The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1463 Friday, 18 July 2003
Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 10:36:23 -1000
Subject: 1 Richard II/Woodstock
I would like to thank the many people who kindly responded to my request
for feedback on my conjecturally emended final scene for 1 Richard II/
Woodstock. I'm working through the suggestions and will certainly
incorporate some, with appropriate acknowledgements. Perhaps Hardy will
leave it up a little longer so others can comment too.
In the meantime, I invite interested readers to rethink the play while
making the assumption that it was written by Shakespeare some time
before he considered its sequel. It thus is and is not an introduction
to 2 Richard II. The will find for instance a huge number of
echoes/pre-echoes with the rest of his corpus: I have counted at least
1,500 good ones (and not just exclamations such as 'By the Mass!' or
'Let's hie us home.').
I also note Ward Elliott's commonsensical approach: word counting
suggests Middleton (to him) but history trumps mere numbers:
"Woodstock got 23 rejections in the Shakespeare Clinic's tests, 20 more
than the two most-rejected on Shakespeare's own core plays. It seems a
highly unlikely Shakespeare ascription. It is loaded with
Middleton-trademark contractions like I'm and you're, but seems an
unlikely Middleton ascription on external evidence, since Middleton is
thought to have been no more than 15 years old when Woodstock appeared."
Of course, Mac Jackson and David Lake do their own stylistic count and
come up with Samuel Rowley. So what exactly do these numbers mean and to
what extent can they be applied to so protean a writer as Shakespeare?
It's clear that 1 Richard II is not, say, Lear, but then why should it
be? Shakespeare was various and flexible enough to compose
stylistically in many ways and 1 Richard II is one of them--among my
discoveries is that it was written for the provincial tour and
presentation before rural audiences. This and other external and
internal literary/historical facts suggest that he was indeed its
author, and must trump any 'intuitions' or superficial judgments about
I hope my book will be out in the new year and look forward to many an
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