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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0665.  Monday, 16 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jun 1997 07:42:07 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0659 Re: Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?

[2]     From:   J. Kenneth Campbell <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Jun 1997 03:53:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0656 Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?

[3]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Jun 1997 10:43:40 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0656  Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jun 1997 07:42:07 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 8.0659 Re: Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0659 Re: Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?

G.L.Horton's metrical justification for the seemingly ungrammatical
structure of this line is right on the button, I think. It is just such
rhythmic undertow that creates character and mental state in the
auditor.

Harry Hill

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Kenneth Campbell <
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Date:           Sunday, 15 Jun 1997 03:53:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0656 Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0656 Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?

Pervez Rizvi wrote he had trouble with the construction of line 20 of
H4,1

       As far as to the sepulchre of Christ -
        Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
        We are impressed and engaged to fight -

Mr. Rizvi, I think your instincts are correct about it being an unusual
construction.
The signal to the actor is the double anapestic ending in the second
line.  It is the royal "We".  The inference is, that it is repeated
Bolingbroke, who has usurped the throne, might be somewhat uncomfortable
with the the title "we", and so he of course repeats it.  He underlines
to the rebels, he has summoned to the chamber that he, Bolingbroke is
the rightful King.

"God commands me to serve him.  I command you, in His name, to serve
us."

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Jun 1997 10:43:40 +0100
Subject: 8.0656  Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0656  Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?

I am grateful to the people who responded to my posting on 1H4. A few
more thoughts, specific and general:

Lines of 12 syllables are not all that rare in Shakespeare (see Othello)
so I wouldn't rule out a reading only because it makes the line
hypermetrical. It is just one of the criteria to consider. What struck
me was that a loose phrase in the middle of an otherwise coherent speech
looks odd and ought at least to be considered as a candidate for error.
I agree that the original lines sound natural when spoken on stage,
which is what Shakespeare was writing for.

More generally, my posting was not motivated by a burning desire to
persuade the world of my suggestion; rather, it was to see what interest
there is on this list for discussions of textual issues. I know that
these things require expertise, yet it is beguilingly easy to think that
anyone can 'have a go'. S. Schoenbaum, in a chapter of Shakespeare's
Lives called 'Other Amateurs' writes, after reviewing a particularly bad
biography: 'It illustrates what can happen when a totally uncritical
mind operates upon the materials for a Life and mimics the processes of
scholarship.'

I am only too aware that a similar charge can be laid against postings
like mine. But I also think that it is legitimate for people genuinely
interested in Shakespeare to think about the texts which have come down
to us, to question what we don't understand and not merely 'leave it to
the experts'. If the most effective way of doing that is to put up
suggestions to be shot down, then that's fine. If we remember our
limitations and give due respect to the findings of scholars who have
studied the texts in depth, then we *can* 'have a go'.

I'd like to see more discussion of textual issues on Shaksper,
particularly as we have several distinguished textual scholars among us.

Hope others feel the same.
 

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