A Matchless Allusion to Romeo & Juliet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.174  Wednesday, 4 May 2016

 

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 4:31:48 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Allusion

 

I suppose Arnie Perlstein is suggesting that the lyricist of Fiddler on the Roof might at one time or another seen or read Romeo and Juliet.  Strange as that might be, it is not entirely implausible.  \

It is also conceivable that he was somehow familiar with York’s line in Richard II, II.iii.85: “Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle.”  I marvel that Arnie left it out.

 

 

 

Michael Lok

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.173  Wednesday, 4 May 2016

 

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 11:16:49 PM EDT

Subject:    Michael Lok

 

Does the name Michael Lok mean anything to anybody, if I can see the name MiCHAEL LOK in it?

 

https://www.geni.com/people/Michael-Lok/308598315100003804

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Lok

 

Sid Lubow

 

 

 

Length of Posts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.172  Wednesday, 4 May 2016

 

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

Date:         Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Subject:    Length of Posts

 

Dear Subscribers,

 

It has been suggested to me again that there be a limit on the number of words in each submission.

 

Yesterday’s Newsletter had some very on posts, and I myself was responsible for not editing down one that was submitted to me from an outside source. 

 

I have no intention of counting words; however, like pornography I know a long post when I see it. Form now on, excessively long submissions will be returned, and the submitter will be asked to shorten it before I will distribute it to the list.

 

Sincerely,

Hardy M. Cook

Editor of SHAKSPER

 

 

The Tempest and Colonialism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.171  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

     Date:         April 29, 2016 at 4:43:35 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism 

 

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

     Date:         May 1, 2016 at 11:53:30 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism 

 

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

     Date:         May 2, 2016 at 1:30:30 PM EDT

     Subject:    Colonialism 

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 29, 2016 at 4:43:35 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism

 

I think that Pervez Rizvi is just a wee bit outside when he argues that “Colonialism is at least as old as recorded history,” and so Shakespeare could well have had it in mind when he wrote The Tempest. What is as old as recorded history is conquest and subjugation, which is not the same thing as “colonialism” as it is usually understood in this “post-colonial” world. Shakespeare wrote many plays specifically depicting conquest and subjugation, but none that can reasonably be taken to comment on the colonialism that contemporary critics have in mind when they read the play in that context, i.e., the policy that Rudyard Kipling urged the United States to adopt when he encouraged it to “take up the white man’s burden.”

 

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

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

Date:         May 1, 2016 at 11:53:30 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism

 

Concerning the pieces about the Tempest as a play about colonialism, I think that here we have an example of how critics’ obsessions take control of what the play is about, making the play about their own personal ratiocination.

 

On the other hand, in one of the popular student review books, the reviewer identifies Prospero as an allegorical representation of the Supreme Being, God, which makes the play’s island a microcosm of the world. In this, Caliban is the evil inclination and Ariel is the good inclination, serving the Lord.

 

Note how Prospero, which name means in Italian, “I make happy,” may derive from the Psalm (84:5), which reads, “Happy are those who dwell in your home,” and is concerned with the repentance of the evil men that have arrived on the island. Note how Caliban tempts Trinculo and Stephano andthe role of Ariel as angel-protector of the good people.

 

As was explained by Colin Still who wrote a book about the Tempest in this vein, when men sin they exile God from their hearts. The narrative of the play is in this vein the restoration of God to hearts through repentance—all things to be discovered in the play. This takes the play into an opposite, more nuanced direction from the “colonialism” thesis.

 

It is amazing how the play turns into a Rorschach text when critics focus on parts, while ignoring other parts, that may take them far afield. The challenge for critics is to rise above their own preoccupations to identify the match that encompasses even the parts they have ignored, thus approaching the theme the great playwright intended.

