Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.148  Monday, 25 April 2016


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

     Date:         April 23, 2016 at 2:56:37 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 


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

     Date:         April 23, 2016 at 2:55:45 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 




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

Date:         April 23, 2016 at 2:56:37 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear


To test Q1 Lear’s origin in Shakespeare’s manuscript, I’ll list many spellings from Shakespeare’s quartos that are taken to survive transmission from his drafts and list other features of his spelling to compare those of spelling bumble bee champ, John of Bordox’s Scribe S, the expert phonetic stenographer who couldn’t spell. I conceive him as conventionally uneducated but steeped in shorthand based on an alphabet designed for his work that included extra letters and shortcuts but excluded redundancies. Traditional spelling made no sense to him, even though he tried, unsuccessfully, to transcribe in that fashion.


(It does no good, of course, to state that Hand D of Sir Thomas More is that of a copyist; the scholars will not have it so, for Shakespeare’s sake!!. Yet I’ve shown elsewhere on this forum that Hand D spelling is a much better fit to Bordox than to other texts. I’ve shown that spellings in LLL are a good match to Bordox.)


From Hand D and Lear: Vickers’s examples from Dover Wilson’s list of quarto comparisons:


Hand D: loff (loaf), gott, sytt, cutt, whett, doggs, (dogge, gotte, Lear), on (one; 8 times in Q’s), y’ar (are), (wer’t, Lear), stilnes, trespas, (trespas, bluntnes, Lear), obay (3 times Hand D, 3 times in Lear), waight (Hand D, Lear), heare (here, Hand D, Lear) . . .


“The significance of Wilson’s work as Madelaine . . . quickly saw, was that it provided evidence that [Q1 Lear] must have been set directly from Shakespeare’s manuscript” (177). Remember, she did not press the evidence, and she did change her mind.


John of Bordeaux: gott, gett, geett, sett, sitt, perfitt, feett, swett (sweet), forgott, begg, figg(e), whill, on (= one, 9 times), Pigge, ar (48 times), war (beware), dar, star, far, wear (were), obayde, convay, wayd, waight (2), heare, hear (here, 3 times), earst, chearity, wear (were), sweres, loffe (loaf), onc (once), fytt the (fight thee), fatt, ledgge, exchaung, chargg, haffe, lerne to beagge, ell (ill), culleres, bottell, ballfull, maggecall, Ientell (gentle), vntell, smill, and so on.


Doran “noted that the 1608 Lear, like the [assumed] authentic quartos, displays ‘an interchange of eaieei, and e, regardless of the quality of the long e sound . . . .” She noted “ould . . . could . . . vnfould . . . hould . . . [for old, cold, etc.] . . . ow for ou, and ew for ieu and ue, occur in King Lear . . .” in howers, adew, reuennew, crewell.


Examples from Bordox include, theas (these), sleapseace, (sieze), nead, deades, seane, diead (diet), reakes, the yearth, cheaynes, awea, stead (steed), yeer, geerle, apere, whiell, diere, faggeetes, for beedes, forgeet, kee, appariell, maiegtes speells, natier, ould, hould, vnfould, bould, goulden, foretould, crewell !!, adew !!, releeves, holl (whole), eIorne (iron), and so on. Vickers cites Halio on Q1 Lear’s “marked tendency to use ea . . . as in ‘ceaze’ . . .” (179). We nead to rethinck this.


I forgott theas: thowsand (you can say that again), howse, ows, ous (us), thow (always), yow, all thowgh, fowe, poure (power), stowtter, nowne substantivethe Iarman vandermast but velan tohow shallt sone abye, and so on.

Quoting Doran: “In Q1 King Lear such spellings as ther’s, her’s, wher’s . . . past, wast, nam’s . . . mary, cary, sory, vilaine . . . ck for k after n . . . vnckle . . . truncke.”


Bordox has wher, ther (30 & 37 times),  nam, tast, chast, Cast Lucres (chaste Lucrece), disgrast, mappellfast, hast (haste), thincking, drunck, thinnck, thannck, theinckes, shrincke, minckes, mary, velines, velin, velan, velian, vnCevell scoller. Who, me?


Wilson and Doran “collected enough evidence from handwriting and spelling to establish that the 1608 Quarto was set from Shakespeare’s foul manuscript” (178). Does that mean Bordox has too much evidence? “Partridge established . . . in for en” (179). Bordox has intreat, Inglish, conshince, ennosencie, in chaunted.


