Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: May ::
SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0282  Tuesday, 13 May 2008

From:		Cary DiPietro <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Monday, 12 May 2008 21:02:20 -0400
Subject:	SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

We begin this week with Alan Dessen writing in answer to the question of 
whether we can determine or what we can determine about Shakespeare's 
intentions in the theatre based on the scant material evidence that has 
descended to us about rehearsal and staging practices; specifically, 
whether playwrights such as Shakespeare relinquished all control over 
their dramatic manuscripts when they turned them over to theatre 
companies, which is more or less the received view, or, as Grace Ioppolo 
argues in her recent book (discussed here at length), whether dramatists 
retained more significant control in the realization of their 
manuscripts to performance, and whether such "intentions" -- playwright 
as dramaturge -- might have been inscribed in the copy used for printing 
the different quarto and Folio versions of some plays, possibly at 
different points in time.

Although the topics are ostensibly different, there is a wonderful and 
obvious continuity between this and the last leading contribution by 
John Drakakis (originally, I had planned for one week on "intention and 
editing" followed by this week's "intention and [some aspect of] the 
theatre"). What I find especially interesting here is that many of the 
speculative questions about the place of the author in the transition 
from authorial manuscript to theatrical performance to printed text that 
Dessen raises, and which he admits are both tantalizing and 
disappointingly elusive, are questions that must be addressed and, in 
some cases, answered by the textual editor, especially when dealing with 
such theatrically specific markers in the text as stage directions and 
speech prefixes.

Curiously, the theatre as a space of textual determination is left out 
of Drakakis's formula when he writes that "behind that posture of 
positivism [i.e., the editor's confident and absolute control over the 
marks on the page] lies a series of assumptions about textual 
composition (writing), printing practice, contemporary theories of 
reading, the role of 'art' in the society for which it was produced, and 
the historical transformations of reception since." I assume this 
omission is accidental, but it's nevertheless demonstrative of the 
problem of determining textual authority vis-a-vis the playwright as an 
"author" figure, and what has been, as Drakakis argues, the de facto 
assumption of authorial fair copy as the editor's "ideal" text since, at 
least, the time of Greg.

This is, in fact, one of the points at issue in the subsequent exchange 
between Drakakis and Gabriel Egan, who argues that Drakakis greatly 
understates the problem of intentionality, if not "vulgarizes" it. It 
would be easy to misinterpret the tone and meaning of Egan's retort 
here, as I think Drakakis does in his response to the response. When he 
uses the term "vulgar", Egan uses it in a sense borrowed from such 
coinages as "vulgar Marxism", to mean a positivist determinism; that is, 
a simplistic cause-and-effect relationship between a determining base, 
the author's intentions very strictly or homogenously conceived (i.e., 
the meaning of the text), and the superstructure of the printed play 
text. I don't think it's wholly fair to accuse Drakakis of a positivist 
determinism in this way, of a "vulgar intentionalism," as it were, 
because this was, after all, the main point of Drakakis's own contribution.

In any case, Egan draws attention to, among other things, Drakakis's 
attribution of a "best text" approach to editing to Greg. This, Egan 
argues, belongs more properly to R. B. McKerrow, specifically, to his 
1935 _Prolegomena for the Oxford Shakespeare_, in which McKerrow argues 
that the editor's text "should approach as closely as the extant 
material allows to a fair copy, made by the author himself, of his plays 
in the form which he intended finally to give them, and . . . should not 
in any way be coloured by the preconceived ideas or interpretations of 
later times" (6). Egan also argues the need to split or differentiate 
between kinds of intentionality, for example, stage directions and 
speech prefixes, which might be seen to be indicative of the author's 
intentions for the text's realization in performance, versus the 
accidentals, left by the writer (in the sense of the one who puts the 
marks on the page) to be more or less determined by the printer. Egan's 
raising of stage-centered editorial methodologies provides that useful 
link between the last installment and this one.

I've grouped the exchanges between Egan and Drakakis, following after 
Alan Dessen's contribution. These have already been sent out as 
Roundtable digests, but I'm reproducing them here for consistency's 
sake. There is a further response by Egan which I'm saving for next 
week; after the fashion of a nineteenth-century serialized novel, I'll 
leave you hanging until the next installment. There is also a series of 
substantive exchanges between Larry Weiss and John Drakakis centered 
upon a substantive example of emendation in _The Taming of the Shrew_, 
with further questions posed by Joe Egert.

There is a further meta-thread on the Roundtable running concurrently on 
the list, prompted by Egan's SHAKSPER example in his response to 
Drakakis. When I suggested that we adopt MLA style in the Roundtable 
(assuming naively that, because I force my students to use MLA style, 
I'm also competent), I was unprepared for the numerous questions this 
would raise, some prompted by the nature of electronic publication, and 
others by the particular nature of SHAKSPER as non-traditional mode of 
discourse. To give you an example, in one of John Drakakis's posts 
below, he quotes two long prose passages from Greg, and he's obviously 
italicized key words or phrases therein because he's written at the end 
of both, "(my italics)." But, alas, the italics are gone, so we can only 
guess what key points he meant to emphasize. I've also gone over my own 
writing in these prefatory comments to change "Alan", "John", "Gabriel", 
etc., to "Dessen", "Drakakis" and "Egan", and so on, exchanging my 
usually casual, familiar tone on the list for a more formal 
professionalism in the Roundtable. But I'll retain my cosy familiarity 
with Hardy to thank him for explaining how it is SHAKSPER digests end up 
looking the way they do, as I direct your attention to the meta-thread.

