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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
Re: Q1 Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1054  Thursday, 24 June 1999.

[1]     From:   James Ayres <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 17:04:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1050 Re: Q1 Hamlet

[2]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 1999 11:09:47 EDT
        Subj:   Q1 Hamlet and the Marcellus-Pirate

[3]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 1999 00:32:33 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1050 : Q1 Hamlet's Uglies

[4]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 1999 22:20:11 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1050 Re: Q1 Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Ayres <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 17:04:32 -0500
Subject: 10.1050 Re: Q1 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1050 Re: Q1 Hamlet

Bruce Young writes:

>I was impressed by Steve Urkowitz's defense of Q1 Hamlet, but I would be
>surprised if all other theories (especially memorial reconstruction)
>simply "have no basis."   I'm no expert on the subject.  But I wonder,
>"if the 'bad' parts really aren't so bad," can the following really be
>something Shakespeare wrote and intended to have spoken on stage?

Bruce, have a look at the other essays in the Tom Clayton book THE
HAMLET FIRST PUBLISHED as well as Leah Marcus chapter, "Bad Taste and
Bad Hamlet," in her UNEDITING THE RENAISSANCE.  The questions you raise,
I have found, disappear in stage performance.  The play is still the
thing. And the stage its arena. See the reviews of the 1985 performance
of Q1 at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.  Last year I had the
pleasure of exploring the play with a group of students at the
University of Texas, taking it to the New Globe in Southwark for a
special performance on August 31, 1998.  The London audience-and members
of the RSC, National, and Globe companies who attended-found the
swiftness of the play (two hours traffic exactly), Hamlet's colloquial,
intimate, exchange with the audience (to be or not to be), and Gertrud's
support of her son, quite appealing. See James Loehlin's account of our
London  performance in the SHAKESPEARE BULLETIN: JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE
CRITICISM AND SCHOLARSHIP, Vol 17, NO.1, Winter '99.  The elasticity of
the verse you refer to we found attractive, inviting. We approached the
play not as "bad Hamlet" but as a play in its own right.  The question
of whether WS wrote or intended to have it spoken never occurred to us.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 1999 11:09:47 EDT
Subject:        Q1 Hamlet and the Marcellus-Pirate

Riding the memorial reconstruction range:

Hobby-horse time, anyone?  (please pardon the grumpy overtones; it's
been a long  and dusty couple of decades in the hobby-horse saddle,
herding these "bad Quarto" cats.)

I just read over Kathy Irace's "Origins and Agents of Q1 HAMLET" in the
same Tom Clayton volume as my "Back to Basics" piece appears.  Take a
look at it.  Watch how evidence is handled, shuffled, puffed or passed
over.   See what you think.

Here's an example: on p.116, she reports that she tracked the spelling
patterns found in the pages thought to be in Shakespeare's hand in the
Sir Thomas More manuscript along with the spellings found in the "pirate
Marcellus's" lines in Q1 and Q2 and F Hamlet.

Okay?  So if Q1 is done by a pirate who played Marcellus, one should
predict that he (or post-"Shakespeare in Love," she) would somehow spell
differently than the speller of the Sir Thomas More pages and the other
Hamlet texts.  (Remembering that spelling was wildly idiosyncratic at
the time).  (And remembering that the basic argument about memorial
reconstruction is that the reconstructor hasn't seen an authorial
manuscript of the text  being rebuilt.)

So Ms Irace reports "a significant correlation" between the spellings of
The Book of Sir Thomas More pages, AND Q1  AND Q2.

Boing!   T-I-L-T! @#$% Squatchoooo!      Oops?

My plodding mind looking at this feels that the SAME footprint is
leaving tracks in these three documents. Who could it be?

Ms Irace suggests that Dover Wilson and Greg account for the Q1-Q2
spelling parallels because, they propose, Q2 was set into type with
occasional consultation of a Q1 book.  But she coyly skips away from
quizzing herself about the connection to the Book of Sir Thomas More.
Seems like our pirate had a very hot pen.  After he scribbled the ms
that became the basis for Q1, "Marcellus" ran backwards in time to write
the foul papers behind Q2 (see her chart on p 119) and then scurried
over to do up Sir Thomas More as well?  Piece of cake for a pirate.

If one's own data contradict one's theory, or if those data require one
to accept impossible narratives, one ought question one's theory,
naughtn't one?  Or just mist over the data?

Ms Irace has two major works out since she published the essay in
Clayton's volume. A book and an edition of Q1 Hamlet.   I've not made
reference to them here, but when I glanced through them they struck me
as much of a sameness.

