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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Grace Ioppolo's Book
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0494  Wednesday, 1 August 2007

From: 		Gerald E. Downs <
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Date: 		Monday, 30 Jul 2007 01:15:35 EDT
Subject: 18.0486 Grace Ioppolo's Book
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0486 Grace Ioppolo's Book

When one takes the position that Hand D of _Sir Thomas More_ is 
transcribed, as argued by Grace Ioppolo in _Dramatists and Their 
Manuscripts_, the obvious follow-up question is whether the copied pages 
are scribal or authorial. Ioppolo notes that "In essence, this author 
writes like a scribe rather than an author" (106). Her reasons for 
taking him (for granted) as the author are confusingly argued. For 
instance, she refers to "the author, almost certainly Shakespeare 
judging from an examination of six examples of his hand" (105). But the 
only substantial positive study was by Thompson, and even the 
sympathetic Greg doubted "whether the available data [six examples, not 
of Shakespeare's 'hand', but his signature] are extensive enough to make 
complete proof possible." Greg rested the paleographical case instead on 
a series of propositions, including (3):

   Setting S[hakespeare] aside, it can be shown that D was not  written
   by any dramatist of whose hand we have adequate  knowledge.

But if D was a scribe, his hand would be his own and not that of any 
known dramatist; if Hand D is a copy, this proposition fails. (I  refer 
to the writer by letter, 'D'; and to the handwriting by 'Hand D' as  the 
entities aren't interchangeable). Greg's 4th proposition is notable:

   On purely palaeographical grounds there is less reason to  suppose
   that all six signatures were written by the same hand than  there is,
   granting this identity, to suppose that the hand of the  signatures
   also wrote the addition to More.

I grant that the signatures are Shakespeare's; but granting too that 
they do not agree with one another, their identification with Hand D 
cannot be "almost certain." Ioppolo's recurring habit (as here) is to 
refer to undecided matters without acknowledging the controversy. 
Another example is her reference to Heywood as a contributor to STM when 
that question is not settled (Nosworthy, Rasmussen).  In fairness to the 
inquisitive reader, extensive discussion of any topic should be as 
complete as possible.

The other reason Ioppolo gives for differentiating author from scribe is 
that 'the author' revised the text after Hand C's alterations of  the 
manuscript:

   In the only major revision here, [C] has deleted three lines  and
   replaced them interlinearly with another line in his own  hand.
   However, the author also made an interlinear revision, which  was
   deleted by [C], most likely after [C's] first attempt to revise  the 
lines
   by deleting them (108).

All scholars have agreed that in this passage (235-37 in Greg, 1911) D 
interlined 'in in to yor obedienc'; that C crossed it all out and  added 
'tell me but this'. None have supposed that D's interpolation  followed 
C's deletion. In proposing the "most likely" repeat visits by both D 
and C, Ioppolo offers no rationale at all to counter the simpler 
conjecture that C made all his deletions and his substitution at the 
same  time.

At lines 144-46, D interlines an abbreviation and adds four 
three-letter words in the left margin. Scholars have not agreed on their 
intended order. Ioppolo offers that they "are probably a revision or 
addition in response to the book-keeper's mark of 'X' . . . " (108).

There is of course no way to know the meaning of an 'X' at the end of an 
unaltered line 146, but this is Ioppolo's reason for supposing that the 
author added five words two lines earlier, in response to another's 
unknown judgment. Thompson himself noted that the "small cross at the 
end of the line (found also elsewhere) is  probably a mark by some 
modern reader or copyist." Ioppolo does not justify her differing 
opinion on the origin of 'X'. Her "most likely" and "probably" are 
nevertheless promoted to certainties:

   Most importantly, this author does this fine-tuning after the  book-
   keeper has read through the text. These three pages . . . show
   the [dramatist] working with the book-keeper and responding  to
   his corrections (108).

Ioppolo's suggestion is implausible; she offers little reason to think 
that the writer writing like a scribe was not a scribe. I believe there 
are reasons to think that he was not the author.

Gerald E. Downs

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