Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.219  Wednesday, 8 June 2016

 

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

Date:         June 8, 2016 at 12:21:57 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: One Lear

 

Julia Griffin observed: “I’m rather surprised by Professor Wells’s applause for Holger Syme.  The series of tweets strikes me as needlessly aggressive, referring to Vickers just as “Sir”, and drenching him with sarcasm . . .”

 

I read a few Holger Syme entries. The Twitter format invites name-calling; it’s no place for serious scholarship, I suppose (not having “signed up”). I would like to see discussion here—other than my own review, which is nearing an end one way or another. But first—I lately noted the likelihood that Q1’s “coronet” set direction was editorially inferred from the dialogue at 1.1.139, ‘This coronet part between you’ (Q/F), though Vickers suggest the direction was “both authorial and directorial”:

 

Sound a Sennet, Enter one bearing a Coronet . . . (Q; F omits the coronet bearer, TLN 37).

 

As a dialogue-inspired entry seemed clear, I didn’t check the context. Now it appears to me that editors significantly misconstrue the staging because of the Q1 error:

 

  Lear. So yong and so vntender.   107

  Cord. So yong my Lord and true.

  Lear. Well let it be so, thy truth then be thy dower,

. . .

Heere I disclaime all my paternall care,  114

Propinquitie and property of blood,

And as a stranger to my heart and me

Hould thee from this for euer . . .   117

. . .

As thou my sometime daughter.     121

  Kent. Good my Liege.

  Lear. Peace Kent . . .

                         . . . Cornwell,and Albany, 128

. . .

The sway, reuenue, execution of the rest, 137

Beloued sonnes be yours,which to confirme,

This Coronet part betwixt you.    140

  Kent. Royall Lear,

. . . .

Reuerse thy doome . . .  150

Reuoke thy doome . . .   165

 

Foakes (Arden3) observes of ‘this’ (117): “this moment; but, as [The Cambridge Edition] notes, possibly indicating a gesture. Does Lear point to his heart, the map or the coronet?” Of 140, the editor notes that “Lear presumably takes the coronet, intended for Cordelia, from an attendant.”

 

Isn’t it much more likely that Cordelia entered wearing the coronet, that Lear removed ‘this’ from her head, and gave it to the Dukes, irrevocably ‘dooming’ his daughter (and himself)? Had there been no set direction, ‘this’ would have been obvious and dramatic. It would also relieve editors and directors of questions regarding the handling and intended purpose of the coronet. No doubt each daughter sported one. F editors, probably aware of Q’s derivation, discounted the “bearer” but failed to give the reader the proper information. The combination of factors indicates Q1 was not printed from an authorial draft.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.218  Wednesday, 8 June 2016

 

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

Date:         June 8, 2016 at 11:48:23 AM EDT

Subject:    MV Dialog

 

MV DIALOG PORTIA=ELIZ 5/31/16

 

WHO’S WHO: Portia as Queen Elizabeth

 

After I became confident that Shakespeare had written Portia as Elizabeth on the Religion/Politics/Current events dimension, I went back to some of the probable sources. I wanted to see what it was about those sources that might have attracted his interest, and what changes he had to make in order to have his play fit with Elizabeth.

 

On the Source dimension (Il Pecorone), the Lady of Belmonte (with a final e) was the rich ruler of a country, as were both Portia and Elizabeth. The Lady obtained her position and wealth thanks to her deceased husband.

 

On the Story dimension, Portia inherited Belmont (with no final e) and her vast wealth from her father, who had set conditions on her obtaining a husband. Shakespeare had to change husband from the Source dimension to father so that Portia could maintain her status as a virgin. He also had to change the bed trick to something else for the same reason.

 

On the Religion/Politics/Current Events dimension, Elizabeth inherited England from her father, who had also set conditions on her obtaining a husband; viz, the Privy Council must first approve of the marriage. Elizabeth was very famously and publicly a virgin. Belmont (with no final e) was the home of the Earl of Southampton’s cousin, Thomas Pounde.

 

Source dimension. The Lady had a number of suitors (not all of them voluntary) who desired the wealth and power that marriage to her would bring, with all but the final suitor (Giannetto) being unsuccessful.

 

Story dimension. Same with Portia; all of her suitors except the last (Bassanio) were unsuccessful.

 

Religion/Politics/Current Events dimension. All of Elizabeth’s suitors were unsuccessful. A number of scholars have noted the connection between Portia’s dismissal of a number of her suitors and the unsuccessful suitors for Elizabeth’s hand. Like the Lady (but unlike Portia), Elizabeth was not at all interested in marriage.

 

Source dimension. The Lady of Belmonte (with a final e) did not have a name, giving Shakespeare the opportunity to provide one.

