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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: May ::
Pedestrians Crossing Cairncross

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.183  Monday, 7 May 2012

 

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

     Date:         April 27, 2012 4:07:24 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Pedestrians Crossing Cairncross

 

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

     Date:         April 28, 2012 8:34:52 AM EDT

     Subject:     Pedestrians Crossing Cairncross

 

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

     Date:         May 6, 2012 11:17:55 AM EDT

     Subject:     Woodstock vs 1 Richard II

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 27, 2012 4:07:24 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Pedestrians Crossing Cairncross

 

Gerald E. Downs offers a defence of Andrew S. Cairncross’s bibliographical scholarship regarding Q and F 2 Henry 6 that I am sorry to say I don’t fully understand. One bit I can respond to:

 

>The bibliographical fact is, Q influenced F.

 

Indeed, although useful works on the problem are omitted in Downs’s account. William Montgomery’s 1985 Oxford D. Phil.  thesis (which shaped his editing of the play in the 1986 Oxford Complete Works) is important for how it handles the ‘spots’ of fairly clear Q contamination of F. I’d also point Downs to my essay on the problem called “Foucault’s epistemic shift and verbatim repetition in Shakespeare” that appeared in Richard Meek, Jane Rickard, and Richard Wilson’s book Shakespeare’s Book (Manchester UP, 2008): 123-39.

 

> More important, Knowles notes that "much of Cairncross's

> case for the contamination of F rested on the category of

> agreement in error. Believing that a few demonstrable

> instances of contamination indicated large-scale corruption,

> Cairncross confounded inductive and deductive approaches

> and duly discovered a large number of instances only a

> few of which were discovered by other editors" (134).

>

> As I recall, Gabriel Egan's new /Struggle/ also faults

> Cairncross, not for relying on agreement in error (which

> Egan OK's), but for taking  general Q and F agreement as

> evidence of Q influence, thereby violating some bibliographic

> principle.

 

Knowles is here misread/misrepresented by Downs. Read in context, Knowles is not condemning Cairncross for using agreement in error as evidence of Q contaminating F but just the opposite: he’s asserting that Cairncross was right to do so. The problem is, according to Knowles, that Cairncross also used agreements in correct readings as though they were evidence of Q contaminating F, which as Knowles rightly points out is illogical: two printings may agree on a correct reading simply because each got it from its good copy, not because one got it from the other.

 

Egan too is not faulting Cairncross for “relying on agreement in error” (of course not, that’s how you show dependence of one text upon another) but for mostly failing to confine himself to that kind of evidence and instead using agreement in good readings (which of course tell us nothing). What Downs vaguely calls “some bibliographic principle” is not a vagueness in my book: the principle is simple logic and I report that Cairncross was rightly criticized for not using it.

 

Gabriel Egan

 

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

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

Date:         April 28, 2012 8:34:52 AM EDT

Subject:     Pedestrians Crossing Cairncross

 

A quick reply to Gerald Downs on memorial reconstructions and poor misrepresented Cairncross:  

 

Indeed, I am likely dead wrong about whether or not stage directions printed in bad quartos may have been then used to set the later Folio equivalents.  Mea culpa.  (Yegads, I smudged my copybook!)

 

My essays try instead to get people to see how the early printed versions work differently on stage and are not compendiums of stupidity.  I was writing in the 1980s, those dim years when nobody knew nuthin' and I hoped my little candles of insight might get others to look at those early texts as interesting products of exploratory minds at work.

 

As I said earlier in this exchange with Gerald Downs, I encourage readers to look at my whole text. You may learn something nice.  Like, for example, watch how the two texts deal with the ACTION surrounding York’s long listing of his ancestry. Both versions work elegantly, and you will see that the control through speech-commands over physical movement on the stage can be precise and elegantly manipulable.  

 

If you get an awareness of that manipulability into your students’ critical toolboxes then you've helped them to de-code one of the fascinating potentialities of written drama.   

 

So were memorial reconstructors at work there?  I doubt it, but if they were we really have to develop the field of Shakespearean Piracy Studies, since they were darned good playwrights (and pretty good scholars too in they ways they managed to “correct” some of Shakespeare's blunders, pulling their texts back closer to the chronicle sources.)

 

There’s everything to be gained by looking at those scripts as lively dramatic documents rather than as risible instances of Bardic desecration. 

 

Steven Urquartowitz

 

(I know that I shouldn’t play so much with this goofy name-changing trope; it may sound like I’m disrespecting the grown-ups in the field.  But hey! I’m from the Bronx, and respect was a radically fluctuating commodity in our schoolyards.  Laughter, though, always maintained its value.)

 

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

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

Date:         May 6, 2012 11:17:55 AM EDT

Subject:     Woodstock vs 1 Richard II

 

I note that on April 22 Gerald Downs lightly and inaccurately dismissed my case against memorial reconstruction (along with Steve Urkowitz’s more substantial work on the subject), and referred incorrectly to my book Woodstock. It’s actually Richard II, Part One, the title Woodstock having been imposed by FS Boas and his friends in 1923 precisely to blur the play’s relationship to Shakespeare.

 
 

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