The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0619 Thursday, 15 March 2001
Date: Wednesday, 14 Mar 2001 11:28:13 -0500
Subject: 12.0604 Re: Spelling Shakespeare's Name
Comment: RE: SHK 12.0604 Re: Spelling Shakespeare's Name
The spelling "Shakspere" was associated with the late Victorian "New
Shakspere Society," founded by the remarkable but contentious F. J.
Furnivall 1873. It dissolved amid vituperative polemics 15-20 years
later, I believe. The New Shakspere leaders were textual skeptics who
believed that the Folio edition of Shakespeare's works was textually
"impure," containing numerous interpolations from other playwrights. F.
G. Fleay believed he could sort out the Shakespearean from the
non-Shakespearean material through scansion-based verse analysis. The
results sit in the usually dusty book of many libraries, his
"Shakespeare Manual." This "disintegrating " thesis was denounced, first
by E. K. Chambers, then by the "scientific bibliographers," who were
hegemonic in Shakespeare studies until recent years, Pollard, Greg, and
Wilson. But in the context of today's textual criticism the
"disintegrators" do not look nearly as wrong-headed as they once did,
albeit their method of verse analysis is even more problematic than Don
Foster's dubious electronic rare-word tests.
I interpret the spelling "Shakspere" as a signaling of their skeptical
attitude toward the received texts from the Folio. The ignorant players
couldn't even spell his name correctly, is the implied message. E. K.
Chambers took up this name-spelling question too, by the way, and his
list of variant spellings of or near "Shakespeare" is, I believe,
unsurpassed. I wrote on all this twice, once in "The Modernist
Shakespeare" but giving more detail in an essay in the collection edited
by Jean Marsden, "The Appropriation of Shakespeare," which also contains
a related essay by Howard Felperin on the disintegrators.