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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: October ::
Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0929  Thursday, 19 October 2006

[1] 	From: 	Herman Gollob <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 17 Oct 2006 12:36:21 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0918  Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

[2] 	From: 	John W. Kennedy <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 17 Oct 2006 14:27:16 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

[3] 	From: 	Gerald E. Downs <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 17 Oct 2006 22:57:09 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

[4] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 18 Oct 2006 17:57:39 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

[5] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 19 Oct 2006 12:19:38 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Herman Gollob <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 17 Oct 2006 12:36:21 EDT
Subject: 17.0918  Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0918  Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

Joseph, not Frank, Mankiewicz, directed JC; Houseman produced and 
narrated portions of it.  Frank was an attorney, and Bobby Kennedy's 
main man. By the way, I'm not a copy editor; I was a book editor for 
almost 40 years, and a trivia maniac even longer.

Herman Gollob

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 17 Oct 2006 14:27:16 -0400
Subject: 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

Larry Weiss <
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 >Rosenbaum also says that Lewis Theobald claimed to have a
 >manuscript of "Cardenio" before him when he composed
 >"Double Falsehood."  In fact, he claimed to have three
 >separate manuscripts of "Cardenio."  Perhaps this is in the
 >nature of a Downsian quibble, but a claim to three separate
 >manuscripts is as impressive as the thirteenth stroke of the
 >clock, so it is probably worth mentioning.

More precisely, Theobald claimed to have three mss. of an unknown play 
by Shakespeare, and remarked that it was obviously based on (part of) 
"Don Quixote". The Jacobean documents establishing that there was, 
indeed, a lost play by Shakespeare and Fletcher, called something like 
"Cardenio", were not discovered until a later time.

I have received, by the way, an e-mail from Random House saying that 
Rosenbaum's conflation of Richard Kennedy and me will be resolved in all 
future printings of the hardcover, and in the softcover.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Gerald E. Downs <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 17 Oct 2006 22:57:09 EDT
Subject: 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

 >Gerald Downs's lengthy post ostensibly commenting on Ron
 >Rosenbaum's discussion of the "Lear" revision theory-while actually
 >using the Rosenbaum book as a jumping off point to expound his
 >own point of view-is unfair to Rosenbaum.

Ron Rosenbaum wrote a book with particular errors that I noted.  One of 
Rosenbaum's express wishes is that he encourage discussion of the issues 
he chose. I did not much expound my own point of view. What I intended 
was to point out how undoubted error inhibits discussion. It is not 
unfair to hold an author to his errors, but it is unfair to his readers 
to let error pass.

 >For example, Downs begins by taking Rosenbaum to task for
 >implying (but not saying) that Blayney's rejection of the memorial
 >reconstruction theory of Q1 was expressed in Volume 1 of
 >Blayney's work, when in fact it was intended to be developed in the
 >abortive Volume 2 and has come down to us by oral transmission.
 >Oh come on!  Rosenbaum got it right;

Once more, Rosenbaum's actual words:

    And it was legendary textual scholar Peter Blayney whose book
    on the printing of the 1608 Lear restored the Quarto to the status
    of a text - however badly printed - based on a Shakespearean
    manuscript, not on a "memorial reconstruction by actors."
    Blayney's 1982 work laid the basis for the claim that Shakespeare
    both wrote and revised the 1608 version (41).

Rosenbaum flatly states as fact that Blayney restored Q1 to a text 
printed from authorial papers. Any review of the literature will show 
that this 'restoration' is widely taken for granted as proved, when it 
is not. Nothing could be more unscholarly than these citations.  Robert 
Clare noted the issue over a decade ago, and Rosenbaum must have read 
Clare's 1997 reprint without quite grasping the point.  What is wrong 
with correcting a blatant error?

 >Downs is quibbling for the sake of giving himself an excuse to
 >express an opinion on the underlying textual question.

This is not a quibble but notation of an example of the fallacious 
appeal to authority. It is a quibble for John Jowett to refer to the 
theory of "a memorially contaminated text" by saying,

    Opposing it is the impressive authority of Peter Blayney's
    work . . ., which is an important example of how printing-house
    studies can make a decisive contribution to the study of
    Shakespeare's text (After Oxford, 2001, 77.

