The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.104 Wednesday, 4 March 2015
 From: William Blanton <
Date: March 2, 2015 at 5:56:51 PM EST
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: Op
 From: Gabriel Egan <
Date: March 3, 2015 at 7:04:55 AM EST
Subject: Re: Op
 From: Gerald E. Downs <
Date: March 4, 2015 at 2:37:17 AM EST
Subject: Re: OP
From: William Blanton <
Date: March 2, 2015 at 5:56:51 PM EST
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: Op
To answer Mr. Burton’s question regarding how the Original Pronunciation thread partially morphed into the mess it has become.
On 2/16/15, someone with the Baltimore Shakespeare Company announced an Original Pronunciation performance of The Merchant of Venice. As an example, the poster’s first sentence read: “Look at Launcelet Gobbo’s first speech.”
I believed that someone interested in Original Pronunciation would also be interested in Shakespeare’s original words. On 2/19/15, I replied, informing the poster that Shakespeare spelled Launcelet’s last name as “Jobbe” in both Q1 and F1, the only versions recognized as authentically Shakespeare’s. I also provided the poster with my reasoning as to why Shakespeare would have done that, which brought in my “Shylock is the Devil” discovery (or at least what I believe to be my discovery).
The Devil did not “turn Christian;” rather, Anthonio (the principal Catholic in England) and the Duke (the monarch of England, and Head of the Anglican Church) compelled him on pain of death to do so forthwith. Of course, I do not believe that the Devil would have sincerely embraced Christianity. I do believe that the Devil would have seized the opportunity to become a member of the Christian community—from which he had previously been excluded because he was supposedly a Jew—in order to take advantage of that new access. What he planned to do with that access was yet to been seen.
The Devil did not convert mid-play. It happened towards the end of Act 4 Scene 1.
I believe that Shakespeare played both Shylock/Devil and Lorenzo, who married Shylock/Devil’s daughter Jessica. Their offspring would thus be half-human and half-devil.
I would really like to enter into a dialog with some scholar/theologian who can help me make better sense of what I perceive Shakespeare was doing. The Merchant of Venice is a comedy, so Elizabethan audiences may have been amused by these developments. However, I have been a trial attorney and have no business speculating on matters theological.
From: Gabriel Egan <
Date: March 3, 2015 at 7:04:55 AM EST
Subject: Re: Op
William Blanton writes:
> Professor Bate and other Shakespearean scholars have
> determined that Shakespeare marked up a copy of Q1
> [of The Merchant of Venice] when he wrote the version
> of the play that Hemings and Condell included in F1.
In the absence of a reference it’s impossible to know where Blanton thinks that Bate gives this opinion. In the Royal Shakespeare Company Complete Works that Bate and Eric Rasmussen edited in 2007 that is not the opinion Bate gives:
<< Folio text [of The Merchant of Venice] was set
from a copy of the first Quarto, making some corrections,
introducing some errors and apparently drawing on a
theatrical manuscript for stage directions, including
music cues. >> (Bate & Rasmussen, RSC Complete Works,
Rather than Shakespeare writing on an exemplum of Q1, Bate here sees the Q1/F differences arising from the exemplum of Q1 that the Folio compositors set from being first annotated by reference to a manuscript used in the theatre.
This matters because Blanton attributes to Shakespeare himself the agency for differences between Q1 and F, even at the level of spelling: “Shakespeare made a few changes to Q1. For example, he changed the spelling of ‘precedent,’ which was correctly spelled for the context in Q1, to ‘President,’ which was incorrectly spelled for the context (and capitalized) in F1”. Thus, argues Blanton, the supposed inaction on Shakespeare’s part in failing to alter the Q1 spelling of “Iobbe” to Gobbo is evidence that Shakespeare approved the name “Iobbe”.
This is an example of how misunderstanding of matters bibliographical affects interpretation of the plays. If Bate & Rasmussen are right that an exemplum of Q1 was annotated by reference to a theatrical manuscript to make F’s copy, then wherever the person performing this task failed to make an annotation a Q1 reading will appear in F. What Bate & Rasmussen actually write and what Blanton makes of it do not amount to the same thing: the agency behind Q1/F agreements is different in each case. And it’s Shakespeare’s agency that Blanton thinks he has hit upon.
