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Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0354  Tuesday, 28 August 2012

 

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

     Date:         August 27, 2012 2:54:03 PM EDT

     Subject:     SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

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

     Date:         August 28, 2012 9:48:54 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

 

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

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

Date:         August 27, 2012 2:54:03 PM EDT

Subject:     SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

Q1 uncorrected “Take vp to keepe” and its corrected Q1 version “Take vp the King” as well as the F-version “Take vp, take vp” in King Lear 3.6.102 has generated many words. I would call on the contestants to “Take up. Take up!”, which in Philip Massinger’s The Great Duke of Florence I.2.153 (1636) means as much as “Take a hold of yourself”, insistently said twice to a man enraptured by the beauty of a woman. The repetition in King Lear, as Steve Urkowitz has pointed out, conveys a sense of urgency. This is an effect a revising dramatist might well seek, particularly if he is in the process of cutting some lines at the end of a scene which is nothing but full of urgency. Shakespeare uses the same repetition, although admittedly not in immediate proximity, in the First Induction to The Taming of the Shrew. The Lord says to his followers that they should take up the drunk: “Then take him up and manage well the jest” (line 42). He then explains the details of his scheme, and repeats “Take him up gently and to bed with him” (line 69). Context is wider than only one play, and it can give plausibility, if not authenticity, to the choice of words and phrases. Drunks and old people must be treated carefully: it is worth repeating.

 

Werner

 

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

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

Date:         August 28, 2012 9:48:54 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

I recognize that Gerald Downs isn’t going to change his mind about the sources of variants in LEAR.  But I’m still happy to carry on a conversation about the texts because every time we get up close and personal with that stuff, my brain-cells get all bubbly. (Sorry for that autobiographical lit-crit term, not found in the Princeton Dictionary of Lit Crit, I fear.)

 

Gerald asks that we step back to consider as a better “larger context” for specific variants not just the scene-sequences where the end-of-scene cuts happen but rather: “The surrounding context (writ large)” which “is Q1 corruption, much of which the reviser (Q1 to F) is unable to overcome.” 

 

By selectively citing Peter Blayney’s work, and by sidestepping the documentation for what authorial revisions look like in Early Modern play-scripts (see Honigmann and Ioppolo for these), Gerald says and says and says that Q1 is corrupt.  I’ve shown that almost all of what has been called “corruption” ain’t that at all but rather is evidence that the piece was in progress.  As my old buddy Albert Einstein told us, “Your theory determines what you see as evidence.”  So, let’s agree that we won’t agree about what we can use as evidence.  Okay?

 

And may we move on a little?  Around the urgency of “take up the king” or “take up, take up,” a play is going on.  Maybe Gerald Downs really likes the quiet passages spoken by Kent and then by Edgar at the end of 3.6 which are not found in the Folio.  He quotes Stone’s book: 

 

A cut. Stone takes note, “Reflective comment at the close of a scene: the motive is once again retrenchment.”

 

What should we do next?  My training and experience as a quasi-scientific theatrically-oriented critic, as a director, and as a teacher for, like, a half a century, all lead me to want to show these variants to actors, to other teachers, and to kids in my classes.  I want THEM to see and to feel the different impact of the different texts.  If they do note the differences, then I’ve taught them something about how plays work.  “We can have zip-zip-zip quick rhythms of events and actions, or we can have quick-slow-quick rhythms.”  No matter who built or accidentally generated those distinct patterns, in this essentially unprovable context of fishy-swishy bibliographical observation and argumentation, the patterns bubble up.  Put 'em on stage and they’re beautiful to watch.  Both of 'em.  

 

My campaigns over the years are to get folks to see the alternatives in their gloriously theatrical alternativity.  I try to HOPE that my vision of Shakespeare as the responsible party will prevail, only because I feel that will ensure attention to their variety and to their otherwise-invisible very existence.  And if the differences really came out of other hands or even from  those typewriting monkeys, then I hope we could get endowed chairs of Typewriting-Monkey Studies, for which I, as a typewriting monkey myself, will be eminently qualified.

 

Steven Monkowitz

Extinguished Professor, CCNY English and Theatre

 
 

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