2006

The Collier Leaf, part 2

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0716  Friday, 4 August 2006

From: 		Gerald E Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 17:06:45 EDT
Subject: 	The Collier Leaf, part 2

In addition to numerous paleographical errors in his article on the 
"Collier Leaf" in _Shaksperian Scraps_, Tannenbaum adds poorly conceived 
theatrical and literary arguments, suggesting again that his case was 
hurriedly overconfident.  One example is particularly telling. Because 
the lines discussed may yet touch on the question of forgery, the poor 
argument will at least introduce one of Collier's traits.

    Granting, then, that the manuscript is not a remnant of a
    prompt-book, is it possible -- as has been suggested
    (privately) -- that it is part of the author's first draft, that is,
    part of the author's "foul papers"? That this view is . . .
    untenable . . . will be granted when the following remarks
    by [Greg] are considered: "In line [30] 'degestion' [sic]
    should surely be 'dejection,' and in lines [31-32] neither
    of Collier's versions seems satisfactory. In the earlier the
    colon after 'ayme' [line 31] is manifestly wrong, and the
    repetition of 'now' [line 32] hardly less so: in the later 'More
    at thy ende than exterpatione' is nonsense." Evidently,
    then, the leaf is not in the handwriting of the author.
    Not even in his foulest papers would an author write such
    absurd and unintelligible stuff without attempting to
    correct it. (182-3)

This passage must have been maddening to Adams. The private suggestion 
that the leaf was foul papers was made by Adams himself, who was no 
doubt blindsided by the "refutation." More to the point, Tannenbaum 
should have been more careful in citing Greg on this Guise speech:

    fondlie has thow in Censte the guises sowle     28
    yt of itself was hote enoughe to worke
    thy Iust degestione wt extreamest shame.
    the armye I have gathered now shall ayme
    more at thie end then exterpatione                   32

Greg had no access to the leaf for his 1928 edition. He relied instead 
on Collier's 1925 and 1931 transcripts, which were inaccurate and did 
not agree with each other. The later transcript is accurate at line 32, 
but that of 1925 reads:

    Nowe at thine end then exterpatione

Knowledge of the correct transcription obviates the need to question 
this reading as a product of the Elizabethan theater. Greg's treatment 
in itself shows his reliance on Collier, but that must have been known 
to readers of the edition anyway. In questioning a suggestion of foul 
papers, Tannenbaum should have cited approvingly only Greg's comment 
about the correct version. Tannenbaum was too hasty with his own 
argument and Adams was quick to reply.

As it happens, "digestion" is not wrongly used; there is no colon after 
"ayme"; and "more at thie end then exterpatione" makes passable sense. 
It is possible that Tannenbaum did not himself believe Greg's arguments, 
but saw a win-win scenario if he cited them. Greg's authority could 
discredit Adams's 'foul papers' suggestion. If the arguments failed, the 
discredit would redound to Greg. Whatever the motive, the addition of 
these and other poor arguments only serve to make Tannenbaum look that 
much worse after his goofs in interpreting the photographs.

Given these preliminaries, two fundamental questions arise.  First, did 
Tannenbaum make any good arguments in his prosecution of the forgery 
case? Second, did Adams make any good arguments in defense of the 
Collier Leaf? I will give an incomplete answer to the first query before 
moving to the second.

Despite the terrific rebuttal Adams makes, he does not answer the whole 
of his opponent's case. For example, Tannenbaum notes of the 'f ' in 
'fondlie', the first word of the verso of the leaf: "The overhead loop 
terminates with a descending stroke to the left, as no Elizabethan ' f ' 
ever did." Adams does not comment on this, though it seems odd for the 
top of an 'f ' to be written backward.  If one is to examine the leaf 
anew, all such evidence must be given due weight.

As noted above, Tannenbaum offers as evidence of forgery this statement: 
"Collier's discoveries, when uncorroborated, and incapable of 
corroboration, are probably all forgeries" (186). Adams says this and 
related arguments are "without force, and therefore call for no 
comment." (467) Yet in the Foreword to Tannenbaum's _Scraps_, Adams 
comments:

    At any rate, one naturally suspects every document or
    manuscript entry that he first called attention to, or that
    at some time passed through his hands without having
    been previously recorded by a person of recognized
    integrity.

Adams's change of heart (or at least his differentiation between 
'naturally suspects every' and 'probably all' was perhaps necessitated 
by the surprise application of the suspicion to a document he thought 
genuine. Question of Collier's stories of provenance cannot be dismissed 
out of hand. When this failure to account for a manuscript can be shown 
to be typical of forgery (particularly of Collier forgery) and when the 
subject of the manuscript can be shown to be helpful to Collier's 
established opinion, then 'no provenance' may grow to the status of 
negative evidence.

Other of Tannenbaum's case should be considered when evaluating the 
evidence in its entirety, as I believe must be done anew. But now I'll 
examine the evidence Adams offers in support of the genuineness of the 
leaf, as opposed to his confutation of Tannenbaum's negative argument. 
At the outset we note that Adams's legacy is presented with a particular 
problem that is not addressed. He says:

    . . . it is difficult to believe that a contemporary transcriber
    would use for his purpose an awkwardly shaped scrap of
    paper, would write so carelessly, or would leave one side
    of the leaf partly blank. . . . It seems to me more likely that
    the manuscript is a preliminary draft . . ." (449)

All of Adams's argument is in support of the hypothesis that the leaf is 
an example of an authorial draft, and therefore in Marlowe's hand. He 
was unaware of the single Marlowe signature discovered in 1939 that 
effectively denies identity of the leaf penman with the playwright. The 
relevance of this fact may be discounted if the authorship of The 
Massacre is called into question, but the point is that Adams geared his 
paper to his theory and he did not attempt a description of the leaf  as 
anything other than a "foul sheet."

Adams repeatedly refers to the leaf as "carelessly" written.  This 
judgment may too readily explain some features of the penmanship and 
could therefore be a reflection of bias. An adept forger may simulate 
nonchalance and may even strive to that end. Further, the leaf may 
exhibit on examination an overall attempt write carefully.

A notable feature of photographs of the leaf is the paleness of some 
letters and the subject may be of some importance.  (In the Collier Leaf 
Universe, that is). Adams remarks:

    Indeed, it is easy to tell when the writer 'dipped', and the
    regular sequence of gradually fading and suddenly darker
    words gives excellent testimony to the fluency with which
    he wrote. ((454)

It seems to me that a pen would run out of ink in the same way, whether 
the writing was fluent or not. Adams describes the penman in a manner 
that would seem to differentiate him from a forger, without exactly 
saying why:

    The scribe was not a copy-book artist, but he wrote with
    fluency and speed, and employed throughout a consistent
    style, showing marked individuality. There are, to be sure,
    instances where he corrected single letters (inserted in
    error, or poorly made) . . . (457).

