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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: October ::
Thomas of Woodstock

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0263  Wednesday, 5 October 2011

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

     Date:         October 3, 2011 11:16:18 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock 

 

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

     Date:         October 3, 2011 12:46:06 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Woodstock 

 

[3] From:         John W Kennedy < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         October 4, 2011 11:13:08 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock 

 

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

     Date:         October 4, 2011 10:12:29 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock 

 

[5] From:         Gerald E. Downs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         October 4, 2011 9:36:17 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Thomas of Woodstock 

 

 

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

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

Date:         October 3, 2011 11:16:18 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

Leaving aside all the scholarly disputation about authorship of Woodstock, I did have one "speaking" problem with Mr. Egan's most recent post.

 

I admit up front I'm not British, and I'm most certainly not a scholar, merely a fascinated onlooker.

 

That being said, I have some problem with the following:

 

>"Woodstock:  In my apparel, you’ll say.

>Lancaster: Good faith, in all. —1 Richard II, I.i.160-1. 

>

>just so that Jackson can claim the two lines make up an iambic

>pentameter. I pointed out that slurring apparel is likely to make it sound

>ridiculously like apple, when some perfectly serviceable di-syllabic words

>for clothing were on hand: raiment, garment, clothing etc. Downs

>nonetheless mocks me and tries to pretend that phonically there’s a

>noticeable difference between apple and apparl. Well, unfortunately that’s

>the level of debate her"

 

First, I had always thought that the fruit is an AAAAHH-pl while one puts on uh-PAHR-ul. (I know these are not phonetic symbols; my History of the English Language courses were 45+ years ago!)

 

So I fail to see how an elided "apparel" into "appar'l" would sound anything like "apple" since the stresses occur on different syllables.

 

Further, to argue that perfectly good 2-syllable words could have been chosen suggests a belief that the author choosing "apparel” either did so deliberately or had not the skill to make a better choice. I am not suggesting either option as more likely.  Besides, eliding apparel into appar'l makes the two lines read aloud quite iambic-ly.  Raiment, garment, and clothing all have stress on the first syllable.  Did I *miss* in the discussion a statement that the author of the two lines cited *deliberately* chose to make them prosaic rather than poetic by choosing the word apparel?  If so, I apologize for my ignorance of that fact.  But it still does not explain apple/appar'l to my satisfaction.

 

Mari Bonomi

 

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

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

Date:         October 3, 2011 12:46:06 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Woodstock

 

Correcting Michael Egan could easily become the full-time occupation of several SHAKSPERians.  It’s clear that others just aren’t finding his “1500-1600” parallels between Shakespeare and Thomas of Woodstock as compelling as he does.

 

I’ll confine myself to a couple of points of correction then suggest a way forward.

 

i) Michael Egan says he is “still waiting for Gabriel Egan (primus inter pares) to apologize for his straight-out lie that my case includes the claim that ‘dede as a dore nayle’ is ‘a marker of authorship, as [Michael] Egan believes’”.

 

It isn’t a lie: Michael Egan goes on to argue that the use of this phrase in Thomas of Woodstock and Shakespeare’s 2H4 is one of “the parallels between 1R2 and the rest of Shakespeare”. Where’s the lie? (And why be so rude to me, since I just fulfilled his request for an advance copy of my forthcoming essay, when I might easily have taken the hump and ignored it?)

 

ii) Michael Egan writes that he is “the only participant in this whole debate who has actually examined the original MS”.

 

Michael Egan has no way of knowing who has consulted the manuscript except where the people concerned have told him. I haven’t told him, so he can’t know. Michael: surely you must realize that writing things like this only makes you look arrogant and foolish; it doesn’t win adherents.

So, to a suggested way forward . . .

 

While Michael Egan is right that Edwin Mellen Press is not a “vanity” publisher, its peer-review processes are, by everyone’s agreement, less rigorous than is usual in our field, since the author gets to nominate referees. Admittedly, almost all book publishers have review processes that are sub-optimal, since in almost all cases the referees are told the name of the author and hence there is the possibility of bias.

