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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: June ::
Middleton and Macbeth

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0251  Wednesday, 23 June 2010

[1]  From:      David Evett < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      June 22, 2010 2:44:24 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth 

[2]  From:      William Godshalk < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      June 22, 2010 4:01:51 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbet

[3]  From:      Felix de Villiers < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      June 22, 2010 4:48:37 PM EDT
     Subj:      Middleton and Macbeth

[4]  From:      William Godshalk < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      June 22, 2010 10:49:24 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth

[5]  From:      Stanley Wells < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      June 23, 2010 6:01:58 AM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         David Evett < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         June 22, 2010 2:44:24 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth

The TLS editors could be excused for declining to publish Hugh Grady's letter on the
Macbeth-Middleton//Taylor-Vickers controversy (SHK 21.0246) on grounds that it
clearly misrepresents Vickers' position. Grady proposes that "Vickers' attempt to
discredit Taylor by accusing him of reviving the views of the Victorian
disintegrators is highly ironic, since Vickers himself long since joined their ranks
in his published views in Shakespeare, Co-Author (OUP, 2002)." Vickers' point,
however, is not that Taylor argues in his edition of Macbeth that parts of it were
written by Middleton and therefore follows Clark, Wright, Fleay, Cuningham, and the
other Victorians in endorsing the possibility of multiple authorship per se. Vickers
has, indeed, made that enterprise his own principal scholarly task of late. It is
that Taylor follows his Victorian predecessors by adopting their "peacemeal" method:
"Typically, the disintegrators picked out a line here, a phrase there, as having
been added, or they stigmatized a whole speech but excepted four lines in the
middle, and so on" (TLS 28 May 2010, p.14). Vickers' own practice, indeed, through
recent books and articles, has been to argue that in several firmly canonical plays
significant parts were written by authors other than Shakespeare, and then to assign
to them whole scenes, even series of scenes, following what he considers to be "the
known procedures of early modern theatre companies."

It is, indeed, also the case that Vickers seems to accuse Taylor of making his
proposals on his own "cultural authority" -- his position as a big-time scholar,
able to tell the printers to reset the play in several different fonts on the basis
of his own "purely aesthetic grounds" -- rather than applying the sophisticated
linguistic tests devised over recent decades by several different scholars used by
Vickers and others, and that when he does cite other authorities, they are of
dubious value (R. V. Holdsworth, in an unpublished doctoral thesis) or are
misrepresented. The tone of this part of Vickers' article, and especially the last
part, does incline toward the ad hominem. Nevertheless, Vickers' case against Taylor
does call for serious consideration.

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Godshalk < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         June 22, 2010 4:01:51 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth

Has anyone recently mentioned J. M. Robertson, The Shakespeare Canon (1922), in this
great disintegrationist debate? When I was a graduate student some decades ago, one
of my teachers of the "Modernist generation of Shakespeare scholars" presented J. M.
Robertson as someone to smile at, but not to read. Has Robertson been rediscovered
yet? 

Bill

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Felix de Villiers < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         June 22, 2010 4:48:37 PM EDT
Subject:      Middleton and Macbeth

June 4, 2010. Erne writes: "As long no scholarly consensus is emerging, we may have
no better option than to rely in our own readerly judgement."

Excellent words. I have been fading out somewhat as a contributor, because too
involved in other periods of music and poetry, but this subject arouses my passion.
In the case of Macbeth, it seems all too obvious that the play was and could only
have been by Shakespeare. If there are a few words and witches' ditties added by
another, this makes absolutely no difference. Now, this argument of co-authorship
has been extended to plays like Titus Andronicus. There is one style and one only
that carries the play from beginning to end, Shakespeare', I believe. Despite the
subject matter it maintains exactly the same level of lyrical excellence -- others
will say bad taste -- from beginning to end. Whichever way you see it, the style is
one, consistent and coherent. There are more lapses of style in greater plays. The
prejudice against this play has to do with its extremely barbaric content. In the
quasi-Victorian edition I still have, the Introduction states: "If we disregard 
Titus Andronicus, that many editors have refused to believe in its authenticity..."
then it was not his first tragedy, it simply did not exist. Many are the attempts to
tame Shakespeare moralistically and domesticate him. It can't be done. Cruelty and
suffering find expression in Titus and everything depends on how this is done. I
started writing an essay on the play when I was with Arden and I really think I
should finish it to sort out all these implications. -- I can open the play at any
page and recognize Shakespeare's gait and lines that could only have been written by
one hand, as Edith Sitwell says of these lines.

When did the Tiger's young ones teach the dam?
O1 do not learne her wrath; she taught it thee;
The milke thou suckst from her did turn to Marble;
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy Tyranny. (II,3)

Felix de Villiers
Temple of the Arts
Verona

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Godshalk < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         June 22, 2010 10:49:24 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth

After asking my question about J. M. Robertson, I consulted Vickers Shakespeare, Co-
Author, and noted that Vickers does mention Robertson as undisciplined and
unscholarly. This J. M., 'by the by' knew little or nothing about Chaucer. 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Stanley Wells < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         June 23, 2010 6:01:58 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0246  Middleton and Macbeth

I entirely endorse Hugh Grady's comments. And Vickers has no right to assume that
John Jowett's views result from only a 'cursory' reading, as if anyone who read his
arguments carefully would inevitably agree with them. 

Stanley Wells

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