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Home :: Archive :: 2013 :: October ::
Mucedorus Bate

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0495  Thursday, 25 October 2013

 

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

Date:         October 24, 2013 1:42:44 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Mucedorus Bate

 

Bill Lloyd responded to my Mucedorus post:

 

> Granted, with such a small sample it’s unlikely the Mucedorus

> Additions can be pushed beyond a strong Maybe.

 

The touted passage (4.1) comprises 42 lines; which not so long ago would be thought insufficient for computer analysis. Now it is pushed into the canon by ‘fingerprints’ that may not be so swirl after all.

 

> However... Isn't it the 1598 "A" text that Kirschbaum considers

> a reconstructed [whether from memory or shorthand] text?

 

Correct, though 1610 (C), other than the additions, was a reprint of A (via B, 1606) and was thus (by my definition) still a bad quarto. I don’t suggest the additions were written expressly for the printed version but there is no way to judge the text they meant to revise; an authoritative Ms. is possible but the bad quarto could have been reworked.

 

What I do suggest is serious consideration of the method of transmission of the extant text from which all others derive. I advocate that for every playtext, yet the topic is largely ignored or passed over without a meaningful examination. I will give one example. The Observer observes,

 

> Bate said: “At least one of those scenes is, we think . . . full of

> his fingerprints.” It uses phrases unique to Shakespeare such

> as . . . his famous stage direction, “Exit, pursued by a bear”

> (The Winter’s Tale).

 

A reader may observe (or not) that Bate is ‘not exactly’ quoted here but most will take ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ as part of the scenic evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship of 4.1, where the other phrases occur. If we recognize QA is a report—let’s say a shorthand report—then its set directions will have been made up by the reporter or a later agent (as is often borne out by suggestive, redundant dialogue). The “bear facts” are that QC’s added “1.2” ends with a set direction (describing Mouse’s collision with Mama Bear) and the next unnumbered scene immediately begins with a descriptive direction ‘Enter Segasto running, and Amadine [tumbling so fast the A is inverted] after him, / being pursued with a Beare.

 

The set direction for QA (the 1598 report, possibly a reprint itself) at 1.1 begins: Enter Segasto runing and Amadine after / him, being persued with abeare. Obviously, QC reprints a s.d. that has nothing whatever to do with Shakespeare. Or did a shorthand reporter write The Winter’s Tale? That may be what Vickers, Bate, and M. Egan will conclude, but most will suppose not. What this evidence really suggests is that we should look askance at all the evidence.

 

A shorthand report is also reconstructed from memory (in performance); the lapses help prove reporting. After reading Mucedorus I have no doubt that it is a theatrical report.

 

I hate to digress, but WT is also corrupt. Maybe the more famous bear chase was written up by the same stenographer. But then I think Hermione was guilty as charged.

 

> 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?

 

Apparently Collier claimed access to a 1609 quarto, but Greg rightly questions that. Title-page blurbs may or may not be true, but we have to grant a presumption.

 

> 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.

 

So were Gore and Romney. The case should be closely examined (with jaundiced eye).

 

> 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.

 

The facsimiles of 1610 and 1598 are available on Google Books; the corruptions shouldn’t be overlooked. But these lines, especially if they are post-Hamlet, are decidedly inferior. Thinking of Hamlet and reading his conversations with Horatio are two different things:

 

Muc. Much blame were mine, if I should other deeme,

Nor can coy Fortune contrarie allow:

 

> 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.

 

“Dashed-off” is adding hypothesis, sort of back-pedaling. Maybe the play-patcher was doing his very best to sound hifalutin. And where better to go than to Hamlet, if you’re of the wiser sort?

 

> But the fact that the hoo-hah has been exploited doesn’t

> make for a valid counter argument.

 

I agree, but right now we’re still celebrating. I am looking into it. Leo’s article is available on JSTOR and on the free JSTOR website.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 
 

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