 

But lots of journals do perform peer-review rigorously, using the double-blind process where the referees don’t know who the author is, and the author doesn’t know who the referees are. This is the best system devised so far for eliminating the personal element and getting scholarship judged purely on its merits.

 

I suggest to Michael Egan that he pursue journal publication as a way to try to win adherents to his cause. According to the (admittedly incomplete) Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLA-IB) Michael Egan has published no articles on the subject of Thomas of Woodstock, and indeed no articles at all (according to MLA-IB, you understand) since 1984.

 

I’m not saying that publication in a journal article would win round all of Michael Egan’s opponents. But it would be a start, since it would force Michael Egan to abandon the weakest parts of the argument and focus on those that he can at least convince two double-blind peer referees have enough merit to be heard. Publication in the form of a 4-volume book costing $300 from a publisher with a low reputation is not the way to get heard. No amount of complaining that your opponents haven’t read your book is going to make them splash out $300 on it, particularly given the terrible publicity its author is generating for it here.

 

Tell you what, Michael, if you really want your book to be read and it’s not about the money: take the Open Access route. I have a digital copy of your book (that I made myself) and if you want to distribute the thing free of charge I’d be happy to make it available.

 

Gabriel Egan

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         October 4, 2011 11:13:08 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

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

 

>There’s just no evidence for the claim that the word apparel 

>below should be contracted in to two syllables, as Mac Jackson 

>asserts:

>

>Woodstock:  In my apparel, you’ll say.

>Lancaster: Good faith, in all. —1 Richard II, I.i.160-1. 

>

>just so that Jackson can claim the two lines make up an iambic >pentameter. I pointed out that slurring apparel is likely to make 

>it sound ridiculously like apple,

 

Because both words have a P and an L? They are otherwise quite unlike, and are oppositely stressed.

 

When some perfectly serviceable di-syllabic words for clothing were on hand: raiment, garment, clothing etc.

 

None of which fit the (rather uninventive) meter.

 

>Scroop: Excellent Tresilian!

>Bushy: Noble Lord Chief Justice!

>

>is slurred by Jackson into an iambic pentameter, and then defended 

>by the ignorant Downs: “Exint Tresin noble Lord Chief Justice!” 

>This claim is advanced even tho the stresses are all wrong (noBILL 

>lord CHIEF jusTICE). It makes no sense except in the context of a

>strained analysis bent on making the play into what it is not.

 

Nonsense. 1) "Excellent" needs no barbarous curtation to "exint" when "exc'llent" produces the same two syllables. 2) "Tresilian" is, throughout the play, both "Tre-sil-i-an" (four syllables) and "Tre-sil-ian" (three), and the latter serves the line in question just fine. 3) And when this is done, we have a perfectly good feminine line:

 

Scroop: Exc'llént Tresílian!

Bushy:                       Nóble Lórd Chief Jústice.

 

Mr. Egan can stamp his feet, shout, and Galilionize himself as much as he likes; it won't score any points.

 

John W Kennedy

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         October 4, 2011 10:12:29 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

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

 

>Gerald Downs’ comments about my case for Shakespeare’s 

>authorship of 1 Richard II are wrong at almost every turn. But 

>then he admits he hasn’t actually read my book, though this 

>apparently is no bar to disagreeing with it.

 

I note that authors of poorly argued books invariably belittle the opinions of those arguing against them who haven’t read their books.  As though reviews, the author’s prior articles, the author’s published defenses of his book, discussions of his book by various people, some of whom have read it, can’t be sufficient to give an intelligent person enough to declare the author wrong—or probably wrong—with a good chance of being right.  

 

--Bob G.

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         October 4, 2011 9:36:17 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: Thomas of Woodstock

 

Although Michael Egan responds to my comments on Woodstock a bit tartly, I'm willing to continue the discussion. Undefeated in the name-calling game, I'm not easily brought out of retirement. Verbal abuse has limits (imposed not by the abuser, nor the editor, but the recipient). In any case, it doesn't win the day.

 

>"Downs . . . admits he hasn’t actually read my book, though this

>apparently is no bar to disagreeing with it. He knows my case is wrong

>before he reads it—that’s why he doesn’t have to read it." 