Ever,
Steve hobbyhorse-owitz

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 1999 00:32:33 EDT
Subject: 10.1050 : Q1 Hamlet's Uglies
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1050 : Q1 Hamlet's Uglies

Bruce Young asks for counter-arguments defending particularly
"irregular" chunks.

Two:

First, Is it possible that Shakespeare could sketch in ungainly
irregularities at some stage of his composition of  HAMLET?  Why not?
(Check Don Foster's stuff on authorship and the "bad" quartos.)

Is it necessary for us to assume, as Bruce does, that Shakespeare
intended for such bumpity stuff to be performed?  No way.  Maybe he
sketched in ideas really fast, knowing he could come back to polish them
later.  (It seems that Beethoven did that sort of thing frequently in
his notebooks, often resorting to penning real musical drivel for
measure after measure, then recomposing those passages along with much
else when he  scribbled the next draft-through).  And maybe the physical
pages that went to the printer weren't the ones that regulated a
performance but rather were the ugly draft?  I don't know, but at least
this explanation fits observable compositional practices among highly
creative individuals in the European text-into-performance tradition.
(The memorial reconstruction fictions, in contrast, do not fit what we
know about the economics and legal regulations of Shakespeare's time.)

Second.  The observation  that a lot of the "regular" lines that have
their full ten syllables are the same in Q1 as they are found later in
Q2 and F is NOT an argument that a pirate got some of his lines right.
It could just as well be because Shakespeare agreed with himself that
there wasn't anything to change in those lines.

But there's another strategy that I ask you all out there to consider.
Glance not just at the yucky soliloquy.  Cast your eyes up and down at
the stage action immediately before and after the speech.    The stage
movement is radically different between Q1 and Q2, and where the
characters in Q1 play helter-skelter Hide and find shelter, they all in
Q2 have time for profound self-revelatory lines about their wishes,
guilts, and hopes.    Q1 crackles with quick action decided on in a
moment.  Q2/F burns differently with souls reflectively unfolding in the
smolderings of  long-considered  nasty subornation.

Okay, if you still want a pirate after seeing what good he/she can do,
fine by me.  But that pirate is one fine action-writer.

The trap is ripping an ugly out of context.

Ever,
Urquartowitz, Defender of the Ugly
(ps: Do take a look at my essay in the Tom Clayton volume.  It's kind of
a weed-whacker in the undergrowth of  Hamlet textual studies.  Not
esthetically pleasing but helpful in clearing out accumulated scholarly
debris that has proven unmulchable.)

"Back to Basics: Thinking about the HAMLET First Quarto."  In Tom
Clayton, ed.  The HAMLET First Published: Origins, Form,
Intertextualities.  Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1992,  257-91.

"Five Women Eleven Ways: Changing Images of Shakespearean Characters in
the Earliest Texts."  In Werner Habicht, et al., eds.  Images of
Shakespeare: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the International
Shakespeare Association, 1986.  Newark, Del.: University of Delaware
Press, 1988, 292-304.

"'Well-sayd olde Mole': Burying Three HAMLETs in Modern Editions."  In
Georgianna Ziegler, ed.  Shakespeare Study Today: The Horace Howard
Furness Memorial Lectures.  AMS Studies in the Renaissance, 13.  New
York: AMS Press, 1986, 37-70.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 1999 22:20:11 -0600
Subject: 10.1050 Re: Q1 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1050 Re: Q1 Hamlet

Bruce Young wrote:

>I was impressed by Steve Urkowitz's defense of Q1 Hamlet, but I would be
>surprised if all other theories (especially memorial reconstruction)
>simply "have no basis."

I think Steve Urquartowitz, iconoclast that he is, sometimes tends to go
a bit far with his rhetoric in order to raise hackles.  He did not say
that "all other theories" have no basis; what he actually said was that
"the theories about piracy, cutting for touring, and memorial
reconstruction" (as propounded in most common narratives of memorial
reconstruction) have no basis, and this is close to true if we're
talking about the historical record.  See Laurie Maguire's Shakespearean
Suspect Texts, already cited in this thread, for an extensive discussion
of the evidence.  See also several important papers, such as Paul
Werstine's "Narratives About Printed Texts: 'Foul Papers' and 'Bad
Quartos'" (SQ 41 (1990): 65-86).  I think everybody would agree that Q1
Hamlet is inferior poetically to Q2 and F1, but many have argued that
it's not necessarily inferior dramatically or textually -- there have
been excellent productions of Q1 which the audiences enjoyed greatly,
and Q1 actually has fewer obvious misprints than either Q2 or F1.

