The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0939 Wednesday, 25 April 2001
Date: Tuesday, 24 Apr 2001 23:17:25 -0700
Subject: 12.0924 Re: Feathers
Comment: Re: SHK 12.0924 Re: Feathers
>The question of the ordering of the parts of Henry VI is thoroughly
>chewed over most recently by Ronald Knowles in his Arden 3 edition of
>2H6 (1999), and by Edward Burns in his Arden 3 edition of 1H6 (2000),
>and also by John Jowett in his Oxford edition of R3 (2000), so there is
>no need to disturb the shade of John Dover Wilson!
I'm sorry I missed the beginning of this.
If we don't include the "shades" of the past in our discourse, we run
the risk of reinventing the wheel again and again; in other words, going
in circles. Often early thoughts are the most intuitive. The great minds
that have dealt with this problem always have something to give us, even
if only their mistakes.
By purest accident I happen to be reading Albert Feuerillerat's
"Composition of Shakespeare's Plays" (1953) which goes into detailed
analysis of the word usage in the plays you're discussing. I found his
argument most compelling. For those who haven't read the book, briefly,
the early quartos of 2H6 and 3H6 (The Contention and The True Tragedy)
show evidence of an early hand with certain, he claims, utterly
non-Shakespearean characteristics ad a second hand which, added to the
structure of the first hand, makes changes to roughly a third of the
play, this in a voice he terms "an imitation of Marlowe." The FFolio
version is these with a third hand added, clearly Shakespeare's as found
in the early plays, which makes changes to roughly a third of the play,
leaving evidence of the quartos in roughly two-thirds (I may be off in
my percentages, but it is enough for him to do his literary archeology).
He goes into the minutest of detail.
This is certainly one of the best close arguments I've read in
Shakespeare studies, and if someone has seriously challenged it I'd be
most interested in knowing about it.
> Knowles, Burns and
>Jowett seem to be in broad agreement, which I shall attempt to
>In Thomas Nashe's Piers Penniless (1592), he mentions a Talbot play. In
>a separate passage he praises Ned Alleyn. Ned Alleyn was a leading
>player of Lord Strange's men, who in 1592 were playing at the Rose.
>Henslowe's 'Diary' records a 'Harey the vj' as a new play in 1592, and
>something of a hit, as the takings were large. This all fits together
>neatly, the only problem being that if Shakespeare wrote 2H6 and 3H6 (1
>Contention and True Tragedy) subsequently his career becomes a trifle
>congested with plays.
Not if he was rewriting, as Feuillerat suggests. The public theater had
just developed a big appetite for plays. There's nothing so stimulating
to the creativity of a writer as a hungry audience out there waiting to
If Feuillerat is right it doesn't mean all problems are solved, but it
does change the nature of the problems. Has anyone else an opinion on
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