The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0328 Tuesday, 3 June 2008
From: Cary DiPietro <
Date: Tuesday, 3 Jun 2008 07:57:36 -0400
Subject: SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
The Roundtable digest this week includes an impressive twelve contributions,
many of them very substantial, and all showing a diverse range of approach.
Given the length of the digest below, I'll keep my prefatory comments as brief
The leading contribution comes this week from David Schalkwyk, who writes on the
topic, "Giving Intention Its Due." I withheld his name in the last digest to
spare him the pressure of public commitment: he's currently in the middle of a
superhuman travel and work itinerary, and in the few spare minutes he's had,
he's managed to eke out this remarkable essay. In the same manner as Duncan
Salkeld in his essay in the last digest, Schalkwyk draws on his wide knowledge
of contemporary theory, including that of figures as diverse as Ludwig
Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Joseph Margolis, among
others; Schalkwyk also responds to arguments made by John R. Searle, and Steven
Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels, invoked previously by Salkeld. Although they
come from very different sides of the debate, both Schalkwyk and Salkeld provide
us with navigable points of entry into this large body of sophisticated, often
intimidating, debate that already exists on the topic of intention; their
contributions, combined with thoughtful responses to Salkeld by Alan Horn, are
also beginning to generate a wider sense of dialogue between contributions that
I see as also advancing that debate.
Don't be fooled by his title: even though he promises to "give intention its
due," Schalkwyk is only interested in retaining discussion of intention as a
purely heuristic category. His position is something closer to an
anti-intentionalist (though not quite). There are two claims in his essay, in
particular, that stand out for me, and they are indeed the main ones: the first
is "the fundamental philosophical argument that meanings or intentions are not
things that go on in anyone's heads," and that, therefore, we must dispense with
the notion of authorial psychology as an arbiter of textual meaning; the second
is that, if we recognize that authorial intention is not a latent condition in
the text, but a category imposed by and giving authority to the interpreter,
then the question of what we choose to do with literary texts becomes a "matter
of institutional debate, politics, and power."
I would like to respond to these two points, and I'll do so in the final digest.
Originally, however, I had imagined two leading contributions to address two
issues related to Schalkwyk's points above. I've been unsuccessful in soliciting
interest in them so far, so I'll advertise them here. I'd like one leading
contributor to interrogate psychoanalytic or psycholinguistic models of
intention. Schalkwyk's argument that textual meaning is not something "in the
head" (quoting Putnam) begs a response from someone willing to credit or invest
in the psychology of the writer, and the questions that raises: if a symbolic
structure emanates from the "unconscious," for example, is it intentional? Is
the appeal of literature for us on some level a psychological one? How does the
social-psychological experience of, for example, theatre correspond or
potentially relate to the psychology of the writer? I'd like another leading
contributor to address the use of "intention" in the postsecondary classroom:
how do we teach the meaning of texts without recourse to the intentions of their
authors? Is there such a thing as an anti-intentionalist or presentist pedagogy,
and, if so, what does it entail? How does teaching as an institutional practice
inform, or how is it informed by, debates about intention? If you think you
might be interested in writing a leading essay for the Roundtable, or,
alternatively, if you know of a member of the SHAKSPER community who fits the
bill, then please let me know off list.
All of the remaining eleven contributions, but one, have already been published
to the Roundtable. As Hardy mentioned in an earlier message, we were hoping that
adjusting the publication format from a weekly to a daily digest (with a weekly
"omnibus" digest) would lead to greater activity, and whether this format change
has been the cause, or one cause among many, for the considerable increase in
contributions over the last week or so, we both agree that the new format is
working well for this Roundtable. I have, however, regrouped the messages,
taking them out of the order in which they were posted to the list (you can see
the date signatures at the top of each message) to put them in a dialogic order.
Two main contributions appear first. Steve "Urquartowitz" and Martin Mueller
both navigate their own way into the topic. Urkowitz revisits arguments about
textual variants from his 1980 book _Shakespeare's Revision of *King Lear*_ ,
and the mixed reception they received; Urkowitz's unwavering conviction that
textual evidence shows an intending author revising the play compels him to
"keep on writing." I haven't included his message in the digest, but Jim Carroll
) writes in response: "You should. Otherwise, 400 years from
now, who's going to know?" Martin Mueller begins by apologizing for his "puzzled
and not very well thought-through response." One wishes he would unpuzzle and
think it through, then, because he's clearly hit a chord with both David Evett
and Alan Dessen who respond positively below. I've also reproduced a
qualification made by Larry Weiss on Mueller's use of the term "hard cases" that
was diverted into a "spin-off" thread earlier this week; no subsequent responses
were received, and Weiss's is a contained and useful terminological clarification.
There is a further series of exchanges between Alan Horn and Duncan Salkeld
arising out of Salkeld's leading contribution last week. Their discussion
circles around the three writers isolated from Salkeld's writing by Schalkwyk
(Knapp and Michaels, Searle), and I look forward to seeing how this discussion
develops in the wake of Schalkwyk's essay. Finally, there are contributions from
Kenneth Chan, who begins by responding to Terence Hawkes, a longer one from Alan
Dessen who responds to questions and comments by David Evett, Tom Reedy and John
Drakakis, and one from Larry Weiss on the continuing discussion of "implied
stage directions." I invite SHAKSPEReans to respond to any of these thoughtful
contributions below. I should note, however, that David Schalkwyk will be
intermittently out of email contact over the next few weeks, so questions or
comments directed to him may go unanswered.
Next week, we return to the idea of intention and theatre practice with a
leading contribution from Cary Mazer (whose article "The Intentional-Fallacy
Fallacy" has already been invoked by Dessen). Mazer wins the award for best
title so far: "Two Cheers for the Intentional Fallacy: Intention, Theatre
Practice, and Performance History."
"Giving Intention Its Due"
Warning: here there be dragons! While I have enjoyed the discussion on
intention rooted in theatre history and editing so far, I must admit that my own
scholarly ignorance in the matter commits me to strike out instead into the
terra incognita of which Alan Dessen is rightly wary. I shall do no more than
attempt some modest conceptual clarification on the issue of "giving intention
its due" in the hope that it may be of some help to members of SHAKSPER in
determining their bearings in relation to each other and the topic at hand.
When my son was about four or five, we were driving through town together when I
heard a cry of frustration from the back seat: "Dad, I can't stop reading the
signs!" Andrew had discovered, one might say, the grip of intentionality. He
had passed from an age of illiterate innocence to the anguish of a peculiar kind
of experience, in which no matter how hard he tried-how much of his *will* he
imposed upon the world-he could not stop the marks on the signs we were passing
from resolving themselves into words. Only some of these words had "meanings"
for him: he could recognize the name of our road ("Silverlea"), but I doubt
whether he knew what it meant, whereas others like "Garden" or "Hilltop" did
signify something in his childish lexicon.
