September

Shakespeare and his Sources Colloquium

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0328  Friday, 28 September 2018

 

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

Date:         September 27, 2018 at 3:47 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare and his Sources: Colloquium at Fairleigh

                 Dickinson University

 

“Shakespeare and his Sources” will be the subject of the annual Shakespeare Colloquium at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Saturday, October 27, 2018. During the day-long event, four speakers will discuss the ways Shakespeare creatively shaped and transformed his sources to compose his masterpieces. Plays discussed include Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, The Winter’s TaleRichard II, Henry V, and Measure for Measure, as well as the narrative poem, The Rape of Lucrece. Discussion periods will follow each presentation. 

Dr. June Schlueter of Lafayette College will discuss the discovery, with Dennis McCarthy, of a previously unknown Shakespeare source, a discovery reported on the front page of The New York Times in February. Dr. Thomas Fulton (Rutgers University) will speak about the influence of the Bible on Shakespeare’s work. Following a lunch break, Dr. Thomas Olson, who teaches at SUNY New Paltz, will discuss ideas of creativity and originality in Shakespeare’s day, and how a knowledge of sources enriches the study of Shakespeare. Dr. Lauren Silberman of Baruch College-CUNY will examine the sources, traditions, and political impact of The Rape of Lucrece.

 

The colloquium, which is free and open to the public, begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 pm. It will take place in Room S-11 of the Science Building at the Madison, NJ campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. The lecture hall is handicap accessible. New Jersey teachers may receive five Professional Development hours for participating.

 

This will be the 26th year of these events. Coordinators are Dr. Mathieu Boyd, chair of the Department of Literature, Languages, and Philosophy, and Dr. Harry Keyishian, Professor Emeritus of English. For further information, please write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0327  Monday, 24 September 2018

 

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

Date:         September 21, 2018 at 11:40 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

 

Pervez Rizvi comments on my Bordeaux ‘repetition’ posting:

 

Neither does it help that the words are given in original spelling. I expect most people here are fluent in original spelling, but Bordeaux spelling is more eccentric than most, so why not help us by modernizing it? The only reason not to do so is if the spelling itself is evidence of shorthand. If that’s the reason then please (a) modernize everything except the words that are evidence of shorthand, and (b) explain why they are evidence of shorthand, because it’s not self-evident.

 

Pervez does a good job modernizing and putting the text in order. As the lines reflect only two passages I supposed it would be easy to see the repetition in line-numbered context. 

 

In what way is this passage evidence of shorthand reporting?

 

Think ‘. . . in my opinion . . .’ here and there. Burdox (Scribe S) is the most valuable dramatic manuscript outside auction-houses. Renwick’s MLS reprint (1936) is a very good diplomatic copy. I can’t say where it may be found digitally and ‘open-source.’

 

A modernized shorthand transcription loses evidence of its history. There’s not much reason to read the play as literature. Pegged as mere MR, few are interested. I’ll repeat both passages in full as an example but virtually every line of the play comprises evidence of interest—new or confirmatory. Feedback-wise, I could starve—but even minor features like spelling matter more often than one might guess. None are fluent in Burdiox spelling. The more we see, the more explaining needed: contradictory but informative, the spelling relates to Shakespeare.

 

As my postings show, Bordeux both anticipates and repeats lines; these must be theatrically reported, as dialogue shows recovery from error. The text seems verbatim but is transcribed. Prefixes are lacking in S and inferred by Renwick’s A & B. What but performance can explain this fault in transmission? We can’t conclude that Greene delivered plays without ascriptions. These traits indicate phonetic shorthand and all of the text is consistent with that view. Errors are mine or Word’s insistence:

 

vandermast---------   Enter vandermast                       290

vander  how now my lord what is this woman won I herd fayre

        rossalin and you were here that mad me heig me for to her what

[Rossac] ha vandermast Daphnie was ner so [q] coye nor Romane  newes

    Ferd     haffe so chast in thoughts plead I she hat excuses

         for my sute so chast so honist and so resolut as that the

        gall and pinch me to the harte                       296

  >nder    Why then yow ar no conning woer for wemen wilbe wone

[>acler]   then all but she for do I proffer love she sweres it is not love

       >rd  but lust, present I gould she scornes the ple of pelf (Folio 3b)

