Sir Brian’s King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.049  Thursday, 11 February 2016

 

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

Date:         February 10, 2016 at 12:40:50 PM EST

Subject:    Sir Brian’s King Lear

 

Steve Urkowitz mentions an upcoming publication that should be interesting:

 

>Sir Brian Vickers The One King Lear . . . forthcoming

>Here’s the Harvard University Press blurb:

 

“Sir Brian Vickers demonstrates that the cuts in the Quarto were in fact carried out by the printer because he had underestimated the amount of paper he would need. Paper was an expensive commodity in the early modern period, and printers counted the number of lines or words in a manuscript before ordering their supply. As for the Folio, whereas the revisionists claim that Shakespeare cut the text in order to alter the balance between characters, Vickers sees no evidence of his agency. These cuts were likely made by the theater company to speed up the action. Vickers includes responses to the revisionist theory made by leading literary scholars, who show that the Folio cuts damage the play’s moral and emotional structure and are impracticable on the stage.”

 

I hesitate to argue or to agree with a blurb. At times I hesitate to hesitate. Vickers respects evidence and early scholarship; I hope his opinions can be fit to mine. “Cuts by the printer” may work; that approaches my conclusion for Richard 3. Stone convinces me (as noted) that omissions from Q1 Lear printer’s copy survive in F; I hadn’t considered “economic” cuts. But mention of F “cuts by the theater company” signifies unwarranted belief in an authorized redaction (i.e. that F derives from an “official promptbook” rather than revision of Q1 by someone other than Shakespeare).

 

It sounds like Vickers defends Q1 Lear, which is good; it’s the only defensible text. I suppose he’ll plump for “foul papers.” Shakespeare’s revision of his own work, as demonstrated by Q/F variants, is mistaken.

 

Reading Arden3 Richard 3, I was struck by Siemon’s assertion that Peter Short’s part of Q1, which was composed by formes (as opposed to Simmes’ seriatim share), was so accurately “cast off” that no space was wasted. But that only speaks to one side of the castings-off. If estimates are too large, some text may not get printed at all (as Walton affirms). From the working man’s viewpoint, omissions from long reported texts are almost inevitable. A closely printed Q1 may indicate that excess text was left out by the printers; doubly “cast off” text would have been cut as “necessary.” That could apply to seriatim setting if the idea was to adjust Simmes’ part to his allotted space.

 

Why are Q1 cuts meant to save paper while F cuts “speed the action”? Running also speeds the action; was FFW Shakespeare’s idea of fun? I think Q1s Lear and Richard 3 were acted in their entirety, and then some. F recovers some of each while reprinting the bad quartos.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

Shorthand Sermon

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.048  Thursday, 11 February 2016

 

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

Date:         February 10, 2016 at 12:36:31 PM EST

Subject:    Shorthand Sermons

 

Steve Urkowitz notes an interesting topic:

 

>to support Gerald Downs’ favoring of Stenography

>as a source of texts . . . there have been some

>detailed . . . studies of . . . sermons. But the documents

>produced by stenography, when compared with the

>very few examples of “originals”

 

Unless Steven corrects me, there are no “originals” of sermons printed from shorthand transmission. Preachers of “note” were expected to know their stuff, not to read it. The reprints serve mostly to turn oral presentation, the essence of preaching, into something more literary. Reading early editions, we may grasp the power of sermons from 400 years ago that survives by the art of phonetic shorthand transmission—the only possible source. Their derivation isn’t questioned so much as the capability of non-phonetic systems. I wonder what Steven thinks of the manuscript play John of Bordeaux, which I say is competently reported by phonetic shorthand. Is it taboo?

 

>where we can observe the kinds of variants

>a stenographer might introduce, look

>nothing at all like the more interesting (not

>just verbal substitutions) of textual variants

>found in Shakespeare’s multiple-text plays.

 

I not sure I understand Steve’s point. The “kinds of variants” discussed about sermons are those that might be produced by Bright’s system, which has been examined well enough. I would need some references to check Steve’s statement. Shorthand records performance of plays but doesn’t itself introduce all of the telling variants, such as wrong prefixes or memorial errors. Again, sermons were sometimes “corrected” in reprints but there were no originals. How well a sermon was reported depended on the ability of the stenographer (and other factors). However, they do provide powerful support to my belief that stenography is behind many of Shakespeare’s texts.

 

Gerald E. Downs 

 

 

 

R3 Revision

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.047  Thursday, 11 February 2016

 

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

Date:         February 10, 2016 at 12:34:53 PM EST

Subject:    R3 Revision

 

Steve Urkowitz observes:

 

>In Q1 [R3] the two murderers are alike . . . in that

>they both waver between empathy and antipathy

>towards Clarence, while in the Folio’s ascription

>of speeches and inclusion of additional lines

>Murderer 1 consistently goes for blood while

>Murderer 2 holds back.

 

But that’s not so; the prefixes are wrong. One has to wonder why Shakespeare, of all people, would write so inconsistently. Note the ‘you/thou’ mix-ups. Are we to suppose that any author would revise his playtext by switching numerous speech headings? The corruptions in the scene and in the rest of Q1 suggest that the revised prefixes are part of a faulty and incomplete attempt to improve the text (by someone other than the author), as evident in the reprint of the bad quarto. To argue otherwise one must ignore a great deal of evidence.