 

David Basch

 

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

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

Date:         May 2, 2016 at 1:30:30 PM EDT

Subject:    Colonialism

 

[Prospero] is not a colonist....He was cast away by his usurping brother and landed on an island previously inhabited by Sycorax.  But she, too, had only landed there having been cast away, this time legally, by the citizens of Argier, ‘for mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible’, who only spared her life because she was pregnant.  Whether Sycorax as an exiled aggressor has more right to the island than Prospero as an injured victim is a moot point, but it is in any case not one raised by the play.  After Sycorax’s death Prospero landed there, freed Ariel and attempted to educate Caliban (1.2.257ff).  Prospero has made the island as inhabitable as he could, until the propitious time arrived when he could bring his enemies within his power and go home.  Having not killed but forgiven them—which is after all the main and surprising event of the play—he will return to Naples to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda, thence retire to his vita contemplativa in ‘Milan, where / every  third thought shall be my grave.’ (5.1. 310ff).  He is happy to leave ‘this bare island’ (Epilogue, 8), where Caliban can now live alone, if he wants to, whatever the legitimacy of his claim.  (From his final words, ‘I’ll be wise hereafter / And seek for grace (5.1. 198f) it looks as if Caliban prefers to serve Prospero.  Since Ariel will ‘to the elements / Be free’ (321f), the island may well be uninhabited again.)  Prospero’s stay on the island, then, is enforced, not voluntary, and while he can use its natural resources to stay alive, all the normal features of the hated colonist—murdering the natives, stealing their land, exploiting their goods, produce and wealth for profit back to one’s home country—are conspicuously lacing.  If modern critics want to denounce colonialism they should do so by all means, but this is the wrong play.”  Brian Vickers, Appropriating Shakespeare (1993) at 246.

 

I would further note that Prospero treats Caliban with kindness until he attempts to rape Miranda.  Caliban does not deny this charge; on the contrary, he revels in it:  “O ho! O ho! Would’t had been done!” etc.  He makes clear that he will repeat the attempt if he ever gets the chance; and indeed, he spends the rest of the play trying to kill Prospero and rape Miranda by proxy, using Stephano as his surrogate.  Quite obviously, Prospero and Miranda are compelled to subjugate Caliban in simple self-defense, the way we imprison recidivist sexual offenders.  These facts, and especially Shakespeare’s depiction of Caliban as a determined and incorrigible rapist, would seem to complicate efforts to regard him as Prospero’s victim.  But then some people will ignore a great deal in order to reach their desired interpretation.  

 

--Charles Weinstein 

 

 

Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.170  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

     Date:         May 1, 2016 at 1:43:10 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: ONE KING LEAR, huh? 

 

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

     Date:         May 2, 2016 at 2:31:21 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 

 

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

     Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:34:49 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear 

 

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

     Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:28:00 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

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

     Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:54:52 AM EDT

     Subject:    SHAKSPER: Lear/Albany 

 

 

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

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

Date:         May 1, 2016 at 1:43:10 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: ONE KING LEAR, huh?

 

Sir Brian Vickers book that just came out, THE ONE KING LEAR, attacks my work from 1980 and the Two-Text LEAR approach in general. This contribution to Shakespearean textual studies resembles an attack on Darwin carried out by citing extensive quotations from the Book of Genesis and its believing commentators while ignoring any of the evidence that Darwin explains, clumping together for mutual damnation any and all Darwinians, ignoring their quite distinct approaches and arguments, and adopting a faith-based approach to his own arguments. 

 

He misleadingly misquotes crucial details in texts and proposes mystical interventions in hypothesized documents; Vickers sounds authoritative until one looks at his evidence.  

 

The simple nits and grits of how Okes and his compositors tried squeezing t-o-o-o many pages of copy into t-o-o-o few pages of paper Vickers gets right (up to around his page 112), and it is indeed useful to see just how the compositors were shaving text to fit into too little page-space. Useful, but by no means sufficiently explicable for the most interesting and important textual differences between Q & F LEAR.

 

But thereafter he starts playing a game of smoke and mirrors, and his imagined printing house plodding journeymen become suddenly wildly inventive, at times nearly psychedelic, sophomoric, and always destructive in their supposed manhandling of words, phrases, and cues for physical actions which Our Good Sir Bri cannot imagine might have been manipulated by the Vanishing Shakespeare.  The bizarre parsimony of imagination which Vickers displays, as if it were some newly convincing figure of rhetoric, should be collected and displayed in a “Don’t Do This” flyer for first year grad students.  Despite Sir’s book about rhetorical figures (which I haven’t yet read, but look forward to), an argument supported by statements beginning  “I can’t imagine that. . .”  or “It is impossible to believe that . . . .”  has all the structural integrity of a folded Kleenex.  If you work on it for a while, it might hold its own shape, but only if no wind or nose blows.

