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Who Edited Shakespeare?

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0364  Thursday, 25 July 2013

 

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

     Date:         July 24, 2013 5:57:31 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Who Edited Shakespeare?

 

[2] From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 24, 2013 10:46:38 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Editing

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         July 24, 2013 5:57:31 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Who Edited Shakespeare?

 

Saul Frampton’s Florio/Folio article is interesting, if faulty. The topic is good.

 

> New technology has changed scholarship. Whereas previous

> generations of experts have sought to reconcile the differences

> between quarto and Folio, current thinking highlights the difficult

> relationship between the various incarnations of Shakespeare’s

> texts, something made easier by the availability of rare

> Shakespeare quartos in digital databases such as Early English

> Books Online.

> The scholar Eleanor Prosser thus detects “considerable evidence”

> for the elimination of metrical and stylistic “irregularities” in the

> Folio [. . . .] In addition, a range of unusual words are added to the

> text, words not used elsewhere by Shakespeare. Prosser concludes:

> “somewhere behind the Folio . . . lies a conscientious and exacting

> editor with literary pretensions”, albeit one “more experienced in the

> transcription of literary than of theatrical works”.

 

Prosser retired in 1983, thus I don’t get the thus, but I’ve always liked her book, Shakespeare’s Anonymous Editors, which provides the quote. At the ‘Folio . . . lies’ ellipsis Frampton omits “text of 2 Henry IV”; where she was speaking of one playtext only, in contrast to the others. Scholarship shouldn’t change that much. But this points up part of the problem: The Folio is a terrific mix; ‘exacting,’ it ain’t.

 

Larry Weiss observes that F was set

 

> from a variety of earlier texts, including the author’s foul papers,

> his fair papers, scribal copies, prompt books and one or more

> quarto editions, or a combination of these.

 

“Foul papers” is a big mistake, as Werstine shows; “his fair papers” is a guess; “scribal copies” is certain, but of what? “One or more quarto editions” is right. But don’t linger over ‘one’; the fact that prior editions were F copy or augmented F copy many times over (and sometimes quite oddly), indicates the “general editor” was more connected to the printing-house than to exactitude.

 

> If Florio or anyone else served as overall editor, how did he

> convey his emendations to the compositors? If he prepared

> new “edited” copies of the plays, why is there no hint of this in

> the F1 versions, and why did he do nothing to smooth out the

> stylistic variants introduced by the compositors?

 

F 2H4 is undoubtedly a non-Shakespearian preparation, as Prosser shows, but its oddities are indicative of F's uneven ability to reproduce Shakespeare’s text. There’s no problem getting text to compositors—that was their job—but smoothing only went so far. Usually, the copy was difficult.

 

Frampton observes of a Folio cut:

 

> But what is especially interesting is that all the lines in this

> second quotation from Hamlet are deleted from [F]. There

> are two, equally uncertain, possibilities as to why. The first

> is that, thinking he had overdone the satire of Florio, and

> perhaps needing to make a theatrical cut, Shakespeare

> erased the passage from the play. . . . The other possibility is

> more disturbing – that alongside Jaggard and Blount there worked

> an experienced editor who had a particular reason to cut it . . . 

 

These may be equally uncertain possibilities for F’s revision but they aren’t the only ones; cuts don’t even need particular reasons.

 

> Florio had known Shakespeare.

 

This statement usually gets a qualifier.

  

> The words added [to Gloster’s Lear speech] include some

> not used by Shakespeare anywhere else, such as “disquietly”,

> but also the word “machinations” – never used elsewhere by

> Shakespeare but used five times by Florio in singular and plural

> forms and also added to Edgar’s speech in Act 5 scene 1.

 

This evidence impresses me, yet most Shakespeareans know (Know they know!) Shakespeare himself revised to these un-Gloster-like lines; to prove it they are stowed in stylometric data banks in + territory.

 

> And while it might seem gratuitous scepticism to doubt the integrity

> of Shakespeare’s text, it is clear that someone edited the Folio.

 

Skepticism is seldom gratuitous in any bad way. Besides, the integrity of the F hodgepodge is doubtful.

 

> It is Florio’s linguistic inventiveness – as well as his links to

> Jaggard and Blount – that would seem to single him out as

> the most likely contender.

 

He coulda binna emenda. I agree linguistic inventiveness was a better tool than interviewing old actors; the goal was playtexts, not integrity. My concept of the project is that a number of linked individuals, not necessarily playwrights, were employed to make the texts presentable. If one of them was Florio, that’s fine with me.

 

> in King Lear we might almost fancy we can see the lexicographer

> Florio at work – as Edmond expresses his worship of “nature”

> rather than nurture:

>    well the legitimate Edgar, I must haue your land, our Fathers

>    loue is to the bastard Edmund, as to the legitimate: fine word:

>    Legitimate. Well my legitimate, if this letter speede, and my

>    inuention thriue, Edmund the base shall to’th’legitimate.”

> It seems odd that the nefarious Edmond should pause to admire

> the word “legitimate”. But it is almost as if Florio stops to afford

> Shakespeare some credit, adding “fine word: Legitimate” to the

> Folio text.

