The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0352  Friday, 24 August 2012


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

Date:         August 21, 2012 5:17:39 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand


Camp Counselor Stevie Errorowitz here again, calling for another “delay-of-game FOUL” in the continuing round-robin game of Name That Reviser being played out here in Textual Studies Summer Camp. We’ve had a l-o-n-g exchange about some very small, nearly microscopic, linked King Lear variants found at the end of 3.6, where Gloucester urges Kent to bring the sleeping Lear away to safety. I ‘d like the judges and bystanders and visiting grown-ups to raise their eyes a moment to be reminded of the larger context of this particular mini-bone of contention.


The form of Gloucester’s speech in Q1 as it was first printed has Gloucester say “ “take up to keepe” ; after press-correction of this page, later copies of Q1 read instead “take up the King.” About ten years later, Q1 was reprinted and, as luck and the perverse gods that torment us kids in Textual Studies Summer Camp might have it, the four word passage of interest here again came out, “take up to keepe.” (I should be writing “vp” for “up” to be accurate, but Summer Camp allows for some relaxation of rigor.) Then, just a few years later, the Folio prints those words as, “take up, take up.”  


(Confession: When I was writing Shakespeare’s Revision of King Lear. I completely overlooked this “Q1 uncorrected- Q1 Corrected- Q2 - F variant.”  But I plead forgiveness because back then I did indicate many more interesting things that happen right hereabouts.)  


If you’ve been reading the Gerald Downs correspondence, you’ll see that he 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” (ellipses here from Downs’ own quote of his earlier writing).


Wakey, wakey!  Here comes the good part. Please turn in your Shakespearean Textual Camp Quarto and Folio Songbooks to (1) page G4-verso in the 1608 Quarto and lines TLN 2047-62,  or (2) to your Norton Shakespeare Facing Pages texts, pages 2408 and 2409 or (3) to pages 48-50 in your very own copy of Shakespeare’s Revision of King Lear .   


Look even briefly at the text surrounding the miniscule variant four-word passage.  Ka-pow-eeeeeee !  Big stuff happening! Stuff visible and comprehensible even to someone watching who doesn’t understand a word of the language. Both the quarto and Folio versions start this chunk of action when Gloucester comes in with news that a crew intending to slay the King will arrive within a half-hour.  


Q1 (corrected) has this degree of urgency:


GLOST Good friend-I prithy take him in thy armes

. . . .

take up thy master . . . .


take up the King and followe me, that will to some provision

Give thee quicke conduct.

KENT:   Oppressed nature sleepes.

This rest might yet  have balmed thy broken sinewes.


After Kent here addresses the sleeping Lear, he enlists the Fool to help carry Lear off. Glouster has another urgent speech: “Come, come away.” Then Edgar has fourteen lines of philosophical soliloquy, beginning “When we our betters . . .” He exits, and Cornwall and the other nasties bustle on, whipping themselves forward about their devilish business.  “Post speedily . . . Show him . . . Seek out . . . Hang him . . . . Pluck out his eyes.”


The Folio, here as in a number of other scene-ends, gives a tighter ending, far more urgent, more abrupt in its transition into the entrance of the baddies.  


Glou. Good friend, I prythee take him in thy armes . . . 


 . . . Take up thy Master,

 . . . .Take up, take up,

And follow me, that will to some provision

Give thee quicke conduct. Come, come, away. Exeunt

Scena Septima

Corn.Post speedily . . . .


No revery over the sleeping King, no command to the Fool, no philosophy from Edgar.  


Now, you have to see that this kind of end-of-scene variant—with a reflective, relatively slow-paced passage found in Q but not in F—is patterned, a re-design carried out repeatedly between the Lear texts.  Of course, I’ve been criticized unmercifully for saying that this is a “Shakespearean” or “authorial” change, and that actually anyone at all could have cut the Q material to leave what we find in F. Sure. Like anyone at all could carve Michaelangelo’s David by simply cutting out the marble that isn’t the statue.  


