Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.204  Thursday, 2 May 2016


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

Date:         May 26, 2016 at 12:42:09 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: One Lear


[Editor’s Note: When a thread becomes someone essentially talking to himself or herself, as editor, I feel it is time the thread was closed. If no one responds to the Vickers One Lear thread by Monday, that shall be the case, and I will no long post on it. –Hardy]


At 2.4.99–100 F adds lines to a Gloucester-Lear exchange:


Glo. Well my good Lord, I haue inform’d them so.

Lear. Inform’d them? Do’st thou vnderstand me man.


Stone observes that “in Q Gloucester replies [to Lear’s order to summon Regan and Cornwall] ‘I my good Lord, but without making any move to comply . . . . while at the same time . . . he is anxious to avoid an open refusal. The reviser has Gloucester demurring explicitly (‘Well . . . I have informed . . .), letting his ‘Aye, my good Lord’ remain as the simple answer to a question (‘Dost thou understand me, man?’). That these lines did not belong to the original text is shown by their association with the next addition[:] to suppose that both passages were omitted from Q would be virtually to assume a method and purpose in the omissions.


[Lear.] Are they inform’d of this? My breath and blood:

                                                         (2.4.104, F only)


“As did the previous one, this interpolation evades the problem of Gloucester’s inaction” (241).


Inasmuch as Sir Brian Vickers proposes that Q1’s printers ‘purposely and methodically’ abridged the text, Stone’s argument against “related” additions begs the question. If the lines stood in Q1 copy their excision would be relatively harmless; yet Lear’s sardonic ‘Are they informed of this?’ is more than a reminder. Many F additions seem too troublesome as (anyone’s) revisions, but plausible if original.


Although F additions should be examined separately, some omissions occurring during Q1’s printing may have been “restored” to F from manuscript. But if a presumed straightforward restoration from a parallel line of Lear transmission should fail to correct Q1 error, one may surmise that the “restoration” is instead revision, that the “parallel” F manuscript printer’s copy was itself coincidentally corrupt, or that it didn’t exist. I’ve noted instances of this circumstance already: F retained By for My to confuse matters prior to the noble kinsmen’s combat, whereby the F addition must be a revision.


Further, two separate 3.1 additions were interpolated as one, to imply that F was not printed at that point directly from “parallel” copy-text but by collation with a text from the Q1 line, when the blocks were mistakenly joined. The unlikely alternative is that the parallel copy had suffered the accident at some earlier time, without discovery, to the very same blocks of text that had been omitted in Q1. If that didn’t happen, why not print the “correct” text in the first place? If, however, Q1 printer’s copy was collated with Q1 after the forme was printed the misplacement could easily occur in redaction. Vickers sometimes accepts F additions when surrounding text is uncertain:


   Gon. My most deere Gloster . . .    (Q1)

<Oh, the difference of man, and man,> (F)

. . .

A foole vsurps my bed.  (4.2.28, Q1c)

My foote vsurps my body (Q1u)

My Foole vsurpes my body (F)


Vickers seems to accept the corrected Q1’s ‘A foole . . . bed’ without comment, though F and Q1u are much closer readings. Stone observes: “It is extremely unlikely that the Q compositor could have mistaken A for My, bed for body. . . . The [Q1c] reading is . . . a thoroughgoing sophistication . . . .” He infers that Edmund handily touched his lips and Goneril’s foot, which causes her remark that Q1u reads correctly. “She replies . . . by insinuating that the relationship should be reversed . . . To thee a woman’s services are due: / My foot . . . .’ If this is correct, Edmund cannot . . . leave the scene (as he does in F) before hearing this reply. It must be Oswald’s warning of Albany’s reproach which prompts him to . . . exit” (221, “Q1 readings unnecessarily altered”). The insertion at 4.2.26 (Oh, the difference . . .), “serves to clarify the sense . . . . We should be puzzled by the abrupt reference to ‘my fool’ unless we realised that Goneril was comparing one man to another . . .” (245).