        she scornes the plee of pelfe, and Iewells why she  (Folio 4a)  300

houldes [scornes] them all as trash and but here husband

all vnfyt for her wer the greatest monarke of the world

        thus she disdaynes and yet in her myslike, she harbores

        mathlies chastiety and Ioy, that honer wills me not to work

        her wrong, but spigh of honer and all royall thoughts

        Ioy sayes I must and then by heaven I will, then task

        the vander mast vnto thy books, help by thy arte

        let magick be amenes to get me grace of Lovelie Rossaline

        and I will mak the partener of my wellth                      309

vander   ha ferdenand the mynd is such a thinge as is beyonnd the reach

        of ani art she that is chast cannot be won with charmes

Ross]fferd then all my love is buried vp in losse

    Vand   not so my Lord welle have another plot, wher weallth

        wines not a woman vnto love ther rather is a boundaunce

        [in] or contempt, but let that damsell be opprest with wante

        tuch her with ned and that will mak her shrincke        316

        wer Rossalin deprived of her stat and poor as now she

        over flowes with wealth, gert with destres she would be

        sone reclamd, and glad for gould to yeld to anie love

[Ross]ffer but how shall this be brought to pass                  320

vandermt nay stay my gratious Lord / even now my promis past shalbe

pformd / and Rossalin whos rigore wronged yor hart

shall by my arte inforced be to love                     645

ffer  a vandermast thow flower of Iermani, / famous for cunning

favor me so much / to gett me grace of Lovlie Rossalin /

and I will make the partener of my welth / I will what will I /

vand       tut tut my lord your othes ar Lovers othes / to sone forgot / 

I [bre?]ak no promes to one othe you swere       650

 

1) It’s hard to imagine why a scribe or his copy punctuates so little. A shorthand reporter hadn’t time (as later writers attest) and he had good reason to leave pointing to customers (A & B oblige, to an extent). The same holds for verse lining, especially when memory lapse and interpolation results in troublesome line-shiftings; when S lines verse he gets it wrong.

 

2) Stenography omits silent letters like a ‘final e’ ‘her(e)’, ‘mad(e), or readily inferred letters; ‘hat(h), ‘spigh(t)’. S regularly adds g either unnecessarily or in the wrong spot, apparently to emulate common spelling, with which he’s unfamiliar. His q use implies stenographic equivalence with c and k, (though he’s generally faithful to qu): resqe / rescue; quoine / coin; quoy / coy; obsquerounquoth. His erasure here of ‘q’ before ‘coye’ is very good contextual evidence, despite its small footprint. How else could that occur? ‘Good’ copy-text precludes these instances; shorthand can include them. 

 

3) Spelling ‘the’ for they, thee, and other words indicates a shortcut (such as – for t), as in all systems, where context may ensure understanding, either in transcription or correction. The same logic finds a all a bout, including ‘a boundance’ and ‘amenes.’

 

4) At 299-300, ‘she scorns the plea of pelf’ is written twice as a sort of ‘catch phrase’ between folio sheets—which shows transcription. The only candidate-archetypes are authorial and memorial—especially shorthand. At line 301 the scribe again writes ‘scornes’ by eyeskip back to ‘she’. Eyeskip easily happens in shorthand from distinctive stenographs. In S’s case, the slow process usually catches error, as ‘houldes’ corrects in the margin.

 

5) The second scene here begins with all speech headings supplied by a reviser. How is that likely in any circumstance? S hadn’t time to distinguish speakers; however, when nearing the margins of transcribed lines, he often turns down a word or two (293) to allow prefixes at the left margin—even if he doesn’t supply them himself.

 

6) Pervez repeats the correction ‘a boundance or contempt’; the separated a misled Reviser A to alter from ‘abundance in contempt’. In print (if discovered), this would be laid to a compositor. In manuscript, compositors are omitted.

 

7) ‘Shakespearean spelling’ in the supposedly affected received texts is really Bordeaux spelling: what gets through in print is what isn’t ‘normalized’: worse doesn’t survive. Thus, printer’s copy for Lear, LLL, and other noted texts had to look more like S’s spelling—which is borne out in examples (‘Iarman’).

 

8) This forty-line instance is typical; the force of evidence is harder to ignore when every passage adds its peculiarities. Many words reflect spellings as they would appear (in effect) in the notes. The whole is phonetically accurate, though often unfamiliar to us. A longhand scribe is inexplicable. I think S can be explained from evidence for which one has to get a feel ‘as is’ and on top of shorthand evidence that I’ll describe another time.

