Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: September ::
Lear Analysis

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0392  Monday, 24 September 2012

 

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

     Date:         September 21, 2012 6:29:28 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Lear Analysis

 

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

     Date:         September 21, 2012 8:34:36 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Lear Analysis

 

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

     Date:         September 22, 2012 8:06:08 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Lear Analysis

 

 

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

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

Date:         September 21, 2012 6:29:28 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Lear Analysis

 

Gabriel Egan wrote:

 

>In facsimiles I can’t see any true double-ell ligatures in Q1 or Folio King 

>Lear—that is, two ells joined in the inked impression and printed from a 

>single piece of type that was made from a single matrix—but there are

>what might be tied letters made by putting two matrices in the mould and 

>casting them together as a single piece of type.

 

That isn’t how letters are usually cast. You would have to punch the “ell” twice onto the same matrix. (Width of type body is determined by the mould, not the matrix.) But I can’t see a reason for that (unless the ell is normally kerned – but that creates other problems). The usual candidates for ligatures are “ff”, “fi” and “fl”, etc.

 

John Briggs

 

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

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

Date:         September 21, 2012 8:34:36 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Lear Analysis

 

Thank you, Gabriel Egan, for straightening me out on the el or double-el possibilities.  A llittlle knowlledge is a dangerous thing.

 

Neverthelless, it might remain a valuable exercise to try out that speech both ways in rehearsal, ALL and ALB.  ALL at this moment seems to include (excepting Edgar and Edmund, likely not part of ALL?) only Goneril, Albany, the Herald, and some number of nameless soldiers. Considering that the following speeches continue to set Albany and Goneril in the same fierce opposition we’ve seen earlier, then their seeming concord over “Save him, save him,” is notable, perhaps even painful.  Also, the sense of sudden release from observing the trial-by-combat and then having everyone on stage abruptly moving or calling out the stop the fight can have interesting impacts on the audience.  Like Albany’s later “Run, run, o run,” and the later Duke or Edg. variant speech heading for the command, “Hast thee for thy life,” we’re seeing alternative possibilities for displays of control of the stage action and its accumulating  tensions.  So, whether compositorial or stenographical or (as I imagine) authorial, these textual variants have their value if they lead us to attempt to puzzle out the dramatic codes of these early scripts.

 

ever,

Steve illiteratigiturowitz

 

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

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

Date:         September 22, 2012 8:06:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Lear Analysis

 

After (apparently) declining to justify the foundation of his Lear revision theory (foul papers Q1 copy) Steven Urkowitz raises a minor speech heading issue (one of many in the texts): 

 

> When Edmund is [injured] by Edgar in the last scene,

> the first speech following in Q and F has Albany halt

> the combat:

>

>  Alb. Saue him, saue him.    

 

> Way back at the beginning of the play, the Folio has a

> somewhat similar speech unique to it, directing Albany

> and “Cor.”  to intervene, at least verbally, to stop a

> violent action: “Alb. Cor. Deare Sir forbeare.”

 

Most likely, the reviser of Q1 noticed that Albany and Cornwall had no lines in the first scene—despite their presence—so he added one for them to share. Nothing can be made of this. I prefer Q1, where Lear and Kent have it out without interference. Besides, A & C have just gone halvesies on the Kingdom; why should they come between the dragon and his wrath? And if they did, Kent didn’t seem to care but continued to provoke the King.

 

> But the Oxford edition . . . in 5.3 changes “Alb.” to “All.”

 

> But . . . let us imagine that the [workman] setting Q did

> mistakenly set ALB for ALL.  And no one managed to

> “fix” it to ALL in the painstaking generation of whatever

> copy was used to set the Folio.

> And along the way, no one would have noticed that

> “Saue him, saue him” supposedly called out by everyone

> on stage, and having been written in everyone’s actors’

> sides, still appeared in print only in the part of Albany?

 

As with STM, ‘all’ doesn’t necessarily mean everyone (or even identical phrasing for the speakers; this isn’t “Airplane” or “Dick & Jane”). But I doubt very much that ‘All’ is right for 5.3; ‘Alb.’ is probably wrong also.

 

Neither Q1 nor F had to have ‘Alb’ in manuscript copy (though F got it through Q1 and Q2. The heading could read ‘Albany’, ‘Duke’, or nothing in ms. ‘Alb.’ probably gets it right as far as the copy goes; but that’s not far enough.

 

If Q1 is a shorthand report, as I’ve reported, the speech headings are inferred from the dialogue; they can easily be wrong. In such cases it’s the editor’s job to analyze situations and lines. It’s not best to assume corrupt text is Shakespeare’s text because good argument may say it isn’t. I tend to agree with Theobald that the line belongs to Goneril (with the rest of her following speech). F changes a speech from Goneril to Albany earlier at 5.3.67 (wrongly & arbitrarily) when the jealous sisters are squabbling.

 

> What theatrical aesthetic makes you believe that QF’s

> ALB ain’t Shakespeare and ALL is?

 

Almost a good question. But there are others on stage to account for; aesthetic isn’t limited to two options. Formal rules of personal combat (in this case somewhat primitively meant as a test of truth) allowed fighting to the death: Edmund promises Edgar he “shall rest forever.”

 

Albany has challenged Edmund himself and will try him on if no one else cares or dares to. He doesn’t want Edmund saved, he wants him dead. Though Albany has “attainted” (Q1) Goneril with Edmund, she is still the Regent, Edmund her knight in worthless armor. The spectators couldn’t stop the combat as if at a bullfight (& why spoil the fun?); but she could.

 

Goneril’s only ally was Edmund. Now that Regan was out of the way nothing would suit her better than for the softy Albany to get his clock cleaned; the play would have a happy ending. Goneril and Edmund had little reason to suppose there was evidence against them until after the combat, nor reason to suspect anyone else would answer a challenge.

 

But Albany counted on the set-up (bravely trusting Edgar’s word that a trumpet would be answered. Edmund fell for the “visor trick,” lost to his brother and left Goneril the option to win on appeal (visor don’t fit, must acquit); she (judge and jury) and Edmund would beat the rap. Her letter survived, however, and Edmund owned up. As it happens, suicide was her next option. So she’s the one who stopped the fight.

 

> “And appointed guard”—the variant that prompts

> Gerald Downs last long post?

 

Sometimes long posts are called for. The topic has been taken very seriously by everyone who has written of it, but without understanding. The variant is not too important to me, as I explain, but scholarship has built it up (with long and short discussions).

 

> I . . . whistle when [a] folks like the Oxford editors

> change the script(s),

 

It is an editor’s job to determine whether the text is sound or not. What student (if given a choice) would want transmission error to stand for Shakespeare? Don’t give them the choice? Is that worth the whistle?

 

> and [b] when folks like Gerald Downs blow so much

> smoke about peripheral matters that the central actions

> disappear from the discourse.

 

The central actions are right there in Q1, just as Lear was played, except for the corruptions of performance and transmission. The Folio version derives from Q1. The question is, what was Q1 copy? Steven Urkowitz won’t go there—where it gets interesting.

 

As others have noted over time, Urkowitz’s notions about playing King Lear are pretty arbitrary. I doubt they are those of the players of the day. That goes especially for the manifest errors in the texts received from the injurious impostors. Lear starts with a bad text that shouldn’t be accepted without continuing an editorial tradition that slipped a few cogs in the last thirty years. Students will be much better served if the faulty text is presented as such and they are encouraged to think for themselves. Exaltation of corruption is a big mistake.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.