Finally, it seemed a bit self-congratulatory to reproduce in this digest 
Hugh Grady's compliment last week on the quality of the discussion so 
far (thanks, Hugh), which is made all the better by this week's 
contribution from Alan Dessen and the round of exchanges reproduced 
below. And it gets better: in the next installment, we will have a 
double leading contribution on the topic of intention and meaning; 
Duncan Salkeld and Terence Hawkes will offer contrasting, if not exactly 
dialectical, positions. For those participants who have been, up to this 
point, whetting their definitions of "intention" on the grindstone, now 
would be a good time to jump into the fray.

___________________________________

"The intentions of the playwright"

As a theatre historian I am reluctant to venture into a discussion of 
"authorial intention" or other matters theoretical (for me, here there 
be dragons). That is not a value judgment (some of my best friends are 
theorists), but my mind just does not work efficiently with terms and 
problems that tantalize others on SHAKSPER. Rather, the three questions 
that have engaged me for roughly thirty years are: 1) at those first 
performances of _Twelfth Night_ and  _Hamlet_ what did the original 
playgoers actually see; 2) how can we tell today (i.e., what constitutes 
evidence); and, to borrow the persistent question from undergraduates 
and other non-belligerents, 3) so what?

Question #2 has generated for me what seems a never-ending study of the 
stage directions that have survived in the early manuscripts and printed 
editions, a study enhanced by my colleague, the indefatigable Leslie 
Thomson, who compiled a database of over 22,000 items from professional 
plays that formed the basis of our 1999 dictionary. Cary DiPietro's 
invitation to contribute to this Roundtable, however, has pulled me out 
of that comfort zone in italics and forced me to look more widely at the 
playhouse evidence about the role of  *playwrights* (my term of choice, 
analogous to "shipwrights" and "wainwrights" who construct their 
products, though the prevalent term in the period appears to be 
"playmakers"). What follows is my own idiosyncratic formulation - so 
*caveat lector*.

To determine the contribution of a playwright to the staging of his play 
by an Elizabethan or Jacobean theatre company is, as with many 
comparable problems, to encounter a murky area where, in terms of actual 
evidence, the norm is silence - and this situation is particularly true 
for the practices of Shakespeare and his colleagues for most of his 
career, the Lord Chamberlain's and King's Men. What has been the 
standard view is provided by Gerald Eades Bentley: "The dramatist sold 
his manuscript to the acting company for which it had been prepared; 
after that it was no more his than the cloak that he might have sold to 
the actors at the same time" (82). For Bentley, examples of the sale of 
plays by third parties "without reference to the author . . . further 
emphasize the playwright's lack of control over his own compositions. 
Far from being a sacred holograph, a dramatist's manuscript was often 
treated simply as another theatrical commodity, like a cloth cloak or 
laced cuffs, 'things of small value'" (87). Neil Carson concentrates on 
the 1602-03 period in Henslowe's records and concludes: "Dramatists 
appear to have formed loose partnerships or syndicates which worked 
together for short periods and then broke up and reformed into other 
alliances," so that "The impression one is left with is of the 
playwright as a relatively independent agent who seems to have had 
considerable control over his own methods of work and to have used that 
freedom to market his skills, alone or in association with others, to 
his greatest advantage" (22-3).

In her 2006 book Grace Ioppolo challenges this widely accepted 
formulation on the basis of what she teases out of her reading of the 
Henslowe-Alleyn papers, surviving play manuscripts, and other documents 
(e.g., the late 1630s dispute between playwright Richard Brome and the 
Salisbury Court Theatre). In her formulation: "Dramatists could, then, 
take an extraordinary, and hands-on, role in the staging of their plays, 
even in purchasing costumes" and therefore "did not simply hand over a 
completed manuscript, and their authority, at the playhouse door and 
disappear with no further contact with the company, its actors, and the 
play itself." Rather, playwrights such as Daborne, Dekker, and Jonson, 
"even if not exclusively attached to a particular company, appear to 
have had nearly continuous contact with the companies for which they 
worked," for "the overwhelming evidence provided by the Henslowe and 
Alleyn archive suggests that authors were not forced to surrender all 
authority in their plays once the manuscripts were presented." She 
concludes that "the authors could be consulted, or could interfere, when 
necessary . . . . In fact, acting companies frequently sought the advice 
of authors when casting actors in their plays and continued to turn to 
authors for other support during readings and rehearsal" (28-9).

This argument warrants attention, though such terms as "overwhelming" 
and "frequently" may be an overstatement (and other scholars who have 
pored over the playhouse annotations that survive in a few manuscripts 
and printed texts do not support some of Ioppolo's conclusions). Clearly 
those playwrights somehow attached to a given company (e.g., 
Shakespeare, Heywood, Fletcher) *could* have played a significant role 
in the process of turning an authorial manuscript into a performed play. 
However, the unwelcome truth (to repeat my mantra) is that despite the 
labors of generations of scholars, there is much of significance that we 
do not and may never know about the script to stage process in this 
period. As a result, both my work in reconstructing onstage business and 
that of Ioppolo is replete with uses of "may have," "seems," and the 
three P's: "probably," "presumably," and "perhaps."