“In addition to these and other authorial[!] spellings Halio pointed out that ‘some curiously separated syllables, probably the result of penmanship, may be Shakespearian.’ He cited these instances: ‘all waies’ . . . ‘many fould’ . . . ‘so phisticated’ . . . ‘how ere’ . . . ‘a hight’ . . . ‘a squint’ . . . ‘Sweet hart’. Halio concluded that these and other linguistic details . . . ‘point to a holograph source’” (180).


Bordox: for beedes, a nangree, all redie, all though, all thowgh, a nalle howse, in treat, a pon, a peare, in crease, a gaynst, enter lind, in chaunted, all so, a wry, lawe less, nowon, vnlafull, well com, a peare, my nier, a waye, thy nies, a count, of fence, no thinge, a nasse, in swes, som what, a whill, thy nei, with out, my theinckes, a longe, pre Ieduis, with in my narmes (twice, ending and beginning pages), in cappable.


Close study of this text reveals a “cappable” stenographer, despite his apparent nuttiness. The shortest words come instantly to his pen (of, a, an, in, no, some, thy (the, thy, they, thee—all one) to begin his ‘outline,’ none of which would look like letters or syllables to us. He will often transcribe as he had written, even ambiguously (my thinks), depending on context for reading more carefully later. Phonetically, the text is good. A native speaker, he knows how to spell in his phonetic alphabet (where there is no ‘nck’, ‘eas’, or ‘ough’) but he has only a vague memory of book-spelling, with which he must have had little experience. He used a medial ‘v’ for v, but oddly, as Hand D, he also used medial ‘v’ sometimes for u, because he didn’t grasp a traditional longhand and print convention.


It’s utterly impossible for these spellings to be transcribed from an ordinary manuscript; ‘thinks’ would not become ‘theinckes.’ To be fair, the scribe’s terminal ‘s’ also stood for ‘es.’ Nor can the text derive from longhand dictation, where extra letters would take even more time. For him, exact sound meant exact letters or special stenographs; ‘inivrius’ made no sense to him, but he was trying to write acceptable English.


Is it really likely that Shakespeare, one of the best-read men in the country, would spell so much like this alien being? Surely not. Now I’m like Madelaine Doran; I don’t press spelling evidence. Handwriting is even riskier, despite the nonsense written of Hand D. But if the panoply of scholars can protect “Shakespeare’s foul holograph” by naivety like this, the fact that Bordox exists should allow consideration of the shorthand alternative for all the texts exhibiting such spelling. King Lear has long been suspected as a theatrical report when nowon could guess what such a transcription would look like. The reality, Bordox, is very instructive.


At the least, Q1 Lear needs a fair assessment. As Blayney rightly observed, the nature of Q1 can only be determined by the Q1 evidence; F is what happened to Q1. However, Sir Brian Vickers may be right that some of F restores Q1 omission. I’ll examine his claim—which follows Doran and Knowles—that a second derivative of Q1 printer’s copy took an independent path to share duty as F printer’s copy. There may be a more likely solution. I’ll review Sir Brian’s theories in respect of the alternative Q1 origin described by Stone: “It cannot but be concluded, upon any thorough examination of the evidence, that the text of Q1 derives from a theatrical report: from verbatim notes, that is, taken down at an actual performance . . . (13). When Bordeaux is taken as the model, many issues are mooted at once, to give inference a chance.


Gerald E. Downs



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

Date:         April 23, 2016 at 2:55:45 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear


Sir Brian Vickers refers to Q1 printer’s copy as a “messy authorial manuscript” (99, 103, 131, etc.) throughout The One King Lear, which I treat as equivalent to “foul papers,” an equally inexact phrase. The idea is that a problematic playtext can be satisfactorily explained by the modifiers messy or foul, as in “messy in, messy out.” Formulaic circularity + no definition + no evidence = no explanation. Richard Knowles’s “finished rough draft” means foul papers.


“Foul papers” implies transcription of some sort. Although Vickers speaks ambiguously of the Lear texts, there can be no doubt that his One Lear depends on one or more scribal copies of a messy Q1 copy-text: a scribe “would then begin to make the ‘Booke’” (180), which “may also contain traces of Shakespeare’s original manuscript,” from which it is “directly derived” to get “a faithful record . . . as he had written it” (187). According to Sir Brian, “We can be confident that the text . . . was the complete authorial draft . . . . We can also be sure that the [1622] text derived from the same manuscript . . .” (199).


