The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0492 Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Date: October 22, 2013 8:52:32 PM EDT
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: Bate
Of the Mucedorus attribution Gerald Downs writes:
..here we go again... Fingerprints.... The additions this time total something over 200 lines, with the evidence in one scene; how many lines is that? ... In 1950 Leo Kirschbaum argued that Mucedorus is a bad quarto. I’m sure he’s right (though I haven’t seen his MLR article) because he was a proponent of MR but Shorthand almost always makes a better case... There seems to be a lot of scholarly naivety to goad newspaper credulity these days.
Granted, with such a small sample it’s unlikely the Mucedorus Additions can be pushed beyond a strong Maybe. However...
- - Isn't it the 1598 "A" text that Kirschbaum considers a reconstructed [whether from memory or shorthand] text?
- - The title page of Q1610 – the first to contain the additions—states that it is “amplified with new additions as it was acted before the King’s majesty at Whitehall on Shrove-Sunday night, by his Highness’ servants usually playing at the Globe.” If I recall, this performance is supposed to have occurred in 1608?
- - Somebody wrote those additions. Of those who might possibly have made piece-meal additions to a King's Players' text c1608, WS is a priori a very likely candidate.
- - Now read the first scene between Mucedorus and his friend Anselmo [I.i in Tucker Brooke] and try not to think of Hamlet and Horatio. If it’s not Shakespeare it’s a deliberate pastiche. And then read Tucker Brooke’s IV.i—this scene evokes both Hamlet and 12f Night. But that’s two scenes of Additions, not one. I haven’t read any of the details of Rasmussen/Bate’s argument for Mucedorus, so I’m not sure which scene or scenes they find to be Shakespearean, but these are old arguments to me—I concluded for my own purposes in the 1980s that some of these Adds were probably by WS. I will also say that one of the most respected of attributionists [who I will not name here since he doesn’t know I’m writing this] told me in correspondence that he finds the WS attribution not unlikely.
So, yeah, the media loves to blow these kinds of things out of proportion. And it ain’t a Shakespearean autograph manuscript of Loves Labours Won or Iphis and Ianthe—it’s just a few dozen dashed-off lines to tart up a bad [if fun] play. But the fact that the hoo-hah has been exploited doesn’t make for a valid counter argument.