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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: July ::
Shorthand and so on

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0296  Thursday, 12 July 2012

 

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

     Date:         July 10, 2012 10:05:39 PM EDT

     Subject:     Shorthand and Richard III and Nameless Characters 

 

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

     Date:         July 11, 2012 11:07:09 PM EDT

     Subject:     Shakespeare Revising or Not Revising KING LEAR 

 

 

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

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

Date:         July 10, 2012 10:05:39 PM EDT

Subject:     Shorthand and Richard III and Nameless Characters

 

Doesn't anyone know how to play this game?

 

Gerald Downs galumphs after John Jowett for Jowett’s arguments about relationships between the texts of RICHARD 3. And in spots I do agree with Downs about Jowett’s plodding arguments, especially where Jowett is trashing my own working-through of the same problems.  But Downs is blowing smoke about the alleged stenographic source for speech prefixes designating actors by numbers rather than names: “1 Lo. ,  2 Lo.  3 Lo. “   He claims, “At Q1 5.2 Richmond enters to address his ‘fellows in arms.’ Their prefixes are 1 Lo., 2 Lo., and 3 Lo. Why? They aren’t named in the dialogue, that’s why. F identifies them, but that’s F’s job. That would have been necessary also in any theatrical transcription.”  Nope. Not so.  Wrong-o.

 

Very theatrical scripts left all kinds of things like this, see for some cute examples my essay “’All things is handsome now’: Murderers Nominated by Numbers  in  2 HENRY VI and RICHARD III”  in George Walton Williams, ed. Shakespeare’s Speech-Headings Newark: U of Delaware P, 1997. where  I show that these pairs of very funny murderers in Q and F have only numbers, no names, in both versions.

 

Or, for a really enlightening exploration of playhouse manuscripts, thoroughly grounded in first-hand experience with the documents themselves, I heartily recommend Grace Ioppolo, DRAMATISTS AND THEIR MANUSCRIPTS IN THE AGE OF SHAKESPEARE, JONSON, MIDDLETON, AND HEYWOOD: AUTHORSHIP, AUTHORITY AND THE PLAYHOUSE (2006).  Prepping for a return to the bibliographic battlements, I re-read this last month and feel much the stronger, wiser, and more familiar with the extant objects that contain the texts we talk about.   (Gerald, are you listening?)

 

You see, I finally realized that unless someone, anyone, rides shotgun on this scholarly enterprise, the noisiest folk get all the attention and hijack the discourse. That’s why I am on Gerald Downs’ case.

 

Stenography? Well, I’ve been trying to track down English examples where we could compare a written composition and a later steno report of that written text.  I’d hoped to find one of Donne’s sermons transcribed while he spoke it and then later printed from his original. But is seems like it didn’t ever work out that way, and where we have two versions of a Donne sermon, the longer one was an after-the-fact expansion done specifically at the request of the King.   (I just remembered that I have to look for Jesus Tronch-Perez’s piece on the Great Memory guys who memorized Lope de Vega’s plays in performance and rushed them into print.  But no one claimed similar powers in England.)  So far, no pairs of documents I’m happy with.

 

So it isn’t that these things aren’t possible, it’s just that a standing-around gang of interested people has to agree to the kinds of evidence that the community can find convincing.  Yikes, Gerald, we’re getting back to rhetoric!  I disagree with Gary Taylor about many crucial issues in our field, but he has consistently prevailed in the academic marketplace because he has been the stronger rhetorician. He works at it harder, and more consistently, and more boldly, than I have.  He’s STILL wrong, but boy is he convincing.  So my current strategy is to get better at the game.  “Irish poets, learn your trade,” says Yeats.  “Jewish Textual Scholars, learn your rhetoric!” I tell myself.

 

Getting late, time to dream, and the living is fine.

 

Ever,

Steven Urquartowitz

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

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

Date:         July 11, 2012 11:07:09 PM EDT

Subject:     Shakespeare Revising or Not Revising KING LEAR

 

Short note, I hope.

 

Gerald Downs has adopted a tactical myopia to explain away or render irrelevant the many large-scale differences between Q and F LEAR. He takes a tiny variant, “take up to keep” in an uncorrected chunk of Q1, changed during the press-run to “take up the king” in the press-corrected version of Q1, which then appears in the Folio as “take up, take up.”  (Pardon any errors here, please, I am working without my facsimiles at the moment.)  And he concludes that the repetition “ take up, take up” found in F was somehow so minor a change that it must be considered beneath Shakespeare’s magnificence. He says, “I tend to agree with Philip Edwards; a revision by the author would have contained at least something other than the pussy-footing around corruption—something like revision.”

 

Two points: (1) How does Gerald Downs know that Shakespeare wouldn’t make little changes like this? and (2) the little change is part of a sweeping (not timid) change in the dramatic rhythms of this scene and the scene immediately following, and moreover it resembles similar changes made at the endings of other scenes in the Folio version of the play. (I’ve spelled them all out in my LEAR Revision book.)

 

If Gerald Downs would look at the abundance of evidence offered by Grace Ioppolo and others, he would see how flawed are his assumptions about how authors of the time actually marked up their own texts and texts of other writers.  Ioppolo shows that even W W Greg was simply wrong in many of his conclusions about manuscripts and the ways they were manipulated, inscribed, and used.

 

For those still interested in the underlying anatomy of debates (or rather hopeless, lobbing exchanges) such as the one ranging here, I invite you to read Kathryn Schulz, BEING WRONG: ADVENTURES IN THE MARGIN OF ERROR, a delightful study of how our brains click predictably and unavoidably into unsupported fairy-worlds of error.  “Oops, I thought I understood what that broker was doing!  He lost how many BILLIONS of dollars?” I’m just a little better at detecting certain kinds of error than some people, likely because I’ve made so many more errors in so many different fields than most people.

 

Sorry.  Not short.

 

Steve Errorowitz

Professor Demeritus

English and Theatre Departments

The City College of New York

 

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