What should we make of this anecdote in relation to Shakespeare and intention? I
want to use it as a base position for the discussion that follows: as an
indication of some minimal conditions of intentionality. First, Andrew found
that reading was an intentional but involuntary act. No matter how much he
willed it to be otherwise, he could not choose NOT to read. Second, the words he
was reading did not reflect in any but the remotest sense anyone's intentions.
They were not the manifestation of anything that went on in anyone's mind at any
point, nor could their meanings be traced back to any single person.
So we have two curious aspects of intentionality at work here: the
intentionality of the reading process was not the product of Andrew's will; but
nor was the intentionality of the "writing" process the product of the writer's
will; in fact, it's difficult to find a single agency in this writing process.
One could, of course, argue that the naming of streets and the putting up of
street signs are intentional acts in a fuller sense of the word: *someone*
intended the streets of Cape Town to bear names, *someone* gave instructions to
have signs made bearing those names, *someone* made those signs, and *someone*
put them up. There is a chain of action here, an embodiment all along the line,
of human agency. But such agency is distributed across a large number of people
at very different times (what is the relation between a settler in 1700 giving
the name "Silverlea" to a particular street, the cartographer who registers it
in 1850, the factory that makes the sign in 2005 and the worker who erects it in
2008?). Nor is it at all clear what relation the different agents bear to what
we might call the meaning of the signs. (There is a philosophical argument that
proper names designate but do not mean anything [Kripke, _Naming and Necessity_
and Putnam, "The Meaning of 'Meaning'"], but let's leave that aside for the
moment and try to work out how the two kinds of intentionality isolated from
this anecdote bear on the problem of reading a Shakespeare sonnet).
I hope that this story will have cast some light on two general claims: "there
is no intentionless meaning" (Knapp and Michaels) and "there's no getting away
from intentionality" (Searle, 202). We should be able to see how both of these
are at one level incontestable, even if they don't quite mean the same thing. I
prefer Searle's claim, which, ironically perhaps, is close to Derrida's
statement, quoted earlier by Duncan Salkeld, that "the category of intention
will not disappear; it will have its place, but from this place it will no
longer govern the entire scene and system of utterance" (Derrida 326). (Seldom
have three people talked past each other to such a degree as is manifest in the
non-conversation between Derrida and Searle, with poor old Austin, contested
father-figure, in the middle.)
The problem with claims of the generality of "there's no getting away from
intentionality" and "there is no intentionless meaning" is precisely their
generality: the meaning of "intention" or "intentionality" is so unspecified
that they could be, as Salkeld observes, either irrefutable or grossly
erroneous. In the debate between intentionalist and anti-intentionalists
virtually no-one any longer subscribes to intention as a series of mental events
that cause, precede or accompany writing or speaking. Hirsch (_The Aims of
Interpretation_) comes close to this when he argues that the intention of the
author is what he or she willed an otherwise indeterminate sentence to mean. But
he concedes in the rest of his argument that such "willing" can be given only
inferentially, by factors extrinsic to the mental life of the author. Ludwig
Wittgenstein can be credited with offering the most powerful arguments against
intention as mental event (see especially, _Philosophical Investigations_ paras.
631-93 and pp.174-86). Wittgenstein makes two points: one can intend something
only within a context and a history constitutive of such intention, and to mean
something is different from thinking or imagining something. Intention or
meaning is not something "in the head" (see Putnam, "Meaning of 'Meaning', p.
227). It is embodied in a variety of differently related conditions that are
public rather than private: the equally enabling and constraining structure of
language and its various language-games, taken together with the manifold of
what Searle calls the "background conditions" ("Reiterating the Differences")
and expectations that go into making sense of any utterance.
If this is so, then why do we need the appeal to intention at all? Why not
simply make do with the utterance and the conditions that allow it to make
sense? This is precisely the strong anti-intentionalist position, and I must
admit that there are times when it has a very strong appeal to me. Get rid of
the appeal to the intention of the author and just get on with our business of
construing the sense of texts as best we can with the materials at hand and the
governing protocols that our institutional culture allows. We can even concede
that there is indeed no intentionless meaning, if all that that means is that
all texts require readers to make sense of them, and that whatever can be seen
to be embodied in the text is the intention of the author.
In this sense of intention, then, intention does not precede or generate the
meaning of the text, but is rather retroactively or retrospectively posited as
the purposeful structure of significance of the text. I suspect that this is
what we actually do all the time, even in ordinary talk. We invoke intention in
ordinary discourse whenever we wish to clear up ambiguities, mistakes,
uncertainties, or express dissent or surprise. "What did you mean by that?" we
ask someone. And we don't accept the explanation naively. We won't accept an
answer just because the person asked is somehow "closer" to his or her
intentions or meanings than we are. We apply the same sorts of contextual (in
the very broadest sense) criteria that we do in trying to figure out what the
intention of Sonnet 46 might be. Furthermore, the person interrogated often
figures out their intentions retrospectively, too. "Teach the children a game,"
I say to someone, who proceeds to teach them poker. "I didn't mean that game!" I
cry. "How do you know?" Wittgenstein asks, "did poker hover in your mind,
crossed out, so to speak, when you made the request? Along with all the other
games you didn't mean? Certainly, you didn't intend the children to be taught
poker, but HOW EXACTLY did you intend this?"
Let's return to Andrew. I'm happy to say that Andrew graduates from Harvard this
week, having learnt to read Nietzche and Freud, Weber and Hume (though not
Shakespeare, alas. It's an interesting question to what extent learning to read
those authors enables him to make sense of Shakespeare). He has presumably moved
over the course of some sixteen years from having reading as a phenomenological
experience forced upon him, to being able to some extent to produce readings as
voluntary acts. His readings will to some degree be products of the will; and he
will have learnt to speak of such readings as to some degree attempts to make
sense of acts that are themselves willed or purposive artefacts. The important
thing is that he will have had to learn to do these things gradually and with
some effort and difficulty: intention and intentionality will have become
evident with the gradual learning of techniques and practices. In other words,
intention takes shape after the acquisition of technique and practice; willing
becomes possible after structure. They do not precede and control them. It would
make sense to hold that we cannot speak of intention outside an extraordinarily
complex, varied, acquired set of social, personal, and historical circumstances.
This may give us a reason to retain the notion or goal of intention in our
practice of reading, because it is a short-hand way of referring to that rich
set of practices-the community and history that goes into both the writing of
the text and its reading. It does NOT refer to what might have gone on in
someone's head at any time.