 

Alphabetic shorthand requires perfect understanding and use not only of new letter forms but of their strictly defined relation to sound. Testimony indicates that children learn phonetic writing and reading easily, especially when unencumbered by chaotic English spellings. Van Dam states that stenographers had to be well educated and that could obviously be desired. But Bordeaux shows it’s not necessary and at least one early account complains of illiterate teachers. S understands the dialogue, as he must the context; but his spelling is clearly based on inexperienced emulation. I suppose a young reporter ‘home-schooled’ only in phonetic-alphabet spelling and its shorthand system, who came too late as a reader to traditional spelling to make a good showing in transcription for public use. I don’t know how else to explain Burdox’s mixed spelling, much of which helps to prove shorthand. The manuscript is a matter for investigation; normalization would be analogous to tidying a crime scene, if not so dire. As much as I dislike spelling evidence in general, in this case little things mean a lot.

 

Gerald E. Downs

Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0325  Wednesday, 19 September 2018

 

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

Date:         September 18, 2018 at 10:17 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

 

Tiffany Stern claims shorthand evidence for Q1 Hamlet; Terri Bourus cites William Matthews: “As an historian of shorthand objected, 80 years before Stern’s essay was published, ‘always there is a far simpler explanation’” (YH, 87). Bourus misleads readers because Matthews wasn’t generalizing but discussing specific, non-Hamlet evidence advanced by another writer: “Often the shorthand solution suggested by Levy is wrong, and always there is a far simpler explanation” (M, 247). Matthews begins his next paragraph: “Alphabetic shorthand, and in particular . . . Willis’s stenography, deserve better treatment than they have so far received.” He further suggests:

 

In the absence of concrete evidence . . . probabilities incline one to the belief that Willis’s stenography of 1602 is unconnected with the earlier bad quartos, although the labor of examining [Q1s] Hamlet and Pericles in connection with his system might be well repaid. (248)

 

Even today, shorthand and Shakespeareans deserve better. ‘Alternative solutions’ should be weighed; for example, van Dam remarks:

 

It cannot be denied that these mistakes may be due to the spoken words being misunderstood. But this need not be the case; they are by no means characteristic of the reporter, for the printer and even the scribe, as we have . . . pointed out, make exactly the same mistakes. (8)

 

For a particular ‘suspect,’ the issue must be what serves as ‘concrete evidence.’ The unlikely discovery of stenographic notes means next-best evidence is a first transcription of a reported playtext. Even so, any concretion must rely on textual and bibliographical inferences that alternative explanations—if any—fall short or are overtaxed in circumstances requiring their accommodation of all relevant evidence. I think John of Bordeaux is such a play. I would like to hear from any in agreement or not as I run through some pertinent passages. I’ve tried to elicit comment from more scholars than I cared to ask—with almost no response. I believe one example can overcome generations of naysaying; years in the making of expert stenographers must yield years of reporting—and many texts do follow the Bordeaux template.

 

Writing of stenographic reporting and “early modern consumers”, Terri Bourus asserts that “evidently no one believed that such a text could adequately represent a full-length play” (YH, 83). If John of Bordeaux is a transcription—as strong, convergent evidence evidently indicates—players preparing the manuscript for performance vouch for adequacy as testimony cannot.

 

Playtext dialogue repetition can be memorially transmitted; alternatives up to theatrical reporting are subject to (con)textual analysis. In Bordeaux (Greene’s Friar Bacon Part 2, sole MS. copy), lines 308-09, ‘Iarman’ Prince Ferdinand asks magician Vandermast to ‘let magick be amenes to get me grace of Lovlie Rossaline / and I will mak the partener of my wellth’; a request repeated more than 300 lines later (my verse / lining):

 

   ffer     a vandermast thow flower of Iermani, / famous for cunning  646

  favor me so much / to gett me grace of Lovlie Rossalin /

  and I will make the partener of my welth / I will what will I /

   vand   tut tut my lord your othes ar Lovers othes / to sone forgot / 

  I [bre?]ak no promes to one othe you swere                     650

 

In preceding lines, Vandermast’s extrametrical vocative helps to reassure the gracious Ferdy:

 

nay stay my gratious Lord / even now my promis past shalbe

pformd / and Rossalin whos rigore wronged yor hart

shall by my arte inforced be to love                     645

 

Vandermast had earlier (310ff) nixed Ferdinand’s request ‘to get me . . . Rossalin’ as a match-making bust; but he now reminds the prince of his promise to force her ‘grace’:

 

    Ross]fferd   then all my love is buried vp in losse

    Vand   not so my Lord welle have another plot, / where weallth

        wines not a woman vnto love / ther rather is a boundaunce

        [in] or contempt, / but let that damsell be opprest with wante

        tuch her with ned and that will mak her shrincke . . .        316

 

When Vandermast recalls his promise at 643, ‘Ferdinand’ mistakenly repeats his earlier response; aware of the error, he asks his ‘fellow’ for help—who laughs it off as a literally forgotten oath:

 

favor me so much to get me grace of Lovely Rosaline

and I will make thee partner of my wealth . . .

