Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby et al.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2441  Thursday, 25 October 2001

[1]     From:   Tom Bishop <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 15:15:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 23:06:12 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Oct 2001 00:46:50 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 15:15:56 -0500
Subject: 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

Re the claim advanced by Gabriel Egan from Henk Gras that "Twelfe Night"
in F1 (and Ff2, 3, & 4) actually means "Twelve Night" and refers to
midnight. This argument is not really very convincing.  The spelling
"twelfe" for "twelfth" as well as "twelve" is a quite regular variant
all through the period (see OED). But within the text of the Folio
printing itself a distinction between "twelfe" [= twelfth] and "twelue"
[= twelve"] is clearly made.  In 2.3, Sir Toby begins singing "The
twelfe day of December", which clearly cannot be "twelve day", both for
sense and because it is a ballad on the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh (wrongly
dated in fact, it was September 10th). On the other hand, in 1.2 the Sea
Captain mentions a "tweluemonth" where the word is clearly "twelve", and
is differently spelled.  Gras seeks to muddy waters that the Folio has
kept clear wherever it had the chance (these are the only instances of
the words in the play).

Tom

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 23:06:12 +0100
Subject: 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

> Does it even mention Twelfth Night in its title?  The play is called
> Twelfe Night throughout F1, so it's a play of midnight, not the feast of
> the Epiphany.  In his diary entry Manningham wrote 'mid' (ie the first
> three letters of 'midnight') before crossing them out and writing
> 'Twelve Night' (=midnight). A title referring to midnight suits the
> play, and the Middle Templars' festivities, better than one about 6
> January.
>
>This is the convincing argument made by Henk Gras in "Twelfth Night,
>Every Man Out of His Humour, and the Middle Temple revels of >1597-98"
>Modern Language Review 84 (1989) pp. 545-64.
>
>Gabriel Egan

This doesn't sound very convincing to me.  Has Henk Gras really
considered the spelling habits of Renaissance writers and printers in
general, and of the printers of the Folio in particular?

The first question is whether Henk Gras presents any genuine Renaissance
examples of "Twelfe Night" and "Twelve Night" being used to mean
"Midnight".  I can't remember seeing any examples of a simple number and
the word "Night" together meaning "[a certain time] at night", but
perhaps this was used occasionally.  If Gras has no examples of this
usage then his argument collapses immediately.

Presuming that he does have these examples we then need to consider the
likelihood that the spellings used by the Folio and Manningham really do
refer to "Twelfth Night".

Starting with the Folio title, even a simple websearch (via Google)
brings up:

"The Masque of Augures. With the several Antimasques. Presented on
Twelfe night. 1621." from http://www.bartleby.com/216/0100.html

"The Masque of Flowers,
By the Gentlemen of Graie's Inne,
At the Court of Whitehall, in the Banquetting House,
Upon Twelfe Night, 1613-14." From
http://fly.hiwaay.net/~paul/bacon/masques/flowers.html

"Rychard Awdslay of Ossett buried ye vth of January being ye twelfe
night
Tuesday" from
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~audsley/worldwide/chrono/chrono1601
_1625.htm

... and ...

"Narcissus a twelfe night merriment played by youths of the parish at
College of S. John the Baptist in Oxford, AD 1602 with appendix" from
http://www.valleri.it/sezioni/letterat.html

... which makes it obvious that "Twelfe Night" could be "Twelfth Night"
and was quite often used for that purpose.

"Twelve Night" is less common (on the Internet) but does turn up in:

"Narcissus

A Twelfe Nights merriment, anno 1602. MS. in Bodleian, Rawlinson Poet.
212.  Narcissus A Twelve Night Merriment played by youths of the parish
at the College of S. John the Baptist in Oxford, A.D. 1602. Ed. Lee,
Margaret L., with introduction, appendices, and notes." from
http://www.bartleby.com/216/1200.html which has both spellings of the
feast day (clearly Twelfth Night not midnight since it is "A Twelfe
Nights" - with an 's' - "merriment").

Besides all this, there is Shakespeare's only use of the word "Twelfth"
within the text of a play in "Twelfth Night" itself where Toby sings (in
the Folio's spelling) "O the twelfe day of December", making it obvious
that the Folio's printers used "Twelfe" for "Twelfth" quite happily.

Conversely a search of the Folio texts using
http://efts.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/OTA-SHK/ (a very useful Folio Search
Engine that I have only just discovered) shows that of the fifty-nine
uses of the word "Twelve" listed in the Bartlett concordance not one was
spelled "Twelfe" by the Folio printers.  In fact all were apparently
spelled "Twelue" with a standard Renaissance use of the interchangeable
"u" where we would use "v" (search for "Twel.*" to find all the
"Twelue[s]" otherwise you miss the appearances of "twelue" in the word
"tweluemonth", but discount the three appearances of "Twelfe" meaning
"Twelfth" - Toby's use and two copies of the play's title).

It is clear therefore that the Folio printers *never* used the spelling
"Twelfe" for "Twelve" - although by Renaissance standards they could
have done.  This makes it most unlikely that the title of the play is
the only "Twelve" to be spelled differently from all the others in the
Folio and makes it much more likely that the spelling is the same as the
one in Toby's reference because the two words are the same and mean
"Twelfth".

I don't know whether any of the Quartos or contemporary printed versions
of the Poems used the spelling "Twelfe" for "Twelve", but if they did
not then we have still more circumstantial evidence to suggest that the
writer Shakespeare never used the spelling "Twelfe" for "Twelve"
(although he may have done in manuscripts altered by the printers, in
which case we would not know).  All the evidence, within the Folio at
least, seems to count against Gras' theory.

It is also worth noting that Shakespeare described midnight in his plays
using the words "twelve" and "twelve o'clock" or (by far the most
frequent) "midnight", but he *never* uses "Twelve Night" or anything
like it to describe that time.  Nor does he describe any other time as
"[Number of the hour] Night".  Even if other Renaissance writers used
this format, and I will only believe that if Gras or somebody else can
produce examples, Shakespeare apparently did not.  This makes it still
more unlikely that he would use this peculiar formulation as the title
of one of his plays.

All in all, Gras' theory seems dependent upon ignoring the evidence of
the Folio itself.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://ds.dial.pipex.com/thomas_larque

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 25 Oct 2001 00:46:50 -0400
Subject: 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

I have always assumed that Feste's name derives from the same Latin root
that gives us Festival.  But an errant thought has recently occurred to
me that it might be an ironic play on the German word "feste," meaning
"mighty."

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.