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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
First Folio Function
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0923  Tuesday, 17 May 2005

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Saturday, 7 May 2005 10:53:59 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0897 First Folio Function

[2]     From:   Gerald E. Downs <
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        Date:   Monday, 9 May 2005 03:25:30 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0852 First Folio Function

[3]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Monday, 9 May 2005 10:21:41 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 5 May 2005 to 6 May 2005 (#2005-77)

[4]     From:   Kim Carrell <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 May 2005 12:52:00 -0400
        Subj:   Re: First Folio Function


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Saturday, 7 May 2005 10:53:59 +0100
Subject: 16.0897 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0897 First Folio Function

 >Kurt Daw writes:
 >In  specific, most modern texts are far more heavily punctuated
 >than were early editions of the plays.

This, though often said, is not actually true of all early editions.
Specifically, almost all modern editions of The Tempest, for example,
are considerably more lightly punctuated than the Folio, since that
reflects Crane's characteristic patterns of punctuation - which, were,
even at the time, probably intended to tailor the text for readers,
rather than actors.  No generalisations are possible about the
punctuation of F1 - it depends which play(s) you are talking about.

... >I know of no major edition

 >that is editorially designed for speakers rather than
 >readers, and in the absence of such editions many actors
 >simply turn to Folio themselves.

I think Kurt Daw's point would be echoed by others, such as Mike
Cordner, who have argued in various places that the modernised edition
closes down options that are potentially of theatrical significance.
But I do think editors more recently have become more sensitive to the
rhetorical/theatrical possibilities of the texts they edit, and in
editorial choices and in commentary, are more likely to draw attention
than once they were to the provisionality of punctuation decisions they
have made, or stage directions they have added.  Just as every
performance, however, has, finally to come to a decision, so does every
edition.  It's recognising that no decision is final that is really
important.

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gerald E. Downs <
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Date:           Monday, 9 May 2005 03:25:30 EDT
Subject: 16.0852 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0852 First Folio Function

Kim Carrell remarked of Patrick Tucker:

 >Tucker states "Suffice it to say, in bold terms, that in the
 >thousands and thousands of Shakespeare lines I have worked
 >on . . . I have always (repeat always) found that the Folio text
 >improves and helps matters".

This statement necessarily reveals the work of a strong bias rather than
attention to editorial detail. If F always improves the text, an
authorial, authoritative, or theatrical infallibility will have had to
control its printing. Because this is demonstrably not so, the judgment
"always" must reflect poorly on the judge.

For example, F 1H4 was printed from a copy of Q5 (as was the Dering
manuscript at about the same time). Q5 descended from quartos Q0 thru
Q4, where each provided copy for the next. With no sign of editorial
interference, F inherited mutations from six compositors before
introducing its own:

At 4.1.84-5, Q1 prints:

    Doug. As hart can thinke, there is not such a word
         Spoke of in Scotland as this tearme of feare,

Or, "Scots do not know the word 'fear'". In line 85, Q5 prints 'at' for
'as' and 'deame' for 'tearme'. F retains 'At' but alters 'deame' to
'Dreame':

          Doug. As heart can thinke:
    There is not such a word spoke in Scotland,
    At this Dreame of Feare.

When F "always" improves, we must either not think about derivation or
suppose the folio gods were watching over the overtaxed compositors. But
'at' is senseless and "Dreame" is a failed guess. Should one argue that
'at this Dream of Fear' is a profound improvement, one must not
attribute the miracle to theatrical perspicuity but to compound
compositorial error.

Is it possible that a theatrical editor made signs to the actor with a
colon and a capital D, while overlooking both the failed sense and the
inaccuracy of the copy?

At Q1 2.4 329-31, Falstaff says:

       Thers villainous newes abroade, heere was sir Iohn Bracy
    [Braby Q4-5] from your father: you must to [go to Q5] the
    court in the morning. That [The Q5] same mad fellow . . .

F inherits the bracketed alterations. Q3 was marred by a sliver of
vertical debris that caused the Bodleian copy's 'c' of 'Bracy' to
resemble a 'd'. Presumably it shifted to look more like a 'b' in F's
copy. Do these changes improve?

