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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: King John, Titus, Peele
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1179  Thursday, 12 June 2003

From:           Jim Carroll <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 21:34:54 EDT
Subject: 14.1163 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1163 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

Brian Vickers <
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 > wrote on Monday, 26 May
2003:

>The more Jim Carroll writes, the larger appear the holes in his
>position.  He can see, apparently, just by looking at Pericles, that the
>first two Acts aren't by Shakespeare, but he can't see that at least
>four scenes of Titus are by Peele. How can his readerly knowledge of
>Shakespeare work in the first case and not in the second? We all rely on
>our reading experience, built up over a period of time, so it's strange
>that his can function properly in the one case and defectively in the
>other. What are his reasons? 'Act I of Titus is nothing like any play by
>Peele'. Such a categorical dismissal hardly bodes well for a scholarly
>debate. In fact, it resembles Edward I, The Battle of Alcazar, David and
>Bethsabe, and The Troublesome Reign of King John-which is also by
>Peele-in dozens of ways. The collective body of scholarship I have drawn
>together and extended shows this at every linguistic or dramaturgical
>level that can be analysed.

No, it doesn't, and this is getting more hilarious by the minute. You
can make these statements over and over again, but no one who actually
reads Peele's plays with any sensitivity will be convinced by them.

There is an egregious example of nonsensical argument on page 464 of
your book, the section comparing the dramaturgy of Peele and
Shakespeare:

"Having raped and mutilated Lavinia, gloating over her injuries, they
abandon her in the forest (2.4.1-11), where Marcus finds her.  While
Peele rarely allowed any of his characters to express pity for, or give
comfort to, the victims of mutilation, Shakespeare makes this a key
element in all his scenes of suffering, from here to King Lear and
beyond. Marcus expresses at length his horror at whatever 'stern
ungentle hands/ Hath lopp'd and hew'd' Lavinia's arms, and cut out her
tongue. The he leads her to what will be a shattering confrontation:
      Come let us go, and make thy father blind,
      For such a sight will blind a father's eye
      .............................................................
      Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee
      O, could our mourning ease thy misery! (2.4.52-7)
That comforting phrase, 'for we will mourn with thee', already markes a
major difference between Shakespeare and Peele. Our knowledge of the
shock that awaits Titus adds emotional intensity to the following
scene,..."

I find this analysis incomprehensible, given that Tamora expends a long
speech asking Titus to have pity on her son Alarbus in Act 1
(1.1.109-120), in memorable fashion:

       Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood!
       Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
       Draw near them then in being merciful:
       Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.
       Thrice noble Titus, spare my first born son! (1.1.116-120)

Examples such as this can make a reader wonder whether you have read
either Titus or Peele. Apart from the obvious point that the writer of
act one of Titus shows a character asking for pity, and it anticipates
the horror that character is to experience later, what in Peele is
memorable? Can you cite any speech from any play by Peele that is as
powerful as Titus's first speech, the example from Tamora above, or
lines such as "Give me a staff of honor for mine age/ But not a sceptre
to control the world" (1.1.198-199) or Titus' farewell to his sons
(1.1.150-156)?

And why should we be surprised if Peele "rarely allowed any of his
characters to express pity for, or give comfort to, the victims of
mutilation"? How many plays did Peele write compared with Shakespeare?
(5 versus >30) Did any of them depend upon major characters or their
associates being mutilated? I don't mean people being killed at the end
of a play, as part of its conclusion, but a mutilation which is a vital
part of the plot and a major rational for the behavior of its
characters. It's like asking "How many of Shakespeare's plays depend
upon two adolescent lovers committing suicide for their tragic effect"?
What? Only one?  Romeo and Juliet can't be by Shakespeare!

[snip]

>I have never claimed that attribution studies were 'scientific', and I
>can understand that someone might find that 'alien to our discipline'.
>But of course scientific arguments, like those in the humanities, are
>based on observation, collecting data, and interpreting it. In both
>areas, conclusions are subject to change, if more careful observations
>are made, more comprehensive data are collected, and more cogent
>interpretations are offered. In these respects, I argue, Mr. Carroll,
>for whom the world consists or either 'facts' or 'opinions', is clinging
>to a conviction that Shakespeare alone wrote Titus, the evidential
>support for which was shaken when T. M. Parrott published the first
>empirical study of the play's versification in 1919, which showed
>striking anomalies of style, an observation confirmed by the more
>careful observation and analysis made by P. W. Timberlake in 1932.