Lawrence Weiss wonders if in bibliographical matters the game is worth the candle:
> In general, it seems to me that arguments based on type
> shortage most often work backward: A particular anomaly,
> such as variant s.pp., can be explained by a shortage of
> a certain letter, so, therefore, that letter must have been
> depleted. . . . Extremely detailed research might enable
> us to determine something close to that, but probably not
> to anything approaching confidence. But is the end result
> worth the tedium?
Indeed, depletion is evidenced by substitutions forced on the compositor. But to make the claim secure, one needs to show repeated depletion when an exactly calculated number of pieces of type have been taken from one sort box. This is what Jowett manages to do and Kennedy doesn’t. Each time he finds what he thinks is a substitution, Kennedy assumes type depletion; he never manages to establish a consistent pattern based on working out exactly how many pieces of type were in the box. Jowett, by contrast, is able to establish a pattern in Folio Julius Caesar. The pattern is that 23 pieces of type were put in the box, 23 were used (as witnessed by 23 occurrences in F), the box was then empty and the compositor made substitutions. Then the box was replenished with 23 pieces of type and again that’s the number that the compositor sets before he again resorts to substitution. As Jowett says, this can’t be coincidence and can’t be due to variations in the copy.
Does any of this matter to interpretation of the play? It most decidedly does.
The part of Julius Caesar where this happens contains the two tellings to Brutus of the death of his wife Portia. Brents Stirling wrote an article that explained this as revision of the scene—one telling was meant to replace the other—and Stirling thought he had clinching evidence of revision in the form of this very speech-prefix variation. According to Stirling, the revision was written on an additional slip of paper that used a different form of Cassius’s speech prefix.
It was an attractive theory and it seemed so entirely self-consistent on recondite matters of bibliographical scholarship that Fredson Bowers himself declared that Stirling had solved the problem of the double-telling of Portia’s death.
Then Jowett published his proof that in fact the speech-prefix variation is entirely explained by type depletion. Thus we cannot say that bibliographical evidence supports the hypothesis of authorial revision in this case. When bibliographical scholarship is faulty, editors who rely on it can write entirely erroneous things in their editions, even changing the names of characters. When bibliographical scholarship is faulty and is relied upon by editors who don’t even understand what they are reading, the consequences are worse still.
From: Gerald E. Downs <
Date: March 4, 2015 at 2:37:17 AM EST
Subject: Re: OP
John Drakakis observes:
> Gabriel Egan has opened a hornet’s nest.
Shakespeare scholarship is more about nests than hornets; it and SHAKSPER need a healthy, critical back-and-forth, of which they’re usually stingy in the other sense. John Drakakis may be commended for discussing his Arden3 MV. Gabriel Egan gets credit for accessible publication. Bill Blanton raises more issues than he intended. They agree on something where I differ. The thread reminds me of A Day at the Harness Races, where all the entries (and choristers) wear blinders. Apparently, no one questions Blanton’s introductory remarks:
> Shakespeare (who ought to know) spelled Launcelet’s
> last name as “Jobbe.” He emphasized this name by
> repeating it several times . . . .
> He spelled it this way in both the First Quarto and in the
> version included in the First Folio. These are the only two
> editions of the play that have been recognized as authentic.
> Why did he spell it this way when he immediately
> introduced Old Gobbo as Launcelet’s father?
F reprints Q1. Forced claims of added authority are just that. MV authority resides in Q1, which is generally extended to holograph printer’s copy wavering between ‘fair’ and ‘foul,’ depending on how much the umpire needs glasses. Evidence of Shakespeare’s hand directly behind Q1 is weak and the reasoning is weaker—first, anomalies are fewer than in other texts—second, the same anomalies are therefore authorial. That’s about it; but enough to grieve editors because text explained by any number of causes is forced on Shakespeare. This is a good example.
I’ve got no gripe about Launcelet being Launcelet or Iobbe being Job. Gabriel Egan thinks it is “far-fetched that such a minor character in the play, present in just one scene, should bear the significance of being Job-like.” It’s far-fetched to call that significant; a minor character can be as Joby as the next guy, especially if his name’s Job. The Q1 spellings are untrustworthy.