A forger may show marked individuality and consistent style. Even so, 
these traits are matters of both quality and quantity that may be 
reexamined. It also may be asked whether the writer's noted absence of 
linked letters shows fluency and speed, or the lack of each. Adams also 
says:

    honest corrections, made with no effort at concealment,
    they tend rather to guarantee the genuineness of the
    document than to convict it of forgery.

Yet a forger would not necessarily try to conceal corrections.  True, 
disguised corrections may be evidence of forgery. But a forger may guard 
against detection by more natural and straightforward touching up. This 
would certainly be true if the forger was adept and practiced in his 
style. It must be remembered that Collier (the only suspect) grew up 
using a quill pen, was a shorthand expert, knew more manuscripts and 
Elizabethan literature than most, was indefatigable, and a committed 
forger. Even Tannenbaum erred in supposing that a forger must be 
incompetent. Certainly if forgery is to be detected, anomalies are the 
clues, and unconcealed retouching must be evaluated as evidence in any case.

Adams repeats his theme, this time in defending an italic 'o ', formed 
by two semicircles: ' () ', "so obviously . . . without the smallest 
effort at deception, that we might regard the letter as evidence of 
genuineness rather than of crafty forgery." Again, an optional formation 
of an Italic form would not be limited to legitimate writers, nor would 
forgers necessarily be crafty at all times. Except for issues of 
photography and ink, these assertions are the only arguments Adams uses 
in defense of the leaf. To me they seem too subjective.

Adams caught Tannenbaum's serious misinterpretations of his photographs 
of the Collier Leaf. Tannenbaum had seen the original and the photos are 
clear and promise to be of use even to those who rely on the book. In a 
review, Van Dam says, "Of all these alleged forgeries beautiful 
facsimile plates are provided which enable anyone to check Dr. 
Tannenbaum's arguments." But Adams demonstrates that photographs can be 
deceptive, and he uses his examples to make a sweeping condemnation:

    As Professor Feuillerat once remarked to me . . . "A
    photograph is the greatest liar in the world !" . . . On the
    whole, if one has sharp eyes and the writing is of good
    size . . . one can more safely trust to an examination of
    the original . . . (458)

Despite its seeming force, the Feuillerat citation is not very helpful 
unless one is learning to spell 'Feuillerat'. Let's turn instead to a 
contemporary authority who seems much more reasonable. In _Questioned 
Documents_ (1940), Albert S Osborn makes the following statements:

    Photographs are useful in nearly every questioned document
    investigation . . . (39).

    Photographs often make clear what otherwise may be hidden
    or indistinct, and this fact alone is sufficient for their use (39).

    It is necessary that certain tangible things should be of a
    certain size before their presence is mentally recognized.
    This is the reason that enlarged photographs sometimes at
    first sight seem to be unfair and distorted when they are
    absolutely accurate. Their purpose is to make plain certain
    hidden or partly hidden things, and they do this so effectively
    that at first sight they are criticized as inaccurate. These
    attacks are the most eloquent of testimonials as to the value
    of the illustrations (41).

    Objections to the use of photographs in court are based
    upon the theory that they may be distorted and not true
    representations of the original, and it is often incorrectly
    asserted that the original affords the best means for study
    and comparisons and that no reproduction of it is necessary.
    It is true that photographs may be distorted and may be
    dishonest and if they cannot be properly proved or verified
    by comparison with the original they should be excluded (47).

Tannenbaum, who cites this authority, made a fundamental error by not 
comparing his photos (or having them compared by the Folger Library) to 
the original Collier Leaf.

    The real reason for most objections to photographs is
    that they do well just what it is intended they should do,
    that is, assist in showing the facts. (48)

    Skilled microscope specialists . . .are always careful that
    the degree of enlargement is appropriate to the most effective
   understanding of the thing to be seen. . . .To show retouching,
   disconnections, and a slow drawing movement, considerable
   enlargement may, however, be necessary. (55 & 59)

Thus a real authority seems not to agree that photography is useless. No 
examination of the Collier Leaf would be complete without extensive use 
of photographs. Tannenbaum used them wrongly, but that should not 
prejudice their future use. Another issue that Adams argues may relate 
to photography. Dr T made this statement:

    The ink is brown, conspicuously dark in some places and
    very pale in others. The contrast between the light and dark
    letters is very striking; some letters are so pale as to be
    almost invisible. It might be supposed that the pale writing
    was due to the pen's running dry, but, in view of the fact
    that lines 26 and 27 . . . are pale throughout their whole
    extent, this explanation cannot be right. It is also noticeable
    that in some places, as in line 23, there is a succession of
    four or five pale words without any indications of a failure
    on the pen's part to write. (179)

Adams denies these characteristics:

    In the original, the ink is not 'conspicuously' uneven in
    colour . . ., save where the quill began to run dry and the
    writer dipped his pen for a fresh supply. . . .[Lines 26&27]
    are not pale; . . . line 23 . . . contains no noticeably pale
    words. (455)

Tannenbaum doesn't speak to any inference based on the observed paleness 
of writing, but the implication is that something was fishy about the 
ink. Adams doesn't address that question, other than to quash it by 
implying that the ink is normal. What he does authoritatively is to 
contradict Tannenbaum in such a way as to further discredit him.

A little retrograde analysis suggests to me that Tannenbaum must have 
noticed some pale ink in the original, but arrived at his published 
evaluation by viewing the photographs, which seem even in the book 
plates to confirm his observations.  It is hard to conceive of any 
photographic error that would produce such variations of shading, so 
they are indicative of some difference in the ink not apparent (at least 
in extent) to the naked eye.

True, a pen runs out of ink and needs dipping. But unless something 
alters the delivery, the shading should not vary until the last moments, 
or until a spotty flow occurs. If the paleness revealed in the 
photographs is real, as it must be, this condition alone vindicates the 
use of photographs.

Petti backs Tannenbaum on this issue, perhaps after having seen the 
original; he doesn't say. But he is unequivocal in his pronouncement: 
"Tannenbaum was surely right to be uneasy about the continual unevenness 
of inking, and the occasional retracing of letters" (85). Petti doesn't 
speculate as to what the uneasiness should portend.

I have recently seen a photographic plate of a 16th Century formal 
document that exhibited an even more pronounced two-toned effect. If the 
scribe had seen the same variation he would not have approved his own 
work. It's safe to say the effect is not always noticeable and not 
unprecedented.

