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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: King John, Titus, Peele
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0956  Thursday, 15 May 2003

[1]     From:   Claude Casper <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 May 2003 11:19:31 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

[2]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 May 2003 12:56:46 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

[3]     From:   B. Vickers <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 May 2003 13:20:27 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Casper <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 May 2003 11:19:31 -0400
Subject: 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

>And, one might add, especially Jonson, who executed many acts of
>excision and revision in order to make his own folio Workes (1616)
>completely his own.
>
>Furthermore, the point about not blotting lines is not "Romantic
>Shakespeare", as Jonathan Bate calls it, but also Jonsonian. And it was
>not meant as a compliment to a Romantic genius, but as a suggested
>criticism of a rival who did not expend the same amount of studious
>effort on his "poems" as Jonson did. Why should Jonson have chosen to
>criticize/mock Shakespeare in this way, if the easier option of pointing
>to the limitations of Shakespeare's "collaborative composition" was open
>to him? After all, Jonson himself agonized over the necessity that had
>forced him into hack-work collaboration and revision for Henslowe in the
>1590s - he clearly had little respect for this method of producing
>drama. And the course of his later collaboration with Inigo Jones speaks
>for itself.

I have always felt that this evidence, Jonson's testimony against his
grain!, is more than circumstantial, based on his sober character- and,
we must not forget that this was a serious business, he being branded,
Thomas Kyd tortured and maybe  Marlowe murdered by the State.  One knew
who one's friends were.

But, I am now also convinced that Shakespeare collaborated in the
beginning of his career and at the end, which would be true to his
character.  At first to get into the game and at the end for
convenience, but always with a keen eye to ready cash.  This so accords
with everything we know about his personality, and we do know some
telling tidbits.  I am a great admirer of George Steiner.  He is
regarded as one of the greatest literary & cultural critics of our time,
apparently an authority on everything worth knowing.  In his latest work
"Grammars of Creation," which I am about to read, there are as usual
many Shakespeare references in the index, where we find the following:

"Shakespeare begins as a collaborator in the Henry VI trilogy, most
probably in Titus Andronicus & Edward III.  He will end as an inspired
understudy to Beaumont & Fletcher in Henry VIII."

Those of us who are not experts or scholars must rely on guides for
guidance.  Who one picks reveals their judgment as well as forms it.
Nothing is sadder than intelligent people expending themselves in an
"expense of spirit in a waste of shame."

Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despis?d straight:
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 May 2003 12:56:46 EDT
Subject: 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

I am puzzled by Jim Carroll's and Martin Steward's seeming resistance to
the very idea that Shakespeare might have collaborated during his
dramatic career or that Heminge & Condell would have stooped to include
collaborations among the Folio Shakespeare plays. It's almost as if they
fear a wholesale disintegration of the Shakespeare canon along
Robertsonian or anti-Stratfordian composition-by-committee lines. But
this is not the intent [nor are these the findings] of Brian Vickers'
book, nor of other responsible attribution scholars such as Cyrus Hoy,
MacDonald P. Jackson, David J. Lake, Gary Taylor, et al.   Among the 36
Folio plays significant collaboration is argued for only four plays
[1Henry VI, Titus, Timon, and Henry VIII], with minor non-Shakespeare
interventions in some few others [probably Macbeth, possibly Measure for
Measure, conceivably 3 Henry VI or Shrew]. This leaves more than two
dozen "pure' Shakespeare plays [the depredations of players, scribes and
compositors aside] for Bardolators to worship.

Jonson is not really a comparable case-- he was a pioneer in promoting
[his] plays as literary texts, and there is no particular reason to
believe and much reason to doubt that Shakespeare felt the same way. As
to Heminge and Condell, Titus and 1 Henry VI may have been written
before they knew Shakespeare; Timon was evidently a stop-gap brought out
when Troilus was temporarily unavailable; and Henry VIII rounded out the
series of English History plays for which Shakespeare was famous.
Besides, even with scenes written by collaborators, these plays are
plenty Shakespearean. We [most of us] now accept the non-Folio plays
Pericles, Two Noble Kinsmen, Sir Thomas More and Edward III as
sufficiently 'Shakespearean' to study them as such-- why is it so hard
to accept that Heminge and Condell could have considered Titus, 1H6,
Timon and H8 as sufficiently Shakespearean to include in the Folio? Many
plays were published or recorded with correct but incomplete authorship
attributions [list provided on request]. As an extreme example of
inclusiveness, look at the so-called "Beaumont and Fletcher" Folio, also
published with the cooperation of the King's Men, which contained the
unacknowledged work of [at least] Massinger, Middleton, Wm Rowley, Field
and Ford.