Here are two reasons why we might want to retain the term "intention" as a
hypothetical or heuristic kind of short-hand:
First, because it allows us to negotiate situations where there has been a
"misfire": where it is not clear what might have been meant in a text. Here it
is useful to posit an informing, purposive agency as a device for producing
coherence where it has broken down. We have seen countless examples from theatre
history and the problem of textual editing in the discussion so far.
The other is more deeply related to the fact that we tend to see texts as
themselves purposive acts-as bearers of the intentionality that, according to
Searle, we cannot get away from. Here is Joseph Margolis: "Broadly speaking,
*the Intentional* = *the cultural*; it is characteristically articulated
intensionally [sic] in phenomena or activities that implicate the intentional.
It belongs primarily to the collective life of historical societies, and it
appears as an ingredient in the properties of artworks, texts, institutions,
traditions, actions, histories, theories, personal careers, linguistic
utterances, customs, practices and the like" (14). In other words, we do not
have to posit a single informing consciousness to engage with intentionality in
Shakespeare's works, or his theatre, or the practice and convention of
Petrarchan verse, or that of printing. These are all -- text, practice,
institution, or tradition -- intentional things.
On this interpretation there is nothing to fear from Knapp and Michaels's claim,
though it's not, I assume, what they intend to say by it. I infer this from
their general argument. Knapp and Michaels hold two, related positions: 1) that
there is no need to bridge the gap between intention and meaning (as E. D.
Hirsch tries to do with his argument that because every sentence is
indeterminate with regard to meaning, we need to fix it by appealing to what its
author *willed* it to mean) because intention and meaning are identical, and 2)
no marks can bear any meaning unless we can posit an intentional being that has
produced them. So, if we came across marks identical to Shakespeare's sonnet 116
revealed in the sand when a wave withdraws on a beach, we would count it as
meaningless if we could offer no explanation that it was produced by an
intentional creature. They offer no argument to this effect, merely a bald
retort "Clearly not" to the question, "Would we count these marks as
meaningful?" It's not clear at all. In terms of the first claim, if one asked a
friend whether they'd like to play tennis and they replied "I have work to do",
and it turned out that she derived special pleasure from playing tennis when she
is expected to be beavering away at the office, Knapp and Michaels would say
that in that case "I have work to do" actually means "Yes, I'd love to", because
that's what the friend *intended* to say. Hmmm, I say. This is close to
answering "yes" to Wittgenstein's rhetorical question "Can I say bububu, and
mean 'If it doesn't rain I shall go for a walk'?" Only the most intractable
mentalist would assume this Humpty-Dumpty position, and intractable mentalism is
mistaken. Knapp and Michaels would be on firmer ground if they conceded that the
intention expressed is no more (and no less) than a retroactive determination
derived from complex social actions and interactions rather than what might have
been going on in the mind of the work-shy tennis player. Note that once we've
figured out the intention of "I have work to do" in this particular case, we
could respond automatically and unthinkingly in all future cases without having
to infer anything when our friend said "I have work to do" to a tennis
invitation. But then the questions arises: what would they say if they REALLY
had work to do?
What are the problems with retaining talk about intention? They are indicated
very clearly by John Drakakis when he warns us that we should not talk about the
AGENCY that produced a text as if it were an AUTHORITY for what that text means
or could mean. Many intentionalists argue that because strings of words are
intrinsically indeterminate with regard to their meaning, we need to fix that
meaning via the author's intention if we are not to have chaos, or utter
indeterminacy, or total free play. But if the author's intention is not the
things that were going on in his or her head at the time of writing, what is
that intention other than the best hypothesis that we can give, from all the
"external" factors at our disposal and generally agreed protocols of procedure
and evidence, for what the text (and therefore the author) COULD have meant? The
appeal to the author's intention under such circumstances (what he or she MUST
have meant?) is really just a stalking horse by which we seek to impose OUR
authority on the text under the guise of that of the author. Argue about
authority by all means, but don't pretend that your authority as reader is that
of the author, would be the response of the anti-intentionalist. By appealing to
the agent of the text as its ultimate authority, you are really trying to impose
the reading that you have gleaned by paying attention to a selection of
privileged EXTERNAL factors as that of a now-privileged author(izor) of the
text. (I'm not going to go into the respective arguments here for a single,
"true" interpretation of a text [Hirsch], as opposed to a plural "unicity"
[Margolis], or intertextual "free play" in the reader as the repository of all
possible meanings a text could have [Barthes]. These are institutional battles,
not metaphysical ones).
We have reached the main point of my contribution: if we accept the fundamental
philosophical argument that meanings or intentions are not things that go on in
anyone's heads, either accompanying or generating mere words, then this is where
philosophy or theory stops in arguments about Shakespeare's (or any other
writer's) intentions. This is what Derrida is saying when he writes that
"intention as a category will not disappear," but that it will have been
deprived of the authority to govern or control either the system that makes it
possible or the contextual manifold that renders it apparent. After we have
determined that "meanings just ain't in the head," the argument about what kinds
of things we want to do as institutionalized beings (professional scholars,
critics, historians, and so on) is a matter of institutional debate, politics,
and power. No analysis of intention is going to provide a knock-down argument
for how one should put together an edition of _Much Ado About Nothing_, or
whether Petruchio should kiss Katherine either as a performative example of what
would be well between them or else as a commendation of her acquiescence. The
role of intention (and its implicit appeals to certain kinds of authority) is at
stake in the debate about authoritive critical discourse, it can't be used to
settle it. There's absolutely no harm in giving intention its due; but let's not
give it any more than is due, for then we will be supporting a local grasp for
authority under the guise of an incontestable, natural given.
Let me end by putting in a plea for the author. In his careful analysis of the
role that the author as proper name plays in critical discourse and its
fundamental difference from the way in which we use proper names elsewhere,
Foucault ("What is an Author?") illustrates his distinction by saying that
whereas it would make no difference to the role of Shakespeare as a name that
indicates the contours of a certain body of texts to discover that he did not
marry Ann Hathaway, or did not grow up in Stratford, it would indeed make a
difference if we were to discover that he did not write SHAKES-PEARES SONNETS
(Hardy, this is not an authorship debate, I promise!) This seems to make sense.
But what if we discovered that Shakespeare was never a member of any theatrical
company -- that, in fact, he had nothing to do with the stage? Would that not
make a radical difference to the way we talk about Shakespeare's texts (and by
implication, their intentions)? But what kind of fact is this? The former,
allowed by Foucault; or the latter, excluded from logical relevance? It's both.
Since its inception in the 1940s (its classic statement being Wimsatt and
Beardsley's "The Intentional Fallacy") anti-intentionalism has been implacably
opposed to the admissibility of biographical considerations. Since its target
was an excessive concern with the text as a window to the author's soul, this is
understandable. But the alignment of anti-intentionalism (in psychological
terms) with the opposition to biography is a category mistake.