What causes a string of pale words? A quill draws ink by capillary 
action, as we observe a portion of a drink climb the inside of a straw. 
When the pen touches an absorbent material, gravity insures a flow. Ink 
comprising solvents such as water and alcohol may perhaps separate in a 
capillary, where the water and alcohol could carry more or less of the 
coloring. As the quill is used, the darker ink is used up until the 
lighter flows, though it may darker to the naked eye.

Whether this guess has merit or not, some phenomenon is at work to 
produce variant shading, and that must result from an ink that is not a 
homogeneous solution. By itself, finding the ink was anomalous would not 
certainly indicate forgery, but a list of the odd features of the leaf 
might be telling if it gets long enough. How unusual can a legitimate 
document be?

At any rate, Adams appears to be wrong to deny the fading of the ink, 
and to this he adds no argument except to defend some paleographic 
aspects of the leaf, and this he does well, especially when Tannenbaum 
is unobservant. Still, the issue of handwriting is by no means 
exhausted. For example, Petti says, "There is an incredibly large number 
of detached letters for a cursive script, and the slight tremulousness 
in the penstrokes, the blots and false starts may connote a forger's 
hesitancy. Also worrying is a lack of uniformity of character in the 
writing." (85) These are matters for the judgment of an unbiased 
paleographer.

To be continued in a last post. Gerald E Downs

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The Collier Leaf, part 1.

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0715  Friday, 4 August 2006

[Editor's Note: Because I am leaving a several hours, I have not had the 
time to thoroughly vet the following three long posting by Gerald E. 
Downs. I trust that they do not contain any information that I would not 
normally post to the list. Mr. Downs has in the past submitted many 
essay length submissions. I believe that posts of this length belong 
more appropriately on the web site in the "Papers by SHAKSPER-members 
seeking critical advice;" but sense I have not established a formal 
policy, I am going to let these through. -HMC]

From: 		Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 17:06:23 EDT
Subject: 	The Collier Leaf, part 1.

A few years ago I read the literature arguing the legitimacy of the 
"Collier Leaf" fragment of "The Massacre at Paris" now at the Folger 
Library. The Freemans book on Collier does not add much. I have no plans 
for my observations but I thought some list-members may be interested in 
a (long) review of the case.  Three separately mailed segments may make 
handling easier.

Paul Werstine refers to the "Collier Leaf" in his article, "Plays in 
Manuscript" (_A New History of Early English Drama_):

      The provenance of this irregularly shaped partial
      leaf is unknown, a circumstance perilous for the
      erection of any scholarly conjecture, especially
      in light of the existence for well over a century
      now of an increasingly lucrative market for forgeries
      of documents alleged to have been associated with
      Shakespeare and his contemporaries. (491-2)

Werstine's further discussion of the Collier Leaf is not extensive, yet 
anyone familiar with his work may presume that his cautionary words are 
well supported. For example, T.J. Brown says, in "The detection of faked 
Literary MSS", (The Book Collector, v2, #1): ". . . lack of a pedigree 
or association, however remote, with a known or suspected faker should 
be treated as danger signals." (8)

The Collier Leaf has no pedigree and was introduced by the prolific 
forger, John Payne Collier. Yet Edward J Esche, recent editor of "The 
Massacre at Paris" (Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, 1998), says 
of this caution:

    That Collier was a notorious forger of early documents
    is not open to doubt, but to suppose that everything
    he touched was forged is, in itself, weak thought;
    in this case, he made an honest and lasting discovery
    for Marlowe studies. (296)

No one suggests of Collier that "everything he touched was forged." But 
'weak thought' is a necessary claimed if one is to ignore danger 
signals. It is better to give due weight to Brown's advice by 
investigating Collier's story of the leaf, relating it to his habits in 
respect of other forgeries and by examining his motives. Once these 
matters are studied, it is easy to conclude that acceptance of the 
document is bad for Marlowe studies and, peripherally, Shakespeare studies.

Notwithstanding these warnings, there is no shortage of authoritative 
opinion on the genuineness of the document.  For example, J.Q. Adams in 
"The Massacre at Paris Leaf" (The Library, 4th series, volume xiv, 1934) 
says:

    Yet Dr. Tannenbaum confidently asserts: "We are forced to
    conclude not only that the scribe was following a copy, and
    that he was not skilled in writing the Elizabethan script,
    but also that he was not an Elizabethan scribe" at all.
    Remembering Shakespeare's warning "To vouch this is
    no proof," and unwilling to advance my unsupported
    judgement, I submitted the manuscript to Mr. Seymour
    de Ricci, . . . [who] expressed "astonishment" that anyone
    could regard it as a forgery; declared that "if ever a
    manuscript was genuine, this one is."

Remembering Shakespeare's warning "To vouch this is no proof," Adams's 
citation of de Ricci (unencumbered by argument) relies on the fallacious 
"appeal to authority" and is of no great value.

Anthony G. Petti offers a more recent (1977) opinion in _English 
Literary hands from Chaucer to Dryden_, denying (with at least some 
argument) two of Adams's opinions:

    The evidence, such as it is, indicates that the leaf is not
    holograph, neither can the possibility of forgery be ruled out.

Tannenbaum's extensive evaluation in _Shaksperian Scraps_ argued 
forcefully that the leaf was forged. Adams countered with a devastating 
attack on Tannenbaum's faulty scholarship and argued not only against 
forgery, but that the scene was probably in Marlowe's hand. J. M. 
Nosworthy followed with a a literary defense of the leaf (Lib., 1946) 
and further argument against forgery. These articles need to be examined 
because they are much cited, but seldom read.

Petti and Werstine are correct: forgery cannot be ruled out.  The leaf 
must remain in evidentiary limbo, yet study of it can be rewarding for 
other reasons. Much of the scholarship on the leaf is iffy, but spotting 
bad argument is good exercise.

As is often the case, the ways of the scholars are more interesting than 
their subject. Of course this goes double for J P Collier. Those few 
still insisting on his innocence will reluctantly follow his trail of 
crime, but it is essential to any effective study of the leaf.

Nonessentials abound, however. For example, Werstine cites the 
"lucrative market" for forged documents. But the Collier Leaf belongs to 
the Folger Library and has not been subject to market forces. Or has it? 
Joseph Quincy Adams was appointed Director of Research at the Folger in 
1932 and served till his death in 1946. Was he less likely to condemn 
the only example of Marlowe's hand as a forgery when Mrs. Folger still 
lived? Was it a conflict of interest to set himself as judge? 
Werstine's commentary is in respect of W W Greg's naming the Collier 
Leaf as an example of "foul papers," a category that Werstine denies as 
demonstrable in dramatic documents surviving the era. He says Greg's 
choice "seems desperate." It is likely that Greg cited the leaf 
(Editorial Problem) not from conviction or desperation to prove the 
concept of foul papers, but to support Adams's opinion as a courtesy. A 
longtime Tannenbaum antagonist, Greg will have liked the thrashing 
administered by Adams.