Clearly, some playwrights *were* concerned with how their work was 
treated by theatrical professionals. The poster child for a playwright 
seeking to ensure that his "intentions" were realized is Ben Jonson, as 
witnessed by the explanations provided by his various choric 
commentators, most notably Cordatus and Mitis in _Every Man Out of His 
Humour_ (a play that apparently was a 1599 success for the Lord 
Chamberlain's Men), two figures who provide a running commentary (at 
least in the post-performance extremely long "literary" version) on the 
action and on satire in general. Jonson's fixation on how his plays were 
treated in the theatre is one of the traits singled out in the attack on 
him in _Satiromastix_ (1601). Here, as part of the punishment inflicted 
at the climax, Horace-Jonson is required to swear that he "shall not sit 
in a Gallery, when your Comedies and Enterludes haue entred their 
Actions, and there make vile and bad faces at euerie lyne, to make 
Gentlemen haue an eye to you, and to make Players afraide to take your 
part" (5.2.298-301). Jonson, moreover, provides anecdotal evidence 
wherein he types himself as one who hovered over his plays in 
performance. In the Induction to _Bartholomew Fair_ the Stage-keeper 
comments: "But for the whole play, will you ha' the truth on't? (I am 
looking, lest the poet hear me, or his man, Master Brome, behind the 
arras) it is like to be a very conceited scurvy one, in plain English" 
(6-9). In _Cynthia's Revels_ one child actor asks to speak with the 
author, but another responds: "wee are not so officiously befriended by 
him, as to have his presence in the tiring-house, to prompt vs aloud, 
stampe at the booke-holder, sweare for our properties, curse the poore 
tire-man, raile the music out of tune, and sweat for euerie veniall 
trespasse we commit, as some Authour would, if he had such fine engles 
as we" (Induction, 160-6).

Shakespeare, unlike Jonson, was an actor and company share-holder for 
most of his career and therefore available to tweak his original 
manuscript during the movement towards performance and provide his 
insight, if asked, into "intended" meanings, stagings, whatever. 
Although what he actually contributed to the post-manuscript part of the 
process remains a mystery, scholars with performance interests over the 
years have sought to find "signals in the script" or other markers (as 
in Ann Pasternak Slater's _Shakespeare the Director_). If the arrow in 
the dying Clifford's neck turns up in a putative performance-related 
text, the 1595 Octavo version of _3 Henry VI_, but not in the First 
Folio version (2.6.0), are we to conclude that Shakespeare was on hand 
to supply this detail from Holinshed that was not included in his 
submitted manuscript or was someone else in the company also reading 
source material? To eliminate Shakespeare (or Heywood or Fletcher) from 
further participation in the script to performance process seems 
illogical, but to pin down what or how much they contributed is daunting 
if not impossible.

One procedure often omitted from such discussions is the playreading. As 
Bentley notes: "A normal part of the dramatist's preparation of his play 
for the acting troupe was the reading of his manuscript to them for 
their approval," so that he cites several allusions to this practice in 
Henslowe's papers: e.g., five shillings "Lent at that time to the 
company for to spend at the reading of that book at the Sun in New Fish 
Street"; two shillings "Laid out for the company when they read the play 
of Jeffa for wine at the tavern." He points out further that since "all 
the companies of the time were repertory companies, the dramatist knew 
in advance a good deal about the kind of production his play might get, 
and a skillful writer of experience could go far in adapting the 
requirements of at least the major roles to the leading members 
listening to his reading"; as a result, "a great advantage lay with the 
actor-dramatists like Samuel and William Rowley, William Shakespeare, 
Thomas Heywood, and Nathan Field, whose daily familiarity with the 
styles and talents of their fellows made it easier for them to exploit 
special gifts and to anticipate difficulties" (76-7).

In her review of the sparse evidence for such playreadings (evidence 
that does not include any examples linked to Shakespeare's company) 
Tiffany Stern observes that such a reading "gave the playwright a chance 
to speak the text in the manner in which he wished to hear it performed" 
(60). Here is an opportunity for a strong-minded playwright such as 
Jonson to make his wishes known. But to confront this playreading 
practice is to enter the misty realm of conjecture. Would a playwright 
who was also an actor have been histrionic in his presentation? E.g., 
Stern includes a passage from _Histriomastix_ (1599) where Posthaste, a 
bumbling poet-playwright, "reads out his text highlighting the passion 
so strongly that it overtakes him." Would a playreader such as Jonson or 
Shakespeare have responded to questions or provided a running 
commentary? What tantalizes me (and perhaps no one else) is: would such 
a reading of a manuscript include a reading aloud of the stage 
directions? If so, would some of those signals -- e.g., the "fictional" 
ones that appear to tell the story or slip into a narrative mode -- be 
linked to the playwright's thinking ahead not only to the eventual 
performance but also to this reading-audition-trial run? More generally, 
if such a to-be-expected extra step between completed manuscript and 
preparation for performance was anticipated, would some manuscript 
features be conditioned by an author or authors taking into account that 
intermediate phase? Would such an author-centered event have conveyed a 
sense of his "intentions" to the players as auditors?