 

No one has to read it, actually. I wasn't disagreeing with the book per se, but with The Oxfordian follow-up articles available online, where Egan discusses a number of issues. However, I am now reading Vol. 1 (patiently, if hurriedly; it's an ILL book, if you catch my thrift). "So & So admits" is not usually conducive to scholarly discussion.

 

>"Nor (as he unashamedly admits [the So & So]) has he read the articles

>by Mac Jackson and myself battling over the MSS’s details—he is still

>willing to declare me wrong and Mr Jackson right, sight unseen." 

 

But I have read a couple Egan articles, from one of which I quoted. I took his Jackson citations as accurate.

 

>"Downs’ 9/29 email is a classic example of how the case against The

>Tragedy of Richard II Part One (Woodstock) is being mounted—

>dishonestly, unfairly, and above all ignorantly. I do not expect Mr Downs

>to respond with any kind of apology or correction to what follows." 

 

I'm sorry, I will correct what follows. We don't know the original title; I prefer Woodstock, in part because 1 & 2 Richard is confusing in citation, but mostly because 1 Richard horns in on a traditional title, forcing 2 Richard and promoting a hypothesis.

 

>"I’m still waiting for Gabriel Egan . . . to apologize for his straight-out lie

>that my case includes the claim that 'dede as a dore nayle' is 'a marker of

>authorship, as Egan believes.'" 

 

Now why does Michael Egan expect an apology from Gabriel Egan, but not from me? No fair!!  I have had a number of exchanges with Gabriel Egan, sometimes in disagreement. Yet I have no doubt of his honesty and I appreciate his willing ability to discuss the issues. In this instance, I agree with Michael Egan that the contexts of the doornail citations increase their importance. I don't agree with M. Egan's inferences, though interplay borrowings are quite important to the topic.

 

>"The Tragedy of Richard II, Part One is not self-published." 

 

Whatever one thinks of the Edwin Mellen Press, it is clear enough that Michael Egan's book hasn't the benefit of an active editorial hand. Mellen prints it the way it comes. The question is whether Mellen was guaranteed a minimum sale. I don't know the answer.

 

>"Because Mr Downs is ignorant he completely mistakes the textual

>argument between Jackson and myself: He writes: 'If Egan reports aright,

>Mac Jackson accepts the ms. as holograph . . .' So Downs is taking sides

>without even checking Jackson’s own essay and—amazingly enough—

>agreeing with what he hasn’t seen.

>

>However, this is what he hasn’t seen: Jackson completely contradicts

>himself on the matter of whether the MS of 1 Richard II is in the author’s

>own hand or that of scribe/copyist. At one point he says it’s a scribal

>copy. At another he claims the MS hand is Samuel Rowley’s."

 

I didn't agree that the ms. is holograph. Apparently Egan did not report accurately; that's what the "if" is for. "[E]xamination of the . . . manuscript . . . makes it clear that it is not the holograph [Jackson] assumes it to be" (O XI, 158); "[Jackson] abruptly abandons the MS--which ironically he believes to be a holograph" (179). M. Egan is equivocal in his own statements: "Luckily, in the case of [Woodstock] we have the original manuscript, or , , ," (179).

 

In his book, Egan is confused about the manuscript, citing Rossiter on inconsequential deletions ('The writer of the MS. made them'): "[Rossiter adds] that Hand A, as he calls the copyist, was probably 'correcting from something . . ." (Egan 1, 56). "Elsewhere [Rossiter] suggests that A and the scribe may not be the same . . ." (57 n.247). But Rossiter, a major source for Egan, refers to the "MS.-writer" and "S" interchangeably; he does not confuse S with A, a reviser. Egan seems not to recover from this error, though he observes later in the book that Rossiter distinguished the hands. Rossiter himself is mixed up in other ways.

 

>"Thus concerning the critical editing out in the 1 Richard II MS of the word

> “pelting” in “pelting farm,” Downs blandly says “Unless the MSR editor

>[i.e., Frijlinck) is mistaken, it seems the correction to the word (originally

>peltry, she thinks) is in the same ink as the text...” etc. But Frijlinck is

>mistaken and I’m frankly in a position to say so since I am the only

>participant in this whole debate who has actually examined the original

>MS, and in great detail too aided by computer softwares."