Go is G, as in ‘go’ and Jo is J, as in ‘joe’ (Judy/Goody gokes notwithstanding). Is it likely that Shakespeare (of all people, I ask) wrote ‘Jobbe’ six times in Jobbe’s dialogue only to name Jobbe’s old man ‘Gobbo’ in a set direction? Of course not; the likelihood is corruption.
Gabriel Egan reports that Q1 spells
> "Iobbe" 5 times
> "Gobbo" 9 times
> "Gobbe" 1 time
> "Gob." 10 times
> One might argue that spellings in speech prefixes,
> stage directions, and dialogue need to be treated
> differently from one another on account of their
> being more or less likely to reflect Shakespeare’s
> spelling (because compositors were more or less
> likely to impose their own spellings on these parts
> of the text).
I might even argue that dialogue could be spelt as it was heard and that sd’s and sp’s could be late additions; ‘Gobbo’ takes a back seat to dialogue. But in neither case would Shakespeare’s spelling influence Q1. Egan’s figures are not right anyhow and his method of treating them is faulty. (I mention this only because his review of Arden3 seemingly takes Drakakis to task for every trivial mistake.) Digital transcriptions and Ctrl-F’s are iffy propositions; in this case Q1 has ‘Iobbe’ five times and ‘Jobbe’ once. Where do the J sorts come in? Was this one only a token? It’s true that compositors ruled sp’s, which rules out comparisons. Further, the necessarily repetitive sp’s skew statistics such as these. However, I suppose Gabriel Egan means not to be taken seriously. That requires “Gob.” 20 times.
I can’t guess how ‘Gobbo’ came about. John Drakakis “solves” the pronunciation problem with Giobbe, which works at both ends. I think the form has no legitimate place in a modern edition (outside the notes): Job works all by itself if we give up the holograph insistence and simply look to normalize pronunciation by a vote of six to one. After all, an audience never hears a surname after the clown’s first speech, even when he applies for a iob: no last name, no SSN, no nothing. However, Drakakis makes a good Italianate guess (if one is wanting) and there’s nothing sacred about ‘Gobbo.’ Editors should try emendation more than they do; the texts are corrupt.
Bill Blanton remarks:
> Solanio says, “. . . for here [the devil] comes in the
> likenes of a Jew. How now Shylocke... .”
> Shakespeare wrote Shylocke as the Devil, poorly
> disguised as a Jew.
> Shakespeare thus made Shylock’s dual identity clear,
> at least for those who choose to take Shakespeare’s
> words seriously.
This seems to belabor both a common way of speaking and the notion that an author means to agree with what his characters incidentally say or believe—they needn’t be Biblical scholars.
Gabriel Egan responds in a friendly way to Drakakis’
> Next howler:
>> In any case, for a quarto printing was by formes (setting
>> might be by a combination of seriatim and formes, although
>> in concurrent printing – where we might detect it – casting
>> off copy would have been a desideratum), and we should
>> distinguish printing from setting.
> This is gibberish. To say “printing was by formes” is as
> meaningful as saying “printing was done with ink and type”.
> It’s true, but only self-evidently, since “forme” is the name
> for a body of type ready for printing. Furthermore, “printing
> was by formes” for all formats, not just quartos, so Drakakis’s
> qualification “for a quarto . . .” is misleading. Setting might . . .
> be done seriatim or by formes, but this has nothing to do
> with concurrent printing and concurrent printing has nothing
> to do with casting off copy. To dispel the impression that he’s
> talking gibberish, would Drakakis care to tell us what he
> understands by “concurrent printing” and how he thinks it is
> connected to the casting off of copy? (I have an inkling about
> what he might mistakenly think “concurrent printing” means,
> but I’ll keep it to myself until he shows his hand.)
I’m not sure who is the gibberishiest. “Printing by formes” does have meaning, even if the phrase should be “setting by formes.” For example, Stone anticipated Blayney’s seriatim Q1 Lear conclusion by referring to “the (in any case very remote) possibility of setting by formes.” Egan’s readers would probably prefer straightforward correction to “gotcha last, double-dog dare ya.”
I understood Drakakis to mean that quartos were set by formes and that if work on other jobs intervened the printer would like to reduce the rate the type was used up by casting off copy. That’s not quite meaningless but it doesn’t help to count the I’s. Seriatim setting uses more type to cause more shortages and the method was utilized for playtexts. But I agree the MV bibliographical studies involved are not properly done. They are moot in any case (as always) if the copy-text is corrupt.