More hilarity. In previous posts you have complained that I relied on
outdated scholarship (in one case, because it was published in 1996!).

>No one who has really performed a study of this matter since then has
>disproved these findings-indeed, the later techniques of metrical
>analysis devised by Ants Oras and Marina Tarlinskaja have confirmed
>them. These differences cannot be explained away, nor can the other
>tests which have decisively disproved Shakespeare's sole authorship. If
>a series of 20 different tests, made at different periods by different
>scholars, some of whom-as I have shown-were completely unaware of the
>work of their predecessors, all point to the same result- that Peele
>wrote Act I of Titus, together with 2.1, 2.2, and 4.1 -- isn't this
>rather remarkable?

That depends on how you define "remarkable". Isn't it remarkable that
despite the "20 different tests" made over many years that Metz in 1996
was still able to conclude that the case for Peele's authorship of Titus
was unconvincing?

>Mr. Carroll may cling to his beliefs and convictions
>as stubbornly as he likes, but he has no reliable evidence for them, and
>he does not give a fair and balanced account of the counter-arguments.

What was not "fair and balanced"? Your dependence on rhetoric is
disappointing. Surely if you have the time to make these statements, you
have the time to give the evidence for them, as I do.

>To give one illustration, the repetition in Peele's section of the
>play.  Carroll dismisses this stylistic marker as 'hardly convincing,
>since it occurs frequently in Shakespeare's early plays', and he pours
>scorn on Brian Boyd's essay, of which he gives a very unfair account
>(Boyd can look after himself).

What was "unfair" about it?

>But Carroll then goes on to compare the
>opening act in Titus with some speeches in Richard III (Act 4).
>Unfortunately, Carroll runs together nine speeches from the Folio text
>into one sequence, obscuring the relationships between the three
>speakers, printing Queen Margaret's asides as if they occurred on the
>same level as the dialogue between the Duchess of York and her mother.
>In this way he destroys the whole point of the scene's linguistic and
>dramatic structure, in which the sardonic asides catch up the other
>speakers' words and return them with interest, a process which climaxes
>when Margaret steps forward and claims that her woes exceed those of the
>other two wailing Queens.

I handled that scene exactly the way that Brian Boyd handled the
analogous scene in Titus, so your comments are more than a little
strange. Boyd also removed the speech prefixes, and failed to make any
attempt to show the rhetorical function of the repetition in Titus.

>The repetition here, then, is historically (ie. in history)

This statement is just nonsense, because Shakespeare made the whole
thing up (and by "whole thing" I mean the dialogue in R3 4.4).

>and contextually justified.

The repetition in R3 4.4 has a purpose, for sure. The same purpose that
Titus' repetition of "Repose you here in rest" has in Act 1 of TA, that
is, to emphasize the grief of the speaker(s), partly by indicating that
his/her mind is taken up wholly with thoughts of the deceased, and
therefore must search for words, and unable to find them, must simply
repeat him/herself.  I find Shakespeare much more convincing in Titus,
since his repetition is more restrained there than in R3.

>Secondly, the fact that she is related to the other actors in this story
>(widow of Henry VI,
>mother of Prince Edward) means that the men's names are legitimately
>repeated since they figure in multiple relationships, as son/husband
>(also the British nobility were never very inventive when naming their
>sons). Thirdly, the-quite unique! -- fact that what they have in common
>is that they were all killed by Richard III means that his name may be
>legitimately repeated, as the source of all their evils.