>I'm no expert on the subject.  But I wonder,
>"if the 'bad' parts really aren't so bad," can the following really be
>something Shakespeare wrote and intended to have spoken on stage?:
>
>To be, or not to be, I there's the point,
>To Die, to sleepe, is that all? I all:
>No, to sleepe, to dreame, I mary there it goes,
>For in that dreame of death, when wee awake,
>And borne before an euerlasting Iudge,
>>From whence no passenger euer retur'nd,
>The vndiscouered country, at whose sight
>The happy smile, and the accursed damn'd.
>But for this, the ioyfull hope of this,
>Whol'd beare the scornes and flattery of the world,
>Scorned by the right rich, the rich curssed of the poore?
>The widow being oppressed, the orphan wrong'd,
>The taste of hunger, or a tirants raigne,
>And thousand more calamities besides,
>To grunt and sweate vnder this weary life,
>When that he may his full Quietus make,
>With a bare bodkin, who would this indure,
>But for a hope of something after death?
>Which pusles the braine, and doth confound the sence,
>Which makes vs rather beare those euilles we haue,
>Than flie to others that we know not of.
>I that, O this conscience makes cowardes of vs all. . .
>
>"I mary there it goes"?

Well, this line is very similar to some in Shakespeare's canonical
plays, such as the following (in original spelling):

Ariel: Siluer: there it goes Siluer.
     (Tempest 4.1, line 256 Riverside)

Titus: Why there it goes, God giue your Lordship ioy.
     (Titus Andronicus 4.3, line 77 Riverside)

The much-maligned "I theres the point" from line 1 of the Q1 version of
the monologue actually occurs in almost exactly the same form in the
Folio texts of Merry Wives, Othello, and 2 Henry IV (original spelling):

Shallow: I, there's the point Sir.
      (Merry Wives 1.1, line 222 Riverside)

Iago: I, there's the point:
      (Othello 3.3, line 228 Riverside)

Bardolph: I marry, there's the point.
      (2 Henry IV 1.3, line 18 Riverside)

By presenting this passage in unedited form, you're prejudicing readers
against it right off the bat, especially those readers unused to reading
17th-century texts in original form.  A fairer option would be to
present it from an edited text, such as that in Kathleen Irace's 1998
New Cambridge edition of Q1:

To be, or not to be; ay, there's the point.
To die, to sleep: is that all?  Ay, all.
No, to sleep, to dream; ay marry, there it goes.
For in that dream of death, when we awake
And borne before an everlasting judge
>From whence no passenger ever returned,
The undiscovered country at whose sight
The happy smile and the accursed damned --
But for this, the joyful hope of this,
Who'd bear the scorns and flattery of the world,
Scorned by the right rich, the rich cursed of the poor,
The widow being oppressed, the orphan wronged,
The taste of hunger or a tyrant's reign,
And thousand more calumnies besides,
To grunt and sweat under this weary life,
When that he may his full quietus make
With a bare bodkin?  Who would this endure,
But for a hope of something after death,
Which puzzles the brain and doth confound the sense,
Which makes us rather bear the evils we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Ay, that. O, this conscience makes cowards of us all. --

Irace has this comment in her textual notes:

"Hamlet's much-maligned Q1 soliloquy has many phrases in common with the
parallel segment in Q2 and F, but placed in a different order, with its
own additions, omissions, and substitutions when compared with the
longer versions.  Lines 117-21 [Lines 4-8 in the above excerpt] are
perhaps the most disordered, for Hamlet seems to lose track of his own
syntax as he muses; these breaks in syntax might be interpreted as
emphasizing Hamlet's troubled mental state.  The rest of the soliloquy,
though certainly not as graceful or complex as the versions in Q2 and F,
is usually coherent."

I would suggest that lines 4-8, which Irace finds so disordered, can be
made much more coherent by a single emendation which doesn't affect the
meter:  substitute "we're" for "we" in line 4.  I find the entire
soliloquy to be a perfectly decent bit of poetry; hardly equal to
Shakespeare's best, but better than an awful lot of what was published
back then (most of which modern readers, mercifully, never see).  The
cruxes are not significantly more difficult than those found in most of
the more familiar texts of Shakespeare's plays.

