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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: July ::
Grace Ioppolo's Book
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0486  Saturday, 28 July 2007

From: 		Gerald E.  Downs <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 25 Jul 2007 18:47:28 EDT
Subject: 	Grace Ioppolo's Book

Grace Ioppolo's 2006 _Dramatists and Their Manuscripts in the Age of 
Shakespeare_ takes on a number of topics, including the "Hand D" 
addition to _Sir Thomas More_. Examination of her treatment may be a 
good way to demonstrate the general shortcomings of her book before 
judging how successfully she pursues her greater theme.

Ioppolo gets off to a good start by recognizing, as few have in the 
past, that Hand D, often claimed as Shakespeare's own, does not 
exemplify a composing playwright, but is a copy. Her argument follows 
the lines of the more thorough Levin Schucking in 1925, but if her 
conclusion is partially correct, her explication of the evidence is 
wrong, as I will show. Ioppolo newly contends that some of Hand D was 
written after Hand C (that of a theatrical functionary) altered the 
pages. This is significant (if true) but is backed by almost no argument.

 From these positions and an uncritical acceptance of the paleographic 
argument that D is Shakespeare, Ioppolo concludes that Shakespeare 
actively cooperated with the theatrical company producing STM, which is 
wrong, in my view.

First, it is a bit surprising, but significant, that Ioppolo seems to 
have a limited grasp of the kinds of scribal error evidenced by Hand D. 
I have noticed over the years that other scholars are similarly 
indifferent and it may be helpful if her remarks are closely examined:

    The strongest evidence that Hand D is copying an already  completed
    text [is] the fact that of the nineteen words corrected, at  least 
five .
. .
    resulted from eyeskip. For example, line 79 appears as [D's  deletions
    are in brackets, superscripts are shown as normal  letters]:

       and you in ruff of yor [yo] opynions  clothd

    The deletion . . . is almost certainly due to correcting . . .  while
    the author was looking at the original copy. That is, he wrote out
    'yor', glanced at his original text (but at the wrong  place) . . . and
    accidentally began to copy this incorrect word. When  glancing
    back at his original copy . . . he saw his error . . .  (107)

This error is not eyeskip but dittography. No glancing back is needed to 
account for the mistaken repetition of a word. Though a scribe may be 
more susceptible, a composing author will often write the same word 
twice; and the mistake is easily noticed (or not), for obvious reasons.

    This type of eyeskip error is more apparent in lines 129-30:

       nay any where [why you] that not adheres to  Ingland
       why you must need be straingers, woold you  be pleasd (107)

This error is not eyeskip. Schucking refers to a 'kind of anticipation'. 
  The point is that we have no evidence of what induced the error, and 
there is no reason to deny that an author may have first written the 
words. Eyeskip is a well-described phenomenon that is much more powerful 
evidence. Ioppolo simply misses the instances of eyeskip in Hand D. One 
disposed to call many scribal errors 'eyeskip' will fail to note the 
real thing, which happens a lot anyway. For example, some time ago I 
noticed these passages from the A and B quarto texts of Marlowe's 
Faustus (another fine mess); names are Italicized:

   Fau: Loe Mephastophilus, for loue of thee,
     I cut mine arme, and with my proper blood
     Assure my soule to be great Lucifers
     Chief Lord and regent of perpetual night . . .
                                                               (A, TLN 
493-6)

 

       (arme
Faust. Loe Mephosto: for loue of thee Faustus hath cut  his
       And with this prope rbloud assures his soule  to be great Luci
       Chiefe Lord and Regent of perpetuall  night. 
(fers,


                                                               (B, TLN 
441-3)

In the B text three lines of verse are crowded (really crowded) into 
two. If no other reason is apparent, that indicates restoration of an 
omission. Greg discounts this probability in favor of corruption in the 
manuscript behind B. But if the copy was lined similarly to A, then 
'Faustus hath' would appear below 'Faust'. The compositor will have 
skipped from the first to the second name, not noticing its 
reoccurrence, to omit the first line. After setting too much type to 
redo the work, the error was noted and two lines were reset in 
correction, necessitating the turning up of 'arme', down of 'fers', and 
the abbreviation 'Mephosto'. Thus the verse-lining most likely results 
from compositor error and manuscript corruption should not be inferred, 
except from the extrametrical 'Faustus hath'.

The defining criteria of eyeskip are empirical: physical presence of 
squashed lines and reoccurrence of a word (which need not be exactly 
reproduced to induce the error). Omissions are not always noticed, but 
in manuscript correction is limited to rewriting; or to restoration in 
the margins or by interlineation. Such additions should always be 
examined for words or phrases at either end that closely resemble words 
nearby in the body of the text. If found, a probability is established 
that the interpolation is a correction and not revision.  This is key to 
understanding the nature of Hand D. Though Ioppolo's examples could have 
been better chosen, 'currente calamo'  changes on the whole do indicate 
transcription. The question is: by author or scribe? Next I will examine 
Ioppolo's case for the author as copyist.

Gerald E.  Downs

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