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

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0274  Friday, 7 October 2011

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

     Date:         October 6, 2011 1:31:46 PM EDT

     Subject:      Woodstock

 

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

     Date:         October 6, 2011 2:47:40 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

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

     Date:         October 6, 2011 4:21:34 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

 

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

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

Date:         October 6, 2011 1:31:46 PM EDT

Subject:      Woodstock

 

Re: The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0263  Wednesday, 5 October 2011

 

It's ironic that just today Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman was vindicated "after years when colleagues mocked him, insulted him and exiled him from his research group. The shy, 70-year-old Shechtman said he never doubted his findings and considered himself merely the latest in a long line of scientists who advanced their fields by challenging the conventional wisdom and were shunned by the establishment because of it."

 

Same here, though, of course, at a much more modest level. Nonetheless, like d'Artagnan, I am pleased to accommodate all you gentlemen, one by one or collectively. The fact is, 1 Richard II was composed by Shakespeare and will eventually be incorporated into The Collected Works. While few current readers apparently have much interest in this debate I feel I must write for history, as it were, because one day this correspondence may well be reviewed by another generation of scholars.

 

The trouble is that at times the debate is necessarily carried on at the most detailed of levels, and most scholars don't have time for what they mistakenly consider academic squabbling. We all I think understand what's at stake here--a new Shakespeare play! And a good one too.

 

To Mari Bonomi: 

 

I don't quite get your point. Mine is this: Mac Jackson tries to turn 1 Richard II into a manuscript written by Sam Rowley in his own handwriting ca. 1608. This contradicts existing scholarship, including my own, based on a close physical and computerized examination of the MS. The text is heavily edited with a variety of hands and picking one’s way through the undergrowth is a slow and difficult process. However, the undisputed scholar of the text, A.C. Partridge, concludes unequivocally that it is scribal copy made ca.1605 of a play written ca. 1592. Jackson excepted, this is the conclusion of all scholars, including myself.

 

To make his claim work, Jackson has to show that 1 Richard II and Rowley's only known play When You See Me You Know Me share important stylistic features. Since they don’t, Jackson is forced to claim that certain lines in 1 Richard II with 11-14 syllables are "really" iambic pentameters, i.e., comprise ten syllables, and that certain non-rhyming words really rhyme, etc. This is accomplished by introducing the concepts of "slurring," which allows syllables to be elided, and nasal rhyming, which allows Jackson to claim that words that obviously don't rhyme, e.g., Queen and Room, really do if you're sufficiently adenoidal. I simply pointed out how absurd and unnecessary these claims are, especially in view of what the MS actually does without having to violently rewrite it. If we take it as it is, as a whole, language, form, style, attitudes, poetry, characterization, multiple links to Shakespeare and more, there are indeed only two choices: It's by Shakespeare or by someone who understood Shakespeare's methods so well he could create a copy that's indistinguishable from the real thing.

 

To Gabriel Egan:

 

You write: "It isn’t a lie: Michael Egan goes on to argue that the use of this phrase ["Dead as a doornail"] in Thomas of Woodstock and Shakespeare’s 2H4 is one of “the parallels between 1R2 and the rest of Shakespeare”. Where’s the lie?"

 

The lie, Sir, as you well know, is not in my recognition that the phrase "dead as a doornail" occurs in 1 R 2 and elsewhere in Shakespeare, which is just a fact, but the way you ignore that format of the whole exchange: "What...is dead?"/'As [a doornail/nail in door]". That is the basis of my claim--why don't you just have the courage and/or decency to admit it? You misrepresented me by leaving out "What . . . is dead?"/'As [a doornail/nail in door]" i.e., the strongest part of my case and focused on a false claim instead.

 

So Dr Egan I am calling you on it. 

 

You say: “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.”

 

Arrogance, Sir, compounded by ignorance. My articles rebutting Jackson may be found in The Oxfordian, 2007, 2009, 2010. Jackson’s articles are printed alongside. The journal Research Opportunities in Medieval and Renaissance Drama, which published without notification one of his attacks on me, declined to allow me to reply.

 

Despite my former letter about the peer-reviewing process at Edwin Mellen Press you continue to repeat the same nonsense, as I predicted. BTW, how did you come to possess a digital copy of my book (that you made yourself)? I'm not against your distributing it, but before you do I'd like to check that it is fact my own unedited copy and that publishing it does not pose any interesting copyright questions for EMP.