Two final examples from the play are (with dozens of inherited errors to
choose among) 2.4.141 and 186, where F follows Q5 in switching Q1
speech-headings for the Prince and Poins:

Q1   Poin. Zoundes ye fat paunch, an ye call me cowarde  141
                 by  the Lord ile stab thee.
F     Prin.  Ye fat paunch, an yee call mee Coward, Ile . . .

Q1   Prin. Pray God you have not murdred some of them.  186
F     Poin. Pray Heaven, you have not murthered  . . .

Here an editor is undoubtedly at work, religiously (so to speak)
removing the blasphemy. Yet he overlooks the obvious errors that give
uncharacteristic speeches to both Hal and Poines.  One determined to
defend F in these instances is forced to posit mimicry on the
characters; but again the bibliographical facts decide the issue as
serial print corruption.

The theory of F's super-editing to include extra-meaningful punctuation
originated primarily with Percy Simpson in 1911, whose ideas were
expanded to include capitals and other matters by Wilson and Pollard,
who, for example, says:

    A full stop, except when a speech is completely finished,
    always means business--very often theatrical business:
    at the least a change of tone or of the person addressed;
    occasionally, a sob or a caress.

Pollard's confidence in the theatrical business he detects may be
illustrated in this passage from R2 3.3.143ff:

      Rich. What must the King doe now? must he submit?
    The King shall doe it: Must he be depos'd?
    The King shall be contented: Must he loose
    The Name of King? o' Gods Name let it goe. ( : )
    Ile giue my Iewels for a sett of Beades, ( : )
    My gorgeous Pallace, for a Hermitage,  ( : )
    My gay Apparrell, for an Almes-mans Gowne, ( : )
    My figur'd Goblets, for a Dish of Wood, ( : )
    My Scepter, for a Palmers walking Staffe, ( : )
    My Subiects, for a payre of carued Saints,
    And my large Kingdome, for a little Graue,
    A little little Graue, an obscure Graue. ( , )
    Or Ile be buryed in the Kings high-way,
    Some way of common Trade, where Subiects feet
    May howrely trample on their Soueraignes Head: ( ; )
    For on my heart they tread now, whilest I liue; ( : )
    And buryed once, why not vpon my Head?
As reported by Raymond Macdonald Alden (Studies in Philology, 100:4?),
Pollard says of this punctuation:

    No printer could have invented this exquisitely varied
    punctuation. Is there any room for doubt that it gives us the
    lines as Shakespeare trained his fellows to deliver them?
    Is there any greater room for doubt that it gives us the lines
    as Shakespeare punctuated them himself as he wrote them
    down while he heard the accents in which Richard, as he
    conceived him, was to speak them? These colons and
    commas take us straight into the room in which Richard II
    was written and we look over his shoulder as he penned it.

It seem as though Pollard and Tucker are kindred souls, at least in
self-assurance. However, the passage I quote is from F, and Pollard was
speaking of the quarto, where the punctuation differs as I've noted in
brackets. Now, if F is always best, and if Pollard is looking over
Shakespeare's shoulder-something has to give. Are we to suppose that
Shakespeare revised the punctuation himself, with a sob here instead of
there, and by switching colons and semi-colons in consecutive lines
(informing his fellows of who knows what)?

Practitioners of wholly subjective theories of the "always" type will
always disagree. Isn't it easier to suppose that the compositor of Q
punctuated as the spirit moved him?  And that the F compositor, who
meant business (that is, to get to an early ale), followed his copy
(whatever it was) with very little care to duplicate its punctuation?
Opinion like Pollard's strikes me as having little in common with
bibliography or a "scientific method." I'm Tuckered out.

Gerald E. Downs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 9 May 2005 10:21:41 EDT
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 5 May 2005 to 6 May 2005 (#2005-77)

Frank Whigham asks:  "So can we have a sample, please, of the folio's
specifically superior guidance for performance compared to both modern
and quarto texts?

What jumped to my mind was an instance that Alan Dessen noticed during
an SAA presentation where someone had quoted this passage from _King
John_ where John suborns Hubert to kill Prince Arthur.  I quote here
from Evans' first Riverside edition (though without the spacing that
shows these speeches make up regular verse lines) :

_Hub._ And I'll keep him so,
That he shall not offend your Majesty.
_K.John_  Death.
_Hub._ My lord?
_K.John._ A grave.
_Hub._ He shall not live.