As will have become clear, I can offer many questions about the role of 
the playwright in the script to stage process but few answers. The 
primary evidence about the staging of plays in this period is provided 
by the extant stage directions, even taking into account the many 
silences when we would expect information and the many uses of coded 
terms that are difficult to interpret today, as with the many "*as*" or 
"*as [if]*" signals: "*as in prison*"; "*as in a garden*." My personal 
formulation is: in reading their playscripts today we enter into the 
middle of a conversation - a discourse in a language we only partly 
understand - between a playwright and his player-colleagues, a halfway 
stage that was completed in a performance now lost to us. Although we 
will never reconstitute that performance, we may be able to recover 
elements of that theatrical vocabulary and hence better understand that 
conversation, whether the pre-production concept of the playwright or 
the implementation by the players. Nonetheless, we remain eavesdroppers.

I do not wish to conclude sounding like Prospero in his Epilogue ("And 
my ending is despair"), so as a final gesture to the focus on "authorial 
intention" I will invoke a recent essay by Cary Mazer ("The 
Intentional-Fallacy Fallacy") where the author, drawing on his 
experience as a dramaturg, posits a crucial distinction "between 
dramatic *content* and theatrical *materials*." In this formulation, for 
the theatre artist "the *contents* of the dramatist's intention are 
indecipherable, unknowable, or irrelevant; but the dramatist's artful 
arrangement of the dramatic and theatrical materials - the playwright's 
*craftsmanship* - is both discernible and knowable. With this 
distinction in mind, the stage-centered Shakespeare scholar can avoid 
questions of authorship and intentionality with regard to meaning, while 
at the same time embracing intentionality with regard to craftsmanship." 
The term "craftsmanship" is used "to cover questions about dramaturgical 
strategy -- the craft of dramatic story-telling -- and about theatrical 
conventions, the period-specific machinery of staging employed by the 
original theatrical collaborators in building the theater piece from the 
script provided by the playwright." Mazer argues that when "addressing 
questions of dramaturgical strategy, stage-centered scholars practice 
the Intentional Fallacy with impunity: there must be a reason for the 
playwright to have decided to delay this entrance, to introduce that 
character into this scene, to narrate this offstage event rather than 
showing it happening onstage, to have one character respond to an event 
with a lengthy speech and to another with silence" (102-3). As examples 
he invokes Brutus hearing the news of Portia's death not once but twice; 
Leontes' reunion with Perdita being placed offstage; and Edgar, not 
Albany, being given the final speech in Folio _King Lear_.

 From the perspective of a theatre historian, much has been 
irretrievably lost about Shakespeare's role in the playhouse -- and his 
"intentions" -- but, even as eavesdroppers, some elements on some level 
(e.g., in terms of "craftsmanship" or "strategy") can still be 
recognized and, with effort, understood for our profit and delight. The 
rest is silence.

Alan Dessen

___________________________________

From:		Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Saturday, 3 May 2008 11:52:05 +0100
Subject: 	19.0250 Roundtable Digest: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 19.0250 Roundtable Digest: Shakespeare's Intentions

John Drakakis is quite right to argue that notions of intention are 
complexly invoked in acts of editing, but in trying to show this I think 
his Roundtable posting actually understates the problems.

Drakakis praises Claire McEachern's Arden3 Much Ado About Nothing, at 
the point at which it reads "The original SPs throughout this scene, 
which denote actors' (or intended actors') names, betray the marks of 
the play's composition, and perhaps [that] the copy-text that served as 
the basis for Q was a promptbook used in the theatre [(] and hence 
puzzled over by the [a] compositor [)] ." (p. 278)

(The square brackets indicate bits of McEachern left out of the 
quotation by Drakakis; the final 'the' is his too.)

Drakakis writes of this that:

  >McEachern's footnote is exemplary in
  >that it directs our attention to a number
  >of possible explanations.

Well, only if the "number" is one: the explanation that the names come 
from the promptbook. (She is not suggesting, as I think Drakakis might 
be misreading, that the puzzling compositors introduced the actors' names.)

Earlier in her introduction (p. 129) McEachern argued precisely the 
opposite from the same evidence, citing favourably F. P. Wilson's 
dismissal of the argument that the use of actors' names indicates 
promptbook copy for a printing and supporting Wilson's assertion that it 
must indicate authorial copy. Wilson was writing in 1942, well before 
Greg's famous disquisition on the topic in The Shakespeare First Folio 
(1955). It's a particular weakness of McEachern's edition (picked up in 
reviews) that she's nowhere near up-to-date on textual criticism. Greg's 
account of the phenomenon is more subtle than he is usually given credit 
for, and makes the distinction between actors' names standing in for 
characters' names and actors' names supplementing characters' names 
(that is, where both appear).

At the other end of the chain of transmission, Drakakis again misses 
some key distinctions.

He writes about

  >. . .  another play published in quarto in 1600 by
  >James Roberts, not Valentine Simmes, _The
  >Merchant of Venice_ . . .

This quarto will presumably be the basis for Drakakis's Arden3 edition, 
so the above statement reflects either important new knowledge (lightly 
glanced at), or Drakakis has misunderstood the conditions of textual 
production in the period, for the quarto title-page and the Stationers' 
Register entries concur: the publisher was Thomas Heyes.

This is germane to Drakakis's attempt to sophisticate our notions of 
intentionality, for the roles of bookseller, printer, and publisher were 
often played by the same men in various combinations within the 
Stationers' Company, and we need to be clear about who was doing what in 
each edition.

