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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: King John, Titus, Peele
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0719  Monday, 14 April 2003

[1]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Apr 2003 13:04:26 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0713 Re: King John Date

[2]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Apr 2003 15:34:42 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0713 Re: King John Date

[3]     From:   Jim Carroll <
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        Date:   Monday, 14 Apr 2003 02:33:08 EDT
        Subj:   Titus/Peele


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Apr 2003 13:04:26 EDT
Subject: 14.0713 Re: King John Date
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0713 Re: King John Date

Dear Brian (etal) ...

Any thoughts on the date and authorship of One Henry Sixth in relation
to the Peele / Titus / TR / KJ question? Your book on Shakespeare's
collaboration sounds v. interesting - I wish I'd heard of sooner! Do
your findings support Gary Taylor's work on the subject?

Best,
Marcus

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Apr 2003 15:34:42 -0400
Subject: 14.0713 Re: King John Date
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0713 Re: King John Date

> Bob Grumman asks for supporting arguments on Peele's authorship of about
> 760 lines in the co-authored play Titus Andronicus.

I thought I asked for hard evidence, but I'm too lazy to check.

>If he consults my
>book, Shakespeare, Co-Author. A Historical Study of Five Collaborative
>Plays (Oxford, 2002), pp. 138-41, 148-243, 449-473, he will find that I
>synthesize there over 80 years of research arguing for Peele's
>authorship, and add several new tests of my own.

I do hope to do this at some point.

>On p. 242 I list 21
>independent tests by 12 scholars which present a mass of detail,
>objective

Sorry, I don't buy it.

>linguistic analyses statistically verified,

"Statistically supported," perhaps' "statistically verified," not a
chance.

>contextual,
>linguistic, vocabulary, and metrical studies, among others, which
>independently confirm each other.  This is my evidence.

I'm sure I'll find it interesting.  I doubt I will find it persuasive,
though I have nothing against the idea of Peele as co-author.

> Of course early work can have impressive passages, but the parallels I
> briefly cited between KJ and works

  **which you take to be**

>of the mid-1590s were of
>subject-matter, attitude, language, and dramaturgy. Check out Jackson,
>Smallwood, and Braunmuller, if you don't believe me (and of course, why
>should you?). What you call the 'narrative poverty' of TA

of Loves Labours Lost, I thought I said.  I'd call TA narratively
stilted, like A Spanish Tragedy (who wrote that, do you think?), but not
at all narratively impoverished.

>may be a
>reaction to Peele's vigorous but cruder dramaturgy: see pp. 449-73 as
>above. My essay on his authorship of TR will contain nothing but
>evidence.
>
>Brian Vickers

I suspect you and I have very different ideas of what evidence is,
Brian. But, as I said, I'm sure I'll find your book interesting.

--Bob G.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jim Carroll <
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Date:           Monday, 14 Apr 2003 02:33:08 EDT
Subject:        Titus/Peele

Peele appears to be a magnet for disintegrationists, most likely because
his oeuvre is not very large. Thus, while Shakespeare and Peele have
little in common, there are likewise fewer contradictory traits as well.
I should think  that anyone who has read a play by Peele in its entirety
would realize that Peele couldn't possible have written any part of
Shakespeare's plays, but if you apply a powerful enough microscope you
can see a superficial similarity of voice between a given half-dozen
consecutive lines of Peele and those of early Shakespeare.

For example, Shakespeare's use of metaphor and simile approached an
almost, but not quite, superfluous excess as his career progressed, but
in early plays like Titus he was more restrained. Taking examples from
the portions of Titus that Brian Vickers believes are by Peele, we have
(Riverside line numbers):

Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!
Lo, as the bark that hath discharg'd his fraught
Returns with precious lading to the bay
From whence at first she weigh'd her anchorage,
Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,
To re-salute his country with his tears,... (i.i.70-75)

Why suffer'st thou thy sons, unburied yet,
To hover on the dreadful shore of Styx? (i.i.87-88)

Now climbeth Tamora Olympus' top,
Safe out of fortune's shot, and sits aloft,
Secure of thunder's crack or lightning flash,
Advanc'd above pale envy's threat'ning reach.
As when the golden sun salutes the morn,
And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,
Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach,
And overlooks the highest-peering hills:
So Tamora. (ii.i.1-9)

Marcus: I have dogs, my lord,
Will rouse the proudest father in the chase,
And climb the highest promontory top.
Titus: And I have a horse will follow where the game
Makes way, and runs like swallows o'er the plains. (ii.ii.20-24).

O why should nature build so foul a den,
Unless the gods delight in tragedies? (iv.i.59-60)

There is enough written upon this earth
To stir a mutiny in the mildest thoughts,
And arm the minds of infants to exclaims. (iv.i.84-5)

But if you hunt these bear-whelps, then beware,
The dam will wake and if she wind ye once,
She's with the lion deeply still in league,
And lulls him whilst she playeth on her back,
And when he sleeps will she do what she list. (iv.i.96-100).

