The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.204 Thursday, 2 May 2016
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