 

Gerald E. Downs 

 

 

 

 

Memorial R3

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.046  Thursday, 11 February 2016

 

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

Date:         February 10, 2016 at 12:32:20 PM EST

Subject:    Memorial R3 

 

Steven Urkowitz on memorial texts:

 

>Our widely accepted . . . model of memorial reconstructions

>by actors may . . . turn out to be the case. . . . . The lists of

>“errors” usually turn out to be not errors at all . . . (See,

>before Brian Gibbons sets fire to my poor reputation in his

>forthcoming book . . .

 

Memorial reconstruction is a suspect form of memorial transmission. Errors do occur; for example, my initial response to this statement was that “Gibbons” may be a memorial error for “Vickers”; but it may be a variant, depending on the set of forthcoming books. However, “error” can be tricky; “substitution” is a better word unless one has reason to believe “things be not equal.”

 

For instance, I would take issue with an assessment of R3 4.4.4ff, if Jowett reports Davison aright, who lists 137 “cases in this one scene of substitution, evidently as a category of memorial error. At a glance the character of the text [MR] seems overwhelmingly established, but, to take just the leading example ‘adversaries’ is much the rarer word . . . . Any inference that an actor introduced this reading by mistake is highly insecure.”

 

Before a variant is clept error some reason should prevail, and that goes for each of the 137 cases—unless one has a binding manuscript from which to judge. Until F is established as the “go to” text there are few ways to determine the probabilities. To me, Q1 proves a shorthand report by reasons other than substitutions. But as phonetic stenography aims for accuracy, Q’s ‘aduersaries’ is presumably what was heard, rather than ‘enemies.’ If textual analysis agrees, the probability goes up.

 

My interest is in F as a “corrected” reprint of Q1 itself; if so, it has less authority than generally accorded. In that case, F variants are more likely editorial errors going in; but that doesn’t count for much. Literary analysis may decide. A question for absolutists like Steve is how to fit the 137 variants to Shakespearian revision. Perhaps the poet replaced his ‘mute and dumb’ with ‘still and mute’; but why write the dumb ‘dumb’ in the first place? Might an actor have made a mistake? Do agents need authorial text to swap to ‘still’? It may be moonshine; but it could be the right word, recovered from the Q1 printer’s copy. Asking the same questions a few hundred times, one should begin to doubt “authorial revision for no reason.” It’s inherently more likely that changes result from a transmission free-for-all. Arden2 observes: “neither conscious revision, nor careless copying nor any other of the usual explanations for variation in reading are sufficient to account for the sheer number and relative insignificance of these variants.”  

 

>In terms of Gerald Downs’s . . . stenographic precursors

>underlying Q1 [R3] again we should examine how many

>patterns of variants cannot be explained as stenographic

>substitutions of particular words and word-forms. If we

>are forced to hypothesize a stenographer who also just

>happens to have a terrific theatrical imagination at

>entrances and exits

 

As others, Steve looks to assign substitutions to the shorthand reporter. That would be true of Bright’s system but as Bordeaux shows, the reporter didn’t much concern himself with matters beyond accurate dialogue. The faulty Q1 R3 set directions were in any case the responsibility of a purchaser to complete. That’s what F attempts too, with “marginal” success. It’s an interesting coincidence that these agents share Steve’s terrific imagination. It is good that Steve is now able to contemplate shorthand apart from memorial reconstruction; that’s an essential step.

 

>and a desire to present material from the chronicles

>or sources that hadn’t been presented in the later-printed

>“authorial” text . . . 

 

The evidence suggests to me that an authorial R3 FMS is unlikely; obviously so if the desire was actually to use a good text. F reprints at least one quarto, as I suppose Steve agrees. Nevertheless, others (Smidt, notably) have earlier remarked Q1’s occasional reference to source material not in F. Jowett observes: “Though Urkowitz points to one passage where it is . . . Q that is closer to the sources and there are other such details . . . these cases are considerably outweighed by the cases where it is F that shows greater proximity” (“Perplexities” [you can say that again], 226).

 

The cases aren’t about which are heavier; examination should lead to inference, if possible. Rethinking the derivations of Q and F offers alternatives to rigid-theory (revision / F-first) explanations. Shorthand, though I insist, is a roomier mechanism. I gather from Smidt’s lists that all of Q1’s extra material (which is slight enough) could be got from Hall, either before or after the memorial report. There’s no reason to limit access to the chronicle; however, I haven’t expanded on that yet. Many Q oddities can be explained as actions by the text’s handlers.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

 

Depictions of a Sunrise

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.045  Thursday, 11 February 2016

 

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

     Date:         February 9, 2016 at 4:54:58 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Depictions of a Sunrise 

 

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

     Date:         February 9, 2016 at 11:39:18 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Depictions of a Sunrise 

 

 

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

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

Date:         February 9, 2016 at 4:54:58 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Depictions of a Sunrise

 

Depictions of a Sunrise

 

“But looke, the Morne in Russet mantle clad, / Walkes o’re the dew of yon high Easterne Hill,” Hamlet TLN 165-6 (1.1)

 

Peter Groves

Monash University

 

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

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

Date:         February 9, 2016 at 11:39:18 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Depictions of a Sunrise

 

I’d just like to thank, through this forum (if I may) the many kind people who sent me scenes and lines that refer to sunrises!!! I was genuinely delighted by all the responses!

 

Marianne Kimura

 

 

 

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