Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0343  Monday, 20 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 20, 2012 1:37:56 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Gabriel Egan re-raised “take up” in response to my posting:

 

> I mentioned the claim that King Lear Q1(u)’s “take up

> to keep” could have been turned into F’s “Take up,

> take up” by Shakespeare himself when revising the

> play by annotating an exemplar of Q1 (one containing

> this uncorrected reading). Gerald Downs dismissed

> the possibility with “no author would revise other people's

> travesties”. So, I pointed out that James Joyce and

> Charles Dickens did, as shown by Gary Taylor.

> Downs now writes:

>

>> But Stone and I, if I may speak for him, are talking

>> about the many manifest errors in Q1. By "travesties"

>> I take the whole of the corruption into account.

 

> No, with respect Gerald, we were both referring to

> this one specific variant, not a set of others.

>

> I’d be grateful if you’d either acknowledge the

> possibility in respect of this variant, or else show why

> we shouldn’t accept the possibility in this case.

 

I’m willing to discuss a point or two. My earlier July 9 posting made my position clear: Shakespeare’s revision of the misprint was

 

>> Highly unlikely: for one thing, "take up" looks . . .

>> like emending . . . graphic error; achievable by anyone,

>> and not to be taken as evidence for Shakespeare.

>> Possibility? That's not argument. More important, this is

>> one of many shortcomings that Shakespeare (if the

>> reviser, which I don't believe) overlooks alongside,

>> and inside, his revisions. Followers of the Oxford

>> Shakespeare have to buy into that -- even to express it.

 

Proper argument must take into account the large number of errors in Q1 Lear that led not to correction, but to further error in F. An isolated example may be examined but not removed from the set as if that will settle any question. If Shakespeare revised Q1 he’s partly responsible for more than one compound error, often with lingering ill effect. When I refer to “take up” in this respect I include it in the plural—“travesties.”

 

Further, to grant one “possibility” is to grant all, supposing Shakespeare the reviser. Choosing to argue “take up” as an “acceptable possibility” is mistaken if other examples are ignored or treated singly. However, I don’t mind applying my statement to one instance, provided we grant a probabilistic notion of “never”; I mean, “fat chance.” Miscorrected “take up to keep” can’t be construed as evidence of Shakespearean revision; its worth is as negative evidence. Argument for Lear’s authorial revision is noted for overstatement; “accepting possibility” doesn’t help.

 

We should also understand that Q1 error and other faults made their way into F through agents other than the single reviser some suppose to have been Shakespeare. Again, I agree with Egan that F is revised from Q1 itself. Nevertheless, the “New Oxford Orthodoxy” adds (but doesn’t argue) the hypothesis that Q1 copy was Shakespeare’s foul papers. In other words, Egan begins at Square Two. Because features of F (including use of Q2 as copy) are so dependent on Q1, advocates of Shakespearean revision reject Q1 ancestry other than the author’s “difficult” rough draft. On this view, foul papers needn’t be argued: they simply have to be assumed. Otherwise, the “take up” rationale must be resorted to many, many times over.

 

Now to “take up” and Shakespeare’s willingness to revise others’ goofs. My first thought (are Egan’s objection) was that “it’s possible, therefore it is” is a logical fallacy. The very idea that Joyce’s behavior determines Shakespeare’s is obviously mistaken. The point can only be made by a statistical argument of some kind. I don’t recall how Gary Taylor spoke of Joyce’s & Dickens’s revision of misprints to something different from the originals. But I doubt he listed them as percentages of misprints not so altered. Without such a basis the instances are of no value. If Joyce wrote that way once in ten opportunities, that counts against someone else doing it in a single instance. If Joyce is one in ten authors acting so, that counts against other authors. Each Lear instance are subject to the same statistics. These odds (no doubt greater than ten-to-one) must be multiplied with each other.

 

The circumstances of Joyce’s altered misprints should also be noted. Were they amid scores of errors of every kind? Would restoration of an original reading be troublesome? Was he revising authoritative copy? Did he correct the other misprints, or did he revise many of them, as Shakespeare is imagined to have done?

