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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
Love's Labours Won
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0798  Tuesday, 26A April 2005

[1]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Apr 2005 09:46:55 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0781 Love's Labours Won

[2]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Apr 2005 14:39:37 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0769 Love's Labours Won

[3]     From:   Melvyn R. Leventhal <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Apr 2005 10:16:21 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0769 Love's Labours Won


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Apr 2005 09:46:55 +0100
Subject: 16.0781 Love's Labours Won
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0781 Love's Labours Won

 >The title page of the 1598 Quarto has no apostrophes whatsoever-"Loues
 >labors lost"-while the second apostrophe in the F title is distinctly
 >ambiguous-at the least, it's less certain than the (clear) apostrophe on
 >"Love's".
 >
 >Robin Hamilton

Just to clarify this information, Robin Hamilton is right about the
quarto title page, but the page headers in the book all have Loues
Labour's lost, with a clear apostrophe on the second word.  Robin's
information about the First Folio is wrong.  At the beginning of the
play and on all the page headers, the title is Loues Labour's lost -
with no apostrophe on the first word and no ambiguity about the
apostrophe on the second word.  However, in the catalogue at the front,
the play is listed as Loues Labour lost: no apostrophes at all and no S
on the second word.  Would anyone care to comment on early modern use of
apostrophe S to indicate possession?  I had thought that they didn't do
it, but I'm not an expert.  The title page of the First Folio certainly
doesn't bother, when it says: Mr William Shakespeares Comedies,
Histories, & Tragedies.  And there are quartos referring to the Kings
Majesties servants with no apostrophe and publishers in Paules
churchyard - also no discernable apostrophes to indicate possessives.

Kathy Dent

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Apr 2005 14:39:37 +0100
Subject: 16.0769 Love's Labours Won
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0769 Love's Labours Won

David Basch has a genius (and I do not use the word lightly) for firmly
grasping the wrong end of the stick.  He may well be right that "Love's
Labour's Lost" is marginally more probable than "Love's Labours Lost",
but the former case would mean 'the labour of love (or Love) is lost',
and the latter 'the labours of love (or Love) are lost'.  As Todd
Pettigrew has pointed out, 'to lose one's labour' is proverbial for
'wasting one's effort', and actually used by Shakespeare.  The only
remaining issue is whether "Love" means love in general (or of
particular people), or the personification of love, i.e. Cupid or Amor.

What no-one has pointed out so far in this debate is that "Love's
Labours Won" is actually meaningless (you cannot 'win' your labour) -
and so is less likely to have been used as a title by Shakespeare.

Kathy Dent has kindly informed me of the contents of Lukas Erne's
mysterious footnote.  What Erne has done in categorising "Love's Labours
Won" as the 'popular title' for another play (e.g. "Much Ado About
Nothing") is to completely undermine the status of the evidence of the
'bookseller's list'. Only if it referred to a printed work with that
title could the 'bookseller's list' be regarded as evidence independent
of, but additional to, the list given by Meres.

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melvyn R. Leventhal <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Apr 2005 10:16:21 EDT
Subject: 16.0769 Love's Labours Won
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0769 Love's Labours Won

[By way of brief introduction -- for those not familiar with the debate
-- in 1598 Francis Meres published a book which provided a list of
Shakespeare's comedies; that list included the unknown play Love's
Labours Won.  For hundreds of years scholars believed that LLW was in
fact another name for a known play written by Shakespeare. In 1953, an
English bookseller's list dated 1603 was discovery which, among other
titles, recorded LLW.  This has led some to argue that LLW is clearly a
lost play by Shakespeare and not a known play popularly referred to as
LLW.]

In my post to the list of April 21, I state that Lukas Erne has
persuasively argued: a) that the Bookseller's List, does not prove that
LLW is a lost play; and b) that LLW is a '"popular title" for Much Ado
About Nothing. John Briggs, in response, rightly chides me: "if the case
is persuasive [ly stated by Mr. Erne] in a footnote, can it not be
summarised here?"

Here is Mr. Erne's argument followed by my own footnote:

1.   Edward IV published in 1599 and reprinted in 1600 as The First and
Second Parts of King Edward the Fourth is recorded on the 1603
Bookseller's List only by its "popular title" "Jane shore."  Contrary to
T. W.  Baldwin's assertion, "Jane shore'" cannot be characterized as a
"shortened title" for Edward IV because "Jane shore" is not part of the
full title. Instead, the reference to "Jane shore," is compelling
evidence that the bookseller, in compiling his list, was comfortable
using popular as opposed to printed titles.