Gabriel Egan discusses an interesting textual question:
> At 4.1.72-73 there is a press variant in Q1, with
> one state having Antonio say “well vse question
> with the Woolf, | the Ewe bleake for the Lambe”
> while the other has “you may as well vse question
> with the Woolfe | why he hath made the Ewe bleake
> for the Lambe”.
> There is general agreement that the former is the
> uncorrected state of the text and the latter reflects
> stop-press correction made during the print run.
> Trouble is, why does Antonio say that a ewe would
> “bleake” where we would expect a ewe to bleat?
> Drakakis thinks these matters are related: “. . . this
> error seems compositorial rather than authorial . . .
> and the existence of variant states of these lines in Q
> indicates some difficulty in deciphering the MS at this
> point” (Drakakis, 4.1.73n).
> In fact, if one accepts that the difference between the
> two states is due to intentional stop-press correction . . .
> then the printers misreading their copy (setting “bleake”
> for “bleat[e]”) becomes harder to accept, since they must
> have consulted the manuscript a second time to recover
> the omitted phrases . . . and yet still failed to fix the
> nonsense word “bleake”. Even if the manuscript was hard
> to read, as Drakakis supposes, ewes should bleat not bleak.
Egan slightly misrepresents the dialogue. In each instance ‘Woolfe’ is the spelling; you may as well repeat ‘vvell’ and ‘vvhy’ unless your computer has a shortage of v’s.
First, ‘bleake’ is not a nonsense word but at most a misprint. Arden2 accepts bleak as dialect for bleat but the meaning remains the same. Q2 prints ‘bleake’ and F corrects the ‘k’. Misprints often survived press correction.
However, editorial duty is to question even “general agreement” on a difficult text. In this case I believe Egan’s description of the correction is wrong. As usual it is hard to know what he thinks happened. But I wonder why he allows for “unintentional stop-press correction.” We can’t deny some kind of correction. Stop-press obviously implies discontinuous printing but the term also indicates that sheets run off the press before correction may survive in copies of the book. But a “mechanical” correction reverses this order. An accident requiring resetting type may turn good text to bad. Maybe “unintentional” hints at that. Maybe not.
In his examination of MV (Neophilologus, 1928), my hero B. A.P. van Dam observes that in this instance types must “have dropped from the chase” to account for the seven missing words but that “no vacant space is left. . . . The workman . . . simply adjusted [the remaining words] by bringing them to the front, he corrected without reading the text” (40).
I believe a variation of this inference is most likely. Thus the two complete lines do not result from correction but represent the state of the text before the accident. (Whether copy was consulted is not an issue. It need not have been, since the expedient repair was chosen.) No interpretation was involved, other than to see if the reduced lines could do in a pinch. To that end, the only other alteration was to add the comma to ‘Woolfe,’ while respacing the right margin. No commas appear in the four ‘you may as well’ lines and at this stage of MV most verse lines don’t begin with capitals. This alternative shows that odd (and even commonplace) mistakes can be discovered if the “authorial” mindset is set aside long enough to look.
There’s value in the Furness Variorum MV, not merely in its dedicated interest but its freedom from faction and “running scared” Bardolatry. Here are a few excerpts about the same passage:
“It is scarcely beyond the bounds of probability that these two lines when heard from the stage would be adequately intelligible . . . . But with the printed page before us we see the havoc with the sense that some accident at the printing-press has made” (200).
Furness was speaking of the lines in his beloved Folio: “There has been even an attempt at repairing it by the printers of that Edition. The accident happened with the unfortunate Q2, from which the Folio was printed.” And here Furness calls Q1 “Q2” because editors then thought Q2 (the 1619 “corrected” Q1 reprint) was the first edition. Furness rightly surmised that the F repair was unauthorized. He had also heard that Capell’s “Heyes” quarto had the same correct (but not corrected!) reading as Jaggard’s 1619 Q2.
“This long note on a trifling matter must find its justification in the lesson, which this passage affords, that Quartos and Folios may all alike be treated as proof-sheets, out of which we may, with what power of insight Nature has vouchsafed us, prepare our own text, with an abounding charity for those who do not agree with us,—which, in all likelihood, will comprise the rest of mankind.”
Gerald E. Downs