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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Re: Funeral Elegy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0107.  Monday, 12 February 1996.

(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 11 Feb 1996 11:47:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0102  Re: Funeral Elegy

(2)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Sunday, 11 Feb 1996 13:06:55 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy

(3)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 11 Feb 1996 20:59:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0102  Re: Funeral Elegy


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 11 Feb 1996 11:47:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0102  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0102  Re: Funeral Elegy

>>* Bill Godshalk wonders why, if Shakespeare was the author, his full name
>>didn't appear on the title page as a selling point.  But as Don Foster points
>>out, the quarto of the Elegy has all the hallmarks of being privately printed,
>>financed probably by the author and not intended for public sale. The subject
>>was an untitled provincial gentleman of no apparent interest to London
>>bookbuyers (other published elegies were virtually without exception written
>>for knights or earls who were famous and/or whose families were likely
>>patrons); the name of the publisher (Thorpe) does not appear on the title page
>>or elsewhere; neither is there the address of a bookseller, as in virtually
>>all books offered for public sale.

Yes, Don Foster makes some of these points on page 17 his *Elegy by W.S.* But
I'm not contented.  If these were a "rather small, private printing," why
involve a bookseller such as Thomas Thorp? Why have Thorp enter the poem in the
Stationers Register? Why not go directly to Eld?  If the press run is limited
in quantity, paid for by the author, and not intended for public sale, why go
to a publisher? I will not be contented by a vague procedural answer; e.g.,
"Shakespeare always or almost always used Thorp as his publisher."  See Foster
72-74, 229-232.

If the press run were extremely limited ("an elegy for a provincial gentleman
{was} of no obvious interest to London bookmen" {Foster 73}), why go to a press
at all? Many presentation copies were done by scribes like Ralph Crane. We
believe that Middleton personalized presentation copies of his plays by using a
scribe who could make changes in the manuscript geared to the individual
recipient.

Although it is difficult to calculate, below a certain press run, printing
would not be cost efficient.  If the *Elegy* were not meant for publication,
why have it printed? The classy way to go would be manuscrupt. (Harold Love
discusses the scribal culture of this period at some length. Manuscript was
still a legitimate method of reproduction in this period.)

And, yes, Thorp's name and address do not appear on the title page.  This is
unusual. If any name is missing, it's usually the printer's.  I have not yet
checked Eld's list to see if he ever does this with another book -- put his own
name on the title page and withhold the (possible) publisher's.  Since Eld
apparently did do some publishing himself, the absence of Thorp's name may
imply that Eld was in fact assuming the role of publisher.

I realize that the questions I ask do not call into question the possible
Shakespearean provenance of the poem. But I am puzzled by the poem's printing
and publishing history -- or lack of it.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Sunday, 11 Feb 1996 13:06:55 +0000 (HELP)
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

I promised Professor Foster a tape of this long poem over three weeks ago
preparatory to committing it to CD as part of Concordia's recording series, but
ran into many problems with it. What some praise as enjambement turns out in
practice --and such poems were read aloud as we know or presume-- to be
thumping, thunking, clunking carpentry that is all but unreadable.

The main difficulty, however, is a prepnderant absence of physical imagery.
This absence creates a sort of Wordsworthian abstraction where the introduction
of actual objetcs renders the thought and the emotion prosaic. This may well
have been Shakespeare's method in the poem as it was Wordsworth's in his
mystical moods. If so, it works better in Wordsworth, who can take us by
surprise with the sudden literalness of an image after a series of
abstractions, as in the intimate physicality of

        Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart.

There is nothing in all the Elegy that approaches successfully the personal
emotional geography of that "along the heart".

                        But in prasing Wordsworth
        I find I have disprased Shakespeare, and still try
        To find in reading what in seeing I cannot find
        And thus by oral noise we may improve
        This product of the man we mostly love.

        Harry Hill

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 11 Feb 1996 20:59:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0102  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0102  Re: Funeral Elegy

I've now had a chance to look at my notes on George Eld.  Eld printed STC
21531, *The puritaine or The vviddovv of VVatling-streete. . . . Written by
W.S.  Imprinted at London, By G. Eld, 1607.*  I think this title page should
give us pause. The title page of *A funeral elegye* reads "By W.S. Imprinted at
London, By G. Eld, 1612."  (Foster 266-67 discusses *The Puritaine*, but does
not seem to discuss the similarity in title pages.)

For title pages that are in some ways similar to that of *A funeral elegye*,
see, e.g.,  STC 21028 (*The art of iugling*), STC 916 (*St. Augustine, Of the
citie of God*), STC 6539 (*North-vvard hoe*), STC 1014 (*A historie*), STC
19823 (*A petite palace*), STC 18422 (*Speculum Christianum*); on these title
pages Eld gives, after the information about title and author, only place
(London), printer (himself) and the date.  No publishers or addresses are
given.  So the title page of *A funeral elegye* is not unusual in this respect.

I surmize that Eld's printing of *A funeral elegye* was not a prestige job. The
title page contains neither of Eld's signature ornaments. The text is prefaced
with one ornament and has one decorative capital. I'd compare the job Eld did
on STC 13529 (*Histrio-Mastix*) in 1610,  As a contrast, look at the title page
of STC 22277 (*Hamlet*) printed by Eld in 1611. More of a contrast is provided
by Eld's printing of STC 18368 (Nashe's *Christs Teares*), a job done for
Thomas Thorp -- with no Eld byline.  The printing, however, is unmistakable
Eld's.  (Even printer's have individual "style.")

I point these things out to call into question certain deductions that have
been based (at least partially) on the title page of FE. An analysis of the
title page would not support, or lead me to believe, that this is "a rather
small, private printing" (Foster 17, echoed by Abrams), or that Shakespeare
paid for the printing out of his own pocket. The title page is not an unusual
product of Eld's printing house.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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