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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
A Thought for St. David's Day
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0754  Thursday, 25 March 2004

[1]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Mar 2004 16:17:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0740 A Thought for St. David's Day

[2]     From:   Thomas Pendleton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Mar 2004 18:28:51 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0740 A Thought for St. David's Day


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Mar 2004 16:17:56 -0500
Subject: 15.0740 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0740 A Thought for St. David's Day

Sean Lawrence asks:

 >Has anyone tried to substitute "Oldcastle" for "Falstaff" throughout,
 >and see if it has any effect on the scansion?

Humphreys identifies two places in 1 Henry IV -- 2.2.103 and 2.4.521
(Humphreys' Arden edition). The first is: "Away, good Ned -- Falstaff
sweats to death."  Humphrey claims that the line would be "decayllabic
like its context were the name 'Oldcastle'" (xv-xvi).  To my admittedly
tin ear, there is little difference between "Falstaff" and "Oldcastle"
in terms of scansion.  And the second passage Humphreys identifies is in
prose: "Falstaff! -- Fast asleep behind the arras, and snorting like a
horse."

I don't find this very firm evidence.

Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Pendleton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Mar 2004 18:28:51 -0500
Subject: 15.0740 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0740 A Thought for St. David's Day

Sean

Your impression that "Falstaff" shows up far more in prose is right. In
1H4 there's only one verse passage "Away, good Ned. Falstaff sweats to
death" (2.2.108).  This is just nine syllables, but it reads well enough
with the mid line pause; inserting "Oldcastle" makes for a rhythmically
clumsy line.  In 2H4, there are five passages--"And asking everyone for
Sir John Falstaff" (2.2.360), "Give me my sword and cloak. Falstaff,
good night" (2.2.366), "Now, Falstaff, where have you been all this
while?" (4.3.26), "Fare you well, Falstaff. I, in my condition"
(4.3.84), "Go carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet" (5.5.91).
"Oldcastle" will add an extra syllable; the fourth of these already has
eleven sylables. In H5, Riverside prints as verse "Boy, bristle thy
courage up; for Falstaff he is dead" (2.3.4), but Bevington and Gurr's
Cambridge edition read this as prose. MWW some other time.

I don't see any evidence that "Oldcastle" was once there and then was
dropped.  And I wonder what the point of the joke "My old lad of the
castle" is unless the more knowledgeable in the audience are aware that
that used to be his name, but isn't now.

Tom Pendleton

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