We have seen that a concern with intention as the public embodiment of agency
need appeal to no arcane mental events or psychological accompaniments. I have
argued that the pursuit of embodied intention (another word for meaning) in a
text needs to pay attention to it as the incarnation of complex social actions.
These unfold over time within the constraints of a particular period, and
encompass the manifold of contextual conditions, assumptions, and relations,
that make it possible to mean and understand anything in a particular place at a
particular time, including collaborative procedures and the distribution of
agencies that is exemplified by Shakespeare's practice. Jerrold Levinson puts
this well: "We are in the last analysis entitled and empowered to rationally
reconstruct an author as meaning, in a work, something different from what he or
she did, in private and truth, mean, as long as we put ourselves in the best
position for receiving the utterance of this particular, historically and
culturally embedded, author" (251).
Is it not arbitrary, not to say perverse, to exclude from consideration the
figure of its author from our multiple considerations of the public constitution
of the text? As long as we don't privilege what might have gone on in
Shakespeare's mind as the determining and authoritative cause of what's going on
in his texts, there seems to me to be no compelling reason to exclude any other
fact of his life, especially in its relation to others, from our consideration.
We may even allow ourselves a whimsical thought-experiment, whereby our Will,
seeing "Come, kiss me Kate" played now one way, now the other, might say softly
to himself, "Ah, so THAT'S what I meant!"
From: Steve Urkowitz <
Date: Thursday, 29 May 2008 10:49 am
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Time for me to step in to swing wildly at various pitches being thrown around
this Intentionality ball-field.
First, in my vulgar Bronx way, many years ago I argued that Shakespeare intended
to write what we find in Q1 KING LEAR and that he also intended to write what we
see in the F version of that play. My book, SHAKESPEARE'S REVISION OF KING LEAR
and subsequent articles and presentations on HAMLET, ROMEO AND JULIET, THE MERRY
WIVES OF WINDSOR, HENRY V, RICHARD III, and HENRY VI PARTS 2 AND 3, present
intentional arguments that run something like this: "Here are five (or maybe
fifteen) examples of a kind of textual variant between Q1 and F LEAR or Q1 and
Q2 and F HAMLET etc., that would produce noticeable blips on an alert theatrical
observer's radar if the versions were to be played one after the other on a
stage. Although any one or two of such blipping variants might be generated
accidentally or by other agents, the "so-muchness" or "so-many-ness" and
especially the "so-goodness" of the patterns of variants lead me to conclude
that they result from an author's intervention in his composition.
When SHAKESPEARE'S REVISION OF KING LEAR came out, almost all reviewers found
that the marshaling of lots of evidence and my arguments were indeed convincing.
Some critics felt, however, that specific instances of patterns I cited were
instead more likely to have resulted from non-authorial interventions or
accidents. The passage most often cited by those critics is the dialog between
Kent and a Gentleman in LEAR 3.1. which I show is one of many "interrupted
speeches" that appear in the Folio but not found in the Q1 version. I feel the
strength of my argument is that (at least in my part of the Bronx) purposeful
patterns of repeated variation in elegant linguistic designs really do signal
some kind of intention. Shakespeare's intention. Since then, though, my basic
claims and especially my citation of what I see as authorially-introduced and
intended _patterns_ have been dismissed or ignored. Or most often a particular
instance of a general pattern might be noted while the generality is passed over
silently. Ah, well. I keep on writing.
Let me bring to this roundtable discussion two of what I feel are interesting
sets of textual variants that lead me to believe that Shakespeare himself
intentionally altered the early printed versions of HENRY VI PARTS 2 AND 3 to
generate what we see in the Folio text of those plays. (Other similar patterns
of intentional authorial revision may be found in my essays "'If I Mistake in
Those Foundations Which I Build Upon': Peter Alexander's Textual Analysis of
HENRY VI PARTS 2 AND 3," ELR 18 , 230-56, and "'Brother, can you spare a
paradigm?' Textual Generosity and the Printing of Shakespeare's Multiple-Text
Plays by Contemporary Editors," CRITICAL SURVEY 7 (1995) 292-8.)
When Richard of Gloucester learns of the death of his father Richard of York, in
the 1595 version of 3H6 a six-line passage gives the actor playing Richard of
Gloucester a vivid action and strong emotions to play:
I cannot weepe, for all my breasts moisture
Scarse serves to quench my furnace burning hart:
I cannot joie till this white rose be dide
Even in the hart bloud of the house of Lancaster.
Richard, I bare thy name, and Ile revenge thy death,
Or die my selfe in seeking of revenge.
As a dramatic script, we should assume that the author's intention behind the
words "this white rose" was for the actor to hold up or point to a physical
object. And when the actor says "Richard, I bare thy name, and I'll revenge . .
. " the author intended that the actor address the imagined soul or offstage
dead body of his father while verbally and likely with a robust gesture swearing
himself to enact some later revenge.
The later-printed version does not have the lines about the rose. Instead of
"this white rose" and the actions attendant on indicating it, the later-printed
Folio text contains lines which hold two patterns of iterated imagery found only
in a number of other passages also unique to the Folio versions of both HENRY VI
PART 2 and PART 3. The F-only lines are indicated by capitals.
I cannot weepe: for all my bodies moysture
Scarse serves to quench my Furnace-burning hart:
NOR CAN MY TONGUE UNLOADE MY HEARTS GREAT BURTHEN,
FOR SELFE-SAME WINDE THAT I WOULD SPEAKE WITHALL,
IS KINDLING COALES THAT FIRES ALL MY BREST,
AND BURNES ME UP WITH FLAMES, THAT TEARS WOULD QUENCH,
TO'WEEPE, IS TO MAKE LESSE THE DEPTH OF GREEFE:
TEARES THEN FOR BABES; BLOWES, AND REVENGE FOR MEE.
Richard, I beare thy name, Ile venge thy death,
Or dye renowned by attempting it.
Here the instruction to the actor is first to enact a kind of "inexpressibility
topos" about his inner feelings, and then to vow to take revenge. In this
version, first he directs attention to his inner self rather than to the
physical rose and then, as in the earlier-printed text, he addresses his
father's spirit. The portrayal of Richard of Gloucester being unable or
unwilling to reveal what he feels or thinks appears earlier in 2H6, (TLN 2111)
as an aside undercutting his surface-allegiance to his brother: "I heare, yet
say not much, but thinke the more." And similarly a speech unique to the Folio
has Richard report his inner thoughts at TLN 2157-9.
