The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0318  Thursday, 27 July 2012


[Editor’s Note: My hope is always that contributors will self-moderate, but when that is not occurring, I am bound to step in. Some recent contributions to these related threads have not been relevant or appropriate to a scholarly forum. Private arguments should be conducted offline between interested parties. Generally speaking he-said/she-said/he-said . . . postings are not helpful. Should these threads not return to substantive issues like “the desirability and viability of open review,” I will be forced to close down all discussion in them. –Hardy]


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

     Date:         July 24, 2012 3:00:46 PM EDT

     Subject:     Belay!


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

     Date:         July 24, 2012 11:13:46 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Peer/Shand 


[3] From:        David Schalkwyk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 25, 2012 10:18:32 AM EDT

     Subject:     Peer Review 


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

     Date:         July 25, 2012 7:25:42 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Peer Review 




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

Date:         July 24, 2012 3:00:46 PM EDT

Subject:     Belay! 


>And could you also please answer the question of why you’re sure I was 

>the reviewer of your rejected journal article. If you’re no longer sure, a 

>statement to that effect would do instead.




Why is this on a Shakespeare site?  Isn’t there an Egan site?



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

Date:         July 24, 2012 11:13:46 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Peer/Shand


More on Sh’s Hand


One argument frequently offered by those believing that Shakespeare had no hand in the “bad” quartos revolves around supposed errors or clumsiness or illiteracy in those texts. As I’ve said earlier in this exchange, we can’t just declare that an irregularity in spelling couldn’t be from Shakespeare. If the documents of the period show that words were spelt every which way, then a spelling cited by Gerald Downs as being a senseless error ain’t necessarily so. For example, he writes:


“I think the next words of the speech are also indicative of confusion for the F reviser, whoever he was (not Shakespeare); which had me going for a while:


. . . yet are I mou't    Q1

Where is the aduersarie I come to cope with all.


Yet am I Noble as the Adversary

I come to cope.         F


Q1 is senseless until one realizes ‘ere’ is spelt ‘are’, when “Yet before I say why I answer the summons (move it), where is the creep.” Edgar’s sword was his badge, the privilege of his ‘quality.’ The sword served to dare Edmund on the one hand and keep the mask on the Lone Ranger on the other. “Noble as Edmund” would blow the cover. But F’s reviser couldn’t figure it out so he changed the dialogue: ‘yet are I’ became ‘yet am I’. Besides, he had to fix the meter.


Now, we can multiply inherited corruptions; . . .”


Gerald Downs figures out that ARE is a spelling substitution for what we would more familiarly see or rather ourselves would write as ERE, meaning  “before.”  Good. figuring. But the trusty OED reveals that such a spelling ARE was not a confusion.  It was used at least once , and is cited. “Look it up,” as we used to say before Googling came in.   Q1 here is not senseless or corrupt, it’s only different. F’s reviser revised it to something else. That’s what revisers do.  Revising authors. Stenographers? I don’t think so. People who examine play manuscripts of the period report that copyists faced with illegible text would leave blanks to be filled in later by someone (like an author) more familiar with what should go there.  (Sorry, but in the free-flowing nature of SHAKSPER I’m not up to finding and quoting the relevant source here. Apologies to Gabriel Egan; we’re not doing double-blind refereed discourse; just shooting the breeze.)


My dim memory of a phrase from not a very gentle arguer Ludwig Wittgenstein reports his dissatisfaction with thinkers who displayed “a contemptuous condescension for the particular case.” It ain’t right to diss Q1 LEAR or F LEAR when they both display spellings used in their own time.  ARE for ERE, could be early draft, and then some years later a rephrasing, a substitution. Why sneer at either as corrupt?


So, as an operating procedure, it’s useful to check.  Again, I have great admiration for the energy and intensity expended on seeking what Shakespeare wrote.  But one really ought not dismiss the particular cases where there’s a strong possibility that Shakespeare wrote and then rewrote.


Oops.  I fear we may be approaching repetitive explanation syndrome. It’s late. Say g’night, Gracie.


Steve Burnsowitz



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

Date:         July 25, 2012 10:18:32 AM EDT

Subject:     Peer Review


On the subject of peer review, members of SHAKSPER are invited to contribute in the Shakespeare Quarterly’s experimental “After SAA” open review of a selection of short papers from the 2012 SAA Conference.  Go to the following website, where you will find instructions for registering and contributing your comments:   We are extending this review by a further week, so please feel free to take part.


