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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: November ::
Re: Recent Discovery of T. Jenkins' Diary
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2196  Tuesday, 5 November 2002

[1]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Sunday, 3 Nov 2002 15:49:31 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2187 Re: Recent Discovery of T. Jenkins' Diary

[2]     From:   Alexander Huang <
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        Date:   Sunday, 3 Nov 2002 11:13:24 -0800
        Subj:   Re: Recent discovery of T. Jenkins' diary (Titus Andronicus)

[3]     From:   John D. Cox <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Nov 2002 12:36:02 -0500
        Subj:   T. Jenkins' diary


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Sunday, 3 Nov 2002 15:49:31 -0000
Subject: 13.2187 Re: Recent Discovery of T. Jenkins' Diary
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2187 Re: Recent Discovery of T. Jenkins' Diary

I had rather assumed that, as the alleged interlocutors were James
Burbage, Richard Burbage, and William Shakespeare, and as the Theatre at
Shoreditch had been explicitly mentioned, the subject of the discussion
was a putative production at the Theatre, rather than at the Rose.  If
that is the case, the forger followed the conventional view that the
play at the Rose in January 1593 was "Titus and Vespasian" (ne - Rd at
tittus & vespacia the 11 of aprell 1591 [i.e. 1592] iij li iiij s).

I am pleased that Imtiaz Habib thinks my dismissal of the "discovery" is
"casual", as I work hard give that appearance.  Whether it is "hasty and
premature" only time will tell, but I would simply point out that there
is more calculation to my position than I would appear to be given
credit for.

In Britain today, whenever there are sensational scientific discoveries
presented in the popular press, politicians are likely to call for
"peer-reviewed publication" to take place first.  As if that
heavily-flawed mechanism were a combination of a quality-control service
and a device for turning sows' ears into silk purses.  Imtiaz Habib
would like to know more about the Jenkins diary entries.  Normally, this
is an attitude I would commend.  But in this instance, until there is
"peer-reviewed publication", I, for one, would like to know less.

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alexander Huang <
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Date:           Sunday, 3 Nov 2002 11:13:24 -0800
Subject:        Re: Recent discovery of T. Jenkins' diary (Titus Andronicus)

I appreciate all your responses, especially Prof. Habib's refined
argument about the dates. I figured some explanations is in order here.
Unfortunately, no date of the discovery was given, so we do not know how
"recent" it is. We only know that it is claimed to have been discovered
in the Bodleian Library (Oxford).

One of my student claimed that she has translated the "diary fragments
in dialogue form" from the original Latin into English and is submitting
it as an assignment. No copy of the original document is provided and no
location is give, i.e. I do not know where the dialogue among the
figures (supposed to be James Burbage, Richard Burbage, and William
Shakespeare) takes place. The dates for the two diary entries
(fragments) are December 2, 1592 and January 23, 1593, and could
therefore be a record of a discussion / preparation of a new play
(during the time when theatres are closed) to rival Kyd's Spanish
Tragedy when theatres are to reopen (Shoreditch).

Of course, it fails to meet the requirement of the assignment I gave (a
3-5-page paper on Titus Andronicus as a tragedy or melodrama). I am
interested to know if there are other stronger evidences (other than the
dates when theatres were closed) pointing toward forgery or the validity
for such a document.

Please refer to the diary entries below. How would Shakespeare have been
addressed in his life time? Probably not "Shakespeare." How probable
does that "Will" sound down there? There are other problematic parts.
Please comment.

Here is part of the translation:

December 2, 1592

James: Shakespeare, I need a powerful play. My playhouse is losing money
to competitors like Henslowe. His Rose takes in three pounds at each
performance of Jeronimo.

Richard: Will, we're asking you to write a striking tragedy like
Jeronimo that rouses our audience.

James: The groundlings are stirred by blood and death, the more the
better.

Will: Yes, I'll do it. For the last year, I've probed and penetrated the
great tragedies and now I'm ready to compose my own. Do you think a
bloody spectacle is the key to a great tragic play?

James: In my 20 years experience, you don't need much more.

Will: Bloody entertainments will always draw a crowd, but if all they
want is blood, they can spend their pence on the cockfights.

Richard: Playgoers want to see men on the stage moved by great emotions
like vengeance. The courtiers admire the artful words and bold deeds of
high passion.

Will: If they want bloody justice, they have the piked heads on London
Bridge. If they want golden words, they have the preachers in St.
Paul's. Doesn't a tragedy need a great story?

Richard: I've scoured my books for a good story and Ovid has a promising
tale of Tereus and Philomela. It's a bloody revenge like Jeronimo.
...
Will: I'll begin now. However, tragedy to you is a blaze of words and
deeds quenched by blood lust. I know there is much more to a great
tragedy that I'll show in the draft of this play.

For the entry on January 23, 1593, Shakespeare uses the phrase "parvum
drama" (translated problematically as melodrama, a preposterous error)
to contrast his tragedy, Titus Andronicus.

Alexander Huang
Teaching Fellow
Harvard University

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John D. Cox <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Nov 2002 12:36:02 -0500
Subject:        T. Jenkins' diary

So far, no one addressing the supposed entry in T. Jenkins' diary has
identified the source of the story.  I can't help wondering if the whole
issue is an internet rumor.  What better place to plant it than
SHAKSPER?  If the story is genuine, would someone please identify where
it was first published?

Thanks,
John Cox

[Editor

 

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