 

Further, Sir Bri often quotes other single-text faithful as if their opinions alone (which he cites repeatedly) are sufficient, sans evidence, to counter the evidence enumerated at some length in support of multiple-text hypotheses (see for example his truly bizarre reliance on the 19th century work of Delius to support his own insistence on the absolute necessity for lines in 3.1 Q, not printed in the Folio [on his page 242]).

 

Obviously stewing over this material for several decades, in his final rush to empty his spleen Vickers and his editors at thank-you-very-much Harvard University Press seem to have ignored basic fact-checking and copy-editing.  (Or perhaps shaky memory is allowed to stand in for verity when one has been knighted.)  For example, we are told how important to the single-text-Shakespeare-wrote-but-didn’t-revise it is  that  “Kent hears a report that Lear is supposedly in Germany” (page 227) !  No, despite Vickers’ truly ridiculous formulation of narrative necessity, that nugget just ain’t necessary to understand the plot. And, hello, any real rather than memorially reconstructed Q facsimile will show Kent hearing about Kent and Edgar, not Lear, being away in Germany (K2v; 4.7.90-91).  

 

 And check out the goofy typo in his book’s final paragraph where he echoes Harold Jenkins’ similarly absurd and pompous sentiment about Shakespeare never revising : “Having written King Lear, Shakespeare moved on to other projects: Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus . . . He had no reason to go back to his greatest pay [sic].  Nothing needed to be changed. It was, and it always has been, the one King Lear “(page 328). Greatest pay, indeed. One King Lear? Likely not, or at least not on the basis of this ill-digested screed.  

 

It’s a nasty piece of work, besides, on the one hand crudely denigrating Shakespeare’s acting fellows from the 17th century and on the other all modern critics from the 20th and 21st who hold opinions differing from his own. When ordering it, ask your good apothecary to send along more than a single ounce of civet to wash out that foul flavor. Or have ready to hand the very antidotes which Vickers so bitterly attacks: writings on multiple King Lears by Michael Warren, Randall McLeod, and my poor self.  (As is my wont, I have recently re-read my SHAKESPEARE’S REVISION OF KING LEAR.  I forget how much I learned while writing it, and recovering those things feels warm and fuzzy on crisp spring nights in Maine.)

 

I could write a fat review covering chapter and verse of this pseudo-scholarly travesty, but frankly some games are not worth so many candles. Darwin, my dears, needs not my help, nor need the multiple-LEAR versions my further support. They are out there for reading.   I’m movin’ on, to my current project: Shakespeare’s Revision of Everything Else. The other radically revised texts like R&J and Merry Wives need similar rehabilitation. Meet ya’ at the Quarto Corral, Sir Brian. And you better bring your friends.

 

Steve Urquarta'witz

Bibliographa' from 'da Bronx 

 

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

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

Date:         May 2, 2016 at 2:31:21 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear

 

Sir Brian Vickers contributes to scholarship in The One King Lear primarily by his hypothesis that substantial (space-and-money saving) omissions from authorial Q1 printer’s copy were restored to F (the 1623 reprint of Q1, 1608) from a (Shakespeare Company) playbook derived from the same “messy authorial copy”. That is, access to the full text proves that Q1 Lear was not revised by Shakespeare (or anyone else) but that it existed before 1608.

 

Vickers cites various passages for ‘close study’ to grant his opinions. Yet one finds assertion, not analysis, and absence of alternative explanations that have driven King Lear scholarship for 150 years. Sir Brian’s commentary is inadequate both to his purpose and to inquiry. I’ll discuss the citations as briefly as I can, given their complexity in contrast to their treatment in One Lear

 

The “insults that Kent delivers to [“Cornwall’s Steward”] includes, in the uncorrected sheet, the incomprehensible term “three snyted.” This is probably a simple case of a turned letter, ‘n’ for ‘u,’ . . . . Okes’s proofreader . . . changed the term to ‘three shewted’ . . . whatever that might mean, and it was left to the Folio . . . to give the true reading, ‘three suited’ (2.2.16). . . . Cornwall [refers to an] “stubberne ausrent knaue,” as [a Q1 compositor read] Shakespeare’s handwriting. The proofreader substituted ‘miscreant’ . . . incorrectly, as the Folio shows, reading it as ‘ancient’ (2.2.126)” (20).