As I noted weeks ago, in 2011 Vickers specifically cited Blayney’s foul-paper ‘solution’: “we now know that the 1608 quarto was not pirated, that its inaccuracies are due not to a shorthand report but to a messy authorial manuscript . . .” (SQ). On discussing the ‘Booke’ (‘promptbook,’ as it were) in One Lear, Sir Brian observes, “We used to know a lot more about this document than we do now” (180). Similarly, we “used to know” that Blayney proved Q1 foul-paper copy. Sometime in the intervening years, Vickers learned that Blayney never made his case; at least the imaginary citation is not repeated. But he is nevertheless able to remark that “W. W. Greg still held the belief [in 1940] that it contained . . . ‘a reported text’ . . . . His scholarly evaluation would have been very different had he known, as we do now, that it was set directly from Shakespeare’s manuscript.”


After Vickers learned that he knew less than he thought in 2011, he learned from Madelaine Doran that Q1 Lear was printed from foul papers, after all. It turns out we’ve known that since 1931, though Doran doesn’t use the term and, to be fair, she doesn’t quite know: “we should be entitled to assume [the document] was Shakespeare’s original manuscript” (Text of KL, 131) and: “Although I do not press this evidence drawn from spelling and handwriting, I consider it confirmatory of the evidence from the revised state of the quarto text that the manuscript at the basis of the quarto was probably Shakespeare’s autograph” (TKL, 133).


Although Vickers notes how Greg hounded Doran’s “autograph,” I didn’t notice mention of the fact that she renounced her “authorial” opinions in favor of Duthie’s “memorial transcription” theory (1949). Knowles blames Greg for Doran’s recantation. I appreciate the chivalry, as do the girls, I’m sure, and Greg’s bullying was very damaging to Shakespeare studies. But it’s possible that Doran understood and worked by the clearest rule of history—that we may not “know.” She never got Lear right—that’s for sure. But she was a very good scholar and her insights on revision in Q1 Lear are quite interesting.


In his next-to-last page Vickers cites the well-known philosopher Susan Haack (some of whose works I have read with interest); the space he gives is deserved. Among her observations, this may apply to Q1 Lear copy: “if you are trying to find evidence to support a foregone conclusion rather than following the evidence where it leads, you aren’t really inquiring” (One KL, 327). As Sir Brian’s book was in the works in 2011, as it depends entirely on foul-paper Q1 copy, and as accepting Blayney’s opinion (‘now we know’) was premature; it seems that “foul papers” was a foregone conclusion in search of an argument. Knowles, faced with the same problem, lit on Doran. Because her book has a habit of popping out of its last box, I recently reread her case, which is not strong. But “now we know” what we “knew” back in ’31. I was a bit surprised to see that Vickers emphasizes her “spelling tests,” apparently as the best she has to offer, and as they are augmented by others. But that is fortunate because spelling is pretty easy to deal with. If one should succeed in casting doubt on the primary “holograph” argument, a reader may see that “real” inquiry is better than seeking “support” that will always be found.


Gerald E. Downs




Costume Changes and Exits (Was Identity of Othello's Clown)

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.149  Monday, 25 April 2016


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

     Date:         April 23, 2016 at 6:19:55 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Costume Changes and Exits 


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

     Date:         April 23, 2016 at 10:26:09 AM EDT

     Subject:    Othello's Clown 




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

Date:         April 23, 2016 at 6:19:55 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: Costume Changes and Exits


John Briggs asked: “Could an actor immediately re-enter in a different costume as a different character?”


I don’t think the change of costume would be an insuperable obstacle. With a little rehearsal a change of costume could be effected very quickly. Moreover, in a theatrical culture in which doubling was (we think) routine, audiences would have been used to seeing the same actor pop up in different roles without his appearance always being transformed. In cases when one character is disguised as another, audiences can also be expected to understand the convention that when someone is in disguise the other characters do not recognise him even if the disguise is just a token.


The main objection to the practice John wonders about is that it is not what you expect from a professional playwright. A professional would just write a few lines of dialogue by other characters, to allow time for a change of costume by the actor assuming the other role or the disguise. In cases of disguise, a professional playwright would also make sure the audience understood that they were watching actor A playing character X disguised as character Y, rather than actor A doubling the roles of character X and character Y, which is what they might otherwise think. That is just what happens in King Lear. When Kent first enters disguised as Caius he immediately lets the audience know what’s going on, by referring to himself as “banishd Kent”. 


