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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0216  Friday, 24 March 2006

[1] 	From: 	Bob Grumman <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 23 Mar 2006 18:18:39 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0194 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene

[2] 	From: 	Gerald E. Downs <
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	Date: 	Friday, 24 Mar 2006 02:12:22 EST
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0204 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bob Grumman <
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Date: 		Thursday, 23 Mar 2006 18:18:39 -0500
Subject: 17.0194 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0194 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene

Gerald E. Downs writes in detail about the way some biographers of 
Shakespeare too often have presented their assumption as to what Chettle 
thought of Shakespeare as though it were a fact. However, I believe that 
almost all biographers of Shakespeare say somewhere or other that much 
of what they say is based on guesswork. Perhaps footnotes stating that 
not all scholars believe Chettle mentioned Shakespeare in his famous 
Epistle to Kind-Harts Dreame would be proper in the works of those 
biographers. On the other hand, loading a biography with caveats about 
every detail the biography is based on would (if even practical) cost 
the biography far more in readability than it would add to it in 
scholarly integrity.

Moreover, as I have shown 
(http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Cafe/1492/chettle), it is near-certain 
that Chettle was speaking of Shakespeare. Yes, we all are aware that 
since "A target not included in (the group of three playwrights the 
Groatsworth letter was addressed to) will not qualify without convincing 
argument." But I present such convincing argument--as have many others 
besides "The only post-Erne publication" Downs saw "arguing this 
issue"--D. Allen Carroll's *Reading the 1592 Groatsworth Attack on 
Shakespeare", Tennessee Law Review, v. 72, Fall 2004) that Downs bothers 
to consider. Rather than present my arguments yet again, I will limit 
myself here to comments on what Downs says in his post against 
Shakespeare as one of the playwrights Chettle apologized to.

1. Downs says, "To say that "If the apology is directed to Shakespeare, 
then 'quality' refers to acting," then argue that "Peele was not an 
actor," is to beg the question. If the apology was not directed to 
Shakespeare, then 'quality' was in reference to someone else. This seems 
rather to be arguing that 'quality' referred to acting with an 
exclusivity that is not warranted by surviving usage, as Erne notes (& 
may be noted further)."

Who says "if the apology is directed to Shakespeare, then 'quality' 
refers to acting? What I and others say is that "quality" could refer to 
acting; Shakespeare was an actor; ergo, the use of the word "quality" 
suggests that Chettle was referring to the actor Shakespeare. No 
question-begging there.

2. Downs says that "Comparing insults does not narrow the field. One may 
offend another deeply and not give a hoot, but regret a minor slight to 
yet another." This is supposed to demonstrate that several persons 
besides Marlowe and the Crow could have been offended by the 
Groatsworth, so Chettle could as easily have been apologizing to two of 
the former as to Marlowe and the Crow. It demonstrates no such thing. 
If, as is clear, the Groatsworth insults Marlowe and the Crow 
significantly more that it insults anyone else (and it partly 
compliments Peele), then we can properly reason that Marlowe and the 
Crow were MORE LIKELY to have been offended than the others, and more 
likely to have gone to Chettle about the matter and gotten an apology 
from him.

3. I agree with Downs that Chettle's "spare' is not very likely a 
reference to Shake"spare."

4. Downs thinks "Erne effectively argues that Shakespeare is not likely 
to be referred to as 'scholar.'" I don't. Chettle's letter is clearly 
rushed. He doesn't directly call the play-makers he apologizes to 
scholars, he just reminds his readers that he has long "hindered the 
bitter inueying against schollers." This suggests he means "schollers" 
as writers, to me--but what if he didn't think the second playwright he 
apologizes to was a "scholler?" Would he have said, "With neither of 
them that take offence, one of whom was not a schollar, was I 
acquainted?" He's concerned in this sentence with the two who took 
offence, not with whether they were scholars or not.

I doubt he was trying for great accuracy, anyway. Moreover, he could 
simply not have known whether or not the second playwright was a 
university man. He himself was not. So he used the term (as I once 
addressed a jr. college teacher of mine as "doctor," thinking he must 
have had a Ph.D., although it turned out he did not). Or he could have 
known the man was not a university graduate but wanted to compliment him 
by suggesting, very indirectly, that he was. Still, I think Chettle was 
just writing fast, as everything in his preface indicates. This also, of 
course, is my (main) explanation for his forgetting that the second 
playwright was not one of the "divers play-makers" the Groatsworth was 
addressed to.

5. Downs: "The opinion that Chettle is responsible for the 'lying 
pamphlet' is not an assumption but a carefully argued case paralleling 
the 'apology' issue."

Me: Actually, it is an inconclusive, standard scholarly attempt to show 
superior counter-intuitive originality by going against direct evidence.

According to Downs, however, "The strong prima facie case for Chettle's 
forgery was effectively told by Chauncey Sanders in the thirties, but 
the facts almost speak for themselves. The copy was in Chettle's hand. 
The book was entered at his 'peril.' Most importantly to my mind, the 
very friends addressed in GGW pegged it for a forgery. They were in a 
better position to judge, in every way."

