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Lear Analysis

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0397  Thursday, 27 September 2012

 

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

     Date:         September 26, 2012 8:10:05 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Lear Analysis 

 

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

     Date:         September 26, 2012 11:59:28 PM EDT

     Subject:     King Lear Analysis: What Ho? 1.4 

 

 

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

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

Date:         September 26, 2012 8:10:05 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Lear Analysis

 

John Briggs writes that two matrices wouldn’t be put into the mould to make a double-ell.

 

>You would have to punch the “ell” twice onto the same matrix

 

See Philip Gaskell A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972) for a discussion of the phenomenon. The key bit is

 

>A special form of tied letter appears to have been

>made in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by placing

>the matrices for several letters side by side in the mould,

>and casting them all together as a single type. . . .

>Tied letters made in this way may be difficult to distinguish

>from true ligatures made from a single matrix. (pp. 33-34)

 

Gabriel Egan

 

 

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

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

Date:         September 26, 2012 11:59:28 PM EDT

Subject:     King Lear Analysis: What Ho? 1.4

 

Peter Stone concluded that Q1 Lear is the primary source of the F text but he acknowledged use of a manuscript source for correction, noting that “F fails to remedy the corruption” of one passage: “In this case, as in the others, we cannot fail to be impressed above all by [the reviser’s] apparent inability to break free from [Q1 errors].” Stone holds that “the manuscript the editor/reviser/collator consulted was not an independent manuscript [but], not to multiply hypotheses unnecessarily . . . the same manuscript as that used in the setting up of Q.”

 

The suggestion doesn’t “recommend itself as immediately plausible. . . . Nevertheless . . . let us consider how, put as a hypothesis, it explains the evidence. . . . It is easy to see that . . . [a collator] would be unlikely to get much beyond the [compositor’s and corrector’s] mistakes . . . . At the same time, the corrections in F are accounted for. The vast majority of the certain corrections are emendations of Q misreadings, to explain which we need not suppose any recourse to an independent manuscript. . . . The survival in F of other forms of error is also easily explained. . . . If [the reviser] was checking his printed copy against the manuscript from which the Quarto itself was produced, then there is very little evidence to convict him of careless oversights [as would be the case if the manuscript was independent and better].”

 

“Supposing [the collator] had access to an authoritative manuscript, it is a priori highly unlikely that he would have been permitted any large measure of editorial freedom . . . . It is otherwise if we assume that no other sources of copy were available [than Q1 and its printer’s copy] . . . . In such circumstances an editor [would] be allowed the greatest liberties . . .” (88-89)

 

Stone rejected ‘foul papers’ behind Q1. For those who believe in foul-paper copy, insistence on consultation of Q1 copy in F’s preparation is “multiplying hypotheses.” But since belief in foul papers is assumption in the first place, there isn’t much value in the pot calling the kettle black. The paramount question remains: What was Q1 copy?

 

Some evidence Stone cites supports his Q1-copy inference but some doesn’t. It’s not easy (conceptually) to rule out foul papers or derivative copies as sources for corrections of Q1 errors, though persistence of faults tells against them. Nor is it certain that a qualified, imaginative reviser aware of the Q1 transmission history could not have consulted his ingenuity to mend the text. Yet the “certain corrections” encourage a presumption that the “editor” had some (if not enough) help. I prefer to wish the Q1 printer’s copy away, not from supposing an edge for foul papers (which I reject as a viable alternative), but to retain the simpler theory that Q1 was the only written F source. Yet I agree with Stone on one possible instance of eyeskip (and its implications) enough to accept his Q1-copy hypothesis (provisionally). Should any think about my thinking (both doubtful) it would probably be judged over-subtle or worse. But while others give no thought to eyeskip I’ve worked up a sense of the phenomenon, including a belief that its evidence can help to decide important issues. Thus another long analysis.

 

Omission is a common transcription error; printed restoration is difficult to detect if foul-proofing correction (absent variant text) is assumed not to have been employed. Q1 evidence lies in over-crowded verse lines; examples are more or less convincing. But as numbers mount, relatively uncertain instances become more suspect. Yet alternative explanations will not be eliminated when the verse is corrupt (or is prose), and where no attempt is made to keep a proper lineation. If Q1 copy was not lined as verse and division not marked, relining would have been haphazard in any case—which it usually is:

 

  Fran. Is it no more but this, a tardines in nature,

That [often leaues the historie vnspoke that] it intends to

My Lord of Burgundie, what say you to the Lady?  (do,

Loue is not loue when it is mingled with respects that

Aloofe from the intire point wil you haue her?   (stāds

             (Q1 TLN 232–37 [B4r19–23])

 

The middle three of these corrupt lines comprise four pentameters, with “do” and “stāds” turned down. Because two clauses begin with that, the bracketed words could have been omitted by eyeskip and restored in the above arrangement. Mistake-free seriatim-printed verse would not appear so, even if the copy was mislined or extrametrical. Not all such errors would be corrected (by restoration of the omission) and some might be allowed to stand by choice.

 

If a later edition seems to restore an omission, the obvious possibility is that copy other than a preprinted edition was available to those making the restoration. But that isn't necessarily the case; consider this added line in F (shown here in brackets):

 

   Lear. Of all these bounds euen from this Line, to this,

With shadowie Forrests, and [with Champains rich’d

With plenteous Riuers, and] wide-skirted Meades

We make thee Lady.

    (F 1.1.64–67 [TLN 68–71])

 

Because and is placed, in both F addition and Q1 text near the same point in verse-lining, it is evidence of restored eyeskip (since there is no particular reason to interpolate a line, as Stone observes, 239). Yet he notes that frequent revision in F’s early going reduces the significance of the reoccurring and (a common word subject to coincidental usage), even though it is empirical evidence (in its placement; and is just before and also at the end of the interpolation). Hypermetrical following verse argues further against an added line from authorized text. And yet if Q1 copy possibly assisted revision, all the evidence should be considered. (Restoration also supports theories that independent text influenced F.)