Thus, when Drakakis writes that

  >. . .  if indeed, the instability occurred at the
  >level of *composition*, then this seriously
  >complicates the business of agency and intention

and that

  >. . .  we need to revise radically our sense of
  >what writerly "creativity" involved . . .

we should all agree, but insist that the complexities go deeper than the 
trivial case of actors' names in speech prefixes.

With the printing of plays, two key areas of difficulty with 'intention' 
surely are:

* The dramatist intends some others, the performers, to complete the 
meaning of the script by performing it.

* Those writing for publication might well intend the printshop to 
complete the meaning by altering the accidentals (the punctuation and 
other matters not directly concerned with the choice of words), and so 
might leave the manuscript relatively incomplete in this regard.

A recognition of the first of these underlies the shift detectable in 
the Penguin and Oxford Shakespeare editions (and belatedly in the 
Arden's Third series) towards stage-centered editing. Assertion of the 
second point by Philip Gaskell in his _A New Introduction to 
Bibliography_ (1972) caused quite a stir. Whereas Greg's concern (in 
"The rationale of copy-text") was to get as close as possible to what 
would have stood in the author's manuscript if only we had it (and hence 
the authority of accidentals and of substantives had to be treated 
separately because each might be best represented in a different 
printing), Gaskell's retort was that we might very well know what would 
have been in the manuscript and consider it not fit to print.

The points of contention here are quite subtle, and I'm afraid it's a 
vulgarization of the whole debate for Drakakis to write:

  >W. W. Greg's "The Rationale of Copy-Text" urges
  >the editor to select a text that is the closest
  >to what the "author" is thought to have composed,
  >on the grounds that that will be the most "authentic."

At least, it is vulgar to leave it there and not pursue the real point 
of interest here, which is the idea of a split in authority. (If 
anything, Drakakis's account makes Greg sound like R. B. McKerrow, whose 
'best text' approach to editing Greg was, in this very essay, dissenting 
from.)

Let me give a concrete example of how this bears on intentionality. I no 
longer bother to put into my SHAKSPER posts the usual MLA-style 
typescript representation of an em-line dash (which is two hyphens with 
no space either side) because for some reason Hardy Cook replaces them 
with single hyphens, and to my eye this makes the kinds of sentence 
constructions I favour rather hard to read. Thus I now rephrase 
sentences to suit my anticipation of what will happen on the way to 
publication. Indeed, I don't only rephrase the already-written, I 
compose in anticipation of this limitation.  Who, then, 'intends' my 
alternative accidentals?  Hardy is the root cause of them, but he may 
well have a good (mechanical) reason. But are they mine nonetheless?

Gabriel Egan

___________________________________

From:	       John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Friday, 9 May 2008 16:42:59 +0100
Subject: 	19.0257 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0257 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

Larry Weiss's and Gabriel Egan's postings came in together; I think they 
require to be addressed separately. I have addressed Weiss's 
contribution to the debate [below], and I now turn to Egan's.

In my original contribution, there were a few typographical errors. Four 
of them are obvious, one of which involves the omission of the word 
"text" towards the end of the posting. Also, the part of the sentence 
for which Egan rightly takes me to task should read: "published in 
quarto in 1600 printed by James Roberts, not Valentine Simmes." I did 
not mean to suggest that there had been some dispute over who printed Q1 
of _The Merchant of Venice_ nor did I wish to suggest that Roberts and 
Simmes were the publishers as well as the printers of _The Merchant_ and 
_Much Ado_ respectively. I merely wished to point out that some of the 
peculiarities concerning speech-prefixes were not confined to one 
printer. One more erratum, in the best tradition of Archbishop Spooner, 
when I referred to Bruce King, I really meant Bruce Smith. My apologies.

At one of the points to which Egan refers in my contribution, I was 
concerned to raise the question of "intention" in relation to the 
variations of speech-prefix that appear in Q1 _Much Ado_ at 4.2. and to 
suggest that different printing houses encountered various problems with 
them which they addressed in their own way. I was concerned to draw 
attention to the way in which McEachern had dealt with the issue in her 
recent edition of _Much Ado_. In quoting part of the note on p. 278 of 
McEachern's addition, I inadvertently omitted the brackets around the 
clause "(and hence puzzled over by a compositor)", and I also printed 
"the" for "a." Such are the pitfalls of writing at speed, although I 
don't think that these minor inaccuracies affect the substance of the 
point I was making.

My concern was not to drag McEachern into a slanging match about who is 
the more virtuous editor, nor am I interested in subjecting her edition 
to the yardstick of bibliographical fashion. It contains plenty of 
material for which we should be grateful. I stick to my position that as 
footnotes go, the one to which I was referring is "exemplary." Since 
Egan seems to have got himself stuck in only one side of a binary, let 
me go through McEachern's suggestions:

1. that the appearance of the actors' names (or "intended actors") names 
betray the marks of the play's composition
2. "perhaps that the copy-text that served as the basis for Q was a 
promptbook used in the theatre"
3. and that it was this that was (" . . hence puzzled over by a 
compositor").

There is a difference between 1 and 2, and 3 adds another dimension. 
McEachern does not tell us what it was precisely that the compositor who 
set these pages may have "puzzled over." Were the characters' names 
scored out and the actors' names inserted? Was the copy "foul papers" or 
a promptbook? What was the agency involved here? Was it Shakespeare who 
intended that Kemp and Cowley should play the parts of Dogberry and 
Verges, and if so do we not need (and this was my point) to modify the 
rather crude model of intentionality that has hitherto accounted for 
dramatic composition?