The capitalized passage also offers one of the many (ten or a dozen) images of
"wind" as a destructive or unpredictable force found in these plays, all unique
to the Folio. For these iterated imagistic patterns to appear in only one or the
other version indicates either that some agent put them in on purpose or took
'em out, equally on purpose. The wind images appear in a variety of characters'
(1) Richard of York: "all my followers to the eager foe / Turne back, and flye,
like Ships before the Winde (TLN 461-2).
(2) King Henry:
. . . like a Mighty Sea,
Forc'd by the Tide, to combat with the Winde:
Now swayes it that was, like the selfe-same Sea,
Forc'd to retyre by furie of the Winde.
Sometime, the Flood Prevailes; and than the Winde:
(3) the father who has killed his son in battle:
. . . see, see, what showres arise,
Blowne with the windie Tempest of my heart,
Upon thy wounds, that killes mine Eye, and Heart.
(4) King Henry:
. . . Looke, as I blow this Feather from my Face,
And as the Ayre blowes it to me againe,
Obeying with my winde when I do blow,
And yeelding to another, when it blowes,
Colmmanded alwayes by the greater gust:
Such is the lightnesse of you, common men.
(4) The King of France:
With patience calme the Storme,
While we bethinke a meanes to breake it off.
(5) Queen Margaret, referring to Warwick,
. . . now begins a second Storme to rise,
For this is hee that moves both Winde and Tyde.
(6) Edward, when captured by Warwick,
What Fates impose, that men must needs abide;
It boots not to resist both winde and tide.
(7) Edward, threatening Warwick:
Sayle how thou canst,
Have Winde and Tyde thy friend,
This Hand, fast wound about thy coale-blacke hayre,
Shall, whiles thy Head is warme, and new cut off,
Write in the dust this Sentence with thy blood,
Wind-changing Warwicke now can change no more.
(8) Warwick, dying, imagines himself as a cedar tree which
. . . kept low Shrubs from Winters pow'rfull Winde.
(9) Margaret, addressing her army,
We will not from the Helme, to sit and weepe,
But keepe our Course (though the rough Winde say no)
From Shelves and rocks, that threaten us with Wrack . . .
Of course, if we follow the narratives of memorial reconstruction championed by
the Oxford editors, these iterated images could have been first inscribed in a
manuscript drafted by Shakespeare which served as the basis for the text printed
in the Folio and then were subsequently cut out by him and so did not appear in
the 1594-5 versions, or they could have been cut out by some censor or book
keeper. Or as many have argued, they were all memorially excised by actors, or
intentionally excised by a timid acting company afraid of offending someone high
in the local political-economy of windiness.
But to my vulgar sense of how human beings function today when they write,
revise, edit, or otherwise cut literary writings, I am happier imagining that
Shakespeare was responsible for the versions underlying the first-printed texts
and that he intentionally added these two patterned clusters as he worked
through the earlier manuscripts along his merry way to crafting the versions
underlying the Folio texts.
Theatrical authors inscribe writings so that actors will say their words on a
stage with actions appropriate to making the audiences believe the fictional
creatures behave like the "real" people standing around them in the theatre. I
can't believe that anyone other than Shakespeare generated the intentions we
find coded in the earliest printed versions and the different intentions found
in the later printed texts. Nor can I believe that other folks stripped out the
wind images, or the inexpressibility imagery.
Like my friend Lemuel Gulliver, in print and in discussions I've laid out these
ideas and evidence to support them. Like Brother Lemuel, I am dismayed that
current belief and practice does not yet reflect the bright light I've shone on
But then I gather up my quartos and folios, find a few more signs of hope, and I
press on. Evidence, like exuberance, is beauty.
Presentist and Proud! Intensely Intentionalist! Vaingloriously Vulgar!
Urquartowitz of the Bronx
From: Martin Mueller <
Date: Monday, 26 May 2008 20:24:29 -0500
Subject: 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: Re: SHK 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
This is a puzzled and not very well thought-through response to the thread about
Shakespeare's intentions. One of the problems in that phrase is "Shakespeare's."
How different is he from "us," whoever we are? And if he was spectacularly good
at what he did -- which I'm inclined to agree was the case in many cases -- does
that make any difference to what "he means" or what "we mean by him." My answer
to that question is that it doesn't, and that we shouldn't talk about
"Shakespeare's" intentions unless we are prepared to think of it as a particular
(and not necessarily special) case of what anybody means by anything.
But if we start thinking about what anybody means by anything and whether
anybody ever understands anything that anybody else says we are in a largely
probabilistic universe. Good enough uptake happens all the time.
Misunderstandings happen all the time. Some misunderstandings get transformed
into good enough uptake after clarification (both of us now think, rightly or
wrongly that my uptake of what you said corresponds to what you meant to say).
There are less comMonday, and highly telling, instances of one person
understanding another person "all too well," which the other person may or may
Another variable is the degree of semantic specification. When Polonius says
"Take this from this if this be otherwise" (Hamlet, 2.2.156) there is a high
probability that he means something like "cut off my head" or perhaps "take away
my staff of office." When Cornwall says: "Regan, I bleed apace, / Untimely comes
this hurt. Give me your arm" (3.7.97-8), there is an equally high probability
that Cornwall is asking for Regan's arm (and that the author meant for Cornwall
to have this intention). It is much harder to judge whether Shakespeare "meant"
for Regan to lend her arm to Cornwall and whether a modern director would be
inside or outside the playwright's intention in making Regan conspicuously
ignore this clearly intended call for help. It might be best to say that we are
in an underspecified situation.
At some level, we are always in underspecified situation. Good-enough uptake is
never or almost never the only possible response to an unambiguous signal. But
perhaps the whole business of intention should not start from difficult cases,
where people have good reason to argue this way or that way. They should argue
from obvious cases and figure out why (by and large) we don't say things like
Cordelia is the mother of Lear
Ophelia is actually the daughter of Claudius
In the closet scene, Gertrude and Hamlet shared amicable reminiscences about a
recent trip to the Hebrides
Instead we argue most of the time about what the lawyers call the "hard cases"
that make for poor law and we ignore the very large body of agreement that makes
interesting disagreement possible in the first place. At what point do
disagreements about the blindingly obvious begin to break down? And when we
begin to argue, do we argue about the last or first five percent?
From: Larry Weiss <
Date: Wednesday, 28 May 2008 12:49:47 -0400
Subject: Hard Cases
>we argue most of the time about what the lawyers call
>the "hard cases" that make for poor law and we ignore
>the very large body of agreement that makes interesting
>disagreement possible in the first place.
