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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Date of King John
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0281  Friday, 11 February 2005

From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 14:10:32 -0500
Subject: 16.0268 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0268 Date of King John

Michael Egan writes:

 >There are other features of  John F1 suggesting an
 >unperformed/unfinished text (i.e., it is not 'complete' as Grumman
 >claims). For instance, at III.ii.59-68 the King tells Hubert to kill
 >Arthur, but when the assassin comes to do it he carries instructions
 >only to blind the prince (IV.i.37-42). The discrepancy is never
 >explained (it seems to have been a careless carry- over from TR--another
 >detail confirming that play's priority). Isn't it likely that if KJ were
 >ever staged the actors would have pointed out the problem to
 >Shakespeare, who would then have made the correction?

I think the answer to the last question is no. For example, who is
taller Rosalind or Celia in AYL?  In 1.2 La Beau says that Celia is "the
taller" (172).  This is usually emended by editors after Malone to
"smaller," because Rosalind later claims that she is "more than common
tall" (1.3.115). Wells and Taylor, A Textual Companion, suggest that the
ms from which F was set was a prompt-book or a literary transcript. Why
did we have to wait for Malone to suggest the emendation of "smaller"
for "taller"?

Michael also writes: "We may note also that the play's action and some
of its characters, e.g. the Bastard, are clearly
experimental--interesting but not quite successful."

I first saw this script acted in the early 1960s in Edinburgh. At the
time I was thrilled with the show, and I still am.  So for me (and
perhaps me alone?) KJ is a successful play. And I love the Bastard!

Bill Godshalk

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