I would also be interested to see a discussion of the desirability and viability of open review in this forum.


David Schalkwyk

Director of Research and

Editor, Shakespeare Quarterly

Folger Shakespeare Library

201 E Capitol St, SE

Washington DC 20003




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

Date:         July 25, 2012 7:25:42 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Peer Review


Gabriel Egan responded to my tale of peer review (Along with numbers of others, whose readership was previously unknown to me; I’ll speak to their helpful remarks later, perhaps):


> As an advocate of double-blind peer review, I am

> troubled by these sentences by Downs:


>> For that article one of the reviewers was (I'm sure)

>> Gabriel Egan, with whom I had discussed an earlier

>> version. He has now officially judged the essay and

>> would rather not discuss that which didn't pass peer

>> review.


> Naturally, Downs’s implication of impropriety on my part

> is painful to me. I’d very much like to know why Downs

> is sure the reviewer was me. If the journal revealed to

> him the reviewer’s identity, it should not have. If it’s

> merely his hunch, I’d like to hear the evidence on which

> the hunch is based. If Downs is willing to throw light on

> this, I’m willing to say whether I was the reviewer.


I didn’t intend to imply impropriety, since I’m not aware of what may be thought improper within the system. I was pointing out some troubles in my attempts to bring new ideas to the table. The whole idea of double-blind peer review is to insure fairness. The attitude of an editor should be that any leakage in the system spoils the results. Can you imagine a “double-blind” medical trial that isn’t? Of course you can, but its results should be tossed. For literary journals, “we tried” is perhaps enough.


Gabriel Egan has been a correspondent on and off this list. He doesn’t get mad, smart-alecky, or especially impatient. I think he feels I try to deal with some important issues. That’s not to say we agree. Anyhow, I’ll accept his challenge—and go overboard, as usual.


It’s not for nothing my middle name isn’t Edgar. It doesn’t follow that a hunch is mere, yet I’ve been sure and wrong before. “If the journal revealed to [me] the reviewer’s identity, it should not have.” If it named Gabriel, then it’s Gabriel. If the journal shouldn’t have, it’s still Gabriel, whether it named him or not. “Who squealed?” is no denial. But that’s too easy.


First, my article on the Walkley Quartos could not have a double-blind review. I make that clear at the outset by citing my Bordeaux article as mine. It never dawned on me to speak as if another wrote that essay; far too much of any shorthand investigation must be related to primary evidence in the Bordox manuscript (in my stated and restated opinion).


Yet reviewers tend to stick to D-B terminology. In this case the reader referred to herself as “she,” which may yet be true. But referring to me as “s/he” (as the other reader does) is going a bit too far. Sheez, all shes are not created equal. Perhaps the protocol provided a hunch.


The reader refers to herself as an editor. That narrows the field and Gabriel Egan comes to mind. After all, he’s willing to engage and he’s the author of a new book on Shakespeare’s texts. So with candidates reduced in number what a reader says becomes a test of coincidence. The reviewer refers to one of the Walkley Quartos studied by Gabler, which has a lot of mislineation:


> In the discussion of Cupid's Revenge, the author

> needs to take account of Gabler's methodology

> being essentially Bowers's, based on running-title

> reuse, spelling habits, and damaged type recurrence.

> This entire methodology . . . was effectively invalidated

> by D. F. McKenzie in landmark papers in 1969 and 1984.


Gabriel Egan’s private response to my earlier version reads:


> But do we still accept compositor identification by the

> analysis of evidence from spelling, psychometric habits,

> and headline reuse? Much of this methodology was

> demolished by McKenzie "Printers of the Mind" (1969)

> and "Stretching a Point" (1984). The idea that we can

> be sure that the men who set Cupid's Revenge were

> the same men who set Hector is suspect: only the

> presence of really extraordinary habits (personal

> idiosyncracies) would establish that.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen McKenzie’s articles characterized this way (other than here and in Egan’s book, where the “demolition” plays a big role). McKenzie definitely argued against excesses but he didn’t stray from his ‘69 assessment: “In analytical bibliography . . . the critical tools of comparison and analysis . . . the importance of establishing press variants by collation, of detecting setting by formes, of distinguishing between compositors by spellings or impressions by press-figures is no longer questioned.” He doesn’t deny spelling as a means to differentiate compositors. Hans Walter Gabler (SB 24) bases his identifications on spellings and other peculiarities, not on the other stuff Egan mentions, which he uses more to explain compositor stints rather than find them.


