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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Editing; Richard 3; TN Songs
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0407.  Wednesday, 2 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Apr 97 20:56:22 EST
        Subj:   Dancing to the Tunes of Qs and Fs

[2]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Apr 1997 17:20:54 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0399  Re: Richard 3

[3]     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Apr 1997 20:06:07 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0398  TN Questions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 01 Apr 97 20:56:22 EST
Subject:        Dancing to the Tunes of Qs and Fs

Appropriately donning cap and bells for the celebration of All Fools
Day, I returned from the SAA in Washington to find Paul Werstine's
posting of 25 March.

Whew!  He remarks, "even politeness has some limits."  Okay.  But so too
are there limits to how one presents or misrepresents documentary
evidence and the state of scholarly opinion before one may be accused
of, shall we say, stacking the deck, queering the pitch, or blowing
smoke to cover what you don't feel happy about showing.

First, I don't think the New Folger editions are somehow anathema.  They
work hard at what they choose to do.  They embody the results of years
of careful scholarship and close examination of texts and sources.  No
problem.  But they seem to mask the long tradition of editors covering
over the testimony of the early printed versions of the texts.  Let me
offer what we used to call in the Bronx "a f'rinstance."  In LEAR, when
Kent exits from 1.1, the next spoken line is "Here's France and
Burgundy, my noble lord."  In the 1608 Quarto, the speech prefix is
"Glost."  In F it reads "Cor."  Now, either can "work" onstage.  And
here by "work" I mean that either version could be played by actors to
great dramatic effect.  When "Glost" says the line, one could direct him
to pretend that he is unaware of the disasters that just befell
Cordelia's marital prospects.  Or he could play the line worried, as if
he reads in the body language or locational semiotics that something has
gone wrong.  Or following F Cor=Cornwall we could have this jaunty
mutilater point out to Lear that his rashness has to be paid for
practically at once.  Or even following Cor=Cordelia, the maid could say
the line to bring the king once again to see what is most plain but most
unspoken by others.  We could also imagine that these two alternatives
were not real alternatives.  I'm away from my desk, so I can't quote
exactly what the New Folger edition says.  But it's something like, "We
follow F except for a very few words [including this speech prefix]
where Q gives a word that more accurately fits the story."  (Or the
story of the play, something like that.)

The editors of the New Folger edition here leave the evidence in favor
of an idealized construct, THE story.  I've argued that Q Lear has one
story, and F a modestly but interestingly distinct story.  No, No, No,
sez Paul Werstine. Because we can't know who mucked about with those
speech prefixes, nor when, nor for why, we had better not bother our
readers with anyone's thoughts about the alternatives.  Well, I've
repeatedly suggested that if a typesetter or a censor, or the apprentice
picking up spilled type and stuffing it back at random into the composed
formes created these variants, we ought to at least look seriously at
the patterns of variation.  We indeed are meaning-making critters.

In LEAR there are a bunch of "interrupted speeches."  They happen at
moments of dramatic excitement.  And many are the sites of textual
variation.  One happens in 3.1; it's one of a series.  In Shakespeare
Quarterly, Richard Knowles looks at it, waves away without consideration
the patterned context of similar instances, and "demonstrates" that the
variant is not theatrically valuable.  Instead he jumbles and shifts
lines to patch together a semicoherent version.  The speech in Q runs
about 20 lines, its F version 13 lines, the conflated version Knowles
treasures and tranforms, about 26.  Dumb theatrical revisers?  Hey,
maybe.  But also maybe smart authors.  , or smart scribes, or smart
compositors.  These unknown agents produced documents.  I on all fools
day suggest that our editors should spend time showing readers what the
documents offer.

Paul takes me to task: "As editors we cannot afford to mislead readers
by pretending that history is less complex than we know it to be just to
lionize the views of one scholar."  Wow!  I don't want to hide my own
certainly challengable views in some kind of share-the-blame herd, but I
really can count more than one lonely figure in the parade.

A wonder of the internet and Shaksper allows more open discussion than
has ever been possible in most of the journals handling these issues.  I
invite other scholars, actors, students, ghosts-of-compositors, or
dancin' fools to raise their voices.

I am not Prince Editor, nor am meant to be.  But Let's use this open
space to explore issues unthought of in the confined prescriptions of
school editions.  We've paid our prices of admission.  Let the mad
rumpus begin.

Where the wild things are,
Steve Urkowitz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 01 Apr 1997 17:20:54 -0800
Subject: 8.0399  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0399  Re: Richard 3

In response to Kitty Kendrick:

I have no problem with this, though I am having trouble finding what I
said to  cause you to vent so. Can you refresh my memory? I do believe
that Richard is evil because Shakespeare needs him to be. I make that
statement from the point of view of a playwright. I don't know if it's
right or wrong, it's just an interpretation.

As far as Richard clarifying his status in 3Henry VI, I don't argue that
point either, except to say that during that period deformity was often
viewed as a satanic or occult-like punishment for the previous sins of
the forebears. If I focus on the supernatural/superstitious forces that
operated during that period, then I can see why Richard's deformity fit
so well with his character (Let's not forget that there are many
suggestions that he had not been so deformed in real life). So, I guess
for me, after all the research and analysis has made its mark on the
play, I look to the period from which the play is performed.

Either way, all interpretations are legitimate in my opinion, so please
don't vent...it takes away the joy of discussion.

JoAnna

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Apr 1997 20:06:07 -0600
Subject: 8.0398  TN Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0398  TN Questions

At least one, and likely most of the songs in TN were already known.
"Hey Robin, Jolly Robin" is from a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and was set
to music by William Cornish, master of the Revels under Henry VIII.

David Crosby
Alcorn State University
 

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