The interpolation could be a recovery of original text, or a late revision; it could also be a pre-Q1 theatrical elucidation of “puzzling” text. As Stone implies, the issue is whether ‘foot’ or ‘fool’ is right. My principle is to accept uncorrected Q1 (or what it tells us); shorthand records sound. The Q1 corrector, often failing to consult copy, had no such concerns. F’s and Q1c’s fool was easy to say, as always, and probably coincidental. On balance, I suppose ‘fool’ is wrong; the inserted line is a consequent F revision; and that no corrective parallel text was available.


Gerald E. Downs




Bertram’s Velvet Patch

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.203  Thursday, 2 May 2016


From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 26, 2016 at 12:41:17 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Patch


Alan Dessen’s account of Bwertram’s ‘patch’ is intriguing. He links his explanation with that of Innogen in Much Ado, although apart from he appearance in 2 stage headings she says nothing. A better comparison might be with Lorenzo’s comment to Lancelet at 3.5.34-35 where he says, “I shall answer that better to the commonwealth than you can the getting up of the negro’s belly.”  Either this is some kind of joke that suggests that Lorenzo is better able to justify ‘converting’ Jessica to Christianity than Lancelet can impregnate a negro OR that this refers to an episode that either Shakespeare intended to, but did not write. 


Why must we assume any of those alternatives?  Can’t we just understand that Lancelot impregnated some negro servant without having the ocular proof or a predicate description of the event?  Was it beyond Shakespeare’s powers to conjure up an incident without depicting it?




Query: Good Recent Essays on the Henry Plays?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.202  Thursday, 2 May 2016


From:        Evelyn Gajowski <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 25, 2016 at 10:16:34 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Query 


I’ve been watching the 2014 and now 2016 Hollow Crown; I’ve now gone twice through the first set (R2, 1 and 2 Henry IV, and Henry V) and find them superb. The best rendition of Falstaff that I’ve ever seen. To tell the truth, I’ve watched R2 three times just to watch Suchet and Lindsay Duncan at it. Now I’ve begun 1 Henry VI and I see that (as in other performances I saw on stage years ago at the Shakespeare Festival in NYC) they’ve abridged the 3 plays into 2.


I haven’t read Shakespeare criticism is a long while and find myself wanting to read far more modern pieces than the 1970s essays (good as they are) I read in graduate school.


Can anyone recommend good readable articles on these plays?


For Ellen Moody: 


Hodgdon, Barbara.  “Enclosing Contention: 1, 2, and 3 Henry 6.  The End Crowns All: Closure and Contradiction in Shakespeare’s History.  Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991.  44-99.  


Howard, Jean E., and Phyllis Rackin.  “1, 2, and 3 Henry 6.”  Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories.  London and New York: Routledge, 1997.  43-99.


Jackson, Gabriele Bernhard.  “Topical Ideology: Witches, Amazons, and Shakespeare’s Joan of Arc.”  ELR 18 (1988): 40-65.  


Rackin, Phyllis.  Stages of History: Shakespeare’s English Chronicles.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1990  


Stanton, Kay,  “A Presentist Analysis of Joan, la Pucelle: ‘What’s past and what’s to come she can descry.’”  Presentism, Gender, and Sexuality in Shakespeare.  Ed. Evelyn Gajowski.  Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.  103-21. 


Williamson, Marilyn L.  “’When Men Are Rul’d by Women’: Shakespeare’s First Tetralogy.”  Shakespeare Studies 19 (1987): 41-59.    


All the best,

Evelyn Gajowski

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA




Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.201  Wednesday, 25 May 2016


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

     Date:         May 20, 2016 at 8:57:12 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 


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

     Date:         May 13, 2016 at 8:54:05 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 




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

Date:         May 20, 2016 at 8:57:12 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear


Sir Brian Vickers (One King Lear) treats problematic text as straightforward: “In the following scene . . . the abridger made a few local cuts, gaining little space in the process” (155):


   Gon. You strike my people,and your disordred rabble,make

servants of their betters.      Enter Duke.