Actually, the word "hard" in this cliche does not mean "difficult"; it means
"causing hardship." The idea is that when judges are faced with the alternative
of following established law or altering it to avoid inflicting a hardship, they
may well commit an error. Apropos of the "intention" discussion, this notion is
what Portia *seems to mean* when she tells the Duke not to "wrest the law to
[his] authority | To do a great right do a little wrong" as "'Twill be recorded
for a precedent | And many an error, by the same example, | Will rush into the
From: David Evett <
Date: Wednesday, 28 May 2008 20:43:43 -0400
Subject: 19.0318 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: Re: SHK 19.0318 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Thanks to Martin Mueller for his splendidly clear and provocative statement of
the Intentional Problem-though it leaves a little understated the imperative
need we have in both ordinary and extraordinary moments of practical life to
seek for intention in the utterances and actions of others.
From: Alan Dessen <
Date: Thursday, 29 May 2008 15:21:33 -0500
Subject: Intentions again
Martin Mueller's assessment of "a largely probabilistic universe" with respect
to authorial "intentions" makes excellent sense to me, as does his category of
the "underspecified situation" (e.g., when considering Regan's response to
Cornwall's "Give me your arm"). "Doing" theatre history means repeatedly dealing
with the probable and the possible -- hence my invocation of Cary Mazer's
"craftsmanship" and "strategy" as opposed to authorial meaning or meanings --
and the term "underspecified" fits neatly with a wealth of evidence I have
collected about so-called "permissive" or "open" stage directions (see our
dictionary entry for "permissive," as with an entrance that includes "as many as
At the risk of muddying the waters, I would like to cite a comparable set of
distinctions. Along with "intentions," another much debated term (particularly
when dealing with the script to stage process) is "authenticity." These days few
scholars have kind things to say about this term (and I studiously avoid using
it in my own work), but in his essay "In Defense of Authenticity" Michael
Friedman provides some distinctions that further develop what is specified and
underspecified in Mueller's terms. Reacting to the "rhetoric of slavery and
emancipation" that underlies many of the attacks on "authenticity," Friedman
reexamines "the extent to which a Shakespearean text limits the performative
options of an authentic production." He posits "the existence of five different
categories of regulation: the text either _forbids_, _discourages_, _allows_,
encourages_, or _demands_ any specific performance choice" (pp. 46-7 -- and he
credits Megan Lloyd for this configuration). He then uses a sequence from _Much
Ado_, 4.1 to illustrate his categories. Friedman notes that "By far the largest
percentage of performance choices may be classified as those which the text
_allows_." For example, "We may presume, for instance, that all of the
characters on stage wear costumes, and that those costumes often convey
significant information to an audience, but the text rarely specifies a
particular character's attire, and when it does, it seldom offers more than one
detail about it" (48). In his formulation, "a production approaches authenticity
to the degree that it abides by what the text demands or encourages and avoids
what the text discourages or forbids" (50).
My summary does not do justice to this section of the essay, so interested
readers should check it out for themselves.
I also see the point in Mueller's warning not to build upon what lawyers term
"hard cases," though in such oddities or stretches, I confess, I have found some
of my most telling examples of the gap between then and now. Again and again my
playgoing in Ashland, Oregon, in the 1970s (starting with a 1974 _Titus
Andronicus_) led me to moments that were demanded or encouraged for Elizabethan
or early Jacobean performance but were resisted by today's theatrical
professionals. Two of my pet examples are the juxtaposition of Kent in the
stocks with Edgar in flight; and the onstage presence of Duke Senior's "banquet"
with Orlando and Adam complaining of starving. For me such anomalies have
provided revealing windows into the past, though what works for my theatre
history project certainly does not rule out Mueller's cautionary suggestion.
From: Alan Horn <
Date: Thursday, 29 May 2008 08:38:41 -0400
Subject: 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: Re: SHK 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Duncan Salkeld makes what I consider an important point in his Roundtable
contribution. He argues that just because we may never understand an author's
intentions with perfect clarity or perfect certainty does not mean we can't or
shouldn't allow consideration of these intentions to constrain our reading. One
could make a similar point against the similar all-or-nothing logic of presentism.
However, I was surprised to see Salkeld endorse the view of Knapp and Michaels
that meaning and intention are one and the same. I can certainly think of ways
in which meanings with no intentions behind them can arise in literary works.
To take a crude example, some of the famous cruxes in Shakespeare may well be
the consequence of arbitrary typographical substitutions. Let's say this is the
case for "Indian"/"Iudean." If so, one of the two alternate meanings of this
part of Othello's penultimate speech not only does not reflect Shakespeare's
intentions, but reflects no human intentions at all. Knapp and Michaels, who
argue in a hypothetical example that a poem inscribed on the shore by the chance
mechanical action of the surf would necessarily be meaningless, would have to
say the same thing about one of the two textual possibilities here. Yet the
meaning of each has been grasped and described by any number of competent readers.
Maybe "meaning" is being specially defined here as "the author's intended
meaning." In this case, the argument is indeed "irrefutable," as Salkeld
proposes, but only because it's circular.
From: Duncan Salkeld <
Date: Friday, 30 May 2008 17:18:51 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 19.0321 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: Re: SHK 19.0321 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Alan Horn very kindly credits me with 'an important point' in my RT contribution
but goes on to propose that the 'Indian/Iudean' crux in Othello (5.2.346) offers
an example of intentionless meaning. He writes that 'one of the two alternate
meanings of this part of Othello's penultimate speech not only does not reflect
Shakespeare's intentions, but reflects no human intentions at all.' For this to
be true, the marks that make up these possibilities would have had to find their
way into the early texts without any human agency involved. But since the
example is probably a case of compositorial 'turned letter' ('Iu' for 'In') or
perhaps a scribal/printing house misreading (see Michael Neill 's 2006 Oxford
edition, pp. 464-5), it is hard to see how 'no human intentions at all' lie
behind it. Indeed such a suggestion seems incomprehensible. The most one could
claim in this and similar instances is that one of the alternatives was not
He is right to see a certain circularity in Knapp and Michaels' argument that
meaning is always "the author's intended meaning." But this is the circularity
of an axiom or first-base assumption. K & M don't so much argue for this
assumption (because they assume it) as argue against attempts at rejecting it --
hence their example of the 'wave poem'. They hold that an apparent poem,
produced in the sand accidentally by a wave, would not even constitute language,
since language (as Wittgenstein, Rush Rhys, Donald Davidson and others have
argued) is fundamentally interpersonal and shared.
Martin Mueller helpfully recommends working from 'obvious' rather than 'hard'
cases. But because intentions are often habitual, many of them are just too
obvious to be worth spelling out. When I cycle to work, I intend to continue
riding until I arrive at my destination. Along the way, I intend to give
appropriate signals to other vehicles and stop at traffic lights. But mentioning
these intentions is by and large worthless so long as it is understood that I am
a competent cyclist and in relative possession of my senses. We often know (or
presuppose) Shakespeare's intentions in a similarly trivial way. Writing Romeo
and Juliet, Shakespeare intended to compose a play (in the dramatic genre as he
understood it); he intended to adapt a poetic source; and, among so many other
aims, he intended, as usual, to convey conflicts of attitude, desire, belief and
action and entertain an audience. But knowing these very basic intentions adds
little to our understanding of the way in which he carried them out.
