The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0494 Wednesday, 1 August 2007
From: Gerald E. Downs <
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
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
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
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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