   Lear. We that too late repent’s, O sir, are you come? is it your will that wee prepare any horses,ingratitude! thou marble harted fiend, more hideous when thou shewest thee in a child, then the Sea-monster, detested kite, thou li[e]st . . . (Q1, 1.4.255ff).


F alters the readings:


   Lear. Woe, that too late repents:

Is it your will, speake Sir? Prepare my Horses.


   <Alb. Pray Sir be patient.

   Lear.> Detested Kite, thou lyest.

. . . .

   Duke. [Alb., F] My Lord,I am giltles as I am ignorant.

<Of what hath moued you.> 1.4.275

   Lear. It may be so my Lord,


“Once more, the abridger decides that if a character does not respond to a direct address (‘speak Sir!’), [the address] may be omitted. . . . Albany loses another [although] Lear does reply [‘It may be so . . .’]” (156).


Lines were possibly restored here, as Vickers maintains. However, replies notwithstanding, they may be elucidating revisions. Vickers discusses ‘Woe . . .’ again in his chapter, “The King’s Men Abridge a Tragedy”:


“Presumably Okes [the Q1 printer] cut ‘speak Sir’ since it duplicated ‘O sir’ just before, and then misread ‘my’ as ‘any.’ He probably added the words ‘that wee’ in order to make a coherent sentence, since it would be inconceivable that Lear should defer to Albany . . . . The Folio abridger made a different cut and also restored Lear’s characteristic imperative” (233).


Though agents of corruption surely rule this score of words, Vickers arbitrarily divvies the work. Stone’s analysis is more credible (though I’ve attempted an improvement):


“The questions in Q (O sir, are you come? is it your will that wee prepare any horses?) should surely be given to one of Lear’s gentlemen.” I believe the Duke asks the questions. “Assuming that [Albany] speaks at this point, we have a much more intelligible sequence of events. As Goneril is elaborating her complaint against Lear’s household (‘your disordered rabble makes servants of their betters’), Albany enters, whereupon [he guilelessly] gives her the lie by politely . . . requesting to saddle the King’s horses . . . . The point is not lost on Lear, nor does he mean it to be lost on Goneril. His . . . ‘Ingratitude! . . .’ serves only to introduce . . . ‘Detested kite . . . .’ Without the rearrangement suggested the text is very nearly incoherent, while the revision in F . . . is entirely unconvincing. We are left with the problem of We that too late repent’s (= repent us). I [suppose] these are the last words of Goneril’s speech, interrupted by Albany’s entrance. . . . We must refer to herself and Albany” (Stone, 231, “Ascription of Speeches in Q1 and F”).


When Albany (at that very moment) shows no resentment in offering to prepare horses, Lear is confirmed in thinking his daughter is the trouble-maker. The Duke has no idea what happened; neither do the F revisers, who clearly have no authorized source as guide. They (and Vickers) fail to consider what seems obvious to Stone (and me)—that reporting flubs speech prefixes. Q1’s otherwise accurate dialogue (as performed) is consequently altered.


Speak sir is given to “Lear” because no one seems to reply to him. But O sir, are you come? . . . was Albany’s courteous interruption. Woe, that too late repents woefully revises Goneril’s identification (‘We’) of the ‘betters turned servants.’ Prepare my Horses attempts to make ‘is it your will that wee prepare any horses’ into something Lear might have said. Pray Sir be patient merely gives Albany a line (two of which he already had, unbeknownst to the revisers). Of what hath moued you unnecessarily supplies an object.


Neither stenographer nor Q1 compositor would be likely to alter the wording (e.g., to add that wee, which F omits!) Their job was to record dialogue as it reached them. If it’s fair to assume that Q1 is most nearly right, then F can’t represent a sounder text. F manuscript printer’s copy likely derived from the report and read much like Q1. Whether some of F’s redacted passage restores text omitted by Q1 is impossible to know and wrong to assume.