In our correspondence, Gabriel discounted Gabler’s findings because a promised second article was never published. I pointed out the obvious, that the evidence still existed. The observation I was interested in was that Cupid’s Revenge has extensive mislineation, whereas Hector does not. Gabler concluded that the copy for each play accounted for those qualities because the same two compositors had trouble with one play but not the other. I’ve verified (to my satisfaction) that their stints are readily discovered (for the most part), and that compositor Y especially can be seen to share duty in both texts. The point is lost on the reader, who seems to defend Egan’s view of American Bibliography. But the question has some importance; are compositors too easily blamed for corruption? Another coincidence:


> At the top of page 17 it is claimed that an actor's

> misremembering of a name during performance

> might be captured in an edition of A King and No King,

> because of shorthand reporting during performance.

> The obvious question to ask is: how can we distinguish

> this kind of faulty memory from the depiction by a

> dramatist of the faulty memory of his character?

> For example, there is York's "(To the Queen) Come,

> sister--cousin, I would say; pray pardon me" in Richard II

> 2.2.105, or Polonius's "what was I about to say?".


In our correspondence, Gabriel Egan remarks of the same passage:


> There's parallel realism in Polonius's "what was I

> about to say?", which in performance can look like

> an actor's mistake


Anyone saddled with criticizing my writing will have way too much to choose from; so what are the odds that two different readers would single out this item to say the same thing about it? The passage occurs amidst Q2 corruption apparently inherited from Q1, though a second manuscript was consulted: 


Arbaces.          . . . Goe one of you        305

   And bid Bacarius bring Tigranes hither,

   And bring the Ladie with him, that Panthea

   The Queene Panthea sent me word this morning

   Was brave Tigranes mistresse.        [Exit two Gent.]

Ligones.                                      Tis Spaconia.

 Arbaces.   I, I, Spaconia.                      310

Ligones.                            She is my daughter.

Arbaces.    Shee is so, I could now tell anything

   I never heard . . .               Q2 (5.4.305–14)


Gabriel & the reader throughout assume that my alternatives are meant to prove shorthand provenance of plays in question. But as I repeatedly assert, they are meant only to establish the shorthand hypothesis as something worth studying alongside other theories. Never mind that I’m partial to the explanation. Q1 Philaster is easy to prove, yet I offer the evidence from other plays as suggestive only; but some alternatives are more suggestive than others—to some people. I happen to like this one and wonder how others may see it.


The King (Arbaces) asks that Tigranes bring Panthea with him, who according to the Queen (Panthea) is Tigranes’s gal. Ligones corrects the King. “You mean Spaconia, my daughter, not Panthea.” Arbaces answers, “Right! Spaconia.” Now in performance nothing can be easier than a mistake of this sort, especially since ‘Panthea’ comes in the next line. The actor portraying Spaconia’s father might set things right, but authorial intention seems unlikely to me. Still, I claimed no more than comparative status—in this article.


> It is not clear why the author thinks Honigmann's

> "false start" theory to be inherently implausible and

> the author should, for fairness, indicate to the reader

> that Honigmann's book _Stability_ argued that

> Shakespeare might not have indicated deletions at

> all in his foul papers: because he intended to copy

> them out fairly later on he intentionally let first and

> second thoughts stand together in his papers in order

> to choose between them after the heat of composition

> had cooled.


The reviewer thinks a lot like Gabriel does in our correspondence:


> The false starts need not be marked for deletion in the

> foul papers if Shakespeare planned to simply omit them

> when copying the play out fairly to give to the company.


The reviewer agrees even more with a paraphrase(?) of Honigmann’s view in Gabriel’s own book:


> If Shakespeare was expecting to make his own fair

> copy he could afford to leave first and second thoughts

> together, neither crossed out, in his thus unblotted foul

> papers, so that when he came to the copying out he

> could coolly select the better version in the fresh light

> of a new day (The Struggle for Shakespeare's Text, 70). 


Yes, and when the heat cooled he could coolly check for third thoughts, just in case. Now if a reviewer needs to plagiarize Egan, he may not be the expert the editor thought he had. As for Honigmann’s thinking that Heminges & Condell praised Shakespeare’s ‘unblotted’ papers because he didn’t mark deletions—what's the chance of that?


