The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0353  Monday, 27 August 2012


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

Date:         August 26, 2012 5:56:33 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand


Steve Urkowitz continues with Lear 3.6 “take up to keep”. The variant itself is not very important, I agree. But the point of the discussion may be missed if other Q1 errors affecting the F revision are not given equal time (in the sense that corruption adds up).


> But could the “take up to keepe  (Q1 uncorrected, Q2) /

> take up the King (Q1 corrected) / take up, take up (F)”

> possibly have been done without an “author-function” ?

> Yes, but it is supportable or even minutely important if

> and only if you rip it from its surrounding context.


The surrounding context (writ large) is Q1 corruption, much of which the reviser (Q1 to F) is unable to overcome. 


> (Confession: When I was writing Shakespeare’s

> Revision of King Lear. I completely overlooked this

> “Q1 uncorrected- Q1 Corrected- Q2 - F variant.”


As I noted earlier, Steve overlooks most all these variants, because of which he must assume (with Gabriel Egan and other “revisionists”) that Shakespeare was unconcerned or unable to fix Q1 text while he made profound changes—primarily by cuts.


The tendency to argue “Shakespearean revision” on that basis is justly criticized. Anyone can cut dialogue and there is no way to say who did. True, no one can say who didn’t. But when the cuts are surrounded by surviving corruptions one may presume they are non-authorial.


> Gerald Downs . . . feels that either of the two

> alternatives to the first shot, “take up to keepe,”

> ain’t anything but typesetters or your odd corrector

> in the printing house doing what typesetters and

> correctors always did, or maybe stenographers and

> their  auxiliaries may have done: he says, “for one thing,

> “take up” looks . . . like emending . . . graphic error;

> achievable by anyone, and not to be taken as evidence

> for Shakespeare”


To be clear, I think “take up the king” was Q1 copy, misread “take up to keep”. Qb corrected the error but Qa got through to F by “take up take up”, a graphic guess. This indicates, with a lot of other evidence, that F is a revision of Q1.


Participation in Lear discussion may be auxiliary to stenography, like it or not. I think Q1 copy was right in this instance, however transmitted.


> Look . . . at the text surrounding the . . . passage.

> Big stuff happening!


A cut. Stone takes note, “Reflective comment at the close of a scene: the motive is once again retrenchment.”


> Of course, I’ve been criticized unmercifully for saying

> . . . “Shakespearean” . . . and that actually anyone at

> all could have cut the Q material. . . . Sure. Like anyone

> at all could carve Michaelangelo’s David by simply

> cutting out the marble that isn’t the statue.


Bad analogy. Of these matters we must understand that analytical bibliography (Qa, Qb, Q2), sense and nonsense, printing practices, and open-season on a public text all trump “only Shakespeare” insistence.


Gerald E. Downs

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