Gerald E. Downs



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

Date:         May 13, 2016 at 8:54:05 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear


While rejecting Sir Brian Vickers’s belief in “foul papers” derivation (The One King Lear), I’m attracted to his hypothesis that F additions restore Q1 omissions. The alternative in most cases is revision. I accepted Stone’s analysis that Q1 copy-text influenced F; reluctantly so because probability frowns on contingent hypotheses. Yet I’ve recently supposed Q1 R3’s memorially transmitted copy could account for some of the Folio text; others suggest purposeful quarto omissions. I hadn’t considered deliberate Lear omissions, though Stone unenthusiastically mentioned the possibility.


In aggregate, motives for F’s additions seem so obscure that even “Two Shakespeare Versions” apologists rely on more extensive (indubitable) omissions of Q1 text from F as the basis of their consequently weak argument. Some lines “omitted” from Q1 appear to be non-authorial; other F-only text reads well as original but seems rather revisionally pointless.


Hypothesizing Q1 from an economical publisher’s standpoint, Vickers suggests text was culled to save space but restored from a playtext (itself abridged). As I accept direct influence of Q1 printer’s copy in F, early printing omissions would be available for restoration. Stone analyzes F’s additions extensively. Since Vickers argues that Lear was preserved independently of Q1, he hasn’t much use for particular questions about F additions. On the other hand, Stone may have overlooked some effects of printing, or even of pre-Q1 revision:


[Lear.] and with Champains rich’d

With plenteous Riuers  (1.1.65–66)


“[T]he text of Q needs no repair at this point. It may . . . represent a genuine recovery of what stood in . . .  copy for Q. Since the following phrase . . . begins with and . . . .” (Stone, App. B2 ‘Omissions and Additions in F,’ 233–248, p.239). Eyeskip is indicated, if not certain; revision serves no dramatic purpose.


[Kent.] But true it is . . .

Offer this office to you. (3.1.30–42: not in F)


“An accidental [F!] omission, immediately following an insertion [Q1 omission?] of eight lines. The . . . first four or five lines of [F’s omission] is essential: without it . . . the interpolation is incomplete in grammar and sense. So that this was . . . no deliberate deletion of the reviser’s. Nor is it . . . likely that the copyist [was in] error” (235). Stone guesses the added F lines caused the F omission; he may be right.


[Kent.] Who haue, as who haue not . . .

. . . these are but furnishings. (3.1.22–29: not in Q)


Knowles, following Blayney, thinks these same added F lines were meant for two places; they may be right. Stone, treating the addition as whole, argues bad revision (70–75). Repositioning may obviate his otherwise worthy objections, to allow that F intended only to restore omissions from Q1: Vickers may be right. Yet the sequence is not straightforward. Paraphrasing van Dam, if the compositors had known what they were doing, they wouldn’t have done it. Foakes (Arden3) reproduces the complicated texts.


Gerald E. Downs




The Tempest and Colonialism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.200  Wednesday, 25 May 2016


From:        Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 11, 2016 at 4:58:47 PM EDT

Subject:     SHAKSPER: Colonialism


Charles Weinstein writes:


I would further note that Prospero treats Caliban with kindness until he attempts to rape Miranda.  Caliban does not deny this charge; on the contrary, he revels in it:  “O ho! O ho! Would’t had been done!” etc.  He makes clear that he will repeat the attempt if he ever gets the chance; and indeed, he spends the rest of the play trying to kill Prospero and rape Miranda by proxy, using Stephano as his surrogate.  Quite obviously, Prospero and Miranda are compelled to subjugate Caliban in simple self-defense, the way we imprison recidivist sexual offenders.  These facts, and especially Shakespeare’s depiction of Caliban as a determined and incorrigible rapist, would seem to complicate efforts to regard him as Prospero’s victim.  But then some people will ignore a great deal in order to reach their desired interpretation.


But, Charlie, how do you  ‘interpret’ Prospero’s “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.”? 


Is Caliban Prospero’s bastard? (  SHK 16.1504 )....or his Id? ( SHK 21.0275 ).


As philosopher Stanley Cavell stressed to Carol Neely: “one must think about incest to understand Shakespeare’s romances.”



Ye shameless self-citer,

Joe Egert




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