There are many more words repeated than just names in that scene, but in
any case the repetition of names is far in excess of what is necessary.
All that you've done is take my point from my previous post, which was
that the repetitions of R3 had a dramatic purpose, and expand upon it,
while ignoring the fact that you could rationalize the presence of
repetition in act 1 of Titus in the same way. In fact, in your usual
self-contradictory fashion, you DO rationalize the repetition in the
passage containing "In peace and honor rest you here my sons" (p454-455
of "Shakespeare as Co-Author):

[begin quote from "Shakespeare as Co-Author]
          "In peace an honour rest you hear my sons,
          Rome's readiest champions, repose you here in rest,
          Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!

..........................................................................
                                      here are no storms,
          No noise, but silence and eternal sleep.
          In peace and honour rest you here my sons! (TA 1.1.150-6)

The repetition of a whole line framing that utterance gives it the
symmetry of ritual, an effect sustained with the greeting of Lavinia, as
she comes to pay her respects, echoing the preceding line in a
characteristic Peelean manner (as we saw in Chapter 3):

          In peace and honour live Lord Titus long! (TA 1.1.157)

This is an impressive episode, with Tamora's passionate lament, the
imagined offstage sacrifice, the sight of "smoke, like incense", arising
from 'the sacrificing fire' (144-5), and the 'loud 'larums of the
trumpets as the coffins are interred.

We readily grant Peele's skill in constructing an episode, but it is
often at a cost." [end quote from "Shakspeare as Co-Author"]

>In other words, the repetitions in this sequence [R3 4.4] are meaningful, being
>intended by the speakers, and carry a great weight of feeling.

You can say precisely the same thing about the repetitions in Act 1 of
Titus, where the feeling in the early moments of the play is one of
great discord, and later one of grief, and the repetitions serve to
emphasize those emotions. In fact, you DO say that in the quote above
from your own book.

>For this
>reason, and because rhetoric was traditionally the means of representing
>and arousing the feelings, Shakespeare also casts them in the form of
>rhetorical figures, using parison (corresponding syntactic structure),
>anaphora (lines beginning with the same word), and epistrophe (lines
>ending so). In fact, this is the single most dense sequence of rhetoric
>in the whole of Shakespeare: the 539 lines of this scene contain no less
>than 811 rhetorical figures.

Oh please. Are you trying to tell us that there are no "rhetorical
figures" in Act 1 of Titus? Forgive me if I don't believe you when you
say that the scene in R3 "is the single most dense sequence of rhetoric
in the whole of Shakespeare." In any case, what constitutes a rhetorical
figure is a matter of opinion.

>(See my review of John Jowett's edition of
>Richard III in Review of English Studies, Vol. 54 (2003): 242-6). For
>all these reasons, then, this is a wholly unsuitable excerpt to choose
>for comparative purposes.

Bunk.

>Holger Schott, who apparently relies on Mr. Carroll's account of these
>matters, thinks that Peele's use of repetition might be defended as 'a
>dramatically effective and meaningful device', without actually quoting
>anything from Titus. Well, compare that marvellous sequence from Richard
>III (preferably in the original, not in Carroll's botched-up version)

I didn't "botch it up". I presented it the same way that Boyd presented
his exegesis of Titus.

>with John Dover Wilson's demonstration (in 1948) that in Act I of Titus
>'all the characters speak with the same voice, frame their sentences
>after similar patterns, and even borrow words and phrases from each
>other.'

Brian Vickers, who apparently relies on Mr. Wilson's account of these
matters....
[aside] See gentle Vickers, and how he projects his own faulty arguments
onto us? (V vs C 6.2.564 or thereabouts)

>Almost every speech, for instance, during the first half of the
>act, i. e. for some 240 lines, begins with a vocative and continues with
>a verb in the imperative mood. Saturninus opens the play with

>     Noble patricians. Patrons of my right.

>And when Bassianus follows on, seven lines later, like this:

>     Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my right,

>he seems an auctioneer, outbidding his rival by one alliterative word.
>The speech he then delivers is, moreover, a bag of tricks, some of which
>are used several times in other parts of the act' (New Cambridge ed., p.
>xxvii).
[snip]
>Wilson was the first to document the density of self-repetition found in
>Act 1 of this play, and both MacDonald Jackson and Brian Boyd in the
>1990s extended his analysis. Anyone interested should please refer to
>their essays, and not rely on Mr. Carroll's account of them.
>Shakespeare's repetitions are functional, on many different levels.
>Peele's are dysfunctional, just uninventive writing.