I will . . . what will I?

    Vand.      tut tut, my Lord,

your oaths are lover’s oaths too soon forgot

I break no promise to one oath you swear; but sit you down

and while you feed on spleen . . .                651

 

Despite errors of transmission, Greene’s verse is notably regular; both performance and report are well done. Speech prefixes in bold were added by revisers planning a new performance. Tellingly (with many instances), the scribe’s ‘Ross[acler] is corrected to ‘Ferdinand’ at 312: Rossacler was John of Bordeaux’s (and Rossaline’s) son. Somehow, S thought the name refers to the German King Frederick’s son, through line 338. Both sons join the grouped entry at 409, as dialogue finally identifies Rossacler as Bordeaux’s boy at 487/496. These ascriptions—together with all back-filled entries—confirm (with other evidence) that speeches were assigned from dialogue, and often written afterward.

 

Other evidence conforms to shorthand transmission—as theorized before or learned from this text: no verse lining, little punctuation, and actor-error were supposed; but speech headings reliant on dialogue are largely unappreciated. Many features throughout indicate transmission of unusual form.

 

I’ve written to two noted theatrical historians who replied that they’re not textual scholars. Can these disciplines be separated? Chettle and Holland are recorded making history within this very manuscript. Which company bought Greene’s stolen play? The fact that Shakespeare’s plays are extant only in print doesn’t simplify but obscures history. I’ll note more reasons to believe Bordeaux is a shorthand report.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0326  Thursday, 20 September 2018

 

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

Date:         September 20, 2018 at 1:27 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

 

I may be biting off more than I want to chew, but I’m going to engage with Gerald’s latest post about Bordeaux

 

Gerald makes things difficult by quoting lines in a mixed-up order. First, he quotes 308, then he goes to 646, then he goes backward to 643, then further back to 310, then forward again to 651, repeating some lines he has already quoted. Neither does it help that the words are given in original spelling. I expect most people here are fluent in original spelling, but Bordeaux spelling is more eccentric than most, so why not help us by modernizing it? The only reason not to do so is if the spelling itself is evidence of shorthand. If that’s the reason then please (a) modernize everything except the words that are evidence of shorthand, and (b) explain why they are evidence of shorthand, because it’s not self-evident.

 

I have done the best I could to put the lines in order of line number, and modernize the text:

 

[Lines 308...]

FERD. Let magic be a means to get me grace of lovely Rosaline,

And I will make thee partner of my wealth.

...

Then all my love is buried up in loss.

VAND. Not so, my Lord, we’ll have another plot.

Where wealth wins not a woman unto love,

There rather is abundance or contempt.

But let that damsel be oppressed with want,

Touch her with need and that will make her shrink

.....

[Lines 643...]

VAND. Nay, stay my gracious Lord.

Even now my promise past shall be performed

And Rosaline, whose rigor wronged your heart,

Shall by my art be enforced to love.

FERD. Ah, Vandermast, thou flower of Germany,

Famous for cunning, favor me so much

To get me grace of lovely Rosaline,

And I will make thee partner of my wealth.

I will - what will I?

VAND. Tut, tut, my Lord. 

Your oaths are lovers’ oaths, too soon forgot. 

I break no promise to one oath you swear.

But sit you down, and while you feed on spleen,

 

After correcting what I have done, could Gerald please answer a genuine question? In what way is this passage evidence of shorthand reporting?

 

Pervez Rizvi 

 

Review of Davenant's Macbeth Performed at the Folger

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0324  Monday, 17 September 2018

 

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

Date:        September 16, 2018 at 12:06 AM EDT

Subject:    Review of Davenant's Macbeth Performed at the Folger

 

Dear all,

 

In my review, I compare Davenant to Shakespeare and describe the production. My verdict is to hurry out and see it if you are anywhere near or if it comes near you in some form.

 

https://ellenandjim.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/williamdavenantsmacbeth-shakespeare-improved-at-the-folger/

 

Pepys’s observation in 1667 is appropriate:

 

a most excellent play in all respects, but especially in divertisement, though it be a deep tragedy, which is a strange perfection in a tragedy, it being most proper here, and suitable."

 

Ellen Moody

 

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