By definition (I suppose) a deletion is marked or it's no deletion. In any case, the contention isn’t verifiable even in the imagination. Honigmann posits scribal copy for Q1 and F Othello. The reviewer and Gabriel add hypotheses: Shakespeare made fair copies; scribes also made copies of the same foul papers; unmarked deletions were intended omissions, or they weren’t. This is all unlikely and obviously meant to save the ‘foul papers’ concept. My article compares “simple solutions” of the crux, “A fellow almost dambd in a fair wife” (1.1.20):


> Honigmann suggests that the “simplest solution is to

> postulate another false start” when Shakespeare decided

> (after writing this line) to make Cassio a bachelor (36).

> The inherent unlikelihood of the “false start,” especially

> when invoked repeatedly, and the number of independent

> agents necessarily involved in a compound process are

> telling. Honigmann himself believes the line is corrupt but

> he offers no explanation of any meaning in justification

> of its revision. Furness first attributes a much simpler

> explanation to Becket: “For ‘wife’ read wise . . .” in the

> sense of “otherwise” or “in a fair manner.” Only one

> agent need have misread “f” for a long “s”; the emendation

> fits the context: “Rightly judged, Cassio does not qualify,

> but he got the job anyhow” (My essay).


I was agreeing with McMillin about the “unmarked false start,” and I still do. But again I offered an alternative (Becket’s), not a proof. To me, it’s significant that Honigmann turns to “unmarked deletion” over and over. Doesn’t that make it weak? There is no evidence and there can’t be, now or in 1967.


The reviewer comments on my citation of the dedication of Lucrece:


> As evidence of Shakespeare's punctuation in play

> manuscripts, the dedication to LUC . . . is useless:

> it was written to be consumed in the act of reading,

> whereas play manuscripts are written to be used by

> actors to make speech that is consumed in hearing;

> clearly the latter function may entail leaving things

> up to the speaker.


Egan agrees once more:


> But you can't compare lines written to be spoken by

> actors (who will pause and breath where they like)

> to lines written for reading, where the punctuation

> has to be semantic.


My hunch is, not everyone feels this way; I don’t. Dialogue has to be understood to be acted (Well, not really, from what I’ve seen, but you know what I mean.), pausing and breathing notwithstanding. There are many instances of punctuation error in Shakespeare’s printed plays; we must infer that inadequate punctuation is as bad for an actor as it is the scribe, compositor, and reader. The actor is a reader. A scribe copying a part is a reader; is punctuation left to him, or is he ordered to let the actor breathe? Bordox, which is tops in that respect with little pointing, has numerous additions to the punctuation by the theatrical revisers. Is that the way Shakespeare would have it?


I’d guess these comparisons of the reviewer, Gabriel’s book, and our own correspondence are enough to identify the reviewer without calling in the attribution experts or proliferating instances. I’m less concerned with identity than with fair play and expertise. One is free to guess the first but vulnerable to the shortcomings of the other two.


Did I get a double-blind review? No, but that was impossible. Did I get a fair shake? No, but I didn’t expect that either. My question is whether the reviewer informed the editor of our prior correspondence, wherein I defended my essay against the same criticisms as in the review.


Gabriel Egan has signaled a preference for peer-reviewed publications from which the weak arguments have been removed. If his review of my article succeeded in this aim to the extent that my disagreements with his book were excised before getting to print—what would there be to discuss? To entertain the very idea of theatrical reporting is to cast doubt on the narratives of the ‘New’ New Bibliography (and every other story that leaves it out). It’s a matter of alternative explanations and agreement with all the evidence. Unmarked deletions, punctuation telling actors when to breathe (or not), revising misprints (a la Joyce); these alternatives get what little credence they have because there are no other alternatives. I think the reason is that scholars missed the right road many years ago. They may kick that road down the can as much as they like, but no atlas will be complete without it.


That Gabriel Egan is the reviewer is apparent; I’ve known that from the moment I read his comments to the editor. There could be a mystery about it only if it is somehow wrong for an editor to forward reviews to would-be contributors. Gabriel seems to object to something that I can’t see. Is “rejected” enough, merely to keep everyone “blind”? The real problem is how not to stand in the way of inquiry. The issues should be debated, not carved out of the debate. Double-blind? Not this time.


I agree that an editor can be left out of the process, despite his title; in this case the decision was left to the reviewers. It would be nice if an editor, seeing potential in a radical departure from orthodox narrative, could work directly with an author. The experts are going to disagree; instead of handing the reins to them, why not hand them a challenge?


Gerald E. Downs


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