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Shorthand R&J

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0522  Tuesday, 18 December 2012

 

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

Date:         December 17, 2012 9:52:04 PM EST

Subject:     Shorthand R&J

 

Steven Urkowitz replied to some R&J memorial corruption:

 

> Here in Q1, “stufft” can mean also “supplied with

> stuff,” or “comprised of” as “my household stuff,”

> not necessarily “crammed to full capacity,”

 

This sounds like George Carlin’s “stuff” to me.

 

> as appears to be the different usage in the Q2

> version, “an allegater stufft”:

 

This passage is simply mis-remembered, much as Q1’s ‘Queen Mab’ speech, of which van Dam observes: “we see that nearly every word is right but that the sequence of the words is in the greatest disorder . . . . [T]he whole of the quoted text is a mechanical recital of words and cadences while the actor did not know what he was saying. We [me & van Dam] do not think it possible to explain such passages in any other way. Even Mssrs. Pollard and Wilson’s pirate actor . . . could never have written down the nonsense of the quoted text.”

 

> and as for Downs’ evaluation of Q2, it is just too

> silly to contemplate that Shakespeare would have

> converted “stufft shop” to “An allegater stuft.”

 

That’s correct, because there’s a far better, ‘memorial’ explanation.

 

> from Brooks’ Romeus and Juliet:

>

> And in his [stuffed] shop he saw his boxes were

> but few. And in his window, of his wares, there

> was [stuffed] so small a shew; 

>

> Many of the specifically Shakespearean variants

> in rhetoric and characterization that she describes

> show up only tentatively in Q1 but are more fully

> realized in Q2.

 

But that’s to be expected in a cut, memorial text.

 

> There never was a final Romeo and Juliet, a single

> authoritative or authorial version of the play. There

> were only versions, from the start. Scripts to be acted,

> they presumed multiplicities and contingencies, the

> conditions of the theater (189).

 

Of course there was once at least one authorial version of the play, but otherwise I agree with Goldberg. The funny things are: We have by a miracle (repeated for other plays) an actual recording of one of these versions of R&J, replete with theatrical contingencies and conditions; and we just can’t face up to the evidence. Heywood said it; Heminges & Condell said it; George Buc said it. Q1 is, in my opinion, a shorthand report of a performance shortened from a Q2-like text, perhaps by the stenographer who recorded Bordox.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

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