 

Please let me know ASAP how you come by it.

 

You are right in one thing: I don't really know who has or has not examined the MS. I know for sure that Mac Jackson hasn't, since he admits it and relies on Frijlinck and Rossiter. If you have let’s hear you on some of the key textual difficulties. For example, what you think of the crux posed by ‘Or let our predecessors yet to come,’ at III.i.91?   

 

To John Kennedy:

 

No, Sir, apparrel elided sounds like apple because of the initial vowel AP followed by [slur] and ending with L.  I guess you could App-rill, but that's not a slur, just an elision. Chambers introduced the slur concept to express the -shun sound in ambition, as opposed to ambit-i-o-n. I think the real question is why would an acknowledged hack like Samuel Rowley put so much effort into creating an iambic pentameter for purely technical reasons but at the cost of his audience not quite getting an important piece of information?.

 

“Ex-lint Tresin noble Lord Chief Justice’ is obviously not an iambic pentameter but two lines of punchy dialogue as Tresilian’s cronies slap him on the back.  In  the play Tressilian is never reduced to two syllables. As a director/playwright I want my audience hear that "Excellent Tresillian!" Then they crowd around him laughing. "Noble Lord Chief Justice!" with a slight irony on the Noble. The Jackson thesis is bloodless and in the service of mere scholarism

 

I don’t know what Galilionize means but it doesn’t sound nice and I’m sorry if I did it/do it. Also I don’t recall stamping and shouting but I apologize for that too.

  

To Bob Grumman:

 

You seem to be saying that I belittle the opinions of people who argue with me without having actually read my book.

 

What would you have me do?

 

And relatedly

 

To Gerald Downs

 

who writes disarmingly that no one has to read my book, after all. I thank him for taking the time to read it now. I didn’t know I was being verbally abusive, sorry. Maybe I was Galilionizing.

 

As for the MS and my conclusions about it, all I can say is that I have scrupulously and carefully examined a difficult and fragile document by hand as it were and also on my computer screen. The conclusions I come to are broadly similar to those of every other scholar except Mac Jackson. This is a prompter’s copy of a play written ca. 1592. It’s full of stage-managers’ notes but other additions and subtractions are evidently of an earlier era. We can see for example that certain speeches are unattributed, suggesting that this MS was at first written out in full and then, with the dramatist’s help, the speeches assigned. When they weren’t assigned they were deleted.

 

Mistakes have been made, some quite serious, then corrected. These suggest a scribe and not an author’s copy. Sometimes a space has been left for an illegible word, added later. Occasionally, a character’s name is given incorrectly, then fixed up. It all adds up to an edited copy.

 

Rossiter identifies one of the MS’s 9 hands as the author’s, largely because only the author could intervene so radically, e.g. by deleting the “pelting farm” speech. If this play is by Shakespeare, we have some rare examples of his handwriting. The text does show some 17th -century features but these are explained by the scribe introducing modern abbreviations. Partridge calls the process “stratification”: a few 17th-century features overlaying a late-16th Century bedrock. This single fact alone completely eliminates Mac Jackson’s thesis.

 

I hope this answers Down’s skepticism that the author was on hand at some point to work on the manuscript. I don’t know why he thinks this doesn’t make sense.

 

As for the hendiadys debate, all I can say is that the examples I cite are well within the range and style we find throughout Shakespeare. I give the OED definition and show that my examples fall with it.

 

Finally, any time Mr Downs (or indeed Gabriel Egan) wants to apologise that’s OK with me, and I accept.

 

Thank you,

Michael Egan

 

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

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

Date:         October 6, 2011 2:47:40 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

Concerning "Woodstock": I think a moratorium might be in order. At least one of the participants has persuaded me, through his intemperance, not to be interested in his side at all. Perhaps a few months off could get the discussion back on an even keel -- sans insults, wild wagers and all that sound and fury.

 

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

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

Date:         October 6, 2011 4:21:34 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

A generous proposal from Gabriel Egan?:  

 

>Tell you what, Michael [Egan], 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.

 

Are any of Gabriel Egan's books available online free of charge? Perhaps he can take the Open Access route and arrange such with his publishers.

 

Best,

Joe Egert

 

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