As I said, it’s conventional for disguises to be just tokens. Another fictional Kent is not recognised by anyone as Superman when he puts on his glasses to become Clark Kent. In King Lear, none of the other characters recognise Kent when they see him as Caius at Gloucester’s castle. It’s an interesting question whether Cordelia recognises him at the moment when the two of them enter together in scene 4.7. We could suppose that Kent had revealed his identity to her offstage, but thematically a more interesting interpretation is to suppose that she is seeing him for the first time since they parted in scene 1.1. He is still disguised (she tells him to “Be better suited”) but she instantly recognises him because she begins by referring to him as “O, thou good Kent”. We could, if we like, take this as underlining the play’s point that, unlike her father, Cordelia can see people for who they really are, whether they are dressed in tattered clothes or furred gowns.



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

Date:         April 23, 2016 at 10:26:09 AM EDT

Subject:    Othello's Clown


Since I have not been reading through all the posts, I am not going to comment on the larger argument about Iago-Clown. I can, however, provide some context for the 3.3-3.4 exit of Iago (after one of his most powerful lines in the script) and the appearance of the Clown (and Desdemona). Years ago I had lunch with Fredson Bowers who, in discussion of a comparable problem, invoked what he termed “the Law of Re-Entry” whereby a figure who exits at the end of one scene cannot immediately appear in the next. I, for one, do not believe in such “laws” (Shakespeare and his colleagues were not that rigorous in following supposed rules) – and, without doing a lot of research, quickly found an obvious exception (look at the end of 5.6 and the opening s.d. of 5.7 of 3 Henry VI for Richard’s exit-reappearance). Elsewhere, to show a figure moving from one room in a house to another Heywood has Geraldine exit at one door and re-enter at another (The English Traveller). Both situations make good sense today (Richard has just had a big speech after killing Henry VI and can trail behind the processional entry).


Other kinds of evidence do survive about quick changes in costume, even within a single scene, but there is always a time allowed, especially if the change is from a male to a female character. The clearest examples are from the troupe moral plays from the 1560s and 1570s. E.g., the penultimate scene of Thomas Lupton’s All for Money (1578 - likely performed by four actors) provides a trial  in which two figures remain on stage and two other quick change artists alternate as different petitioners, but time is allowed for the switches. Then there is the s.d. in from George Wapull’s The Tide Tarrieth No Man (1576) where the Vice and another actor are directed to fight “to prolong the time while Wantonesse maketh her ready.”


The Iago-Clown exit-re-entry suggested here seems to me the kind of effect that would appeal to an inventive director or reader today but not one that fits with stage practice in the original performances.


Alan Dessen




FYI: “A new book argues that every other country is better at bringing Shakespeare’s plays to life”

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.147  Monday, 25 April 2016


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

Date:         April 22, 2016 at 7:06:47 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Book


“ a play, The Tempest, that dwells at length on the costs and consequences of colonialism....”


Really? I thought it was a play about a magician who decides to let everyone who wronged him live.  It’s odd, given Dickson’s comment, that  in all the times I’ve read, re-read and viewed versions of “The Tempest”, I never once thought about colonialism. What about Prince? And high-heels? And Trump! There’s gotta be something about Trump in there! I would guess that foreign productions do the politically-correct versions of Shakespeare with more gusto, but that’s because they don’t understand Shakespeare’s life and culture as native Englishmen do (or should), and so they substitute real depth for a false topical “depth”. And if The Tempest is about colonialism, shouldn’t Twelfth Night also be about colonialism? After all, they both involve shipwrecks and foreign places. And why not As You Like It? Doesn’t that also involve travel to a strange place? And didn’t Imogen end up in strange place with exiles as well?


I let the Greenblatt nonsense pass because I was too busy, but honestly...someone’s got to say something. Am I the only one out here thinking? Surely far more interesting than some topical politically-correct nonsense would be to know what personal events in Shakespeare’s life prompted “King Lear” and “The Tempest”. Was he not wronged somehow? To me the Tempest-As-Colonialism schtick is the hey-let’s-smoke-some-weed-and-watch-cartoons version of Shakespearean scholarship.


Jim Carroll




What did Shakespeare understand about the human mind?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.146  Monday, 25 April 2016


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

Date:         April 23, 2016 at 5:45:17 AM EDT

Subject:    What did Shakespeare understand about the human mind?


Article for #Shakespeare400 in This View of Life (Evolution Institute):


What did Shakespeare understand about the human mind?


Shakespeare understood, implicitly, what modern psychology has found: that human beings have a habit of making decisions based more on their intuitions and emotions than on their cognitive reasoning.