The Massacre at Paris may be found online. A quick read, the baddest 
octavo in town is generally thought a memorial reconstruction. In the 
scene the Collier Leaf revises, the Duke of Guise (leader of the 
murderers of the Heugonots) hires an agent to assassinate Mugeroun, King 
Henry's minion, who'd been shucking Guise's corn (so to speak): of which 
cuckoldry Henry had guyed Guise:

                  Enter a Souldier.

SOULDIER. Sir, to you sir, that dare make the Duke
a cuckolde, and use a counterfeite key to his privie
Chamber doore: And although you take out nothing but
your owne, yet you put in that which displeaseth him,
and so forestall his market, and set up your standing
where you should not: and whereas tree is your Landlord,
you would take upon you to be his, and tyll the ground
that he himself should occupy, which is his own free land.
If it be not too free there's the question: and though I
come not to take possession (as I would I might) yet I
meane to keepe you out, which I will if this geare horde:
what are ye come so soone? have at ye sir.

      Enter Mugeroun.     He shootes at him and killes him.

      Enter the Guise.

GUISE. Holde thee tall Souldier, take thou this and flye.

      Exit Souldier.

Lye there the Kings delight, and Guises scorne. Revenge it
Henry as thou list'st or dar'st, I did it only in despite
of thee. Take him away.___________________________

The recto of the Collier Leaf reads:

Enter A  souldier with a mvskett
          Now ser to you yat dares make a dvke a Cuckolde
          and vse a Counterfeyt key to his privye Chamber
souldier thoughe you take out none but your owne treasure
          yett you putt in yat displeases him / And fill
          vp his rome yat he shold occupie. Herein ser
          you fore stalle the markett and sett vpe your
          standinge where you shold not: But you will saye
          you leave him rome enoughe besides: thats no
          answere hes to have the Choyce of his owne
          freeland / yf it be not to free theres the
          questione / Now ser where he is your landlorde.
          you take vpon you to be his / and will needs
          enter by defaulte / whatt thoughe you were
          once in possession yett Comminge vpon you once
          vnawares he frayde you out againe. therefore
          your entrye is mere Intrvsione this is againste
          the lawe ser: And thoughe I Come not to keep
          possessione as I wolde I mighte, yet I Come to
          keepe you out ser. yow are wellcome ser have at you
Enter minion                                  he kills him
minion   Trayterous guise ah thow hast mvrthered me
                        Enter guise
          Hold thee tale soldier take the this and flye Exit
Guise    thus fall Imperfett exhalatione
          which our great sonn of fraunce Cold not effecte
          a fyery meteor in the fermament
          lye there the Kinges delyght and guises scorne
          revenge it henry yf thow liste or darst
          I did it onely in dispight of thee

The first scholar to examine the leaf with any real punch (though he led 
with his chin) was Dr. S. A. Tannenbaum, whose commentary included more 
than 100 notes, mostly on the handwriting. He pronounced the leaf a 
Collier forgery.  Tannenbaum reproduced Collier's introductory remarks 
and published clear photographs of both recto and verso. The 
doctor/scholar was erratic, but never more discombobulated than in this 
article, which must have been a hurriedly written last chapter. Reliance 
on photographs for his palaeographic analysis and overconfident 
expectation of a cut-and-dried case led Tannenbaum into many errors.

His first mistake was of protocol. Joe Q Adams wrote the forward to 
_Shaksperian Scraps_ surely unaware of a Collier Leaf chapter. 
Otherwise, he would have informed Dr T of his objections before 
publication of the book, where the first-year Folger Director seems to 
subscribe to shoddy scholarship and a disagreeable finding on a valuable 
document. Dr T's judgment gave Adams both the motivation and the tools 
to respond personally with an unanswerable rebuttal. The questions could 
have been addressed jointly by friendly adverseries.

Adams effectively destroyed Tannenbaum's credibility, but discovery of 
false argument does not always decide scholarly issues. They are decided 
by valid argument (all of it, pro and con). I believe Adams let his 
advantage in credibility serve as refutation, and that the arguments he 
put forward in favor of authenticity are wrong or of too little value to 
decide the issue.

Do any of Tannenbaum's arguments carry weight? I think they may, and 
some may be expanded. Unfortunately, the clash of scholars in one 
generation often keeps a topic from full consideration in the next. 
Suspected forgery should be examined. Petti says, "The Massacre at Paris 
does in fact provide an important test case, and the literature 
concerning it is deserving of scrutiny on the question of method" (34).

In his first comment on Collier's introduction to the leaf, Adams says 
that in 1825 Collier called attention  to the ms., "then in the hands of 
Rodd, the London bookseller, and printed an inaccurate transcript of it, 
perhaps hurriedly made in the dealer's shop" (447).

What did Collier really say as editor of a reprint of Dodsley's _Old 
Plays_ on this crucial matter of provenance?

      A curious MS. fragment of one quarto leaf of this tragedy
      came into the hands of Mr. Rodd of Newport-street not
      long since, which, as it very materially differs from the
      printed edition, is here inserted literatim. (244)

A veteran Collier watcher on reading this passage might raise one 
eyebrow, but not the other. He will have seen these 'seven kinds of 
ambiguity' before.

Collier does not say the leaf was then in the hands of Rodd.  Rather, it 
"came into his hands." He does not say whether the leaf was acquired by 
Thomas Rodd or his father, who had recently died. The younger Rodd might 
well have disavowed knowledge of the leaf without discrediting Collier 
in the least. What does "not long since" mean? Nothing, really. The 
transcript is not 'literatim' but inaccurate.

Adams compliments Tannenbaum's transcript, accomplished on a few hours' 
visit to the Folger. Dr T himself said he did not have time to inspect 
the writing. Yet the already experienced Collier made mistakes, a few of 
which are inexplicable. Can we be certain that his errors were caused by 
haste?

The 'fragment' is a portion of a foolscap folio leaf, not a quarto leaf, 
as Collier would have known. Can this error be ignored?  Tannenbaum 
found the lack of pedigree and Collier's account of the discovery 
(impossible to corroborate) to be evidence of forgery. Adams said this 
argument was "without force" and unworthy of comment (467). On the 
contrary, Petti notes:

    But any manuscript purporting to be a few hundred
    years old which has no traceable lineage or even
    immediate history must, of course, be immediately
    suspect. (33-4)

The question is not merely of evidence, but also of attitude.  If one is 
inclined to take Collier at his word on provenance of the leaf, one will 
not question the ambiguities. Yet if we assume forgery it is apparent 
that Adams drew conclusions that Collier would have hoped for while 
leaving himself plenty of room to disavow guilt, even to the extent of 
not producing the document. I will return to this subject and its 
implications.