It’s when we line up instance after instance of patterns that most people don’t notice that we develop an argument for authorial revision. Interrupted speeches—signaled by incomplete grammatical structures at the ends of speeches—abound  in F  where the equivalent moments in Q do not call for a second actor to cut abruptly into the speech of the preceding speaker.   Interrupted exits, where an exit move is announced by a character but that move is blocked by an action (such as a counter-command) initiated by a different character, also appear repeatedly in F but not in Q. That’s the kind of thing that I track and illustrate in my Revision of King Lear book.  They are NOT like what may be found as cuts and changes in scripts being altered for “normal" presentations.


Could these distinct and repeated patterns of theatrical scene-making indeed be the result of some agent other than Shakespeare at work. Sorry. That isn’t what any other worked-over script from the period looks like. 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.  


An aside about putting on Shakespeare’s plays in modern environments:  If you look at the Norton Shakespeare pages of this passage, you’ll see that there is a lot of nice white space left after the end of scene 3.6.  I used to rehearse my productions as if that white space was a convenient place to stop working on a scene. My bad. I found that if, instead, I ended work on such scenes after practicing the opening of the scene following, then I found that the play in production moved along like lightning because the transitions had been practiced and incorporated into the actors’ physical memories from the get-go. So, my dears, let me suggest that you use as a rehearsal unit NOT “the scene” but rather the transition into the scene—then the scene itself—and then the transition into the following scene.  


And that, boys and girls here in Textual Studies Summer Camp, is why we leave home, come into the wilderness, and  learn how to play nice with other kids.   


Now wash up for supper, the sweet-corn is going into the pot in a few minutes. 



Counselor Steevie.


Aesthetic and Anesthetic


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0351  Friday, 24 August 2012


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

Date:         August 22, 2012 5:09:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Aesthetic and Anesthetic


David Richman writes: “Perennial problem:  How do you shock the audience into experiencing anew a play the audience knows well?  We all cudgel our brains on that hard stone.”




I’ve always felt that good actors with tight direction took care of business as long as the play has merit. Why should you need to shock anyone?


(I remember from decades ago Tony Randall describing (I think on the Jack Paar show), how he had flown to London for the express purpose of watching Gielgud as Lear, and how he had wept through the entire last scene. And so had everybody else, apparently. But it probably didn’t surprise anybody.)





King Lear Analysis


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0350  Friday, 24 August 2012


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

Date:         August 20, 2012 8:20:53 PM EDT

Subject:     King Lear Analysis


For some years (off and on) I studied the history of the early texts of King Lear before submitting an article for publication almost two years ago. I may try again after Richard Knowles’s Variorum edition appears because it may help to focus on the issues. If I record my views here they may be of interest in comparison. Some of the Lear puzzles can be far-reaching, should they be solved.


My introduction to them was P. W. K. Stone’s The Textual History of King Lear (1980) – the most perceptive and best of the last generation of Lear scholarship. His work was influential yet should have been more so; he may never get his due. Another especially creditable resource is P. W. M. Blayney’s ‘82 bibliographical study—the best of a kind. I made circles in a few libraries before realizing that v.2, his textual analysis, doesn’t exist. Some still list it as “forthcoming,” thirty years on. Other publications are less useful; some serve to confuse the issues. Except as needed, I prefer not to argue with the worser angles but to follow Blayney and Stone and let the Blarney Stone be.


Determined to resolve every issue, Stone was misled for reasons a bit unfair to his substantial intellect. Prior scholarly assumption caused his faulty explanation of Q1 mislineation; that’s where I try new thinking to reduce the complications of his otherwise sound theory.


Blayney criticized Shakespeareans for assuming that printers didn’t correct playtexts before printing began (foul-proofing) and consequently that stop-press correction was the only method used (where evidence is apparent in corrected and uncorrected formes). Foul-proofing is hard to detect since proof pages were not usually retained. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; Moxon describes a set procedure and common sense advises that printing can’t well begin until a forme is inspected for serious error. Nevertheless, editors today may speak of variants as if they are the whole story.


