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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
First Folio Function
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1019  Friday, 27 May 2005

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 May 2005 08:01:10 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

[2]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 May 2005 16:52:27 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

[3]     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 May 2005 12:47:53 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

[4]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 May 2005 20:56:16 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

[5]     From:   Gerald E. Downs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 May 2005 22:05:53 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 May 2005 08:01:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1007 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

D Bloom writes, "If there is no iambic cadence to the lines why does he
think they constitute blank verse? How can you have blank verse without
the verse (primarily iambic metric lines)?"

I defy anyone to stand on stage and say "The rain in Spain falls mainly
in the plain" and make it sound like prose  :)

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 May 2005 16:52:27 +0100
Subject: 16.1007 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

Don Bloom wrote:

 >How can you have blank verse without the verse
 >(primarily iambic metric lines)?

Was it my imagination (or my e-mail reader), or was SHK 16.1008 (Branagh
Filming As You Like It) arranged as blank verse?

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 May 2005 12:47:53 -0400
Subject: 16.1007 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

Some years ago I read, don't ask me where, that spoken English is
primarily iambic in nature. And, yes, as Peter and Don seem to suggest,
I have a tin ear courtesy of my paternal grandfather.  Because I can't
hear the iambs doesn't mean they are not there.

But is there only one way to read -- or speak -- an iambic line?  Is it
possible that actors with very good ears will differ in their speaking
of "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well [....]"?  I assume
we are talking about individual lines, not sentences or speeches.

Bill

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 May 2005 20:56:16 -0400
Subject: 16.1007 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1007 First Folio Function

Adjusting William Godshalk's paragraph into iambic pentameter blank
verse (requires a couple of minor emendations):

I have a friend, a poet, who can and does
Speak in blank verse. If he did not point out
That he was doing so, I would not know
That certainly he was....

English is for some reason a very iambic language.  I've sometimes
taught metre by having students do to prose texts (magazines,
newspapers, novels) precisely what I did to Bill's statement above.  It
can lead to hearing poetry everywhere  :)

Mari Bonomi

(Bill's original text: "I have a friend, a poet, who can and does speak
in blank verse.  If he didn't point out that he was doing so, I
certainly wouldn't know that he was.")

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gerald E. Downs <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 May 2005 22:05:53 EDT
Subject: 16.0956 First Folio Function
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0956 First Folio Function

When Kim Carrell asks:

 >Why do modern editions continue to set Mercutio's "Queen Mab"
 >speech as verse when both the Folio and Q2 show it is prose until
 >the line
 >
 >   This is the hag, when Maides lie on their backs

Peter Groves responds:

 >Why the compositors of Q2 and F1 set it as prose is no doubt
 >an interesting question, but it is one for bibliographers, not for
 >critics, actors and other readers of Shakespeare:

All readers of Shakespeare must acknowledge that bibliography often
trumps and this exchange shows why. The problem is how to merge
criticism with inference from bibliographical facts.

Q2 R&J normally prints verse as verse. When it prints verse as prose,
the verse does not become prose, as others have noted. It is only
printed that way and there must be a reason.  The best rule of thumb is
to look for a workaday cause for any anomaly. When verse is printed as
prose one probability is that a compositor has accidentally omitted a
significant number of lines: work has continued and if the lines are to
be inserted as verse, all the following finished pages will need
redoing. But if the omission can be inserted in a compressed form a
minimum number of pages will be reset.

In Q2 all the lines not printed as verse in the Mab speech are on C2r,
indicating perhaps a reinserted omission of about twelve lines. An
alternative is that the form was inaccurately cast off; when space for
verse ran out, the lines had to be compacted. There is no reason to
suppose the lines were meant to direct actors to read them as prose, or
to think they signify anything other than a mistake.

Q1 prints the passage as verse. But F merely follows its own copy, Q3.
No manuscript was involved. Text that results from accident will have
meaning. Often meaning may be teased out of corrupt text that can look
pretty bad once the corruption is discovered. It is far better to weigh
the bibliographical probabilities first.

Beginning his contribution to _Scholarly Editing_(1995), Tanselle notes
in a comment on Pope's shortcomings that ". . . primary assumptions . .
. are that editing is an activity of historical scholarship and that an
editor's own preferences are subordinate to historical accuracy."

None of the early R&J printings can be considered in Carrell's seemingly
non-historical approach without risking theatrical interpretation of
mundane error. There is nothing wrong with that until one gets matters
turned around by claiming some kind of authorial intention in obvious
corruption, as if "playing it as it lays" by itself invokes authority.
But the versions in print were not those from which the actors worked.

Lending authority to oddities in Shakespeare's printed plays is
something of a lost cause because most examples will fall into
categories better explained by eclectic editing than coded theater. It
doesn't help to ignore invalidated claims.  The 'preponderance of
evidence' will suggest that mislining, punctuation, spacing, capitals,
etc., result from forces not concerned with theatrical secrets.

Gerald E. Downs

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