Et cetera, as they say. If we look at Peele, for example his play Edward
I,
we see something like Shakespeare's metaphorical mind (sorry, no line
numbers in the edition I'm using, ed. by G.K. Dreher):

O glorious Capitol, beauteous Senate house,
Triumphant Edward, how like sturdy oaks
Do these thy soldiers circle thee about,
To shield and shelter thee from winter's storms. (Scene 1)

The world shall wonder at our majesty
As if the daughter of eternal Ops,
Turned to the likeness of vermillion fumes,
Where from her cloudy womb the centaurs leapt,
Were in her royal seat enthronized. (Scene 1)

When, like to Perseus on his winged steed,
Brandishing bright the blade of adamant
That aged Saturn gave fair Maia's son,
Conflicting then with Gorgon in the vale,
Sitting before the gates of Nazareth,
My horse's hoofs I stained in pagans gore,
Sending whole centuries of heathen souls
To Pluto's house. (Scene 5)

[Elinor's] refreshing breath,
That sweetens where it lights, as do the flames
And holy fires of Vesta's sacrifice. (Scene 6).

But Shakespeare, unlike Peele, startles us in the context of his Roman
play with the un-Roman imagery and surprising diction, while Peele, even
though he is writing about English history, constantly refers to
classical gods and goddesses in his similes and metaphors. The
references to Phoebus, Jove, Niobe etc. are never-ending,
out-of-context, and typical of a learned writer like Peele. Just as
telling is the lack of a distinctive character in Edward I; the
characters seem to speak in the same voice. Marlowe at least invested
the principal character of his plays with high-flown rhetoric. Peele
rather uses a primitive technique:  changing the verse form for a
particular mood, including characters who otherwise spoke in blank
iambic pentameter. For example, in scene 2, Lluellen has been talking in
blank iambic pentameter, when he and his band happen upon the comic
characters the Friar, Guenthian, his wench and the Novice. At this point
everyone begins to speak in echoing tetrameter, indistinguishable from
one another:

Lluellen: Here let us rest upon the salt sea shore,
            And while our eyes long for our heart's desires,
            Let us like friends pastime us on the sands.
            Our frolic minds are ominous for good.

[Enter Friar et. al.]

Friar: Guenthian, as I am a true man,
        So will I do the best I can.
        Guenthian, as I am a true priest,
        So will I be at thy behest.
        Guenthian, as I am a true friar,
        So will I be at thy desire.

Novice: My master stands too near the fire.
           Trust him not, wench, he will prove a liar.

Lluellen: True man, true friar, true priest, and true knave,
             These four in one this trull shall have.

Friar: Here swear I by my shaven crown,
        Wench, if I give thee a gay green gown,
        I'll take thee up as I laid thee down,
        And never bruise nor batter thee.

Novice: Oh, swear not, master. Flesh is frail.
           Wench, when the sign is in the tail,
           Mighty is love and will prevail.
           This churchmen doth but flatter thee.

Lluellen: A pretty worm and a lusty friar,
             Made for the field, not for the quire.

Peele has his moments (for example, the four lines above just before the
Friar enters), but he has written a play almost entirely in rhyming
couplets (The Arraignment) and another which includes some not-bad but
overripe verse inspired by the  more tumescent scenes in the Bible
(David and Bethsabe), and other than some brief passages that are sorta
kinda like Shakespeare, it's hard to see what the disintegrationists are
talking about.

I recommend the essay "The Authorship of Titus Andronicus" by H. T.
Price, in the book "Titus Andronicus - Critical Essays" edited by Philip
C. Kolin (Garland, 1995). He casts a cold and detailed eye on the Peele
attribution.  For example, he points out that Peele, as a learned man
(M.A. Oxford) would not have made the kind of errors that the author of
Titus makes: "Human sacrifices were not offered up at Rome (i.i.96);
holy water was not used at Roman marriages (i.i.323-4); panthers were
not hunted in Italy (i.i.493, etc.)." (p. 85) Price points out that some
of these passages were instead apparently inspired from Chapman's
English translation of Homer.  Price also points out that one reason
parts of Titus have been assigned to other writers is that the
percentage of feminine endings varies from scene to scene, and some
scholars therefore attribute the scenes with low percentages of feminine
endings (i.i, ii.i, iv.i) to someone else, failing to note that that is
the case with many of Shakespeare's plays. I would say in general that
you could take any single scene in any play by Shakespeare and "prove",
using any incomplete statistical analysis of vocabulary, that it is not
by Shakespeare, simply because a short text is bound to have some group
of statistical anomalies that it does not share with the bulk of the
oeuvre.

Jim Carroll

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