The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0292 Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Date: June 10, 2013 1:41:54 PM EDT
Subject: RE: Away
For Pervez Rizvi:
I think the suggestions regarding The Merchant of Venice are interesting, but I think that ‘Replie, Replie’ although it is in italics on the right hand side of the page in Q, works better metrically if it is part of the song. The song is envisaged here as a dialogue where the first stanza asks a series of questions that are then answered in the second. It is quite likely that the ‘reply’ comes from one of two singers, and this would account for “Ile begin it” in roman on sig.E4v spoken by one of the two singers. I think that John Dover Wilson got this right. The second example that Rivzi chooses is less convincing since it is positioned as a stage direction. Salerio’s deictic “his letter there / vvill show you his estate.” would surely not require a further, possibly impertinent insistence: ‘open the letter’, since Bassanio is a ‘Lord’.
For Alan Dessen:
A pity that you stick with the usual explanation of Innogen, and in a play that emphasises the ‘silence’ of women. Is it not just as likely that Shakespeare simply forgot to note those occasions after 2.1 when Innogen might appear, but that it could reasonably be assumed that she would be present in the ‘public’ scenes that would normally require her to be present as Leonato’s wife. Her presence, especially at 4.1. and in the final scene of the play alters the play’s meanings significantly and raises some interesting gender questions that even ardent feminists seem reluctant to engage with. We owe much to Alan and to Lesley Thompson for assembling a very wide range of stage directions, but we are still uncertain, I think, about what a practising writer might be able to take for granted as part of the process envisioning a play. We know, for example, that in the same play Will Kemp ‘wrote’ the part of Dogberry, and ‘Couly’ that of Verges . . . let me quickly explain, that Shakespeare may have put the words they speak on paper (and even that is an assumption) BUT he is ventriloquising the language and style of two actors whose work he is intimately acquainted with. Can we not say then that Kemp and Couly ‘wrote’ Shakespeare in this instance?