not suppose, however, that "MM" represents a perfectly stable and
untainted "original" text, or that "MM-b" and "MM-c" represent precise and
self-contained alterations or additions):
 
                MM-b
                II.ii.1-6
                II.iv.17b-30a
                IV.ii.21-59, 172-195
 
                MM-c
                I.ii.1-81, 187-192
                III.ii.261-282
                IV.i.16-25
 
The bulk of the play (indexed in SHAXICON under "MM") finds its sharpest peak
in lexical overlap with Shakespearean works acted in 1601-2 (thus influencing
the lexical composition of *MM*), and with Shakespearean works written in 1603
ff. (texts thus influenced *by* the lexicon of *MM*). Moreover, the lexical
pool indexed under "MM" registers the mnemonic influence of the Shakespeare
roles through 1602. The only defensible conclusion from these data is that MM
(the bulk of F1 *MM*) represents a text written by Shakespeare ca. winter
1602/3.
 
The MM-b and MM-c strands, however, find their highest lexical overlap, by far,
with Shakespearean works written or acted in 1611/12 (MM-b) and 1612/13 (MM-c).
This alone doesn't tell us much. Some well-informed textual scholars may say
that it tells us nothing at all. But MM-b quite strongly, and MM-c somewhat
less strongly, both register an otherwise unexpectedly high overlap with the
designated Shakespeare roles from 1591-1611 (including Antigonus and 3.Gent. in
*WT*).  That the vocabulary of MM-b/c is markedly later that the rest of the
play will not surprise those who have already concluded that these passages
represent late additions or revisions; but that the vocabulary of both MM-b and
MM-c appear to register the mnemonic influence of the designated Shakespeare
roles through 1610 is partly at odds with Taylor and Jowett's argument, for it
would seem to indicate that the material represented by MM-b and MM-c were
written by Shakespeare not long before his retirement--and yet MM-c in
particular contains some apparent confusion in the reviser's mind, and some
pretty wretched writing to boot (not unlike, say, the Fool's Merlin speech in
F1 *Lr,* which SHAXICON similarly identifies as very-late Shakespeare). On the
evidence of SHAXICON, I have come to the Shakespeare late in his career may
have revised some of his own plays, and he may have made a mosh of it.  Other
F1 texts that appear (to SHAXICON) to contain very late and sometimes botched
but probably authorial revisions include F1 *Lr*, *Tim*, *Mac,* and *AWW.*
 
This is not to say that *MM* couldn't have been tinkered with in 1622, as
Taylor and Jowett have argued. MM-c, which T & J take to be non-Shakespearean,
tests as less certainly Shakespeare's than either MM or MM-b when using
SHAXICON; then, too, the very small lexical pools for MM-b and MM-c yield
results that are necessarily less dependable than for the larger lexical pool
represented in SHAXICON by MM; nor is it possible to suppose that MM-b and
MM-c, as operationally defined, precisely delineate the lexical pools
contributed by supposed revision, since we have only one version of the play
(*MM*-F1) from which to make such judgments. But SHAXICON seems to indicate,
pretty strongly, that all or most of the passages represented in SHAXICON by
MM-b and MM-c were *not* part of the original play.  This will sound lamentably
disintegrationist to those who still hold to a belief in a stable text, and
there is indeed good reason to be cautious. But SHAXICON does afford various
ways to test for accuracy in dating separate lexical strands within a
single-text play such as F1 *MM* (as also in Q1 *LLL*, *MND*, and *MV*); and
I'm pretty sure that T & J are right in the broad outlines of their case,
though probably wrong about the song and perhaps also about the date and
provenance of the revisions.
 
Related matters:
 
SHAXICON suggests that there may have been fairly brief "runs" of *MM* ca.
1603-4 (proably interrupted by plague) and 1608 (1608/9 was another severe
plague-year), and a more extended run in 1610/11, with Shakespeare playing
Escalus in all runs. It appears not unlikely (though not at all verifiable)
that *MM* in the winter of 1611/12 continued in repertory, but with Shakespeare
switching from Escalus to play the minor role of Friar Peter.  Escalus
continues to exert strong influence upon the texts and revisions of 1612-13,
but the sudden appearance of lexical influence from Friar Peter, a bit role, is
in keeping with the sharp reduction in Shakespeare's stage activity after 1611
as registered by SHAXICON.
 
Don Foster
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Georgianna Ziegler <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 27 Jun 95 13:48:00 PDT
Subject: 6.0489  Qs: Taylor/Jowell Argument: *MM*
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0489  Qs: Taylor/Jowell Argument: *MM*
 
To: Michael Friedman re: Measure
 
Grace Ioppolo's forthcoming edition of MM for Harvester-Wheatsheaf will take
up this very issue in its textual introduction.  The projected publication
date is 1997.
 

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