The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0486 Saturday, 28 July 2007
From: Gerald E. Downs <
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
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 . . .
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.
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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