That was Stone’s error when he took on notorious Q1 mislineation (in its messier examples) to elaborate his hypothesis that a longhand theatrical report was printed as it stood in printer’s copy. (Mislineation can’t easily be explained if printing was seriatim: Blayney proved that Q1 was printed page-by-page rather than from “casting off” copy to print by formes (the more efficient printing-house method); but Stone gets credit for presuming seriatim printing.) Here I mark pentameters for convenience:


Glost. Good friend I prithy take him in thy armes,

I haue or’e heard a plot of death vpon him,

There is a Litter ready lay him in’t, / & driue towards Douer frend,

Where thou shalt meet / both welcome & protection, take vp thy

If thou should’st dally half an houre, his life / with thine    (master,

And all that offer to defend him / stand in assured losse,

Take vp the King / and followe me, that will to some provision

Giue thee quicke conduct.

            (Q1 3.6.95-104 [TLN 1780-87; G4v7-14])


Stone proposes first that an actor’s pauses before his delivery of “where thou shalt meet” and “take up the King” were taken to signal new pentameter lines by a reporter aligning the phrases expectantly, leaving gaps to be filled in at later performance(s); second, that the full text, fitted to a limited space, was replicated by the Q1 compositor.


There’s a better explanation; G4v9-13 is crowded, with space-saving use of two &’s and the turned-down “master,” indicating restoration of three lines. Having set “take vp” at line 10, the compositor’s eye fell on “take vp” at line 13, to omit copy from the end of line 10 through line 12 (including omission of one “take vp”). Regularized (as copy may have read), the text should have more printed lines:


There is a Litter ready lay him in’t,

And driue towards Douer frend, where thou shalt meet

Both welcome and protection, take vp [thy master,

If thou should’st dally half an houre, his life

With thine and all that offer to defend him

Stand in assured losse, take vp] the King

And followe me, that will to some provision

            (G4v9–15, conjectured; omission bracketed)


When the eyeskip error was noticed during foul-proofing four lines already set were adjusted to accommodate restoration of the omission. As far as I know, early correction has not been suggested as a general cause of Q1 mislineation. Blayney would no doubt suggest it, since he describes at least one instance of foul-proofing miscorrection. In this case (and many others in Q1, which are not too hard to spot), the text is explained by everyday printing house goings-on. That doesn’t explain all mislineation but it indicates, by a sort of empirical evidence, that foul-proofing occurred. A pair of “take vps”, downturning, and crowding (and like cases) show not only that compositors were prone to this error, but that correction before printing occurred regularly.


In a contemporary Blayney review, Antony Hammond adds: “no Okes foul proof survives, though some of his revises do, which suggest that most hypotheses constructed to account for press-variants are likely to be grossly mistaken, and that as many as a third of such ‘corrections’ are likely to be miscorrections.”


I don’t know where the “third” comes from but I see that if foul-proofing carried the heavy load of reading against copy, stop-press corrections might often be conjectural, which seems to be the case. Large numbers may suggest that more of F usually ascribed to Shakespeare is actually caused by printing errors. Moreover, other surviving Q1 miscorrections, whether F monkeys with them or not, reinforce the idea that F’s primary ancestor is the corrupt quarto itself.


The upshot of eyeskip evidence is that mislineation can’t decide the Q1 printer’s copy (though it may help to decide how F came to be). Still, a Q1 theory must accommodate mislineation. Shorthand reporting is an alternative cause, what with revision, actor error, and evidence that stenographers had no time or inclination to line verse. Yet lineation is neither decisive, nor as answerable as once was hoped.


Gerald E. Downs


Stuff People at Shakespeare Festivals Say


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0349  Friday, 24 August 2012


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

Date:         August 22, 2012 4:27:28 PM EDT

Subject:     Stuff People at Shakespeare Festivals Say


My younger daughter Rebecca is leaving for her second year of college tomorrow.


She passed on to me this YouTube video: Stuff People at Shakespeare Festivals Say from Great River Shakespeare Festival. She got the link from someone in her Bryn Mawr Shakespeare performance group.




Residency for Students in London?


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0348  Friday, 24 August 2012


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

Date:         August 23, 2012 9:02:29 AM EDT

Subject:     Residency for Students in London? 


Dear Colleagues,


This may be an off-topic request, but I hope you can help. I am hoping to bring a small group of students to London for a Shakespeare and theatre-related course in late spring or early summer 2013 and am looking to see if we could set up some sort of residency at a university or school to help keep housing expenses down. If you know of such an opportunity, please let me know.



Jeremy Fiebig


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