Adams describes the leaf as 7-1/8 inches high and 7-7/8 wide, the bottom 
portion of a page. Partial leaves are easily had.  Adams argues that the 
leaf is most likely an example of "foul papers" (first-draft writing), 
leading to this statement:

    If this explanation . . . [is] correct, the natural inference, of
    course, would be that the writer was Marlowe himself; yet,
    in the absence of any recognized specimen of Marlowe's
    hand, we can not be certain. (450)

Certain or not, this is the inference Greg made use of to find an 
example of foul papers, and the inference that Nosworthy followed in 
making his literary case for Marlowe as author of the scene. But, as 
Werstine notes, the

    handwriting bears no resemblance to the single signature
    ever attributed to Marlowe; yet if the fragment is to be "fowle
    papers" the handwriting would have to be that of the play's
    author. (492).

The Marlowe signature referred to was discovered in 1939, and no one 
seems to question it. R E Alton countered an amateurish attempt to prove 
the Collier Leaf holograph from comparison to the signature. Esche's 
edition of "Massacre" cites some of Alton's expert testimony in TLS, 
4/26/77:

    There are between the signature and the leaf many striking
    variations of detail which are not susceptible to such an
    explanation: that the ascending loop of h should have
    acquired an angle, or that in all positions, including the final,
    the descender of y should have been all but doubled in length,
    can hardly be called simplifications, nor can the Massacre
    scribe's remorseless separation of letters be excused as
    "a necessity for a man who has much writing to do" (297).

Here we see at a glance the difference between Alton's descriptive, 
objective argument and the stupidly subjective quotation he ends with. 
Cursive styles (even the Secretary hand unfamiliar to modern eyes) are 
meant for rapid writing.  Busy writers would not ordinarily separate 
cursive letters without being slowed down, or without adopting the 
simpler Italic. One of the most noticed features of the Collier leaf is 
the large number of unconnected letters. That method would be easier for 
a forger, who could concentrate on fewer letters at a time. The argument 
for authenticity would better fit an unschooled writer (a real 
possibility). Alton continues:

    The signature is full of character, with firm alternations of
    pressure and pronounced horizontals: the hand of the leaf
    is flat, lacking in currency and grace. It would be hard to
    conceive of two hands which belonged to the same type
    (the Secretary script) and yet were more distant in general
    appearance and in detail; the dissimilarities go far beyond
    the discrepancies to be expected between a man's
    signature and his normal hand. (297)

So much for Marlowe's hand: his literary presence is another matter. But 
now, if any credence is given Adams's rationale for "foul papers", it 
indicates forgery or an unpracticed scribe copying a scene for no 
apparent reason on a loose, irregular leaf. The latter alternative 
should not be arbitrarily denied. Adams himself said that

    It is difficult to believe that a contemporary transcriber would
    use for this purpose an awkwardly shaped scrap of paper,
    would write so carelessly, or would leave one side of the leaf
    partly blank.

But he would have been forced to believe it had he known of the Marlowe 
signature and if he still rejected the possibility of forgery.

Adams's critique of Dr. Tannenbaum need only be reproduced in part to 
show its effectiveness and that those arguing issues may be defeated by 
carelessness and foregone conclusions.  Tannenbaum was capable of better.

1) Dr T wrote: ". . . the leaf shows a vertical crack or crease along 
its whole length, as if the leaf had been folded . . .  Another 
characteristic indicative of forgery is the fact that the writing was 
done after the paper had been creased and folded. . . . a sixteenth 
century scribe or author would not have been likely to use a folded sheet."

Adams replied: "Dr. Tannenbaum was here cruelly deceived by his 
photographs. . . . The wrinkling obviously came about after the writing 
was done; so high and uneven is it that to write over it would be quite 
impossible. . . in places the wrinkle has been pressed . . . in such a 
way as to make the paper overlap some of the pen strokes. . . . Even if 
the scrap of paper had been 'folded', the scribe would have cared 
little, so long as he could freely write across the crease."

The paper was not folded, as the photos had made it seem; they wrongly 
indicated too that the writing was across a fold.  Misled, Tannenbaum 
worsened his error by the subjective opinion that a folded leaf would 
not be used, an irrelevant supposition at best, since the paper had not 
been folded.

2) Adams replied to much of Tannenbaum's analysis of the writing. Of 
'Cuckolde' (line 2), Dr T said, "The downstroke of the C was made 
hesitantly, and the writer made a new start near the bottom of the 
initial descending curve."

Adams: "The main body of the letter seems to have been written with one 
continuous stroke . . . . Dr. Tannenbaum was deceived by a small blot of 
ink where the crossbar, later added, passed over the wet, 'descending 
curve.'"

3) Dr T noted that at line 29 in the word 'worke', the r is dotted. 
Adams says, "The dot is merely a small orange-colored stain . . ."

To be continued: Gerald E Downs

_______________________________________________________________
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Doubt

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0713  Thursday, 3 August 2006

[Editor's Note: This thread will end tomorrow, Friday, August 4.]

[1] 	From: 	John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 20:06:33 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

[2] 	From: 	Dan Decker <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 15:08:05 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

[3] 	From: 	Stuart Manger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006 22:17:32 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

[4] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006 18:15:00 -0400
	Subj: 	Doubt

[5] 	From: 	Mathew Lyons <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Wednesday, 02 Aug 2006 02:26:29 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

[6] 	From: 	John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Wednesday, 02 Aug 2006 12:16:54 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

[7] 	From: 	Scott Sharplin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Wednesday, 2 Aug 2006 11:54:31 -0600
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

[8] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Thursday, 03 Aug 2006 07:48:58 -0400
	Subj: 	Doubt

[9] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Thursday, August 03, 2006
	Subj: 	Doubt


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 20:06:33 +0100
Subject: 17.0707 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

Hardy M. Cook wrote:

 >I have not written about "feminized boys (or males)," only that
 >Shakespeare wrote keeping in mind the character in the company who
 >would be playing the part he was writing. One may deduce from this
 >that the actor who enacted the role of Cleopatra must have been
 >extremely skilled.

Or incompetent, according to the protean Charles Weinstein:

 >Since the historical record gives no hint of infant phenomena among
 >The King's Men, I rely upon my own experience and ordinary sense
 >in concluding that the boys were probably inadequate.

I know which one my money's on!  Does Charles Weinstein next want to 
bring his "ordinary sense" to bear on the soprano arias in Bach's St 
Matthew Passion?