 

To the proofreader, ‘snyted’ was not incomprehensible; it “was a simple case” that may have been verified by Q1 copy. “Whatever that might mean” means that shewted is mysterious; but it’s merely an alternate spelling of ‘suited’; there’s no need for a manuscript to provide a “true reading” to beg the “F copy” question. Vickers virtually ignores variants from Q2 (1619), the Q1 reprint consulted by F compositor “E” through much of its printing. Q2 reads ‘shewted,’ which leads to the F reading as well as any imaginary text. A first Internet search finds that in the 16th century “a phonetic change of sy- to sh- was attested (in the shape of sh- misspellings) not just in the words sugar and sure, but also in words like suit (variously spelled shute, shutte, shuite and shuett).” By 1622 compositors (as F attests) normalized spellings, if others didn’t.

 

From John Jones’s Practical Phonography (1701), a handy spelling book alternatively titled, John Jones at Work: “When is the sound of sh written s? [From a list of 25 examples] assume, assure, consume, censure, ensue, ensure, pursue, pressure, sugar, sue, suet, suit, sure, sute, issue” (101). Notice that even today some sh sounds enshew from words “properly” spelt su. Jones teaches (even the educated) to spell, not by sound but by traditional rules. In Shakespeare’s day, when rules didn’t rule, ‘shewted’ would be understood; it has no One Lear evidentiary value. Similarly, ‘ausrent’ would present no problem to a proofreader, especially with copy in hand: another turned ‘n’ (or minim error) and misreading of ‘r’ for ‘i’; a common error. As for ‘ansient,’ it’s another job for Burdaox Man: daunsing, praunsing, stubbern, prinslie, conseve, consayght, enstrewments, conshume, sensuer, negromanser. These real spellings are evidence, perhaps of the proofreader’s day at the office; but not of F Lear copy.

 

“Cornwall’s Steward” was “Oswald,” who was not named in the speech headings until later, when he is identified in the dialogue. As Stone observes, the extent of Q1’s vagueness in that regard is a sign of reporting, as are the numerous mistaken prefixes.

 

There are “instances where the [Q1] corrector changed readings . . . without authority . . . . One of Regan’s false claims concerning Lear’s ‘riotous knights’ is that they encouraged Edgar to kill his father:

 

Tis they haue put him on the old man’s death,

To haue the wast and spoyle of his reuenues:

 

This corrector’s version of a passage in Shakespeare’s manuscript puzzled Compositor B, who originally set ‘To haue these——and wast. . . .’ [D4v]. As Greg commented, ‘The compositor . . . inserted hyphens in place of illegible letters . . .’ The [F?] printer evidently had access to an independent source descending from Shakespeare’s authentic manuscript, probably the theater company’s Booke . . . . It reads ‘th’expence and wast,’ which, Greg added, ‘proves the corrector’s order to be wrong . . .’” (19).

 

Evidently often evidently means “no evidence,” but I don’t know why. In this instance, ‘the independent source,’ ‘company book,’ and ‘Shakespeare’s manuscript’ (twice), all beg the provenance question for the close reader. We can’t really know that the corrector puzzled Q1 compositor B; it’s usually the other way round. Vickers’s assumption seems to be that the F editors could have had access only to corrected Q1 or to a descendent Ms. but the ubiquitous Q2 also reads, ‘To haue these——and wast of this his reuenues’. I agree with Stone that F’s ‘To haue th’expence and wast of his Reuenues’ is not credible; it is redundant and hardly metrical. It looks like another botched editorial F fix, based on Q2. Sir Brian devotes a later chapter to F meddling but it ought to be thicker. Alternatives should be kept in mind because he arbitrarily cites text as either editorial or “Shakespeare’s manuscript.” When Vickers supplies no argument or contrary opinion, these categories are of no value.