Accordingly, the case for LLW being a separate but now lost play, based
on the Bookseller's List, is not "as strong" as T.W. Baldwin and the
Oxford editors would "have it." Instead, the view held by scholars for
hundreds of years, that LLW is a popular title for another play by
Shakespeare, continues to be viable.

2.   The Bookseller's List does, however, help us tease-out the name of
the known play for which LLW might have been a popular title.  Mr. Erne
points out that the known play:  a) had to  have been published by 1603;
and b) could not be any other play mentioned with LLW by Meres in his
Palladis Tamia published on September 7, 1598 (e.g., LLW cannot be
Midsummer's Night Dream because both titles appear in the 1598 list).

Mr. Erne identifies Much Ado About Nothing as the only play that
satisfies both conditions "a" and "b" above.   We know that Much Ado was
published in Quarto in 1600 and therefore could be the play the
Bookseller was referring to in 1603.   And Much Ado is not mentioned in
Palladis Tamia.

He concludes his footnote by stating that he is "indebted to a
conversation with Peter Blayney about this issue."

Let me add a footnote in support of Mr. Erne's thesis:

A.   Implicit in Mr. Erne's argument is that the Bookseller's List does
enable us to rule out other plays that scholars have argued were also
known as LLW. Thus, the bookseller's reference to LLW cannot be a
reference to Taming of The Shrew because that play was first printed in
the 1623 Folio.   Similarly, LLW cannot be a reference to All's Well
because that play -- at least the only version we have found -- was
first printed in the 1623 Folio. Finally, LLW cannot be a reference to
the Taming of A Shrew because A Shrew is also on the Bookseller's List.

B. There is one other obvious reason to believe that Much Ado is LLW.
The two main love plots of Much Ado are both very much about love
winning out, after considerable labor.

C.   There is one very important issue that is only dealt with by Mr.
Erne in passing. If Meres was referring to Much Ado when he listed LLW
as one of Shakespeare's comedies, then we must establish that he knew
about Much Ado by September 1598. Mr. Erne addresses this issue only by
stating that the play "may have" been performed before September 7,
1598.   [As for when Much Ado  first appeared on stage, the title page
of the Quarto of 1600 refers to Much Ado as having been "sundrie times
publikely acted" by the "Lord Chamberlain his servants;" the play was
entered in the Stationers' Register on August 23, 1600.]

While there is no conclusive evidence on this question, I believe that
the argument for Much Ado being known to Meres in September 1598 is much
stronger than Mr. Erne's passing comment relating to the play in
performance:

i) The Oxford editors say Much Ado was written "between summer 1598 and
spring, 1599." Sheldon Zitner in his Oxford Shakespeare concludes that
the play was "probably written during the last third of 1598." However,
this dating is based in substantial part on Zitner's belief that Meres
would have listed Much Ado in Palladis Tamia if it had been written by
September 1598. Professor Zitner does not consider the possibility that
Much Ado is LLW and therefore, in fact, was listed in Palladis Tamia.
Moreover, Profession Zitner does point out that Meres included a title
in his list of works (by an author other than Shakespeare) that was
published a few weeks after September 7, 1598.   This establishes that
the September 7, 1598 cutoff date is not without some "play in the joints."

ii) I think it is entirely possible not only that Much Ado was performed
by September 1598, as stated by Mr. Erne, but that Meres knew about it
before it was publicly performed. Marchette Chute in "Shakespeare of
London," states that it is likely that Meres was "acquainted with
someone in Shakespeare's own circle."  At the very least, he made
himself The Expert on Shakespeare's work. This is the only way Meres
could have known and written in 1598 that Shakespeare was circulating
"sugared sonnets among his private friends." That Meres had "inside
information" is also supported by his ability to list so many of
Shakespeare's plays which theretofore had been published anonymously.
Thus, it is reasonable to conclude  that Meres would have been one of
the first to learn of Much Ado -- indeed that LLW might have been an
early or a "working title" for Much Ado.

Is it possible that the copyright owner of LLL, which was published in
1598, objected to Shakespeare naming his new play LLW, which Shakespeare
responded to by changing the name from LLW to Much Ado About Nothing?

Melvyn R. Leventhal

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