Maria and Sebastian in Twelfth Night

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.145  Monday, 25 April 2016


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

Date:         April 22, 2016 at 6:45:31 PM EDT

Subject:    Maria and Sebastian in Twelfth Night


John Briggs wrote: “Arnie Perlstein wrote (in the “Othello’s Clown” thread) something which I believe should have wider discussion:


‘In short, it’s no accident that Shakespeare wrote the entrance of Iago to immediately follow the Clown’s exit, with no gap but also no overlap - it’s a giant hint and invitation to a creative director.’


Is this even possible? Could an actor immediately re-enter in a different costume as a different character? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that the consensus of conventional wisdom (if that’s not a tautology...) was that this was not possible and did not happen?”


Well, first off, I’m sure you recognize that I’m not merely suggesting that the Clown and Iago could be played by the same actor, I’m going much further, and claiming that the Clown is Iago in disguise, and therefore of course the same actor would play both roles (which, in my reading, is actually one role, which includes a role-within-the-role).


In any event, even as to your limited suggestion, what conventional wisdom are you referring to, which mandates that an actor cannot exit as one character and then promptly enter as another, when that actor is playing both roles? As I’ve explained twice, it would make perfect sense, in terms of dramatic pacing, if the same actor leaves the stage dressed as the Clown, and then returns 30 seconds dressed as Iago.


John also wrote: “That is the only reason why I have not so far suggested that the actor who played Maria in Twelfth Night doubled the part of Sebastian. (Maria mysteriously does not appear in Act 5. The two do not appear together in the same scene, but there are instances where one character exits and the other immediately makes an entrance in the next scene.)”


Interesting! For just a second there, I misread what you wrote, and thought you were also suggesting something analogous to my claims about Iago and the Clown (and, for that matter, about Iago as a woman) in Othello. I.e., I thought you were suggesting that Maria assumed a cross-dressed disguise as “Sebastian”…..but then I realized you meant exactly what you wrote, and you were only talking about the viability of doubling of the roles of Maria and Sebastian.


As to that limited suggestion, I see no reason why it could not be done, other than that it would be a big challenge to have one actor convincingly appear to the audience to be a man in one costume, but a woman in another. Given the four centuries of performance history for Shakespeare’s plays, I would not be surprised to hear that it has been pulled off a few times.


But, if you don’t mind, let me hijack your suggestion for another few minutes, and play around with the idea of Maria in cross-dressed disguise as Sebastian.


For starters, the absence of Maria in Act 5, after she has played a major role in the play up till then, raises a question, or, at least, is less than satisfying.


Second, this is especially so, since Sir Toby (with whom she is last seen onstage, as they jointly exit in 4.2) returns in Act 5 without her, at which point we hear from Fabian that they have in the interim gotten married, as Toby suggested he might earlier in the play. It feels like an anticlimax, given how powerfully Maria and Sir Toby have dominated the action at crucial moments up till then, for us to hear a third hand report of their marriage, and not to get to see or hear Maria react to the exposure of her plotting, the way we do get to hear Iago’s memorable reaction in a comparable moment at the end of Othello.


Third, you’re correct, there is a succession of three different pairings of entrances and exits by Maria and Sebastian, who indeed never appear on stage together. I wonder if there is any example in the rest of Shakespeare’s plays where that sort of symmetrical movement occurs between two characters in a Shakespeare play, where those two roles have not historically been doubled?


And, fourth and finally, Maria is certainly a character who has already shown herself, several times over, to be ready, willing, and able to gull Malvolio with various forms of deception, including deploying the Clown as her agent, disguised as Sir Topas, as Malvolio’s exorcist/psychiatrist/torturer! So just as Iago in disguise as the Clown, and Iago as a woman disguised as a man, are both consistent with Iago’s character as otherwise seen onstage, so, too, would Maria in disguise as Sebastian be entirely consistent with Maria’s character as otherwise seen onstage.


However……how could Maria disguise herself as Sebastian, and then fool Viola, his fraternal twin who we know so closely resembles him, when they finally meet again, and speak to each other, at the end of the play? Unless Viola is in on the deception, and the two of them are performing a fictional scene of poignant reunion for an audience composed of the other characters, Maria-disguised-as-Sebastian falls apart at that crucial moment. Plus, there are Sebastian’s soliloquys, especially his last one, in which he expresses bewilderment at what is going on with Olivia, who has taken him for “Cesario”. No, that reading doesn’t work, as much as I would have loved it to.


As is evident, I love outside-the-box interpretations, but only when they cohere all the way down the line, and don’t break up on the rocks of an inconsistency. And, in the present thread, it’s Iago as the Clown, and also Iago as a woman disguised as a man, which both do cohere in that way.







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