 

One may as well cite Oscar Wilde: “A poet can survive everything but a misprint.” (Got this from the L.A. Times Crossword). Q1 Lear is one big misprint. Wilde or Joyce?

 

Gerald E. Downs

Dugdale Archive

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0342  Monday, 20 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 18, 2012 12:39:23 PM EDT

Subject:     Dugdale Archive 

 

Very briefly to answer Marcia Eppich-Harris’s question about F1 and copyright, authors did not usually hold copyright for their works in this period.   From the charter granted to the Stationers’ Company by Mary I in 1557 until the first and second copyright acts of Anne in 1708/09, only freemen of the Stationers’ Company or their widows if they did not remarry could print, publish, and hold copyright in works in England.  A very few authors were freemen of the Company and therefore could hold copyright but they did not hold it as authors but as stationers.  Copyright was thought to be perpetual and to be real property and could be sold, transferred, subdivided, inherited, and the like but only amongst freemen of the Company. Authors or those who had control of texts sold them outright to Stationers and that was their only profit from their writing.  Some few had private arrangements with Stationers which might involve some further payment (e.g., Milton with Paradise Lost) but no matter what this might be copyright still had to be held by a freeman of the Company.  Thus, no one in the Shakespeare family, no matter how defined, stood to benefit in any way from F1 because of copyright.

 

William Proctor Williams

 

Aesthetic and Anesthetic

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0341  Friday, 17 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 16, 2012 1:21:24 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Aesthetic and Anesthetic

 

Steve Urkowitz’s comments on anaesthetic Macbeth hit a nerve. I recently went, as a reviewer, to see Punchdrunk’s titanic flagship US production “Sleep No More”: an 100 room immersive theatre installation that essentially offers audience a non-linear Macbeth with elements from Hitchcock, most notably a stridently controlling Bernard Hermann-drenched score.

 

Something that this sprawling, nigh unreviewable work does do is to produce something like the criterion of  “educated emotional evocation” that Urkowitz calls for. So, a provocative review in Shakespeare Bulletin by Kevin Ewert eschews the usual review format to reflect on the reviewer’s experience of a single moment of intimate contact with one of the actors. Certainly reviewing or viewing a show like this forces us to answer that question: “tell me if you felt along with your understanding. And tell me how that feeling connects with other emotions you enjoy intensely.”

 

But on the whole I was struck precisely by how “immersive theatre” seems to have become anaesthetic in the hands of its great proponents. Yes, it breaks a barrier, and allows audiences to be grabbed, up close and personal.  Yet “one on one” moments in this expensive, well-publicized show, like the one Ewet describes, have become like bonus scenes in a computer game, known and sought out by audience members wanting to “score” the maximum experience.  What could be less affecting than this dull, mechanical euphoria: somewhere between computer gaming and online shopping—with a hint of surfing for porn.  I wonder, is theatre not equally or more immersive when an actor playing the porter looks into the crowd and addresses members of the audience? Punchdrunk’s “mind-blowing” Macbeth seems to forget this.  Even dance companies working behind a proscenium arch do more to interrogate and destabilize the boundary between audience and actor than Punchdrunk’s “one on one” immersive theatre technique, where the overriding emotions dealt with are the viewer’s infantile demand for attention, touch, and recognition. 

 

Punchdrunk’s Macbeth is a machine.  And it’s Macbeth is a machine, incapable of showing any development or engaging any emotional response.  I hope I won’t be spoiling the show for anyone if I let on that the climax come when Macbeth puts his head in a noose—an odd form of emotional pleading.  Overall, it struck me that a show that purports to be all about active response seems to render both its audience and its protagonist, conveniently passive, and dispassionate.  Macbeth’s nobles usher Macbeth to his death; the ushers usher us back into the bar.  End of show. 