Mueller also sensibly regards authorial intention as belonging in the realms of
the probable, plausible and 'underspecified' (a useful category, as Alan Dessen
observes). Donald Davidson has done more than any other contemporary philosopher
to show why Mueller's claim about 'the very large body of agreement that makes
interesting disagreement possible in the first place' is essential. My
concluding comments were intended to make a very similar point. As Davidson also
shows, we only understand failures of communication such as malapropisms against
a general backdrop of shared understanding or successful communicability.
From: alan horn
Date: Monday, 2 Jun 2008 07:24:37 -Subject:
Re: SHK 19.0323 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Duncan Salkeld ironically interprets my suggestion that the "Indian"/"Iudean"
crux may well have been produced with "no human intentions at all" in a way that
is quite contrary to my intended meaning. No doubt there were any number of
intentional acts involved in the preparation and printing of the line in
question. But if the textual variation appeared, as Salkeld puts it and as I
supposed, due to a "compositorial 'turned letter' ('Iu' for 'In') or perhaps a
scribal/printing house misreading" -- that is to say, by accident -- then no one
intended to introduce it. You could argue that if it was based on a misreading
rather than a typographic mishap its appearance would entail certain intentions
relevant to the meaning of the text (such as that of making the best sense of an
unclear original). That is why I specified that for the sake of argument I was
assuming the accident was purely mechanical. It doesn't matter if this is true,
only that it could be. Because if so, here is an example of a meaning coming
into being without any intentions relevant to its production behind it.
Or is it a meaning? Knapp and Michaels would argue no. (Or rather, as Salkeld
explains, they "don't so much argue for this assumption (because they assume it)
as argue against attempts at rejecting it,"
which is an interesting distinction.) But to say that either reading of the
passage in question is meaningless is obviously false. The meaning of each has
not only been apprehended but exhaustively discussed by expert readers.
Unless Knapp and Michaels are simply using the word "meaning" in a special
sense. Salkeld concedes that "in Knapp and Michaels' argument [...] meaning is
always 'the author's intended meaning.'" I think we can all agree that the
author's intended meaning is the author's intended meaning, but this does not
amount to a theoretical (or anti-theoretical) discovery. It is not even relevant
to the question at hand.
That language is "fundamentally transpersonal and shared" is precisely the
reason that a word produced by accident can be read and understood by any
competent individual, and therefore has "meaning" as commonly defined. And what
gives language this transpersonal and shared quality is precisely the fact that
the meaning of a given word is purely conventional and does not depend on the
will of any particular person, not even that of its author (if any).
I would like to recommend to anyone following this exchange the article by John
Searle cited by Salkeld in his original contribution ("Literary Theory and Its
Discontents," New Literary History 25.3 (Summer, 1994): 637-667). I read it only
last night and was glad to find it supported everything I had said in my initial
response. If Salkeld thinks that Knapp and Michaels's argument is not
"demonstrably refuted" by it I would like to know why.
Let me also recommend a piece by Frank Kermode along the same lines called "The
Single Correct Interpretation," a review of an essay by P.D. Juhl which
(although they deny it) closely anticipated Knapp and Michaels's arguments. It
is reprinted in Kermode's The Art of Telling (Harvard UP, 1983: 201-220).
By the way, I have an electronic version of the Searle article if anyone needs a
From: Kenneth Chan <
Date: Sunday, 25 May 2008 10:38:13 +0800
Subject: 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: Re: SHK 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
An interesting point is highlighted by Terence Hawkes's contribution "Sans
Everything." Although Shakespeare's actual words constitute the most crucial
aspect of his works, there is nonetheless more to a Shakespearean play than the
language in his text. This probably explains why a Shakespearean play may retain
much of its impact even when the original language is translated. And even if we
remove all the words (as in the "wordless" Macbeth), it is still not "sans
This may be a relevant point in the debate on intention. Let us look again at
the quote from the 2002 volume, Shakespeare in the Present: "We choose the
facts. We choose the texts. We do the inserting. We do the perceiving. Facts and
texts, that is to say, don't simply speak, don't merely mean. We speak, we mean,
This quote would be largely true if it refers to the language in the text. A
play, however, is more than just the language in the text. It also has structure
and plot content (by "plot content," I mean the action or "what is actually
happening" in the scenes).
While much of the debate on intention is focused on the author's words, these
other aspects of Shakespeare's plays should perhaps also be considered together
with the words. Clues as to the author's possible intention may also be found in
the structure of the play and in its plot content -- i.e., those aspects of the
play that are not altered by a translation of its language.
Here is an example of how a play's structure and plot content may be relevant to
the debate on intention. In many Shakespearean plays, certain key motifs are
echoed repeatedly throughout the play, from start to finish. Significantly,
these repeating motifs are different for different plays. For instance, no other
Shakespearean play comes even remotely close to Hamlet in the number of
references to death and its inevitability. This would suggest authorial
intention. And a translation of Hamlet into another language would not alter
Thus, with regards to the debate on intention, I believe it is reasonable that
we also consider the structure and the plot content of the play together with
the words in the text. We will, at least, then have the benefit of a more
From: Alan Dessen <
Date: Monday, 26 May 2008 18:37:58 -0400
Subject: "Intentions" Roundtable
I enjoyed David Evett's comment with reference to my speculations about the
practice of playreading to assembled company members: that stage directions are
sometimes read aloud during an initial read-through in today's rehearsal hall. I
have no such rehearsal room experience, but I have seen at least one Mike
Alfreds production (the 2001 London Globe _Cymbeline_), done with six actors and
two percussionists, where for added clarity Alfreds had his cast speak aloud
various stage directions ("Enter Cloten, the Queen's son"; "Enter Imogen dressed
as a boy"; "Enter Caius Lucius, Soothsayer, Roman Captain") or place indicators
(Rome, Cymbeline's court, Imogen's bed chamber, A cave in the Welsh mountains).
In response to Tom Reedy's citation of the Johannes Rhenanus comment -- that in
England actors "are daily instructed, as it were in a school, so that even the
most eminent actors have to allow themselves to be taught their places by the
Dramatists" -- that passage has indeed been invoked for various purposes. For
example, first Alfred Hart (in 1941) and later David Klein (in 1962) in articles
with the same title in _Modern Language Review_ ("Did Shakespeare Produce His
Own Plays?") cited Rhenanus on different sides of the question (Hart argued no,
Klein yes). In her rehearsal book Tiffany Stern observes that "Rhenanus" passage
is often quoted as a description of rehearsals in the Elizabethan public
theatre, but it occurs in the introduction to _Speculum Aestheticum_ (1613), a
translation of Thomas Tomkis' Trinity College, Cambridge, play _Lingua_." Stern
concludes: "Almost certainly Rhenanus is writing about academic productions . .