This doesn't mean much to me. Should the book have been published at 
Greene's peril? And Nashe is the only one of the three it addressed who 
wrote anything about it, and I don't believe he claimed it was a 
forgery. Without, so far as we know, having read it.

As for the thing being in Chettle's hand, Chettle himself says he copied 
it out for the printer. I note that among the facts overlooked are the 
book's title-page.

6. Downs introduces the possibility that Chettle wrote the Groatsworth, 
because "If Chettle wrote the vicious attack on Shakespeare, would he so 
easily be motivated to apologize for it? If he inadvertently offended 
one of 'Greene's' addressees (while purposely attacking Marlowe); in the 
process bringing suspicion on himself as the perp, wouldn't his apology 
make sense? In other words, it may matter if Chettle wrote the letter."

Not at all does it matter. If he wrote the letter, Chettle's apology 
could make good sense for any or all of the following (and other 
similar) reasons: (a) he really didn't know Shakespeare but targetted 
him because of a rumor he mistakenly accepted, and when he found out the 
rumor was wrong, he apologized; (b) he knew little about Shakespeare but 
was jealous of the success of his HenryVI play so attacked him, later 
realizing how petty he'd been; (c) he attacked him because he thought 
him a marginal figure but found out he had powerful friends, so tried to 
get on his good side with his apology; (d) he attacked him because he 
knew Greene would have, then found him a decent fellow, so apologized to 
him; (e) he thought apologizing to him would help distance him from 
authorship of the Groatsworth--that is, if he was seen to think 
Shakespeare a good chap, it would be less likely that he'd be suspected 
of having attacked him.

7. "As Carroll shows, Greene's previously published material was 
ingeniously used to mimic Greene, taking advantage of Greene's own habit 
of borrowing from himself." I quote Downs here only to reveal how he 
takes Carroll's opinion as a fact after inveighing against biographers 
who have taken Chettle's apology as to Shakespeare as a fact.

Downs ends with an assertion that errors were caught long ago. "Because 
publications have been slow to address these problems, a forum such as 
this has a chance to discuss them with clarifying effect." That I can 
agree with, but with the understanding that, for me, "the problems" are 
not the allegedly caught errors but the misguided attempts of certain 
scholars to prove themselves superior to common sense.

--Bob G.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Gerald E. Downs <
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Date: 		Friday, 24 Mar 2006 02:12:22 EST
Subject: 17.0204 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0204 Chettle, Greene, Shake-scene

Julia Griffin asks:

 >On the issue of Greene and GGW: does Professor Downs [I'm not]
 >have an opinion about the image of Greene himself in this work?
 >I'm interested in the representation it gives of his misery and
 >degradation, which some critics (e.g., Lorna Hutson) have dismissed
 >as a literary trope.  The same wretched picture emerges from the
 >flurry of Greene pamphlets that appeared after his death, and from
 >Gabriel Harvey's cruel Four Letters, but it seems to be denied, or
 >partially denied, by Nashe in Strange News.

I am skeptical of all accounts, for various reasons (most forgotten). 
The later pamphlets are not credible. Greene's own works set the stage 
and publication of 'Quip' coincident with the death of Harvey's brother 
seems to account for a cruelty that probably included lies.  Nashe's 
engaging style makes him a better witness. GGW follows Harvey's 2nd of 
the 4 Letters from the press, which may have set the scene.

Marcus Dahl asks:

 >As I'm sure everyone will be aware, if Chettle is the [main] author
 >of GGW and the supposed attack on Shakespeare is actually
 >aimed at Marlowe/ Nashe/ Peele, then it also seems to affect the
 >issue (to which it is always attached) of the authorship of 1HVI.
 >I wonder if you have a view on this?

Bob Grumman answers for me: "He does," but Bob has not read carefully. 
Don Bloom responds to the question differently:

 >I find myself puzzled. Is he saying that "Shake-scene" does not
 >refer to Shake-speare? Or, the puppet, the upstart crow, and
 >the ape?

I didn't address the GGW attack on "Shake-scene." I did mention the 
attack on Marlowe (based on the atheism 'Greene' renounces), to whom 
Chettle did not apologize. Dahl's question should then be restated 
before anyone can properly respond. However, the point I take from 
Erne's argument is that the attack on 'Shake-scene' should be read 
unmixed with the KHD apology unless better argument comes to its rescue. 
As unwelcome as this may be to tradition, it is a simplification of the 
issues.

I'm not sure what is asked of 1H6 if the parodied line is from 3H6.  I 
have not studied Dahl's arguments (or anyone else's lately) on these 
plays. With little certain about GGW, I take 'Shake-scene' to be 
Shakespeare and agree that the parodied line is attributed to him. I 
assume the passage it comes from was much admired..  The play it comes 
from is problematic because the derivative H6 bad quartos were in the 
offing. Did Chettle refer to True Tragedy or to 3H6?

Gerald E. Downs

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