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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: A Shrew
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1286  Monday, 26 June 2000.

From:           Stephen Miller <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 18:03:13 +0100
Subject:        A Shrew


Let me just thank readers good enough to send further thoughts on A
SHREW.  --- Any more?

        From Larry Weiss (16 Jun 2000 ):

>This subject has long fascinated me, and I suspect that Stephen Miller's
>guess may be correct

>But who was the adapter?  Could it have been Shakespeare himself?  And
>are the additional Sly scenes interpolations by the adapter or did the
>adapter work from a fuller version of The Shrew which is lost to us?
>It seems to me that any valid answer to the question of what A Shrew is
>must somehow account for the mysterious truncation of the Sly frame in
>the Folio version.

So far I have failed to identify any adapter, though if it were
Shakespeare, he produced a text very unlike his other work with bleeding
chunks of Marlowe and Englished Du Bartas inexpertly crammed in.  Is
there anywhere else that he does this?

Why does the Folio lack the later Sly material?  I can only guess.
Sly's few episodes often separate scenes of A SHREW.
I consider THE SHREW an early play written without act division.  The
earlier version probably had more Sly material since one brief episode
for him survives in the Folio.

The Folio Shrew is divided into 5 Acts, except no division is printed
for Act 2.  In my edition I speculate that the Folio's sole surviving
Sly episode probably occupies the place meant for the Act 2 division.
Possibly, when THE SHREW was adapted for the indoor stage and act
divisions inserted, the Sly interruptions were cut - and the epilogue?
The F1 copy may have been unclear at the act 2 division.

        From Marcus Dahl  (19 Jun 2000)

> RE Stephen Miller' s DuBartas link

>I am fascinated to think that there is reason to conclusively date and
>assign textual identity to 'A Shrew' ...however did you mean to say that
>A Shrew (published 1594 and played (?) at Newington Butts 1594) contains
>an allusion to a poem not published in England until after 1594? It
>would of course be far more interesting if The Shrew was a rewriting
>like King John of an earlier work...

The Du Bartas material was available in French from 1578 and evidently
extremely popular in England long before the full work was printed in
English translation.  My edition has a six page appendix on details of
this - too long for an e-mail.  Whoever wrote A SHREW may have had a
manuscript translation.

        From Mike Jensen (20 June 2000)

Stephen Miller wrote:

> >Though Mike Jensen cited Laurie Maguire as a caution against accepting
> >memorial reconstruction in A Shrew; she classifies it 'Part MR' in
> >SHAKESPEAREAN SUSPECT TEXTS.

>I said her book convinced me I should be very slow to assume memorial
>reconstruction.  I was not saying I thought Shrew as not one, or that
>Maguire said Shrew was not.  Mine was a general comment.  My mind is not
>at all made up about the nature of this text, except that it seems
>likely to have some obscure connection to Shakespeare's text.  Stephen's
>wording is such that I can't tell of he thinks I needed correction, or
>if he was making a general comment of his own.  I usually need
>correction, but not this time.

Not so much correcting as supplementing: though in general Laurie is
sceptical about memorial reconstruction, as Larry says, she specifically
addresses A SHREW as I replied.  In fact, though her summary classifies
as 'not memorial reconstruction' such Shakespearean 'bad' quartos as
ROMEO 1597 and HENRY V 1600, she classifies the troublesome A SHREW
under 'a strong case can be made for memorial reconstruction' - that is,
one of the best candidates for at least some MR.  This gives a salutary
shake to previous opinions.

>I very much appreciate his suggestion that "A Shrew represents a
>deliberate adaptation of The Shrew. "  It is an idea I have been
>considering.  I gave serous consideration to purchasing his edition of A
>Shrew a couple of weeks back, but alas, the price would bust my modest
>budget.  Is a paperback forthcoming?  The facsimile I have is impossible
>to read on some pages because of the bleed through.

An instructor came to me last autumn eager to try the new edition of A
SHREW on undergraduates - until I mentioned the price.  I would love to
think that Cambridge University Press would issue the edition in
paperback, but they tell me it is too specialist.  They would not
consider a paperback unless they heard personally from teachers prepared
to consider using it.  A pity, I think.  Most critics are very
dismissive of A SHREW and read it with blinders (UK: blinkers).  I
wonder whether students might be a little more open minded?

Sincerely, Stephen Miller
 

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