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Dan Decker <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 15:08:05 EDT
Subject: 17.0707 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

I believe the proscription against female players was only enforced 
against public performance. Is there any evidence that women might have 
played the female roles when the company was performing in the homes of 
the great lords and other non-public venues? Or at court?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Stuart Manger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006 22:17:32 +0100
Subject: 17.0707 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

Just to reiterate my previous assertion that I think Weinstein is wrong 
to describe the boys as inadequate.

What about the ubiquitous and irrefutable evidence of the era's plays? 
All Tudor / Jacobean dramatists wrote belting parts for boys to play as 
women. Duchess of Malfi? Beatrice-Joanna? Lady Macbeth? Isabella, 
Ophelia, and that doesn't include any of the comic young lasses - need 
we go on.

You simply do not go on writing parts for actors you know are going to 
screw it up. You just don't. The boys must have been terrific, and I am 
simply baffled by the insistence that they were in some way inadequate. 
No, OK, they were not women, but they must have been more than 
consistently good enough to encourage some of the finest theatre 
practitioners in the entire language in any age to write some of the 
most profound female roles for them. You write defensively, you aim off, 
you make allowances if you think the actors can't cope with what you 
write. Does it truly seem to Mr Weinstein that in Ophelia, or Lady 
Macbeth, or Cleopatra there is any hint that Shakespeare is pulling his 
punches because he is writing for boys? If so, then I challenge him to 
find such instances and present them for us.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006 18:15:00 -0400
Subject: 	Doubt

For years I've been reading about how marvelous Shakespeare's boy actors 
"must have" been; otherwise, he couldn't or wouldn't have written those 
wonderful female roles.  Whereas I think it likely that the boys were 
inadequate (not least of all because they weren't female) and that 
Shakespeare created his women notwithstanding.  Both positions are 
speculative, since there is no evidence one way or the other (although 
the absence of testimonials to the skill or talent of the boy-actors is 
at least suggestive.)  However, the first position sells Shakespeare 
short while over-idealizing his apprentices, while the second position 
takes a realistic view of the kids while honoring Shakespeare's 
unequalled powers of invention.  We may choose which to believe, but I 
don't see that the first position is more plausible than the second.

--Charles Weinstein

"Shakespeare accepted the limitations of boy-actors without confining 
his imagination."--John Russell Brown

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Mathew Lyons <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 02 Aug 2006 02:26:29 +0100
Subject: 17.0707 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

I'm not sure why this debate is still going on - I rather thought David 
Lindley laid it to rest. However, here it still is and I am sufficiently 
irritated by it to put my shoulder to the wheel, for what that is worth!

 >What this means, of course, is that Shakespeare's female characters are
 >"to some degree" feminized boys (or males).  Having strenuously endorsed
 >this curious proposition ("There is NO doubt"), while attacking my
 >"outrageously flawed" and "nonsensical" reasoning in the process,
 >Professor Cook now recants by admitting that Shakespeare's female
 >characters are indeed wholly female.  In which case, there is nothing
 >left of the proposition, and an open question as to whose reasoning is
 >outrageously flawed.

The flaws in reasoning here are Mr Weinstein's. There is no 
contradiction in the two statements of Mr Cook's referred to. Indeed, 
the paraphrase of Mr Cook's statement as being that 'Shakespeare's 
female characters are 'to some degree' feminized boys' is inaccurate: it 
elides the obvious distinction between characters and actors thus 
creating the contradiction which Mr Weinstein then fosters on Mr Cook. 
To put it another way: Juliet is never a feminized boy, but she was no 
doubt played by one every time Shakespeare saw it performed.

Anyway, for anyone still awake, the facts are as follows. Yes, 
Shakespeare's female characters are female. But yes, they were written 
for, in Mr Weinstein's phrase, feminized boys, that is, boys dressed up 
as girls. Mr Weinstein may think Shakespeare did so reluctantly and 
regretfully. However, that is not a fact; it is an opinion.

Mr Weinstein's position, as I take it, is this:

1   Shakespeare wrote great female characters
2   Female characters are best played by female actors
3   Ergo Shakespeare must have written those characters to be played by 
women.

I think we can all agree on No 1.

I think most of us, these days, would assent to No 2, even those of us 
who would not necessarily assent to its corollaries - for example that 
Aaron and Othello should be played by black men. However, it is not 
obvious to me that Shakespeare would assent. I would like to think that 
he would; but I cannot share Mr Weinstein's confidence. As far as I 
know, Shakespeare would never have seen a female actor, and certainly 
never on the professional stage. His views on the subject are unknowable.

Point 3 is pure speculation. Even if we could be sure that Shakespeare 
himself assented to the second point, on which point 3 is based, point 3 
presumes that Shakespeare wrote for posterity, a position which is, at 
best, debatable.

Mr Weinstein's argument, as I understand it, then, is based on the 
premise that Shakespeare wrote his female characters in the 
hope/belief/knowledge that at some point in the future they would be 
played - and played better - by women. The logic of that position is 
that Shakespeare didn't care if the parts he wrote were beyond the 
capabilities of the players - in this particular argument the boy 
players, but the same point must apply to Burbage et al as well - and 
therefore exposed his plays and his company, of which he was a sharer, 
to ridicule (and loss of profit).

All Shakespeare cared about, in this reading, was how his plays might be 
acted in the future. Given that Shakespeare made little or no effort to 
ensure that his plays actually survived for future generations of actors 
- male and female - this is not an especially flattering assessment of 
Shakespeare's general intelligence.

 >Where is the evidence that the masculinity of Shakespeare's actors
 >"conditioned the composition" of his female characters?  I don't find it
 >in the text or anywhere else, and therefore see no reason to believe it.
 >What I do find when I read Shakespeare is an imagination quite free of
 >actors' limitations; that is what I meant by "uncompromising."


But Shakespeare did write with the company of players he had at his 
disposal in mind. One example is Will Kemp, for whom Shakespeare wrote a 
number of roles in the late 1590s. That might be characterised as 
pandering to Kemp's limitations; personally I would prefer to see it as 
writing to Kemp's strengths. Either way, it is not the quite 
uncompromising artistic imagination that Mr Weinstein has in mind. To 
take the argument to its logical conclusion: if Kemp had stayed with the 
company, is it conceivable that he would have been given, say, the part 
of Othello? If actor's limitations have no place in Shakespeare's 
thinking, such a scenario is not inconceivable; however, in practice, it 
would be ridiculous.

 >the historical record gives no hint of infant phenomena among The King's
 >Men, I rely upon my own experience and ordinary sense in concluding that
 >the boys were probably inadequate.

With regard to the first point, it is true, as far as I know, for the 
King's Men; but more generally I would refer Mr Weinstein to Jonson's 
epitaph on the boy actor Solomon Pavy. Pavy - presumably (I think) one 
of Hamlet's little eyases at Blackfriars - specialised in playing old 
men; but I see no reason why an 11-year old boy, suitably trained, 
should be intrinsically capable of simulating old age effectively but 
not capable of simulating femininity.