 

Story dimension. Shakespeare gave his Lady of Belmont (with no final e) a name: Portia. In addition, Shakespeare specified the source of the name: Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia. (I.1.166)

 

Religion/Politics/Current Events dimension. Bassanio represented the Earl of Essex, who had been carrying on a faux romance with the much older Elizabeth. The Earl wanted to control England (and its wealth) by supplanting the Cecils as Elizabeth’s main advisor. By 1596, this desire had become a necessity because the Cecils had won Elizabeth’s favor and Essex had lost it (given the failure of the Cadiz raid). When Bassanio (Essex) married Portia (Elizabeth), he became Brutus, who was famous for only one thing: lending his distinguished family name to the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar and participating in that assassination. By so publicly (if somewhat enigmatically) urging Essex to kill Elizabeth and to take control of England, Shakespeare was committing high treason.

 

Source dimension. The Lady was something like a pirate, obtaining rich cargo and valuable ships by a bed trick instead of by violence.

 

Story dimension. Shakespeare had Shylock mention pirates in connection with Antonio’s ability to repay the loan of 3,000 ducats. (I.3.20-22) Shakespeare also had Shylock chide the “Venetians” for their slaves. (IV.1.89-97)

 

Religion/Politics/Current Affairs. Elizabeth was very much a sponsor of pirates, at least beginning with Drake. Both the Vatican and Philip II called her the “pirate Queen.” Elizabeth was also hip-deep in England’s slave trade.

 

To be continued.

 

W. N. Blanton

Houston 

shylocke.org

 

 

 

Refusal

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.217  Wednesday, 8 June 2016

 

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

Date:         June 7, 2016 at 3:04:17 PM EDT

Subject:    Refusal

 

I refuse to wish Hardy well in this email. But he can’t keep me from thanking him for the many years in which SHAKSPER has changed and improved the lives of so many Shakespeareans.

 

With gratitude and admiration,

Harry

 

 

 

 

 

Reminder

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.216  Wednesday, 8 June 2016

 

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

Date:         Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Subject:     Reminder

 

Dear Subscribers,

 

Just a reminder: I leave late tomorrow evening for England. I will return on June 16. I hope to get to any submissions that arrive early tomorrow morning and then resume editing on the 16th or 17th, depending, of course, on any jet lag I might experience.

 

Hardy m. Cook

Editor of SHAKSPER

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.215  Tuesday, 7 June 2016

 

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

     Date:         May 27, 2016 at 4:33:32 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear 

 

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

     Date:         June 5, 2016 at 7:53:17 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 

 

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

     Date:         June 5, 2016 at 7:53:41 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: One Lear 

 

 

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

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

Date:         May 27, 2016 at 4:33:32 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

I’m rather surprised by Professor Wells’s applause for Holger Syme.  The series of tweets strikes me as needlessly aggressive, referring to Vickers just as “Sir”, and drenching him with sarcasm (see, for example Tweet # 21, which consists simply of 100-odd question marks); it is more swashbuckling than informative - not surprising, I suppose, given the form; but surely the subject deserved a little more respect?

 

Julia

 

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

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

Date:         June 5, 2016 at 7:53:17 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 

 

I’ve guessed that Vickers reviews will have little value. Jonathon Bate, writing for The Spectator, asserts: “Peter Blayney proved decisively by means of meticulous and highly technical bibliographic investigation that Quarto Lear was not a bad text . . . but an authoritative one, almost certainly deriving from Shakespeare’s own holograph. . . . Blayney and a group of other scholars concluded that both Quarto and Folio texts were authentically Shakespearean. The substantial differences between them were to be explained by revision. . . . Vickers may well be right that the Folio revision of King Lear was not a single, carefully crafted intervention by Shakespeare himself. . . . But he is unnecessarily dismissive of . . . [F]: it comes with the imprimatur of the actors . . . and it crystallises a moment in . . . the stage life of what Vickers calls Shakespeare’s ‘greatest pay’ . . . . Sir Brian is the only one to parade his knighthood on his title page . . . .”

 

What good comes of ridiculing knighthood or a misprint? I’ve reported that Blayney never argued Q1 authority; that he would categorize argument not as bibliographical, but textual analysis; and that he expressly denies authorial F redaction. Didn’t the actors say early texts were stolen? Bate is now the latest to cite Blayney’s “foul papers proof,” 34 years after it began not to appear.

 

Bate and Vickers passively agree on authorial Q1 (and F) printer’s copy; next to that error, their differences are minor. Reviews will naturally defend “Shakespeare revised Lear” scholarship. If F additions restore Q1 omissions at all, Shakespeare’s F revision is not likely. Vickers’s insight is probably right.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

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

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

Date:         June 5, 2016 at 7:53:41 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: One Lear

 

The One King Lear shares a tendency to treat favored opinions in isolation, noticeably when evaluating Q1 set directions; Vickers assumes their “foul papers” derivation, which excuses anomaly. Yet if Q1 is a theatrical report (as scholars once suggested), set directions derived not authorially, but from dialogue. The unsuspecting would think talk followed instructions, rather than the other way round:

 

Sound a Sennet, Enter one bearing a Coronet . . . (Q; F omits the coronet, TLN 37).