I do not have a copy of Greg's _The Shakespeare First Folio_ to hand, 
but I do have his comments on _Much Ado_ in _The Editorial Problem in 
Shakespeare_. There he says-and I shall do my best to transcribe it 
accurately-that Much Ado was one of three plays that show evidence "that 
a playhouse manuscript existed and was consulted" (p. 121). He goes on:

<PROSEQUOTE>
At one point in the quarto of Much Ado the names of the actors Kemp and 
Cowley appear as prefixes for Dogberry and Verges, whence it has been 
assumed that the text was set up from a prompt copy. But Shakespeare 
must obviously have written the parts with particular actors in mind, 
and nothing is more likely than that he should have used their names. 
[Gregg appends a lengthy footnote that details all of the confusions.] 
Everything points to the copy having been foul papers that lacked final 
revision. The stage directions are obviously the author's, casual and 
often inadequate, [fn. See appendix (p.178)] and there is much 
inconsistency in designating the speakers. (121-2) (my italics)
</PROSEQUOTE>

Greg challenges the consistency of Dover Wilson's explanation of what he 
took to be authorial anomalies in Q, while at the same time claiming 
that the play was printed directly from "the prompt-book" (122). I will, 
of course, check the later Greg text, but I am not aware that he changed 
his position on this play substantially.

I have no desire to challenge the "subtlety" of Greg's account of these 
matters, but all we can accuse McEachern of is conflating an existing 
explanation in an attempt to produce a succinct footnote. Like many 
eminent editors before her, she is perhaps a little too respectful of 
editorial tradition. I notice that Egan does not pick her up on her use 
of the term "copy-text" in this footnote. He does, later, direct us to 
Gregg's "The Rationale of Copy-Text" (reprinted in J. C. Maxwell's 
edition of _The Collected Papers of Sir Walter W. Greg_), but he is 
silent on those parts of the essay relevant to this discussion and on 
the extent to which that fascinating essay is littered with odd 
slippages between "author" and "writer." Let's see what Egan has to say 
about the ideological investment in the following quotation from this 
very influential (but now largely superseded) essay:

<PROSEQUOTE>
It is therefore the modern editorial practice to choose whatever extant 
text may be supposed to represent most nearly what the author wrote and 
to follow it with the least possible alteration. [So far, so good] But 
here we need to draw a distinction between the significant, or as I 
shall call them "substantive", readings of the text, those namely that 
affect the author's meaning or the essence of his expression, and 
others, such in general as spelling, punctuation, word-division, and the 
like, affecting mainly its formal presentation, which may be regarded as 
the accidents, or as I shall call them "accidentals" of the text. (376) 
(my italics)
</PROSEQUOTE>

We need to register here the slippage from "what the author wrote" (what 
I understand by the term "agency") to the larger question of readings 
"that affect the author's meaning or the essence of his expression" (by 
which I understand "authority"). I feel certain that we shall come back 
to this at some point in our discussion, and not, I hope, in relation to 
whether or not Greg departed radically from McKerrow, since such matters 
are not strictly relevant.

But let me turn to an area of Egan's response on which we appear to 
agree: that involving a radical revision of, -- to use a 
short-hand-romantic notions of creativity. Our agreement is, 
regrettably, short-lived, since he thinks that "actors' names in 
speech-prefixes" (and I would take it further to include the instability 
of speech-prefixes tout court) are "trivial." I want to argue that they 
lead us into very complex questions, only some of which are relevant to 
our discussion of "intention." But was does the complexity to which Egan 
would direct us involve? That "the dramatist intends some others, the 
performers, to complete the meaning of the script by performing it"? I 
resist the temptation to take a sledgehammer of theory to crack this 
poor defenseless nut. Like Gregg before him, though with something less 
than Greg's eloquence, Egan has "the meaning of the script" very firmly 
in mind; and, in seeking to point out the mote that may or may not be in 
McEachern's eye, he overlooks the beam that is in his own. The issue is 
who's meaning, and was it, or was it not 'intended'? I insist that this 
is not a mere scholastic point, since we now have access to very 
detailed theories and accounts of what an "author" is and how meaning is 
produced, and we should be very careful how we proceed. Pedestrian 
common sense will simply not do here.

Egan accuses McEachern of not being up to date in her bibliographical 
thinking, but I wonder how 'up to date' he is himself? Lest he takes 
this opportunity to tell us, perhaps I should point out to him that 
thatwas a rhetorical question. But I ask it because his crude account of 
theatrical transaction and of the problem of 'intention' cannot really 
be allowed to stand after Barthes' 'The Death of The Author' and 
Foucault's 'What is an Author'. I will not tax the patience of members 
of the list by rehearsing some of these arguments, except to say that 
they imply a very clear distinction between 'agency' and 'intention' 
that Egan either simply fails to understand, or is reluctant to engage 
with. What distinction would he make between 'meaning production' and 
'sense making' and how might these categories impinge upon our theme for 
this discussion? One of the questions I am asking is: what do we 
understand by 'intention' and how do we project that understanding onto 
texts whose 'intentions' (and I use these scare quotes deliberately) we 
may only, if at all, be in a position to read symptomatically? And 
moreover, since this leads to other questions, what are the forces that 
over-determine these 'intentions'? I have in mind here questions of 
genre, language itself, and everything that might come under the heading 
of 'motivation'. And how does the establishment of authorial meaning 
differ from the readerly practice of sense-making? I only raised the 
textual bibliographical issues insofar as they impinge on these 
questions, and I do not think that we should be diverted into areas that 
might be more appropriately treated in another round-table discussion.

