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Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0288  Friday, 7 July 2012

 

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

     Date:         July 6, 2012 7:15:07 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shorthand 

 

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

     Date:         July 6, 2012 1:14:03 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shorthand 

 

 

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

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

Date:         July 6, 2012 7:15:07 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Gerald Downs presents mountains of evidence and interpretation in his postings, and I for one would rather deal with such claims in the form of a journal article that has first been through peer review, which tends to sort the strong from the weak claims.

 

But if he’s prepared to confine himself to just one bit of the argument, I’d be interested to hear Downs defend this claim:

 

> . . .  Q1(c) at 3.6 has 'take vp thy master . . . Take

> vp the King . . . '. F at line 102 has 'Take vp, take

> vp . . .'; which Urkowitz describes as "unrelievedly urgent,

> compelling, and threatening". That is, a Shakespearean revision;

> who else could be so quick on the vp-take? Well, Q1(uncorrected)

> has 'Take vp to keepe', an obvious misreading (the compositor

> elsewhere proves to be unconcerned with nonsense). F's reviser,

> without recourse to the correction, sophisticated with a second

> 'take up'; nothing to do with the author, compelling or not.

 

It’s not clear to me why F’s second “take vp” is attributed to the compositor by Downs.

 

Suppose we grant Gary Taylor’s claim that Shakespeare revised King Lear by annotating a copy of Q1(uncorrected) and that F reflects the revised version. In Q1(u) Shakespeare would have found the words “Take vp to keepe”. Not remembering what he had originally written (“Take up the king”)—why should he remember it 5-6 years later when doing the revision?—Shakespeare might easily have deleted the meaningless “to keepe” and written above/near it “take up”, producing the F reading with the merits that Urkowitz identifies.

 

Gabriel Egan

 

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

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

Date:         July 6, 2012 1:14:03 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Gerald Downs REALLY doesn’t like my KING LEAR book, nor much else that I have to say elsewhere. Duhhhh. He can join the committee of Richard Knowles (at least until his most recent fumings about LEAR texts where he does come around to admitting Shakespeare may have done some revising) and Richard Proudfoot (heavily into sneering at my enthusiasm and my commitment to seeing dramatic scripts as offering less-than-Socratic forms of ratiocination and grammar).

 

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this lovely summer day grumping about Downs and his dismal ways of reading the texts of Shakespeare and my own analyses of them. But my motives continue to be the same: I want to help people see the theatrical craftsmanship embedded in the alternative printed versions of Shakespeare’s multiple-text plays. I started this long project because I saw that editors regularly looked at crafty script-writers’ moves as if they were dumb blunders. Downs continues in that august though flawed tradition. I suggest that people look at my own published work not only for its conclusions but also for the techniques I show as being used repeatedly in Shakespeare’s plays to make them the stage-worthy wonders that we so admire.

 

Rather than nit-pick on such a pretty day (and it’s getting on to lunchtime) I’ll make two points and retire to other joys. First, Downs accuses me of using (yegads!) RHETORIC as if it represented some kind of four-letter abomination: “it isn’t practical to counter the heavily rhetorical whole of his book.” Yes, Gerald, I confess. I do use rhetoric. Also, I admit that I use a spell checker, and a keyboard, and those wicked electrons rather than good old trustworthy quills and ink. Rhetoric, last time I checked, ain’t all bad, even though good rhetoric can disguise bad thinking.

 

Second, about the bad thinking that Downs finds in my LEAR book: The numbered list he laboriously refutes (found on p. 130 of SHAKESPEARE’S REVISION OF KING LEAR) has six categories of “error” that I show aren’t quite so erroneous as the pre-1980 tribe of editors had convinced themselves they were. I’ll cite the example of spelling that seems so important to the various shorthand AND memorial reconstruction arguments: Alice Walker lists among the ignorant orthographies found in the Quarto of LEAR, “unlikely to have been of Shakespearean origin,” the word “cushings” supposedly a semi-literate’s error for “cushions,” the spelling found in F. So how is one to determine that a spelling is erroneous? “Look it up in the OED?” Why not? And there we do indeed find, in a passage from an ecclesiastical argument of 1576, in definition 10 b, the spelling “cushing.” That’s how even very skilled writers did things with spelling for quite a while, winging it for sounds and senses unfamiliar to our more regimented eyes. There are alas other instances on that list on p. 130 where I relied on other scholars’ work rather than doing a full analysis on my own. My bad, especially trusting the work of WW Greg when I was trying to undermine his conclusions elsewhere. But it was early in the Bibliographic Revolution, and Greg and God were equally potent monosyllables, tough to reject out-of-hand.

 

So, dear Gerald, I will again rhetorically ask the wise readers of our correspondence, “Please read my book (rather than the snippets savaged by Gerald Downs) and evaluate it for yourselves.” Unlike Stone’s, it’s only 150 pages long. And the rhetoric makes it all the more tasty.

 

Ever,

Steve Urquartowitz

 
 

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