 

I made allowance for the MSR error, if that's what it is. Logically, given the borrowing of 'pelting farm' between plays, the likelihood is that the scribe's copy read 'pelting'; Perhaps the reviser was unfamiliar with the word. I doubt the inks can help determine the author.

 

>"My examination leads me to a quite different conclusion: that the original

>phrase was “pelting farm,” and that someone tried various alternatives to

> “pelting,” e.g., “petty” and “peltry” and then decided to delete the whole

>passage. My hypothesis is that Shakespeare decided to keep the phrase

>for 2 Richard II, which he had of course already written by the time he

>came to edit 1 Richard II, ca. 1605."

 

Before that unlikely hypothesis Egan says "the intervention has to be authorial," which is also unlikely. Why (I mean, for what good reason) must mistaken correction of one word be authorial? And why, according to the major hypothesis, would one word matter when many others are shared between the plays?

 

>"By the way—another point about which Downs is uncertainly certain—

>we can also say with complete confidence that the MS is an early 17th

>century copy of a late 16th century play—the evidence is in the work of A.

>C. Partridge whose unanswerable analysis has still to be confronted by

>Mac Jackson."

 

I expressed no opinion about the dating of the manuscript; Michael Egan may be confusing me with Gabriel Downs. I think the play originated early; that this ms. is late. I haven't said why I think so. Nevertheless, I don't mind being uncertain. That's how one gets somewhere instead of stuck.

 

>"There’s just no evidence for the claim that the word apparel below

>should be contracted in to two syllables, as Mac Jackson asserts . . . . >

 

Perfectly serviceable words have nothing to do with the empirical evidence. The stress is on the second syllable, when the word cannot sound like 'apple,' and there is no reason the "r" should disappear. Plenty of evidence from the time suggests that such shortening was common; Jackson's conjecture is reasonable, if not capable of proof. My point was that name-calling was unnecessary; obviously, I failed to drive it home.

 

>"Downs nonetheless mocks me and tries to pretend . . ."  

 

I'm always trying to pretend, but I don't know how; I never even got any candy on Halloween. 

 

>". . . that phonically there’s a noticeable difference between apple and

>apparl. Well, unfortunately that’s the level of debate here." As I note 

>(before getting this far), the stresses are on different syllables. In prosody

>that is now and again important.

>

>"Likewise

>

>Scroop: Excellent Tresilian!

>Bushy: Noble Lord Chief Justice!

>

>is slurred by Jackson into an iambic pentameter, and then defended by

>the ignorant Downs: “Exint Tresin noble Lord Chief Justice!” 

 

This claim is advanced even though the stresses are all wrong (noBILL lord CHIEF jusTICE)."

 

The line scans just fine, and no one suggests "Exint Tresin." Ex'lent and Tresil-yan (rhymes with million) or Tresillan (rhymes with villain). Ex'lent Trisillan, Noble Lord Chief Justice. No wrong stresses. Again Jackson is reasonable in his treatment, though the exchange may well be prose and should not be counted as verse for statistical purposes. 

 

>"The rest of Downs’ comments are equally unreliable and inaccurate." 

 

Not much of an indictment. I believe readers will approve my comments. I'll probably have a few more soon; I don't think Egan's hypothesis will survive its faulty presentation and his inability to handle criticism, as evidenced here. I am willing to entertain hypotheses when others are not; that's why I'm reading the book. I won't quite say Egan is on the right track, but his work could help to formulate a more credible proposition than his own.

 

A final note: There is a kind of controversialist who will take any opportunity to avoid answering criticism of critical parts of his argument. I trust that Michael Egan is not of that ilk. In his posting, however, he resorts first to verbal abuse, which may be expected to end discussion with persons more sensitive than yours truly; then he botches a series of counter-arguments to trivial matters (which I raised) while declining to discuss the more important topics. What about his assumption that the author was on hand to fool with this corrupt manuscript? That doesn't make sense as he presents the assumption, and I said so. No word in response. What about my objection to his claims of hendiadys? No response. To take a line from Egan, I don't expect him to answer these questions: not now; but I had thought he would "man up" to these challenges (the first of many that I might offer) because he asked for responses.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 
 

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