Finally, the trouble with Egan's "concrete example" is that it is just 
that: inert, thoughtless, and absolutely a-historical. He is not a 16th 
century dramatist, nor by any stretch of the imagination can he 
transform himself into an Elizabethan compositor. Leaving that 
"complexity" aside, even at the most basic of levels, he confuses agency 
with authority, and he won't get out of this bind so long as he persists 
in regarding writing as an entirely instrumental mode of access to some 
Platonic realm of ideas. In spite of his concern with practical material 
matters of printing, there is a very clear Platonic strain in Greg's 
thinking, and in the bibliographical thinking of many of his 
contemporaries, including Bowers. It is no accident that D. F. 
McKenzie's ground-breaking article of 1969 should have been entitled 
"Printers of the Mind." What gives the game away for Egan is his 
possessiveness: the "accidentals" of his writing are "his." I would be 
very interested to be a fly on the wall of a conversation between Egan 
and God!

Cheers,
John Drakakis

___________________________________

From:		Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Friday, 02 May 2008 13:11:08 -0400
Subject: 	19.0250 Roundtable Digest: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0250 Roundtable Digest: Shakespeare's Intentions

At the end of his very thoughtful and thought-provoking introduction to 
the question of authorial intention in textual issues, John Drakakis 
seems to invite SHAKSPERians to suggest canonical passages which 
exemplify or illuminate the issue:

  >We have enough material within the Shakespeare oeuvre
  >to provide us with a variety of examples that we can
  >profitably discuss, and that may, I think, lead us to
  >conclusions that we might not have expected when we
  >started to think about this topic.

There is one in particular (which I have mentioned here before but which 
did not on those occasions excite responses) which I think epitomizes 
the question on several levels. In Act I, scene ii, of _The Taming of 
the Shrew_, Petruchio bids Grumio to knock at Baptista's door and Grumio 
misunderstands or pretends to misunderstand the demand, resulting in his 
being beaten. Grumio's reaction is given in most editions as "Help, 
masters, help!  My master is mad." The folio, however, has the line as 
"Helpe mistris helpe, my master is mad." The emendation of "mistris" to 
"masters" was first made by Lewis Theobald, presumably as there are no 
female characters on stage who Grumio might be addressing, and his 
revision has generally been followed since (the Werstine-Mowat Folger 
edition and the the Bate-Rasmussen "RSC" edition, which makes a point of 
following F1 almost religiously, are notable exceptions). Theobald's 
emendation is neither particularly funny nor thematic; in fact, it 
strikes me as rather awkward, with the repetition of "master" serving no 
poetic function. Nor does the emendation seem compelled by a likely 
misreading of the MS.

However, there is a way in which we can understand the F1 line which 
does no violence to the absence a female characters on the main stage 
and which heightens the comedy and, at the same time, serves a thematic 
function. If Grumio is addressing himself to the page in the Sly frame, 
who is present either aloft or at the side of the stage dressed as a 
lady, the line is an hilariously funny meta-theatrical dropping to the 
fourth wall. It also serves to remind the audience that they are 
watching a play within a play, not to be taken seriously on its own 
level. I don't want to over argue the point, but a moment such as this 
mitigates the harshness of the catastrophe perceived by modern 
audiences, especially if the Sly epilogue in "A Shrew" was originally 
part of the text.

___________________________________

From:		John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:		Friday, 9 May 2008 15:53:45 +0100
Subject: 	19.0269 Meta-Comment on Intentions Roundtable
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0269 Meta-Comment on Intentions Roundtable

I wonder if I may reply both to Larry Weiss and Joe Egert [posted in the 
in the "Meta-Comment on Intentions Roundtable" begun Friday, May 02, 
2008 http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2008/0253.html] in this 
contribution to the round-table discussion.

Joe Egert first: the question of what does an editor do is germane to 
the question of "intention" insofar as much editing assumes that the 
business of preparing a text is to get as close to what the writer 
wrote. This has sometimes melted into "what the writer 'intended'" and I 
think that my responses to Larry Weiss, and separately to Gabriel Egan, 
will elaborate on this a little. Editors try to make sense of texts; 
but, also, in the case of early modern texts, they engage in a series of 
operations of modernization that disclose assumptions about the 
publishing industry, the predilections of the editor, etc.

Let me now respond to Larry Weiss. Rather like Larry Weiss's account of 
the Folio reading of "mistris" at _The Taming of The Shrew_ 1.2., and I 
am sorry that I missed it in earlier postings. It has a special 
relevance here since it invites us to speculate on what may have been 
contained in a hypothetical manuscript, and what may have happened when 
the line was spoken on the stage. To take the speculation about the 
manuscript first: The Folio spelling is "mistris," and this is the only 
text of the play that we have.  But I am reminded of the spelling 
"Maisters" in _The Merchant of Venice_ 4.1.51 in the phrase "Maisters of 
passion," that in Q2 (1619) and F (1623) is emended to "Masters of 
passion." The four relevant lines in Q1 read:

       And others when the bagpipe sings ith nose,
       cannot containe their vrine for affection.
       Maisters of passion swayes it to the moode
       of what it likes or loathes,
				(4.1.49-52)