But, of course, to quote Donald Rumsfeld in another context, absence of 
evidence is not the same as evidence of absence, as Mr Weinstein takes 
it to be. And Mr Weinstein's experience and ordinary sense, since we are 
concerned with events at some 400 years distance, are not really 
admissible evidence.

My position, for what it's worth, is this:

1   Shakespeare wrote great female characters
2   When he wrote them he knew they would be performed by pre-pubescent boys
3   Ergo the boys in question must have been at least competent to the 
task of playing those characters

Mr Weinstein thinks not. He is not persuaded, for instance, by 
Shakespeare's evident trust in these boys not to ruin his work day in 
day out.

I am not fond of argument by analogy. However, since the piano has 
changed dramatically over the last 250 years, I have an analogy which 
seems valid to me. The proposition is this:

1   Mozart wrote great music for the piano.
2   Today's pianos are better instruments than any that Mozart could 
have known.
3   Ergo, Mozart wrote for today's instruments, not those of his own day.

Any takers?

Mathew Lyons

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 02 Aug 2006 12:16:54 -0400
Subject: 17.0707 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

 >I never accused Mr. Weinstein of being "wild-eyed." However,
 >I did inquire as to what evidence Charles had for making the assertions
 >"that he expected his actors to keep up with him, that he was pleased
 >when they could, and that he didn't change his writing one iota when
 >they couldn't."

Indeed, this seems quite absurd in light of the growing conviction (it 
is now the consensus, is it not?) that the substantial textual 
variations among QQ and F1 are, in some part, the products of either 
in-production editing or, in some cases, auctorial post-production (or 
inter-production) revision.

William Niederkorn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

 >Here is some evidence that boys were playing female roles, as all no
 >doubt remember. Hamlet's speech to the players showed that a boy
 >playing female roles was growing too old for them:
 >
 >"You are welcome, masters; welcome, all. . . .  What, my young lady
 >and mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when
 >I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice,
 >like apiece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring."

That males played the female roles in London needs not to be 
extrapolated from "Hamlet"; the direct documentary evidence is plain. 
What is in some doubt, as I understand it, is whether /all/ females were 
played by pre-pubescent boys (puberty, of course, came later in those 
days than it does in the modern West), or whether some character roles 
were played by mature men.

Neither of these questions directly relates to Charles Weinstein's 
position that Shakespeare was essentially writing closet drama, (or 
"Kunst der Zukunft" if you will); neither do they relate to his dogged 
certainty in this, however much seeming to be born of naked intuition. 
Mr. Weinstein seems to believe as almost an a-priori truth that the 
Elizabethans were as thoroughly wrong in their casting practices as the 
Augustans believed them to have been wrong in their plot construction.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Scott Sharplin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 2 Aug 2006 11:54:31 -0600
Subject: 17.0707 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0707 Doubt

If I may play the arbiter:

Professors Weinstein and Cook appear to agree on the following points:

1) That Shakespeare's female roles were played by males throughout his 
lifetime;
2) That, in spite of this fact, Shakespeare's female roles possess an 
intrinsic femaleness;
3) That Shakespeare's knowledge of contemporary stagecraft influenced 
his writing;
4) That Shakespeare's intimacy with his own company of actors often 
guided his casting choices and characterization;

Professor Weinstein believes that male actors are inadequate in female 
roles, and (lacking evidence) he has taken the liberty of projecting his 
own judgment upon Shakespeare. For him, point 2 trumps points 3 and 4.

Professor Cook, I think, is willing to consider that, in Shakespeare's 
time (and possibly in ours), some male actors had sufficient talent to 
interpret Shakespeare's great female roles. For him, points 3 and 4 have 
the potential to outweigh point 2.

Until Professor Weinstein sees a performance by a male Cleopatra so 
powerful that it repudiates his belief, he will not waver from his 
assumption. Can we agree to disagree?

-Scott Sharplin

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 03 Aug 2006 07:48:58 -0400
Subject: 	Doubt

The idea that a great artist cannot create magnificently vivid 
characters on his own is quite untrue:  look at Dickens, who had no 
actors to help him at all; look at any great novelist.  The idea that a 
supreme artist like Shakespeare could not have created his female 
characters without relying on the variable and embryonic talents of 
teen-aged male apprentices strikes me as not only unfounded but 
ludicrous; and an insult to Shakespeare.

--Charles Weinstein

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, August 03, 2006
Subject: 	Doubt

Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

 >The idea that a great artist cannot create magnificently vivid
 >characters on his own is quite untrue: look at Dickens, who
 >had no actors to help him at all; look at any great novelist.
 >The idea that a supreme artist like Shakespeare could not
 >have created his female characters without relying on the
 >variable and embryonic talents of teen-aged male apprentices
 >strikes me as not only unfounded but ludicrous; and an insult
 >to Shakespeare.

This post is an example of one of the reasons that I have felt compelled 
to step out of my role as behind-the-scenes editor/moderator and become 
a contributor, and I sincerely hope that my comments are taken as those 
from a member of the list as they are intended and not from the list's 
editor/moderator as they are not.

The other day, I wrote "What I am most concerned about is the 
absoluteness of Mr. Weinstein's convictions, the uncompromising 
assurance of the rightness of his assertions." In addition, to the 
sentiment I express here, the above statement is characteristic of 
Charles Weinstein's method of arguing as displayed throughout this 
thread. Charles either creatively or inventively accuses others of 
subscribing to positions they have not actually expressed or in this 
case Mr. Weinstein replies to a position that no one has in fact 
contended.  I cannot recall anyone making the assertion: "The idea that 
a great artist cannot create magnificently vivid characters on his own 
is quite untrue." Neither has anyone to my knowledge maintained that 
"The idea that a supreme artist like Shakespeare could not have created 
his female characters without relying on the variable and embryonic 
talents of teen-aged male apprentices strikes me as not only unfounded 
but ludicrous; and an insult to Shakespeare."

I have a strong preference to discuss what I have actually said not what 
Mr. Weinstein has accused me or others of saying.

It would appear that Mr. Weinstein has an agenda to which he subscribes 
so thoroughly that he either is not capable of discerning or purposely 
distorts what others have said to sustain his own deeply held position.

I hope that it is clear that above I have been addressing what I 
perceive as Mr. Weinstein's method of arguing and not Mr. Weinstein 
himself. I personally find Mr. Weinstein at some time refreshing and at 
other times exasperating.

