The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.091 Friday, 27 February 2015
Date: February 26, 2015 at 4:59:42 PM EST
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: OP
John Drakakis throws up a pretty good smoke-screen. Let’s try to peer through it.
I pointed out that Kennedy’s article on type depletion in Q1-MV is poor bibliographical scholarship and that Jowett’s article on type depletion in Folio JC is a model of this kind of work. That is, had Kennedy done his analysis of quarto MV in the logical and scrupulous way that Jowett did his analysis of Folio JC, Kennedy’s article would have been as reliable as Jowett’s instead of being entirely unreliable.
From this Drakakis pretends to understand me as saying that type depletion in Folio JC throws light on type depletion in quarto MV:
> How the practice in one printing shop, dealing with
> one format, can be used to determine mechanically the
> practices in other printing shops during the period
> (and in this case in relation to a Folio text) escapes
> me. Perhaps I have missed something.
It’s an old rhetorical trick and I hope no SHAKSPERians fall for it. I compared the scholarship of Kennedy with that of Jowett, not the books they wrote about.
Drakakis’s ignorance of matters bibliographical is clear right across his Arden3 edition of MV and in his howlers in his last posting here on SHAKSPER. Allow me to list those howlers:
> in sheet B there are some obvious type substitutions:
> in particular italic cap I for Roman cap I
The appearance of an italic typeface where one expects a roman one is not “substitution” until one has established that it is intentional rather than merely the result of the sort-box containing a mixture of italic and roman type, which itself might be accidental or deliberate.
> The most common [substitutions] that I have encountered
> (though not necessarily in Shakespeare's texts) is u/v
> substitutions, and vv/w substitutions
Those are not substitutions either. Early editions of Shakespeare were printed at a time when there were competing conventions about the choice of whether to select the “u” or the “v” shape in handwriting and printing. The old convention was to choose the shape according to the letter’s position in the word, and the new convention (which survives today) was to choose the shape according to the sound the letter makes. Likewise, using two letters “v” with no space between was merely an old convention, not a substitution.
> 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 indeed 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.)
When Drakakis writes “we should distinguish printing from setting” he gives the impression that there’s a lot more to all this than is currently under debate. There isn’t, but it’s a good rhetorical manoeuvre to give that impression when you’re out of your depth.
> Of course, I am interested in solving a bibliographical
> problem, and in the case of MV that starts with collation
> of as many of the copies of thee authentic Q1 that I could
> lay my hands on.
I’d be fascinated to hear which copies of Q1 Drakakis claims to have collated. His Arden3 edition contains no list of press variants and mentions no discoveries about them and he cannot claim that his collation of copies of Q1 informed his claims about type shortage and type substitution. Where Drakakis does try to go beyond the argument made by Kennedy, he is even more wrong than Kennedy. (I detail this on page 341 of my review.) There simply is no connection between collation of Q1 and supposed type shortage.
At just one point in his edition does a press variant come into sight and it’s a well-known variant that’s been discussed since at least the Cambridge-Macmillan edition of 1863-66. 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 (and Drakakis’s textual notes show that he thinks it is) 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 (“you may as well” and “why he hath made”) 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.
One of Drakakis’s dismissive remarks about the unknowability of bibliographical facts seems by the end of its sentence to have lost touch with how it began:
> . . . the assumption that it is possible to calculate
> how many sorts a compositor may have in his cases at any
> once time is very difficult to determine.
Presumably Drakakis means that the assumption is unwarranted or that the matter is difficult to determine, since he surely doesn’t mean that “the assumption . . . is very difficult to determine”, although that is what he has written.
If Drakakis really does believe that we don’t know how many pieces of type the compositor had in his sort boxes, then he needs to retract all that he has written about type substitution. If we don’t know how many pieces there were, then everything he has claimed as a consequence of the compositor(s) of Q1-MV being short of certain letters has no basis.
I wish he would retract all the nonsense about type substitution in his Arden3 edition of The Merchant of Venice. It’s all such poor scholarship that Messrs Proudfoot, Kastan, Thompson and Woudhuysen were remiss in allowing it to appear in print under their