 

This also touches on Urkowitz’s second point, about directorial interventions / inventions.  I’d noticed this as a particularly rife problem in South African Shakespeare and had taken it as a symptom of director designer’s theatre, that doesn’t trust either actors or audiences, though the same thing crops up all over, especially when working with “dark” materials like Macbeth.  Directors like to colonize silences and use dumbshow to rewrite the play, often to make the texture more generically even.  So Adam can die poignantly at the end of the As You Like It Act II, Richard III and other villains can stab any number of messengers and, yes, Macbeth can stab the doctor—because he (because we) can.  In the most striking example I’ve seen, a production of King Lear in Cape Town, on the exit from the heath, Edgar walked over and strangled the clown. Why? I put this down to directorial interference.  But when I put this to the director, I was told that it had been Edgar’s idea. When the director, Guy de Lancey, asked the actor why he did it, he replied that he wanted to get the trousers. Actors have also learned to replace emotions with ideas.  I don’t think they learned this from Shakespeare.  

 

Dugdale Archive

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0340  Friday, 17 August 2012

 

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

     Date:         August 16, 2012 2:10:30 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER:  Dugdale Archive 

 

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

     Date:         August 16, 2012 3:40:07 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Dugdale Archive 

 

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

     Date:         August 16, 2012 8:37:49 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Dugdale Archive 

 

 

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

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

Date:         August 16, 2012 2:10:30 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER:  Dugdale Archive

 

Marcia Eppich-Harris wrote:

 

>I noticed looking through that Anne Hathaway died three months before 

>the printing of the First Folio. I suppose there’s no way to know for sure,

>but is there evidence that Heminges and Condell were waiting for Anne to 

>die before publishing the FF?

 

You do realise, don’t you, that the First Folio actually spent over two years going through the press?

 

John Briggs

 

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

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

Date:         August 16, 2012 3:40:07 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Dugdale Archive 

 

Marcia Eppich-Harris raises a good question, which has occasionally crossed my mind, and I’m eager to hear other colleagues’ thoughts on this question.

 

The short answer is that the work of printing the First Folio began in 1622, many months before Anne Shakespeare’s death in August 1623, so that it’s unlikely that anyone involved with the project was waiting for her demise. In any case, Shakespeare’s primary heir was not his widow, but his daughter, Susanna Hall. If there had been any profit

 

But I have never found any sign of economic rights to a work of literature being inherited by the author’s family during this period. There were no copyright laws, and no idea of an authorial “intellectual property” in our sense of the term. (The closest thing to an exception is Sidney’s family, who use their political influence and connections to control publication of his works, but they don’t claim to “own” the Arcadia, or to imagine that the Arcadia is a heritable commercial property.) 

 

You do see stationers’ claims to a work being inherited by the widows and children of members of the Company of Stationers, but you don’t see poets’ widows or children making such claims. So the printer Thomas Pavier’s widow did assert her rights to a share of “Shakespeare’s plays, or any of them,” but Shakespeare’s widow would likely not have.

 

Hope this helps,

Jim Marino

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         August 16, 2012 8:37:49 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Dugdale Archive

 

“I suppose there’s no way to know for sure, but is there evidence that Heminges and Condell were waiting for Anne to die before publishing the FF? Who made the financial profit from the FF? I assume that estate laws now are far different from the early modern period, and probably different in the US than they are in the UK. But I wondered if Shakespeare’s estate (and Anne) would have profited from the FF if it had been printed and sold before her death.”

 

Shakespeare held no copyright or similar interest in the plays, so they were not assets of his estate. 

 

Aesthetic and Anesthetic

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0339  Thursday, 16 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 14, 2012 10:26:30 AM EDT

Subject:     Aesthetic and Anesthetic

 

It is always good to read or listen to what Steve Urkowitz has to say on any subject.  I too have devoted myself to emotionally evocative productions of Shakespeare.  I wonder about directorial intention:  (and yes, I do know about the intentional fallacy).  Perhaps the director was deliberately aiming at a Brechtian Macbeth—asking the audience to experience, in a roundabout way, what lack of fellow feeling can do to us all.  Or perhaps the director was merely being clever in less efficacious ways. 

Perennial problem:  How do you shock the audience into experiencing anew a play the audience knows well?  We all cudgel our brains on that hard stone.  

 

David Richman 

 

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