 

“The Quarto direction is evidently conceived from the viewpoint of a writer who knows the text . . . . Wilfred Perret noticed [that s.d.’s] ‘correspond . . . to the actual performance as directed by Shakespeare . . . . Plainly a coronet is needed at 1.1.139 [‘This coronet part between you.’]; but . . . for purpose no one could have foreseen. . . .’ Perrett [reminds] us that Shakespeare would have been fully involved . . . so that [Q s.d.’s] are both authorial and directorial” (222–3).

 

By a “writer who knows the text” Vickers implies the author/director, viz., Shakespeare. Plainly, however, the coronet may be known by any reader. The “actual performance,” if recorded, tells us so. The rest of the (wishful) involvement doesn’t logically follow.

 

We should “turn to Stone” once more: “The [s.d.’s] in Q are very defective: a comparatively large number of entrances and exits are not marked at all, and of those marked several are unclear or faulty. . . . It is . . . only by supposing a reporter . . . in the theatre that we can satisfactorily account for the mistakes and the lacunae. We should naturally not expect him to achieve, or even attempt, a full complement of [s.d.’s]. . . . The[ir] character indicates that they originated with a spectator . . . . Such evidence, considered piecemeal, is usually difficult of interpretation, but taken in the mass its significance may become quite obvious. . . . [The reporter] appears not to know what to call the characters unless they are named in the text” (Stone, 19–21). The manuscript playtext John of Bordeaux confirms Stone’s account. But let’s us take more of Lear “in the mess.”  Vickers cites 4.6.284–4.7.3):

 

  Glost.  And woes . . .

The knowledge of themselves.       A drum a farre off.

  Edg. Giue me . . . far off me thinks I heare the beaten

Come father ile bestow you with a friend.  Exit.  (drum,

            Enter Cordelia, Kent and Doctor.    (thy goodnes,

  Cord. O thou good Kent how shall I . . . worke to match

My life will be too short . . . [Right!]

 

“That is probably a typical example of an inexperienced compositor using turn-overs in two consecutive lines, and some master printers would have insisted on the lines being reset” 112). Everyone will grasp that Edgar hears a tom-tom without reading about it a second time. Is the book-keeper telling a ‘sound effects’ guy to take a hike? The auditor/reader will know from the dialogue of “distant drums,” no matter what. F omits the s.d.

 

Printing prose seriatim, not even greenhorns would “turn up and down” without reason. Use of a wide measure ensured headaches if “the master printer insisted” on foul proofing; there’s no room for correction. Alternatively, then, the copy failed to provide necessary entries for a new scene, which were accommodated only by further crowding. The process relied on corrupt text.

 

When interpretation oversteps evidence, it may be accompanied by a ‘Two Version’-type nudge to the reader:

 

   Lear. Then theres life int . . . you shall get it

with running:         Exit King Running. (Q1, 4.6.201–03)

 

Vickers observes that F “substitutes the anodyne ‘Exit.’ for [Q1’s] truly shocking stage direction, set from Shakespeare’s manuscript” (90–91). To a play-goer, it may be surprising to see the old king run with ‘running’, but readers understand that Lear won’t get far; anodyne, shocking, and Shakespeare’s manuscript are more rhetorical than helpful. The s.d. probably derived from the neighborly ‘running.’ To me, the interest of Lear’s behavior is in his excited failure to learn of an imminent rescue. Both Vickers and F assume the need for ‘dear daughter’ instead of Q’s ‘dear’; yet the ‘gentleman’ likely intended, ‘dear daughter, Cordelia’, but was cut off.

 

  Lear. That thou mayst . . .

     . . . shew the heauens more iust.

              <Enter Edgar, and Foole.

<Edg. Fathom and halfe, Fathom and halfe; poore Tom.>

  Foole. Come not in here . . .  (Q1, 3.4.35–43, < F >)

  Kent. Giue me thy hand, whose there.

  Foole. A spirit . . . he says, his nam’s poore Tom.

 

“Edgar’s line must have existed in Shakespeare’s manuscript; otherwise the Fool would not have known his assumed identity” (135).

 

I agree with Stone that the earlier ‘but ile goe in,’ (i.e., into the hovel) belongs not to Q1’s hesitating Lear, but to the Fool. He pops out sometime later, to warn of Poor Tom (Edgar), whose line is unnecessary. F gives him an entry, a line (‘Fathom . . .’), and a name. Q1 got the identity from the Fool, whose exit (into the hovel!) and reentry (with Edgar) F records, again without need. Edgar had introduced himself to the reader as Poor Tom at 2.3. The mistaken speech ascription explains the F additions as revisions; otherwise, Q1’s dialogue works fine; Shakespeare’s manuscript “must have” disappeared.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

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