The Folio reads:

Hub. And Ile keepe him so,
That he shall not offend your Maiesty.
   Iohn. Death.
   Hub. My Lord.
   Iohn. A Graue.
   Hub. He shall not liue.   [1370]
   Iohn. Enough.

The editor's question mark after "My Lord"  prescribes a kind of
disbelief or challenge or questioning.  The Folio's period doesn't.
Following the Folio, the actor playing Hubert and the actor playing John
may play a variety of other actions that simply are not available in the
edited version.  Hubert can assent, or he can exclaim, or he can remain
noncommittal.  John can encourage, elaborate, confirm, overwhelm . . . .

Another example:  in the last scenes of MND, the "master of ceremonies"
in the Quarto and most modern editions is Philostrate; in the Folio that
job (and all its lines) are ascribed to Egeus.That's a great alternative
reading, fun to play.

Now, the claims of Shakespeare's hand being attached to each flyspeck or
typographic jiggle are indeed silly.  But  . . . and here's the big
issue . . . the galumphing normalization and
"I'll-just-fix-this-little-thing" fiddling that happens line after line,
phrase after phrase, in many modern editions is significantly worse than
silly. It often buries rich theatrical possibilities.   And the nasty,
condescending "atti-tood" of many of the editors and of much textual
scholarship still serves to keep even sophisticated readers from
consulting the basic documents.  The Folio is NOT direct testimony to
what Shakespeare "actually" inscribed, but it IS testimony to what it
says itself.  Same-same with quartos.

(Look at Q1 and Q2 _R&J_ 2.6 -- the entry of Juliet to Romeo and Friar
Laurence -- for another dense set of variants giving detailed theatrical
instructions often botched into incoherence in modern editions. I have
an aging, fat and widely ignored essay on this: "Two Versions of Romeo
and Juliet 2.6 and Merry Wives of Windsor 5.2.215-45: An Invitation to
the Pleasures of Di(per)versity." In R.B. Parker and S.P. Zitner, eds.,
_Elizabethan Theater: Essays in Honor of Samuel Schoenbaum_  [Newark:
University of Delaware Press, 1996], 222-38.)

If we ask our students to work from the old texts, then they see what
the problems are.  It is not rocket-science to figure out caesural
pauses or punctuation for yourself, and that labor is small change
compared to the big-bucks tasks of figuring out diction and "action."
I've found that the more I ask my students to do along these lines, the
stronger they seem to be.  (But then I'm a madman in a classroom and
rehearsal room anyway.)

Ever,
Steve Urquartowitz
English and Theatre
City College of New York

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kim Carrell <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 May 2005 12:52:00 -0400
Subject:        Re: First Folio Function

Frank Whigham feels that my saying that I choose a text based on what
works in rehearsal and/or performance is "a bit of a blank check". That
comment displays to me a serious lack of awareness of the nuts-and-bolts
of mounting any play, Shakespeare or otherwise.

I've performed in several new plays with the playwright involved in the
process. It's a very common occurance that everyone involved - actors,
director, and playwright - may find that a line, speech, or scene that
looked good on the page just will not work on its feet. The possible
reasons are many - for example, it slows down the forward motion of the
play, it makes explicit what should stay implicit, or it just feels out
of place. Plays in preview can be changed before the press opening if it
is deemed necessary. Many people who have seen a Broadway play during
its preview run and again after its opening can attest to this. Two
years ago I acted in a play that underwent small but important rewrites
at every stage of its production from Boston to the Kennedy Center. They
all served to improve the play - and yes, they were all based on what
worked in performance.

Mr. Whigham, do you honestly think that the process is any different
when staging Shakespeare? I have seen a Juliet who struggled with making
the balcony scene work with the Q2 text suddenly come alive when she
(and her Romeo) played with the differing line assignments in the Folio
text of that scene. I have also seen an Iago who felt that the Folio
text took away some of his character's rough edges. In each of these
examples the actors used the text that worked the best for them in
rehearsal and performance.

As for Mr. Whigham's request to "see some samples" I can certainly
provide those if Hardy doesn't mind the lengthy post that may result.

Kim H. Carrell
Actor/Fight Director
AEA/AFTRA/SAFD

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