Q2 reads as follows:

       And others when the Bagpipe sings i'th nose,
       Cannot containe their vrine for affection.
       Masters of passion swayes it to the mood
       Of what it likes or loathes:

F reads:

       And others, when the bag-pipe sings i'th nose,
       Cannot containe their Vrine for affection.
       Masters of passion swayes it to the moode
       Of what it likes or loaths,

(Throughout, I have silently emended long 's', but in all other respects 
these are the variants between the 3 texts.) The absence of initial 
capitalization in the 2nd and 4th lines of Q1 can be attributed to type 
shortages of Roman caps, and there is other evidence (both of upper case 
W and lower case w on sig. G3v). All three reproduce the same error of 
punctuation after "affection." But Q2 and F emend the spelling 
"Maisters" to "Masters." The spelling "Maisters" for "Masters" is not 
uncommon; indeed, if I recall, the spelling occurs in Spenser's _The 
Faerie Queene_ along with "Maistres" where the context clearly gives the 
modern "Masters." What then, was the spelling in the manuscript of the 
word that F sets as "mistris" and Theobald alters to "Masters"? Could it 
have been "maistris" or even "maistrisse"? If so, then F's "mistris" may 
constitute evidence of a theatrical intention (and even of Shakespeare's 
"intention" when he wrote this scene) to keep the frame Induction on the 
stage throughout and to refer to its presence as an onstage audience. I 
am, of course, resisting the temptation simply to say that the F reading 
is an error that an editor is at liberty to correct, since both 
"Masters" and "mistris" make sense even though we are on a weaker wicket 
if we ascribe authorial meaning to the reading. The same is not the case 
in the example from _The Merchant_ where emendation is necessary. In 
this case, "Masters" does not make sense, nor, except in a very minimal 
way does "mistris." In my forthcoming edition of the play, I have 
emended to "maistrice" since I think it makes sense to conflate the 
sense of "master/mistress" ("affection" being in this case gendered 
feminine, but having mastery over "passion" behaves in an androgynous 
way). In the case that Weiss cites, the question of "intention" is not 
necessarily confined to the writing subject Shakespeare, and even if we 
could prove that it was, we would also have to demonstrate its 
provenance, i.e., did it come purely from the dramatist's imagination or 
was it the product of a certain knowledge that Lord Strange's Men would 
stage the play in one way rather than another? Either way, this kind of 
example mounts a very serious challenge to the "unique" authority of the 
"author" Shakespeare  and enjoins us as modern readers to distinguish 
between a "meaning" that may or may not be adequately "authorized" and a 
process of "making sense of" that is properly the purview of reading.

Many thanks to Larry Weiss for raising this example.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

___________________________________

From: 		Joseph Egert <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Sunday, 11 May 2008 16:28:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 19.0275  Roundtable Digest: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 19.0275  Roundtable Digest: Shakespeare's Intentions

John Drakakis writes:

  >[...] The same is not the case in the example from _The
  >Merchant_ where emendation is necessary. In this case,
  >"Masters" does not make sense, nor, except in a very minimal
  >way does "mistris." In my forthcoming edition of the play, I
  >have emended to "maistrice" since I think it makes sense to
  >conflate the sense of "master/mistress" ("affection" being in
  >this case gendered feminine, but having mastery over
  >"passion" behaves in an androgynous way).

What does Dr Drakakis believe Shakespeare wrote or intended to write? 
"Maistrice"? And why does "mistris" make sense only "in a very minimal way"?

Puzzled,
Joe Egert


Works cited

Bentley, Gerald Eades. _The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare's 
Time 1590-1642_. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971.

Carson, Neil. "Collaborative Playwriting: The Chettle, Dekker, Heywood 
Syndicate." _Theatre Research International_ 14 (1989): 13-23.

Dekker, Thomas, _Satiromastix_. In _The Dramatic Works of Thomas 
Dekker_, ed. Fredson Bowers. 4 vols. Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 1953. 
1:299-391.

Dessen, Alan C. and Leslie Thomson. _A Dictionary of Stage Directions in 
English Drama, 1580-1642-. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.

Greg, Walter W., and J. C. Maxwell. _Collected Papers of W.W.Greg_. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966

Greg, W. W. _The Editorial Problem in Shakespeare; A Survey of the 
Foundations of the Text_. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954

Ioppolo, Grace. _Dramatists and their Manuscripts in the Age of 
Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Heywood: Authorship, authority and 
the playhouse_. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

Jonson, Ben. _Bartholomew Fair_, ed. E. A. Horsman. Revels Plays. 
London: Methuen, 1960.

---.  _Cynthia's Revels_. In _Ben Jonson_, ed. C. H. Herford and Percy 
and Evelyn Simpson. 11 vols. London: Oxford UP, 1925-52. 4:1-184.

Mazer, Cary. "The Intentional-Fallacy Fallacy." In _Staging 
Shakespeare_, ed. Lena Cowen Orlin and Miranda Johnson-Haddad.  Newark: 
University of Delaware P, 2007. 99-113.

McKerrow, Ronald B. _Prolegomena to the Oxford Shakespeare:  A Study in 
Editorial Method_. Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1939.

Slater, Ann Pasternak. _Shakespeare the Director_. Brighton: Harvester 
Press, 1982.

Stern, Tiffany. _Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan_.  Oxford: 
Oxford UP, 2000.
	
_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail 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.
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.