Jowett rightly cites 'authority' (appealing to it nonetheless) rather 
than argument, attaching Blayney's opinion to his bibliographical first 
volume. The purpose of the second volume, as I understand it, was to 
separate matters of one discipline from the other. Jowett's readers may 
not see how a choice of words fails to clarify the issue.  When Weiss 
suggests that Blayney's opinion has "come down to us by oral 
transmission" he seems to be saying that an informal written (not oral) 
repetition of one man's opinion may serve as the foundation of the 
most-discussed textual question of the last thirty years. Where is the 
argument? Rosenbaum specifically discusses this issue and that of 'foul 
papers'. He seems open-minded and genuinely interested. I don't blame 
him for continuing the 'oral' tradition so much as I do the long line of 
scholars who should know better. But I do keep a record of this fallacy 
and will point out its next use.

 >Even worse, Downs calls it an "error" for Rosenbaum to "cite two
 >Knowles articles without comment

Even worse than worse is to attribute something to me that I did not 
say. I noted that Rosenbaum cited articles without commenting on their 
repeated error. I did not say this was Rosenbaum's error.  But I did 
want to make the point that one more up on the issues would perhaps have 
both caught and mentioned the mistake. The error was Knowles's, 
uncorrected over time, significant, misleading.  This may have been more 
clear had my comment remained as I sent it, with the Knowles quotation 
set off and indented, as here:

 >>I was a bit disappointed then to see Rosenbaum cite two
 >>Knowles articles without comment on the Variorum editor's
 >>serious misstatement (repeated four years later) of Howard-Hill's
 >>1986 contentions, which
 >
 >showed that all the readings in F supposedly deriving from Q1
 >could as well have been derived from Q2 . . .(1997, 75; 2001, 269).
 >
 >>A 'general reader' cannot protect himself from errors like this and
 >>one wonders how this one occurs in a book also sporting a review
 >>article by Howard-Hill.

The book I refer to is Lear From Study to Stage. Presumably the editors 
were familiar with the issues, yet they allowed Knowles to misrepresent 
Howard-Hill, who had an article in the same book.  How does this happen 
unless the scholars are confused?  The controversy over Q1's direct 
influence on F as suggested by variants appearing in each but not in Q2 
is of great importance to Lear scholars. For Knowles to think these 
variants got to F via Q2 is absurd and that is not what Howard-Hill 
argued. However, the question is not important to me and I merely point 
up the error.

 >Again: Oh, come on!  Rosenbaum.  And he did a damned good
 >job of it, making these issues accessible to "general readers"
 >wrote a book for general consumption, not a detailed exegesis for
 >the reference of academic specialists without losing most of the
 >nuances that make it fascinating for the adepts.  That could not
 >have been easy to do.

An author has an obligation, even to the general reader, to inform 
without perpetuating error. The errors I note question just how 'adept' 
the experts are. The general reader would be happy to read of them. 
Moreover, the errors relate fundamentally to the issues and they are not 
nuanced.

 >This is not to say that there are no mistakes in Rosenbaum's book.
 >. . . Perhaps this is in the nature of a Downsian quibble, but a
 >claim to three separate manuscripts is as impressive as the
 >thirteenth stroke of the clock, so it is probably worth mentioning.

The errors I point out bear directly on Rosenbaum's chosen topics.  One 
thinks that his book could initiate discussion on this forum, but it has 
not. I also like to think that he would appreciate any information that 
clarifies the issues. Of course I noted numerous mistakes in the book, 
many not worth mentioning or not in respect of issues of importance. 
Overall Rosenbaum's attitude is very good; what good would anyone's 
fascination with textual issues be if he were not willing to be 
corrected on fundamental issues?

Gerald E. Downs

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 18 Oct 2006 17:57:39 +0000
Subject: 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

Larry Weiss "corrects" Rosenbaum's "lulu":

"it was Frank Mankiewicz, not John Houseman, who directed the 1953 film 
of 'Julius Caesar'..."

Mousetrap II?

'Twas the uncle (Joe), not the nephew (Frank).

Regards,
Joe Egert

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Thursday, 19 Oct 2006 12:19:38 -0400
Subject: 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0918 Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars

 >it was Frank
 >Mankiewicz, not John Houseman, who directed the 1953 film of "Julius
 >Caesar" starring Brando, Mason and Geilgud.

As you will hear from many, it was Joseph not Frank Mankiewicz.

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