 

(Q1)                                                   . . . well the legitimate

Edgar, I must haue your land, our Fathers loue is to the bastard

Edmund, as to the legitimate, well my legitimate, if this letter

speede, and my inuention thriue, Edmund the base shall tooth'le-

gitimate: I grow, I prosper, now Gods stand vp for Bastards.

 

(F)                                        . . . Well then,

Legitimate Edgar, I must haue your land,

Our Fathers loue, is to the Bastard Edmond,

As to th'legitimate: fine word: Legitimate.

Well, my Legittimate, if this Letter speed,

And my inuention thriue, Edmond the base

Shall to'th'Legitimate: I grow, I prosper:

Now Gods, stand vp for Bastards.

 

The trouble is (textually), this passage (typically) involves more than one (Florio?) issue. Supposings for one can’t legitimately ignore the others. F meant to repair the meter; whether the added legitimate is, is a question. The lining is arbitrary, depending on how many syllables that word is allowed. You can go up a few lines to see where Q1’s ‘stale dull lyed bed,’ (which Blayney and Stone independently emend to ‘dull-eyed,’) is altered in F to ‘dull stale tyred’ by its dull stale tyred editorial staff. The punctuation probably comes from Q2 and not from the grammarian Jonson or the lexicographer Florio.

 

Frampton gives Q1’s ‘well the legitimate’ instead of F’s ‘Well then,’ but gives F’s ‘to’th’[L]egitimate’ in place of Q1’s ‘tooth’legitimate:’ to quote the old texts accurately one must be more consistent. Since I brought it up, both Q & F are sensitive to the meter with to’th’- & tooth’-, which mean to make one syllable of two. Modern Shakespeareans think extra syllables are of no account, but Q & F didn’t think that way. Neither did Ben Jonson, who marked the apostrophe in his own folio. I Like Stone’s conjecture here, where tooth’- mystified Florio(?) and all editors since: to th’ represents the phonetically similar tew th’ (var. of taw, figuratively ‘to prepare or bring into a proper state or condition for some purpose’ OED). Where was the world-of-words guy when we needed him? But I mention this only to show the texts are too complicated for Guardians. I don't think Frampton is extrapolating the whole of the Q1-to-F revision onto Florio, but it is possible that was an F project.

 

> Yet there are three pages of the Folio that we know for a fact

> were not written by Shakespeare: the “Dedicatorie Epistle”,

> and the address “To the great Variety of Readers” at the beginning.

> They are signed by Heminges and Condell, but the cost of the

> project suggests they were written by a more experienced hand.

> The obvious candidate would seem to be Ben Jonson: but if he

> did write them, why didn’t he sign them?

 

Most are satisfied Jonson wrote in place of H&C. Florio Co-author?

 

> Other evidence exists, too, not least that calling the preface an

> “Epistle Dedicatorie” is almost a Florio trademark:

 

Does that mean Florio wrote the “Epistle Dedicatorie” to the 1611 Bible?

  

> Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Florio’s possible

> involvement with the Folio is that we may never know its

> true extent. . . . Half of Shakespeare’s works were published

> for the first time in the Folio; the question remains whether

> they were subject to Florio’s “wary correction”.

 

But this question applies to anyone who may have altered the texts and everyone involved was relatively free to do just that. The reason for this freedom (beyond a printers’ unbounded privilege) is that the texts were more or less corrupt. Amongst the F-only texts corruption is nowadays laid to Shakespeare’s foul papers to bring us closer to the creator and at the same time to discount other causes. The publishers were under no such illusions. As with prior editions, these texts were cur’d; though the cur, as often in Lear, might be worse than the disease. If Frampton pursues his Florio thesis I agree his investigations should include the whole Folio.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         July 24, 2013 10:46:38 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Editing

 

> A question for attribution specialists: would the appearance within 

>any given play - or act or scene of a play - of many such words, 

>phrases and collocations “never used elsewhere by Shakespeare” 

>but found in the work of X, be sufficient grounds for further 

>stylometric investigation, which might turn up another 

>unacknowledged co-author?

 

I don’t hold myself out as an “attribution specialist,” but I have had recent occasion to immerse myself in the field.  As the opinion in the Thomas of Woodstock matter reflects, I am suspicious of attributions grounded only or principally on language parallels.  But a subset of parallelisms characterized as rare words appearing only in the works of two authors, with one of whom they are neologisms, might present a different picture, especially if the words are not unusual.  “Rare” but “not unusual” needs elaboration:  By “rare” I mean infrequent; by “not unusual” I refer to language that doesn’t strike the ear as forced or deliberately heightened.  For example, “bear stiffly up” doesn’t appear overwrought (at least not to me), while “multitudinous seas incarnadine” does.  So, if another play has a character say that “the wind perforce bore me stiffly up,” I wouldn’t necessarily assume that this alluded to Hamlet, although I might suspect that the author was subtly influenced by it.  On the other hand, if a play contains the line “he bled enough to incarnadine the multitudinous seas,” I would call that a deliberate parody, akin to Green’s “tyger’s hart wrapt in a player’s hyde.”

 
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.