. and he is probably making a direct reference to the preparation of _Lingua_
itself" (p. 40). For a more recent summary of her argument in behalf of
one-on-one "Instruction" (as opposed to group rehearsals), occasionally by the
playwright but more commonly by senior actors, see _Shakespeare in Parts_
(co-authored with Simon Palfrey), pp. 66-70. As I noted in my original post, a
playwright attached to a given company (as was Shakespeare) may have played a
significant role in the script to stage process, but the fragmentary nature of
the evidence forestalls any firm conclusions. Meanwhile, for me the work of G.
E. Bentley, although not the final word, remains a model of scholarship that I
have learned to trust, hence my reference to "the standard view."
Finally, as to John Drakakis' query, I'm not sure I understand the distinctions
he is invoking, but I do have major problems with so-called "implied" stage
directions as evidence. Again, for me here there be dragons. As he rightly notes
many onstage actions can be inferred from dialogue (e.g., kisses, embraces,
kneelings), but such inferences are subject to a range of transhistorical
assumptions and reflexes (what I term "theatrical essentialism") that can lead
to questionable conclusions. For the sake of brevity, I will limit myself to
First is the question of timing. My pet example is the final bit of the
penultimate scene in _Taming of the Shrew_ where Petruchio gets Kate, after some
initial resistance, to kiss him in public. The Wells-Taylor Oxford edition
provides "They kiss" at 5.1.139 (and that inserted signal is not placed within
square brackets). Does indeed the kiss come here (so she kisses him, he reacts
"Is not this well?") or does he say "Is not this well?" (to the playgoer? in
response to her verbal acquiescence?) and then kisses her. In a production, this
kiss can be a major and memorable moment, but that moment can be defined or
understood differently depending upon its timing and how a playgoer understands
"is not this well?" Yes, a kiss is implied and does takes place; yes, an editor
is entitled to choose a placement (that's what editors do); but the placement of
the action is not self-evident.
A second example is provided by one of the many lessons I have learned from the
choices of actors and directors. After the blinding of Gloucester, Cornwall
says: "Regan, I bleed apace, / Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm"
(3.7.97-8), and the Riverside is typical in providing: "Exit [led by Regan]." I
have lost count of the number of _King Lear_ productions I have seen (by now
close to fifty), but more than a few have produced a very strong effect by
having Regan ignore her husband's outstretched arm and stride offstage. What
kind of evidence is provided by "Give me your arm"?
Finally, consider the tricky question of what should and should not be
designated an "aside." As noted in our dictionary entry, many asides are
specified in the original manuscripts and early printed texts (e.g., twenty-five
in _The Jew of Malta_), but more often such signals are provided by today's
editor. E. A. J. Honigmann notes that by inserting "aside" an editor "often
implies that the speaker would not have dared to utter the same words openly,"
but "if the situation includes an impudent speaker or an inattentive listener
the case for an aside is weakened." For Honigmann, Hamlet's "A little more than
kin, and less than kind" (1.2.65 - designated [Aside.] in the Riverside)
"expresses the riddling impudence that is characteristic of all of his exchanges
with Claudius before Act V"; why then "assume that he would not have dared to
speak out loud, and that the only alternative is an aside?" Another alternative
is "that Hamlet, the arch-soliloquiser, not infrequently mutters to himself and
cares not a rap whether or not others catch his words," but "Such opportunities
are lost if the editor prints 'Aside'" (176-78).
My own pet example is found at the end of the caldron scene where Macbeth,
although onstage with Lennox, devotes 12 lines (4.1.144-55 - also labeled
[Aside.] in the Riverside) to his plans against the Macduffs and his innermost
thoughts. Most editors treat this passage as an aside and have Macbeth address
Lennox again only in the final line and a half of the scene, a choice that can
work effectively in today's productions. But, like Honigmann's Hamlet, Macbeth
by this point may not care who knows what he is thinking or planning or, as an
alternative, may be so rapt in his little world of man (as in 1.3) that he is
momentarily unaware of Lennox's presence. As with Honigmann's examples, to mark
this speech as an aside is to enforce upon the unsuspecting reader one choice at
the expense of other equally interesting options. For example, in his 1987
Oregon Shakespeare Festival production director Jim Edmondson provided a
rationale for the appearance of the "messenger" who, after the departure of
Rosse, appears with a warning for Lady Macduff (4.2.65-73) by having that figure
overhear Macbeth's "The castle of Macduff I will surprise" comment (4.1.150-53).
In these comments on "implied" s.d.s I have drifted away from John's query and
the focus on intentions but I remain faithful (or so I think) to my paradigm of
a conversation started by the playwright that resulted in a production now lost
to us, the eavesdroppers.
From: Larry Weiss <
Date: Tuesday, 27 May 2008 01:08:01 -0400
Subject: 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment: Re: SHK 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Alan Dessen's observations about the slipperiness of "implied stage directions"
calls to mind a s.d. interpolated by the Oxford editors (Taylor with Wells) in
Act III scene i of T&C. In that scene, Pandarus encounters Paris and Helen and
attempts to deliver a message to Paris from Troilus but is repeatedly
interrupted by jokingly flirtatious behavior by Helen. At one point, after
Helen's line "O sir" (addressed to Pandarus), Oxford adds the stage direction:
"[She tickles him]." The Textual Companion explains the emendation as
"necessary" to explain the word "fits" in the ensuing line and as being
"supported" by an earlier (I.ii) account of Helen ticking Troilus, Pandarus's
use of the word "ticles" in his song later in the scene and Helen's touching him
later in the scene. The last is another additional s.d. by the Oxford editors
("[She strokes his fore-head]"). These stage directions may be correct, but it
strikes me that the choice is better left to directorial than editorial discretion.
Barthes, Roland. ''The Death of the Author.'' Image, Music, Text. Trans. Stephen
Heath. London: Fontana, 1977. 142-48.
Derrida, Jacques. "Signature, Event, Context." In _Margins of Philosophy_.
Translation with notes by Alan Bass. New York and London: Harvester Wheatsheaf,
Foucault, Michel. ''What is an Author?'' In _Textual Strategies: Perspectives in
Structuralist Criticism_. Ed. Josue V. Harari. London: Methuen, 1979. 141-60.
Friedman, Michael D. "In Defense of Authenticity." _Studies in Philology_ 94
Hart, Alfred. "Did Shakespeare Produce His Own Plays?" _ Modern Language Review_
36 (1941): 173-83.
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