I've already pointed out in a previous post that in your book (p182) you
use the presence of repetition (in R3!) to argue that Act 2.3 of Titus
IS by Shakespeare. I'm also pointing out in this post that you
simultaneously decide that the repetitions in act 1 of Titus are both
"uninventive" but also have a purpose (see above). All of this is
self-contradictory and nonsensical.

>In the world of literary theory in recent times it's no longer cool to
>argue that anything is actually so, for since there are no absolute
>criteria (so the reason goes) then there are no criteria at all. In
>Shakespeare scholarship, I would hope, theories will be accepted,
>rejected, or modified by reference to such criteria as completeness,
>accuracy, and coherence of argument. I submit that Mr. Carroll's belief
>in Shakespeare's sole authorship of Titus fails to engage seriously with
>all the evidence pointing to the presence of Peele as co-author. Let the
>reader judge- once she's evaluated the evidence.

I would say that Mr. Vickers belief that parts of Titus were written by
Peele is based on the mistakes of previous investigators and his own
self-contradictory arguments, and it does not bear logical scrutiny.  I
would advise readers to read Peele, and see for themselves.

In another post to this listserv (posted June 1), you say

>What are his reasons? 'Act I of Titus is nothing like any play by
>Peele'. Such a categorical dismissal hardly bodes well for a scholarly
>debate. In fact, it resembles Edward I, The Battle of Alcazar, David and
>Bethsabe, and The Troublesome Reign of King John-which is also by
>Peele-in dozens of ways. The collective body of scholarship I have drawn
>together and extended shows this at every linguistic or dramaturgical
>level that can be analysed.

Considering your last sentence first, it's rather outrageous to claim
that you've considered the issue from "every linguistic or dramaturgical
level that can be analysed", since other analysts have come to a very
different conclusion. For the rest, act 1 of Titus resembles the plays
of Peele only in the commonplace ways that it resembles many other
plays. This is typical of your analyses elsewhere, for example, in your
book on the Peter funeral elegy, where you cite, for example, "verse
lines beginning with a present participle", or "verse lines beginning
with a function word" to show some supposed likeness between Ford and
the elegy, though these features are commonplaces found in most verse of
the period (indeed, any period).  You strive very hard in "Shakespeare
as Co-Author", beginning on p449, to show some likeness between the
dramaturgy of Peele's plays and that of act 1 of Titus, but again one
wonders whether you have read the plays in question. You describe the
action of act 1 as "awkward" (p455), but in summarizing the action, you
fail to note the essential difference between Peele's dramaturgical
style and that of Shakespeare, that is, that there IS action in
Shakespeare.  Peele's characters stand around making speeches, and what
action there is in his plays is spread diffusely throughout the length
of them, because Peele never quite shook off the influence of the
masque.  In Titus, there is as much or more action in the first act as
there is in entire plays by Peele.

You also make several oddly contradictory statements in this chapter,
one I've already pointed out above. On page 450, you write

"Every reader notices that the characters in the opening scene of Titus
are not individualized through their language; indeed it is not until
Shakespeare takes over the character of Aaron in Act 2, and responds to
Titus' increasing sufferings and mental breakdown in Act 3, that
individual styles can be distinguished."

Well, first of all, I would say that Marcus, Saturninus, Tamora and
Titus all are differentiated by their language in act 1. The world
weariness, of Titus, given the hardships and tragedy he has suffered,
along with his strong sense of honor, the bitterness and vengeful spite
of Tamora, the practical nature of Marcus, and the pettiness of
Saturninus all come through strongly. It is in fact in Peele's plays
that the characters are not distinguished through language except
sometimes in a crude way by changing from verse to prose. Second, you
believe that scenes 2.1 and 2.2 are by Peele, yet Aaron's voice, in a
strongly Marlovian fashion,  has his own voice beginning with his very
first speech in act 2. It is this simultaneous integration of character
with action that is characteristic of Shakespeare and which sets him
apart from other playwrights such as Peele.

Jim Carroll

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