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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: LLW
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2366  Wednesday, 17 October 2001

[1]     From:   John Ciccarelli <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 11:03:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: LLW

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 13:11:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2355 Re: LLW

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 13:27:17 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2355 Re: LLW

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 22:44:56 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2343 Re: LLW


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ciccarelli <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 11:03:59 -0400
Subject:        Re: LLW

Larry and Mike do bring up some interesting points about LLW.  LLL does
leave one hanging with a somewhat forced "cliffhanger".  Until the
messenger from France arrives, the play would seem to have the makings
of a typical "happy-ending" for the comedy that it is.  Introducing this
11th hour plot twist would seem to indicate that WS intended to carry on
the story.  I would have two problems with this though.  First WS didn't
write any sequels for his plays other than the history plays (with the
debatable exception of The Merry Wives of Windsor).  Also I don't
believe (and I may be mistaken here) that other contemporary playwrights
commonly wrote sequels for this type of drama.   In reference to the
idea that LLW, would have been a subtitle for LLL isn't very plausible
considering that the quarto version in 1598 lists only LLL on the title
page.

The idea that the play was left out of the folio due to unavailability
is certainly plausible, since a play such as Pericles were left out.
This may be especially true with a copy of LLW written in the 1590's and
not being very popular.  While the idea of a lost play is the more
exciting, I believe the answer is that LLW was simply listed under
another name.

My feeling is that LLW is actually "Much Ado About Nothing".  The dating
of this play places it at 1598, the year Meres wrote the list.
Considering the slap on title and that other WS works were sometimes
known by other names (see Henry VI plays, Henry VIII), 'Much' could have
been known by as LLW or listed a subtitle.  Given that 'Much' was being
performed in 1598 and LLL was published as a quarto in the same year,
Meres may simply have assumed it to be a continuation of the same theme.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 13:11:52 -0400
Subject: 12.2355 Re: LLW
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2355 Re: LLW

> I think the relevant facts are:
>
> 1.  LLW is not in F.
> 2.  We lack the Q text of LLW.
> 3.  We lack the "bad" Q of LLL.
> 4.  There doesn't seem to be a timeslot for writing LLW

> Fits ALL the facts?

First, this list is not data, but the absence of data.  Second, nothing
in my "lost sequel" theory is inconsistent with these facts.  Third,
items 1 and 3 are irrelevant and the other items are explained by the
unquestionable fact that the "lost sequel" is lost; presumably, if it
turns up items 2 and 4 will no longer be facts.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 13:27:17 -0400
Subject: 12.2355 Re: LLW
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2355 Re: LLW

Bob Grumman comments on my observation that

> > The end of LLL contains strong suggestions that the story is to be
> > continued and language reminiscent to me of modern broadcasters'
> > exhortations to "stay tuned ... same time, same station," such as
> > Berowne's "that's too long for a play." Shakespeare was in all other
> > cases quite insistent on marrying off the main characters (consider
> > M/M), it seems inherently improbable that he would end a play with
> > none of the four main couples getting married, and, instead,
> > assigning tasks to all four male characters that would be potentially
> > amusing to see executed but which we are left only to imagine.
>
> The problem with that last is that I don't see how he could make a whole
> play out of it.

He made whole plays out of far less promising material.  How can you
make a four and a half hour play out of a prince's desire to kill the
king?

> > It seems to me that the very simple inference that WS wrote a sequel
> > which is unfortunately lost to us.  This theory fits all the facts.
>
> Not quite.  You still have the problem of Meres's knowing of a play
> written after Loves Labours Lost that Heminges and Condell don't.  So
> far as we know, Heminges and Condell got all the plays known to have
> been completely written by Shakespeare into the First Folio.  There's
> also the problem of Meres's knowing of LLW but not of The Taming of the
> The Shrew, which seems to me for many reasons to have to have been
> written before Meres wrote his book.

See my response to John Briggs' similar comment.  Also, Meres clearly
did not attempt to catalogue all of WS's plays written prior to 1598,
only the ones he particularly admired (as he said himself).  He selected
four tragedies, four comedies and four histories (perhaps a coincidence,
perhaps not).  The notion that T/S is LLW has been considered and
rejected by far more serious scholars than I pretend to be.

> I don't understand why my argument would be circular.

It's circular because it proceeds from the notion that since we don't
have something it never existed.

>    As for wishful, what I
> would wish was that there WAS a lost comedy by Shakespeare we could hope
> would one day be discovered.

It is wishful because it is human nature to want all the pieces of the
puzzle.

> Although if it was indeed lost, it is
> unlikely it was very good.

And the grapes are sour.  WS wrote a lot a stuff that wasn't up to his
best, but we would be sorry not to have it.  I personally don't believe
that there is any substantial evidence for Cardenio, but if it were
shown to have existed, I would want to read it and I certainly would not
assume that since it didn't survive it wouldn't be worth the effort.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Oct 2001 22:44:56 -0400
Subject: 12.2343 Re: LLW
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2343 Re: LLW

> it seems inherently improbable that he would end a play with none
> of the four main couples getting married, and, instead, assigning tasks
> to all four male characters that would be potentially amusing to see
> executed but which we are left only to imagine.
>
> It seems to me that the very simple inference that WS wrote a sequel
> which is unfortunately lost to us.  This theory fits all the facts.

For what it's worth, in ending his discourse on platonic and petrarchan
love conventions with a one year deferral, Shakespeare would only have
been following the precedent of Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls (a
possible source for Phoenix and the Turtle).

The formel eagle asks Nature permission to defer her choice of a mate
for a year. Nature grants the request and says to her three suitors:

"To yow speke I, ye tercelets," quod Nature,
"Beth of good herte, and serveth alle thre.
A yer is nat so longe to endure,
And ech of yow peyne him in his degre
Fro to do wel, for, God wot, quyt is she
Fro yow this yer; what after so befalle,
This entremes is dressed for yow alle." 659-665

No sequel is implied or expected.

Clifford

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