 

Vickers could have mentioned Stone’s conjecture, ‘To have the siese and waste of this his revenues’. (Misreading of ‘the use’ has also been proposed, and may be right). Q1 compositors were unusually faithful to their copy: ‘this his’ need not have been altered; ‘the siese’, however, may have been a mystery even to the corrector. But the import, “to get legal possession of” suits the situation and it is metrically sound. In any case, the line is not good evidently evidence.

 

Regan “claims that [their visit to Gloucester] is due to ‘Occasions noble Gloster of some poyse’ [D4v]. The uncorrected quarto reads ‘prise,’ the Folio ‘prize,’ both derived from Shakespeare’s manuscript and giving perfectly acceptable sense; editors who prefer ‘poise’ have doubtful authority” (19).

 

The “close reader” has no chance here unless doubting Sir Brian’s presentation and methods. “Both derived from Shakespeare’s manuscript” gratuitously begs the question; “perfect sense” is opposed to “doubtful authority.” Poise meant “weight,” when ‘Occasions of some weight’ is perfectly acceptable (more so, in my opinion and Malone’s). ‘Poise’ at least has authority of a real corrector (who was dissatisfied with ‘prise’), while a second line of foul-paper descendants is multiply conjectural (but so is the first line). Moreover, Q2 (from which F partially descends) reads ‘prize,’ as does F. Vickers doesn’t accept the opinion of Doran, Howard-Hill, Stone, Taylor, Blayney, and others, that Q2 influences F; he never allows Q2 as an alternative source, even though it often provides a Q1 variant in agreement with F.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

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

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:34:49 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

If we have been wondering on what occasion the shorthand stenographer made the report of King Lear, we need look no further than the entry in the Stationers’ Register, and the title page of the Quarto: the performance at court on 26th December 1606.

Even if the players could have stopped reporting in the public theatres, neither they nor anyone else could have prevented a palace official from making a report of a state occasion.

 

John Briggs

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:28:00 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

Neither Sir Brian Vickers nor Gerald E. Downs seem to understand the term ‘Revise’. A ‘Revise’ ( term means ‘review’) was in the 17th century (see Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibiography, p.115 if memory serves) and still was in the 1980s (when I did proof correction) the term for a further ‘proof’ requested to see that corrections had been carried out, er, correctly. Just as the proof was checked against copy, the Revise was checked against Proof. You only called for a Revise if there were a lot of corrections and/or you didn’t trust the compositor to carry them out correctly. The Revise was not intended as a second proof, and (unless you were Marcel Proust or James Joyce) was not the occasion for further corrections. It became a second proof, of course, if the corrections hadn’t been properly carried out - a further revise would then be required. (I would not normally call for a revise at galley proof stage, but rather check at page proof stage that corrections had been made.)

 

We don’t know who carried out ‘foul proofing’ for either Quartos or Folio, but they would presumably have checked the proof against copy. The ‘stop-press’ corrections during presswork don’t seem to result from proofreading against copy. Those few sheets with correction marks that were later incorporated in finished copies seem to result from this stop-press correction - it is perverse to call them ‘revises’.

 

John Briggs

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:54:52 AM EDT

Subject:    SHAKSPER: Lear/Albany

 

While we are still on the subject of King Lear, there is a historical howler on page 48 of James Shapiro’s 1606. Shapiro confuses the contemporary holders of the dukedoms of Cornwall and Albany: it was in fact Prince Henry who was Duke of Cornwall, and his younger brother Prince Charles who was Duke of Albany (Charles was to later to succeed as Duke of Cornwall on his brother’s death).

Shapiro also states that James himself had been Duke of Albany, as had his father before him. Shapiro is overstating the significance of the Dukedom of Albany: it was in fact a junior royal title, usually bestowed on younger sons. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was the heir of the Earl of Lennox. On his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, he was created Duke of Albany. When he was murdered, the title passed to his son James, who had no need of it as he already possessed (as heir to the throne) the senior title of Duke of Rothesay. When James shortly afterwards succeeded to the throne, the Dukedom of Albany merged with the crown, and was thus available (in due course) to be bestowed on his younger son. James’s possession of the title had been both unexpected and unnecessary.

 

John Briggs

 

 

 

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