>Also, picking a passage at random, I noticed that the iambic pentameter
>is exceedingly elastic-even more so than in Shakespeare's late plays.
>In this passage, the number of syllables range from 6-14 (noted at the
>end of each line), to me a sign that someone is throwing this together
>pretty carelessly, with only the slightest effort to approximate blank
>verse:
>
> [Ham.] I so, come forth and worke thy last, (8)
>And thus hee dies: and so am I reuenged: (10)*
>No, not so: he tooke my father sleeping, his sins brim full, (14)
>And how his soule stoode to the state of heauen (10)
>Who knowes, saue the immortall powres, (7-8)
>And shall I kill him now,  (6)
>When he is purging of his soule? (8)
>Making his way for heauen, this is a benefit, (12)
>And not reuenge: no, get thee vp agen, (10)
>When hee's at game swaring, taking his carowse, drinking drunke, (14)
>Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed, (10)*
>Or at some act that hath no relish (9)
>Of saluation in't, then trip him (8)
>That his heeles may kicke at heauen, (7)
>And fall as lowe as hel: my mother stayes, (10)*
>This phisicke but prolongs thy weary dayes. (10)*
> [exit Ham.]
>
> [King] My wordes fly vp, my sinnes remaine below. (10)*
>No King on earth is safe, if Gods his foe. (10)
>
>It's also interesting that, where the wording matches Q2 and F1 very
>closely, the Q1 lines are-not always, but more often than not-among the
>few 10 syllable lines, 3 of them among the 4 rhyming lines (see lines
>marked with asterisk above).

Some of this may be the result of mislineation, which is not necessarily
the fault of the author.  The 14-syllable line near the beginning of
this excerpt, for example, looks like a 10-syllable line followed by a
shortened 4-syllable line, not an uncommon thing in Shakespeare.  Cf.
Hamlet's "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I" soliloquy (lines):

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all the visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, an' his whole functions suiting
With forms to his conceit?  And all for nothing,
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to [Hecuba]...

The rest of it is less regular than most of Shakespeare's verse, but
even in a mature play like Hamlet it's possible to find comparable
passages, especially if you look at the original texts rather than
edited versions.  For example, here is a section of the Hecuba soliloquy
as it appears in F1, with the number of syllables in each line indicated
(this corresponds to 2.2.581-605 in the Riverside):

Remoreselesse, Treacherous, Letcherous, kindles villaine!  (13)
Oh Vengeance!  (3)
Who?  What an Asse am I?  I sure, this is most braue,  (12)
That I, the Sonne of the Deere murthered,  (9/10)
Prompted to my Reuenge by Heauen, and Hell,  (11)
Must (like a Whore) vnpacke my heart with words,  (10)
And fall a Cursing like a very Drab,  (10)
A Scullion?  Fye upon't:  Foh.  About my Braine.  (11/12)
I haue heard, that guilty Creatures sitting at a Play,  (13)
Haue by the very cunning of the Scoene,  (10)
Bene strooke so to the soule, that presently  (10)
They haue proclaim'd their Malefactions.  (9)
For Murther, though it haue no tongue, will speake  (10)
With most myraculous Organ.  Ile haue these Players,  (13)
Play something like the murder of my Father,  (11)
Before mine Vnkle.  Ile obserue his lookes,  (10)
Ile tent him to the quicke:  If he but blench  (10)
I know my course.  The Spirit that I haue seene  (11)
May be the Diuell, and the Diuel hath power  (12)
T'assume a pleasing shape, yea and perhaps  (10)
Out of my Weaknesse, and my Melancholly,  (11)
As he is very potent with such Spirits,  (11)
Abuses me to damne me.  Ile haue grounds  (10)
More Relatiue then this:  The Play's the thing,  (10)
Wherein Ile catch the Conscience of the King.  (10)

Out of the 25 lines here, less than half (11 or 12) have 10 syllables.
That compares to 8 out of 18 in the Q1 passage you gave above-almost
exactly the same percentage.  If you looked at this passage in the
Riverside or another modern edition, the number of 10-syllable lines
would be somewhat greater, because editors try to regularize lines
wherever possible.  For example, the third line above, which has 12
syllables in the Folio, is emended in the Riverside so it has 10
syllables:  "Why, what an ass am I!  This is most brave".

>I'd be interested to hear the counter-arguments.

I hope I've given some idea of how Q1 can be, and is, defended.  I
certainly wouldn't agree that it's a superior text to Q2 or F1, but I
would defend it as a much more coherent text than most commentators make
it out to be, especially when it's compared directly with the unedited
Q2 and F1 texts.  I find it entirely reasonable to think that
someone-whether Shakespeare or somebody else, or a combination of the
two-wrote this text more or less as it stands (except for the mistakes
and misreadings that plague essentially all early modern printed play
texts) and intended it to be acted.  I also think it not unreasonable to
believe that Shakespeare revised the Q1 text into the more familiar Q2
one, though if he was also the author of Q1, it must have been written
relatively early in his career-it may have even been the "Hamlet" that
the Chamberlain's Men played at Newington Butts in 1594.  As others have
noted earlier in this thread, Q1 is quite stageworthy in the hands of a
good director and cast, and some people even consider it more theatrical
because it's so much faster-paced than Q2 or F1 or the typical conflated
version.

Dave Kathman

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