Hardy

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Metatheatrics

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0714  Friday, 4 August 2006

From: 		John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 17:24:47 +0100
Subject: 	"Metatheatrics notwithstanding"

I realise that this is exactly the wrong moment to start a new thread, 
but there is a topic which I think would benefit from serious thought 
during the Hiatus.  At one point during the recent Weinstein-induced 
mud-wrestling I threw out a glib remark which I have been employing for 
decades, but never actually verified - that every one of Shakespeare's 
plays has a reference to actors or acting.  Is this true?  (I realise 
that it may not be literally every play, but how close is it?)  More to 
the point, what on earth is the reason for this?

I have always assumed that it is the very opposite of Brechtian 
alienation, but I am beginning to have doubts.  Is it simply the actors 
(by their skill) challenging us to greater heights of suspension of 
disbelief, or is there something more complex going on?  Is there really 
a distancing effect, or is it something else?

Can we assume the same relation between actors and audience in 
Shakespeare's day as in ours?  The open-air theatres were hugely 
popular, but how skilled were the audiences at "reading" plays?  Are 
there hidden meanings for an elite (university-educated?) audience who 
were in on the joke, or were the in-jokes just for the actors 
themselves?  Did the actors and/or the playwrights (to what extent did 
Shakespeare's contemporaries employ these devices and allusions?  Is 
there a difference between playwrights who were actors and those who 
were not?) in fact have a contempt for their audience? Or did the 
audiences just react to the plays in a way which we cannot now recapture?

John Briggs

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Seattle All-Female Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0712  Thursday, 3 August 2006

[Editor's Note: This thread will end tomorrow, Friday, August 4.]

[1] 	From: 	John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 19:54:05 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[2] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006 15:55:49 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[3] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Wednesday, 2 Aug 2006 13:21:59 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 19:54:05 +0100
Subject: 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Jeffrey Jordan wrote:

 >Hamlet's "false fire" line is not in Q2.  It appears first in Q1, then
 >the Folio.  So, it's questionable on that basis, since Q1 is so iffy,
 >and is the ultimate source.  The line may be authorial, or it may be
 >actorial.  I'm not sure it's "Shakespeare."

No, no, no.  The Q1 text derives from the F text, so it is hardly 
surprising that the line appears in F!  F is a revised text, but no-one 
suggests that the reviser was anyone other than Shakespeare himself. 
You can't use Q1 as a stick to beat F.

 >Both Hamlet's "false fire" line, and a later "fire" line by Claudius
 >are not in Q2.  Two "fire" lines, neither in Q2.  It's interesting.
 >A person who engaged in wild surmise might wonder if actors
 >were inclined to add "fire" lines, so that they could yell "fire"
 >occasionally to perk up an inattentive audience, and have an
 >excuse for it.  If so, it would be a wicked irony, since the Globe
 >did burn in later years.  Never mind, just one of those thoughts.
 >I wouldn't put it past the actors to do that, tho.

It was "false fire" that caused the burning, as well.  Put it down to 
dramatic irony :-)

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006 15:55:49 -0400
Subject: 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Jeff Jordan responds to my skepticism by saying:

 > S was marvelously sharp, and I don't think there's any chance
 >he could have missed having the Ghost rise at Ophelia's line.
 >"The King rises."  It's right there.  Others may think S missed
 >such a fine opportunity, but I refuse to believe he did.  He was
 >too sharp, and it's good theater.

Sure, as I said, it would be an interesting staging.  I would find it a 
bit hokey, but maybe that's just me.

But forgive me if I suggest that it seems a wee bit solipsist to say 
that since Shakespeare was a theatrical genius he must have intended a 
staging that one ingenious reader thinks is inevitable.  Maybe 
Shakespeare would have found it hokey too.  I have never heard that any 
production over the past 405 years adopted this device.  If Shakespeare 
couldn't miss it because he was so sharp, was everyone else a dolt?

P.S. There was a typo in my last post.  The ghost's entrance at 
III.iv.102 is 350 lines from "The king rises," not 250.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 2 Aug 2006 13:21:59 -0500
Subject: 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0706 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Replying to Aaron Azlant.

 >In The Mousetrap, Lucianus is not just a character that,
 >like Claudius, murders a king in a garden by pouring
 >poison in his ear-he is also the nephew of his victim,
 >like Hamlet*.  ...

I must disagree.  The Lucianus character is actually supposed to be the 
brother.  Hamlet's word "nephew" is a mistake by him.  Exactly why 
Hamlet made the mistake is debatable.  "Freudian slip" would do, 
offhand.  The 'Mousetrap' is supposed to show Claudius killing his 
brother, so the correct word, that Hamlet should have said, is 
"brother."  Hamlet blundered.

Hamlet is not perfect.  S shows him making mistakes.  S wrote him very 
human.

The name "Lucianus" provides verification that it's a mistake by Hamlet, 
in the context of the exact wording of Hamlet's line.  Hamlet says, 
"This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King."  Why does he say "one?"  I 
mean, why did S add the word "one" to the line?  Not that the "one" is 
incorrect or obtrusive.

S had Hamlet say "one" because of what the name "Lucianus" means.  A 
person must keep in mind that the name is Hamlet's play name for the 
character based on Claudius.  The name is not going to be complimentary.

The prefix is "Luci-" as in 'Lucifer', which is from the Latin for 
"light,"  That leaves the suffix to be "-anus."  As we know, "anus" is 
an English word.  Put the meanings together, and the name means, (I beg 
your pardon,) "bright asshole."  It's Hamlet's name for the character 
based on Claudius.

Then, look at the exact wording of Hamlet's line, knowing that as they 
all sit there watching the play, Hamlet is the nephew to the King.  Read 
the line with the "Lucianus" meaning in place.  The line becomes Hamlet 
announcing, right out loud to everybody: "this is one bright asshole, 
nephew to the King."

But Hamlet is the nephew to the King.  Oops.

Ophelia immediately compliments him: "you're as good as a chorus, my 
Lord!"  It's nice of her to say so, but no, he isn't.  Hamlet, the 
nephew to the King, has just called himself a "bright a--hole" right out 
loud in front of a roomful of people.  If they only knew.

He certainly meant to say "brother."

The line needs the word "one" in it to work as a self-reference by 
Hamlet, along with the "Lucianus" name meaning.  That's why S wrote the 
line with that exact wording.  Also, it's why S used "This" instead of 
"That."  The word "this" has the necessary ambiguity of reference.

However, the 'Mousetrap' audience doesn't know the name meaning, and 
Hamlet doesn't notice his own mistake, so the show goes on.

Burbage played Hamlet, the nephew to the King in the play.  Was 
Shakespeare also having Richard Burbage unknowingly call himself a 
"bright a--hole" at the top of his voice on the public stage?  I've no 
idea.  An idle thought.

_______________________________________________________________
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