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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus Andronicus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0508  Monday, 17 March 2003

[1]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Mar 2003 12:04:00 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus Andronicus

[2]     From:   Roger Parris <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Mar 2003 13:54:32 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus Andronicus

[3]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Mar 2003 22:09:52 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus Andronicus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Mar 2003 12:04:00 -0500
Subject: 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Andronicus

Mr Parris (or Parisious -- he uses both names) is a well known
anti-Stratfordian (though, like Mr Downs, he is coy about his specific
allegiance) who wishes to discredit all "bad" and 'prentice Shakespeare
because either one overturns the notion of an ivory-tower playwright
that is so central to anti-Stratfordian theories.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Parris <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Mar 2003 13:54:32 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Andronicus

As I said Fleay seems to have been the first to seriously find Peele in
Titus. However, that critic was not given to systematic arguments about
anything. He would ,more frequently then not, flash a string of
suggestive (and frequently misleading) parallels at his readers and then
gallop on to something else. In his next book or magazine article, Fleay
was capable of completely and frequently reversing himself without
giving his students the slightest indication that he was putting them
through what was in fact a complete role reversal.

Young Robertson spent more time trying to understand Fredrick Fleay than
anyone else is ever
likely to do. He found from his own aesthetic experience that Fleay had
put the least satisfactory
part of what went on within his sensibility onto the printed page. Fleay
certainly had the kind of quick impressionistic mind that is as likely
(or more likely) to be right the first time rather than the
third time around.

If Mr. Lloyd wants "testable suggestions"(whether they prove right or
wrong) he will be well advised to go to Robertson rather than Fleay
expounding the same topic. When Robertson wrote his l905 study he was
still too much Fleay's admiring student. In the magnum opus of l924 he
tried to think through the entire problem of the canons of the four
major pre-Shakespeareans (Marlowe, Greene, Peele, and Kyd) in relation
to the large body of now anonymous work played by their companies during
the same period of time. Of course, he failed but no man since has ever
flitted (with seemingly so little effort) over a more voluminous body of
excellent dramatic verse.

The l924 achievement is all the more remarkable as Robertson as debater
generally shows all the finesse of John Henry slugging it out with the
Railway Company machine. He was, accordingly, frequently demolished in
controversy by his fellow Rationalist and good friend Sir George
Greenwood. Unlike Robertson, Greenwood both knew how to flit like a
butterfly and sting like a bee.

The attribution of Titus to Peele and the Countess scenes in Edward III
to Greene  are notably free from Robertson's usual controversial
failings and therefore I particularly recommend to the beginner. The
reader can than  also judge for himself whether Wilson (who was
certainly a much better historian than Robertson) bettered what he had
silently taken from the man who had provided the structure of his
argument.

Wilson compounded his fault, not by his mere failure to cite the l924
essay from which he had demonstratably benefited, but by his extremely
selective statement that "the case AGAINST the
authenticity of the Folio attribution was argued with more force and
with a greater display of evidence than ever before". This does not
indicate a very high opinion of Mr. Robertson's efforts to provide a
positive alternative.

Further the use of the phrase "more force" in respect to a critic who
was notorious for his blows aimed at the solar plexus was not
particularly high praise from a adroit man like Wilson, who had tangled
with Robertson on several occasions previously.

I apologize for not telling things from secondary sources. I prefer the
primary sources which are
available to me.

Robertson, like every other major critic of his day (including
Chambers), regarded the Henry VI trilogy as composite. He, like Fleay
and many others, simply regarded Titus as an extension of that same
normal collaborative process. He had-and has- Henslowe's Diary and the
Thomas More manuscript (IF that manuscript is truly a Lord Chamberlain's
production from the early 90's)on his side. Nearly all the surviving
plays of the period, where we have recorded attributions were composite
or revised work. If young Shakespeare followed the usual apprentice
course one would have expected to find him subordinate to bigger names
in his earliest productions.

Of course three years after the Chambers disintegration lecture, Peter
Alexander (l928) did argue
for the unity of Henry VI and he and his disciples quickly did proceed
to the most radical reintegration theory in literary history. There was
no necessity to yet again tell the readership this well-known (and as
yet) future fact.

Julius Caesar? Glad to hear it mentioned. Robertson (The Shakespeare
Canon I l922), following Fleay, argued that the play as it stands is
extensively cut; but curiously expanded at other points. He
therefore postulated a pre-Shakespearean two parter by Marlowe,a drastic
cutting down by Will around l599 and a rehandling by some
Jacobean(Jonson or Chapman? Robertson is very spotty here.) about ten
years later for what was by then a very old war horse and which would
have been  merely smart business on the part of the management.

At exactly the same time that Robertson published his essay (and
completely unknown by him) William Wells was setting up a privately
published book (The Authorship of Julius Caesar) likewise arguing that
Julius Caesar proceeded from a pre-Shakespearean fragment (by
Christopher Marlowe) and had been revised post-Shakespeare around l609
by Ben Jonson's favorite young dramatist, Francis Beaumont.

Now we should bear in mind that Mr. Vickers (I have not yet been able to
obtain a copy of his second authorship book but it should be coming on
interloan shortly) has accepted Wells's almost simultaneous attribution
of Thomas Middleton in Timon of Athens. If Robertson, despite his
eccentricities, was dead on with Peele(and I think Greene) in l924 and
Welles was in white heat with Middleton not long after, it is not just
possible they simultaneously hit a very long shot
with Julius C?

I, of course, do not rely on Mr. Vickers. I am now looking at my first
list of Shakespeare authorship
attributions written at the age of fourteen (I was given a complete
Shakespeare as consolation for my pneumonia attack at the age of eight)
and find that I have likewise written "Middleton (Day?)" after Timon and
Peele (Kyd?) after Titus. Of course, had read Robertson and Wells but I
actually used only the few attributions which I could personally hear. I
suspect Welles and Robertson were likely to have been generally (if not
particularly) right on with the threefold chronological state of Julius
Caesar.

Academic "conspiracy"?. My experience in most controversy, legal,
historical or literary  is that
very few of them begin in conspiracy. They frequently end in them (after
a longer or shorter period) for the simple reason that no one ever wants
to admit they did shoddy or inadequate investigation (and it gets worse
as the years go by) before bringing their charges before "juries" of
their respective peers.

I am well aware that the man whom I regard as Alexander's finest pupil
wishes to put the Shakespearean King John about l587-l588 and that this
is a stronger argument for an early integrated Shakespeare than anything
Alexander ever wrote. But this is not the time or place to discuss it.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Mar 2003 22:09:52 EST
Subject: 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0494 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Andronicus

Hello:

As Claude Caspar writes, recent editors of Titus Andronicus give the
arguments for George Peele's co-authorship "short shrift", or scoff at
"disintegration", or "don't mention Peele."   I don't see that any of
them are said to have demolished the case for Peele or even to have
seriously engaged it.

In Shakespeare, Co-Author, Brian Vickers devotes 95 [of 550+] pages JUST
to the case for Peele in Titus. He gives the history of the attribution
and arguments for and against, including an analysis of the play's
structure.  Clearly I won't convince anyone in a few sentences, nor will
we settle the matter by citing authorities and editions. What I do
recommend is that people read Vickers' book and give his evidence and
arguments a chance.  It is not an eccentric book-- in some ways it is
even a conservative one-- and its approach to the various authorship
questions [Titus, Timon, Pericles, Henry VIII & Two Noble Kinsmen]
consists of good sound historical and literary scholarship.

Regards,
Bill Lloyd

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