 

Some lines may support Stone’s Q1-copy hypothesis when inference is difficult because eyeskip correction need not be true to original copy in respect of reoccurring words; analysis is then less of a bibliographical and more of a textual kind. Therefore F 1.4.333–58 and its smaller Q1 counterpart receive exceptional attention from Stone (76-80):

 

   Gon.  Do you marke that?

   Alb.   I cannot be so partiall Gonerill,

To the great loue I bear you.

   Gon. Pray you content. *What Oswald, hoa?* [*F only*]

You Sir, more knaue then Foole, after your Master.

   Foole.  Nunkle Lear, Nunkle Lear,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So the Foole followes after.                             Exit

   Gon.  This man hath had good Counsell,

A hundred Knights?

‘Tis politike, and safe to let him keepe

At point a hundred Knights: yes, that on euerie dreame,

Each buz, each fancie, each complaint, dislike,

He may enguard his dotage with their powres,

And hold our liues in mercy.  Oswald, I say.

  Alb.  Well you may feare too farre.

  Gon.  Safer then trust too farre.

Let me still take away the harmes I feare,

Not feare still to be taken. I know his heart,

What he hath vtter’d I haue writ my Sister:

If she sustaine him, and his hundred Knights

When I haue shew’d th’vnfitness.

               Enter Steward

How now Oswald?

What haue you writ that letter to my Sister?

  Stew.  I Madam.                                            

(F 1.4.333–58 [TLN 830-59])

 

F expands and otherwise alters Q1, which reads:

 

  Gon. Doe you marke that my Lord?

  Duke.  I cannot bee so partiall Gonerill to the great loue I

beare you,

  Gon. Come sir no more, you, more knaue then foole, after

your master?

  Foole. Nunckle Lear, Nunckle Lear, tary and take the foole

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

followes after.

  Gon.  What Oswald, ho. [Big Omission?] Oswald. Here Madam.

What haue you writ this letter to my sister?

  Osw.  Yes Madam.

(Q1 TLN 720–31)

           

I agree these versions present “an interesting and problematical case.” Stone argues, in part from unusual F features in the addition between the Fool’s exit and Oswald’s entry (viz., extra-metrical expletives yes and Well), that the interpolation recovers “a more correct or complete version of the text as transmitted in Q.” Eyeskip criteria endorse that conjecture if alternatives (revision, access to other texts) are doubtful. Stone suggests that Q1 copy held the lines much as they are in F:

 

“Q . . . omitted them by accident. There are difficulties . . . in the way of explaining how the accident may have occurred since the lines as they appear in F have been slightly revised . . . . Goneril’s What Oswald, hoa? was transferred to a different context . . . . Oswald’s Here Madam has entirely disappeared. It is [likely] the evidence which would satisfactorily explain the . . . ‘eyeskip’ has been eliminated or obscured.” (79)

 

Suggesting that the explanatory sequence might be conjectured, Stone notes “that the most suspicious lines in the addition are the first and last . . . which we should expect to provide the necessary clues.”

 

Stone is a bit mistaken here, though (as usual) he is very perceptive in suspecting eyeskip. The line beginning the addition is irrelevant; the real clue is the imperative phrase, “What Oswald, ho.” If the entire passage stood in Q1 copy, the phrase would first occur as in Q1 (after “after” & after the Fool’s departure) and reoccur before “Here Madam” as in Q1. (Remember, the guilty phrase begins in two places but ends up in one). The inference is that F arbitrarily and unmetrically transposed Goneril’s summons to earlier dialogue: in Q1 copy it would have come just before the first restored line (Gon. What Oswald, ho. This man hath had good Counsell), where eyeskip would generally originate. The phrase is next represented in the last half-line of the F addition, “How now Oswald?” I agree that it “also suggests interference, though much less clearly.”

 

Oswald’s “Here Madam” was certainly in Q1 copy; the compositors are accused not of invention but remarkable faithfulness. Logically, Oswald responds to a summons; if that once again was “What Oswald ho”, the eyeskip trap was laid. Identical speech headings and initial phrases induced an omission (including one instance of “What Oswald ho”) that, given its size and unimportance, was not worth the task of restoration to Q1 during foul-proofing—too much work would have to be undone. But a reviser with access to omitted lines would naturally return them to the text. Q1 made Lear public property so revision needn’t be tied to a theatrical company; but use of Q1 copy presumably involves the printer or publisher. (In view of a possible reprint, which happened after all in F, Okes may have corrected an exemplar of Q1).

 

Whoever restored the omission knew its cause. If not constrained to reproduce a copy-text (and no one was, in this case) he might try to preclude the identical mistake in transcription or printing. The F changes would be easy matters: move the first phrase out of the way and alter the second to look less like the first. Q1 has no entry for Oswald; by providing a set direction F obviates the repeat call to the steward who no longer announces himself, and “How now” eliminates an awkward repetition (What hoe . . . What haue . . .). F may be responding directly to Q1 omission, including, as Stone notes, “recovery of genuine matter [with] signs that it does not stem from a wholly authentic source.” As it “was introduced . . . at some time after the publication of Q, then it is most unlikely that the author himself was responsible” (80). This note, expressed before campaigns positing Shakespeare himself as reviser of Q1, may stoke ideas that Stone wasn’t up on textual potentialities. That supposition might be reversed.

 

For example, Stone notes that Oswald begins life as a “gentleman,” is promoted to “steward,” gets a name in speech headings only at this passage, and then reverts to “steward.” That’s the way shorthand does it, as in John of Bordeaux, where names are got from dialogue.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

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