As to the scientificness of the collaboration arguments-- well, few
things [no things?] in life are immune to questioning-- even science--
but most of the good attribution studies HAVE included the negative
check [showing that the cited similarities are absent or very rare in
the works of other writers] and to compare these studies and their
results to the ravings of the anti-Stratfordians is irresponsible. The
anti-Strats can't even agree on which candidate to back, let alone what
constitutes valid evidence. By contrast, for example, the studies of the
linguistic patterns and preferences of Thomas Middleton and his
collaborators which were carried out by Jackson and by Lake completely
independently of each other in the 1970s, using different batteries of
tests, came to almost identical conclusions. This is an example of the
'scientific' reproduction of results that good attributionism aspires
to.

The examples Jim Carroll provides as evidence of Brian Vickers' special
pleading concerning the use of rhetorical figures and patterning in
Titus don't really work the way he wants them to. The 'parallel'
Vickers' points out between Titus 1.1.10-17 and 1.1.428-31 is not about
mere repetition of lines or part lines, but of the recurrence of the
'exo-skeleton' of a verse paragraph. And in any case, these rhetorical
parallels between parts of Titus and the works of Peele are only a small
part of the total evidence for Peele's involvement. The arguments for
Peele are NOT intended to absolve gentle eloquent Shakespeare from bad
or insensitive writing [after all, these arguments also confirm MOST of
Titus as the genuine work of Shakespeare]. They are attempts to explain
apparent anomalies in the text that have been noticed by a number of
serious scholars. Peele was not pre-chosen as a shadow-candidate
Oxford-style, but rather a number of different investigations by a
number of different reputable scholars have suggested that the hand of
Peele may be present. No, it cannot be PROVEN.  Even if we had a
videotape of Peele writing Act I of Titus from a plot written in Hand D,
someone somewhere would argue that the videotape was doctored to protect
the vested interests of the Shakespeare 'establishment'.

Speaking of the 'plot written in Hand D'... one of Vickers' suggestions
is that Shakespeare, perhaps with Peele, first sat down and plotted out
the play of Titus Andronicus, and then portioned out which parts of the
play were to be written by each of them. A speculative scenario, to be
sure, but it accords with what we know of the way plays were often
written then and it would explain how the dramatic structure of the
early scenes of Titus might seem Shakespearean while the actual writing
does not.

Collaborative composition of plays was very common in the early modern
theatre, and [perhaps Jonson aside] was not something to be embarrassed
about, or that needed to be explained away or excluded. It is much more
likely than not that a few of the 'works of Shakespeare' contain
portions originally composed by other writers. Shakespeare does not need
to be protected from this libel, for it is not a libel.

Regards,
Bill Lloyd

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           B. Vickers <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 May 2003 13:20:27 +0200
Subject: 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0936 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

I'm glad that Jim Carroll has formulated his resistance to the idea of
'Shakespeare, Co-Author' in religious terms ('It's impossible for me to
believe that' the First Folio contains work not by Shakespeare), for his
belief has neither historical nor rational grounds.

Historically, we know that every professional dramatist in this period
took part in collaborative play-writing. The 1647 Beaumont & Fletcher
Folio contains work by at least 10 different dramatists, as was widely
known. A contemporary complained that Massinger hadn't been acknowledged
for his contributions, and berated the (anonymous) editors: 'why in't /
Did you not justice? give each his due?' -- The same question could be
put to Heminge & Condell for including several thousand lines by
Shakespeare.

Rationally, Mr. Carroll has brusquely rejected all the evidence
assembled so far for Peele's co-authorship of *Titus Andronicus* -- and
there is more to come. Jonathan Bate may have been ill-advised to use
the term 'experiment', but the data summarized and added to in my book,
showing the presence of two distinct writers, is scientific in the sense
that it is replicable, and if Carroll were not too lazy (or resistant)
to do the work he would come up with the same results. He reminds me of
that character in Aristophanes' *Ploutos* who says 'You can try to
convince me; I simply won't be convinced!'

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