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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: November ::
Thomas of Woodstock

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0299  Friday, 11 November 2011

 

[1] From:         Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         November 10, 2011 12:10:55 PM EST

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: CFP; Inquiry; Anon; Woodstock

 

[2] From:         Michael Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         November 11, 2011 10:23:17 AM EST

     Subject:      Woodstock

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         November 10, 2011 12:10:55 PM EST

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: CFP; Inquiry; Anon; Woodstock

 

Duncan Salkeld wrote:

 

>Such abbreviations are everywhere in early modern documents, 

>but are not errors in transcription. 

>

>They are customary habits of transcription. I was merely advertising 

>some forthcoming work. 

 

I certainly do not want to derail the discussion and turn it into a paleographic argument, so perhaps we should take this to private email. 

 

However, if it is a customary habit of transcription to fail to record the presence of brevigraphs in a manuscript and, instead, to substitute for them a simple letter, then those habits are flawed because they may all too easily produce larger errors of meaning, such as the one I pointed out in your original post. In other words, if someone concludes that "apparel" was pronounced as "appell" based on a customary habit of transcription that failed to take note of a brevigraph and substituted a plain "p", then the transcription practice has played a role in producing an unsupportable conclusion (at least based on the "evidence" of that document). Put slightly differently, the transcriber needs to note when a "p" is not a "p" or s/he hasn't done his paleographic duty (the penalties for which are severe and may include an official withdrawl of the hand of paleographic fellowship!)

 

Eric Johnson-DeBaufre

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Michael Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         November 11, 2011 10:23:17 AM EST

Subject:      Woodstock

 

1. Larry Weiss complains that I have not yet risen to the bait of his fake and dishonest review of The Tragedy of Richard II, Part One. His impatience betrays his intent, which is to continue his role of prosecuting attorney (Mr Weiss's day job, if I am not mistaken).  Well, Larry, that's one of the reasons I declined in the first place to participate in the charade you and Ward Elliott set up—verdict first, trial afterward. I don't fear any honest discussion of my evidence—it's overwhelming. I will of course respond to your statement, though in my own time. I have promises to keep, among them a new Complete Shakespeare—for the first time, really complete, with the likeliest "apocryphal" plays printed alongside their First Folio counterparts, e.g. The Taming of a Shrew and The Taming of the Shrew, The Troublesome Reign and King John, etc.

 

BTW, I am looking for Introducers/Editors, so if any readers would like to offer their talents I'll be glad to receive them. You may propose one play or a group of plays.

 

2. Thanks to  Eric Johnson-DeBaufre for pointing out to Duncan Salkeld  that the apparently phonetic 'appell' is a transcription device. Theoretically of course any multisyllabic word can be slurred. My overlooked point however was that there is simply no warrant for assuming the dramatist's intention that 'apparel' should be slurred (have we forgotten the Intentional Fallacy, by the way?) and every reason to think he would want to avoid it. 'Apparel' plays a big role in the play, and is the source of its dominant clothing imagery. From a dramatist's point of view, nothing is gained by obscuring the word's meaning.

 

But let's take a clearer instance of Jackson's text manipulation. He quotes the following exchange, which is a nicely split iambic pentameter except for the annoying fact that there is an extra beat introduced by the repetition of "Nay":

 

         Duchess: What have you seen, my lord?

         Woodstock: Nay, nay, nothing, wife.

1 Richard II , I.iii.64-5

 

So Jackson just deletes one of the Nays, on the grounds that in his opinion it is ‘metrically unstressed’ (which it plainly is not): He writes:

"I take ‘Nay, nay’ as being metrically unstressed, so that the line has five metrical stresses, as it would if there were a single ‘Nay.'

 

He ‘takes’ it to be so.  Is this what passes for scholarship nowadays?  Jackson can believe what he likes, but it is not evidence. This is especially so  because far from being unstressed, the doubly emphasized ‘Nay’ is the most powerful signifier in the entire exchange. It’s a deliberate emphasis. Woodstock is em­barrassedly denying to his wife, in the presence of the whole court, that he has been looking at other women. The intruding ‘Nay’ intentionally stands out by upsetting the Duchess’s introductory iambs, while the gathering alliteration of Ns—nay, nay, noth—provides three heavily accented beats. 

 

In other words, it’s prose. Had the author wanted a pentameter he could easily have deleted one of the Nays himself ‘What have you seen, my lord? / Nay, nothing wife.’  He took a different road, and that makes all the difference.

 

Thank you

Michael

 

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