The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0509  Monday, 10 December 2012


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

     Date:         December 7, 2012 11:51:54 PM EST

     Subject:     Shorthand and R&J 


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

     Date:         December 8, 2012 8:43:43 PM EST

     Subject:     Shorthand, R&J 




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

Date:         December 7, 2012 11:51:54 PM EST

Subject:     Shorthand and R&J


Over time, I’ve been interested in a couple R&J problems; one because (in my opinion) it is mistakenly cited as authorial revision, and the other because it's hard to figure. I treat them from the “memorial and reprint” view van Dam discussed in 1927. I refer to ‘through line numbers’ in Q2 and Furness numbering in Q1 at 2.2.182ff and 2.3.1ff:



   Ro. I would I were thy bird.

   Iu. Sweete so would I,                                   992

Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing:

Good night, good night.

Parting is such sweete sorrow,                          995

That I shall say good night, till it be morrow.

   Iu. Sleep dwel vpon thine eyes, peace in thy breast. 997

   Ro. Would I were sleepe and peace so sweet to rest

The grey eyde morne smiles on the frowning night,     999

Checkring the Easterne Clouds with streaks of light,   1000

And darknesse fleckted like a drunkard reeles,           1001

From forth daies pathway, made by Tytans wheeles.  1002

Hence will I to my ghostly Friers close cell,

His helpe to craue, and my deare hap to tell.

              Enter Frier alone with a basket.      (night,

   Fri. The grey-eyed morne smiles on the frowning     1006

Checking the Easterne clowdes with streaks of light:

And fleckeld darknesse like a drunkard reeles,

From forth daies path, and Titans burning wheeles:



   Ro: Would I were thy bird.                                       718

   Iul: Sweet so would I,                                             719

Yet I should kill thee with much cherrishing thee.          720

Good night, good night, parting is such sweet sorrow,

That I shall say good night till it be morrow.    (breast. 722

   Rom: Sleepe dwell vpon thine eyes, peace on thy

I would that I were sleep and peace of sweet to rest.   724

Now will I go to my Ghostly fathers Cell,                       725

His help to craue, and my good hap to tell.


                     Enter Frier Francis                   (night,

   Frier: The gray ey'd morne smiles on the frowning    727

Checkring the Easterne clouds with streakes of light,   728

And flecked darkenes like a drunkard reeles,               729

From forth daies path, and Titans fierie wheeles:         730


Comparing these passages to get the most probable Shakespearean text—the primary editorial assignment—depends not merely on one’s presumptions about the origins of Q1 and Q2 but on their relationship. If Q1 is an inviolate early version and Q2 its sacred revision, there isn’t much to study. But here and elsewhere, that position is untenable.


If Q1 is taken as a memorial reconstruction and if Q2 copy is assumed to be Shakespeare’s foul papers, as editors do, hypotheses may suffer even with recognition that Q2 partially reprints Q1. First, no matter how anomalous, Q2 is thought to be Shakespeare’s original composition and reporters are thought to transmit more knowledge than is transmitted.


By entertaining the probability of theatrical reporting one assumes less, even when positing a radical transmission. One may offer explanations rather than vague “revision” or “reconstruction” hypotheses falling short of explanation. The evidence and power of shorthand transmission may not only fit the circumstances of the rest of the playtext, it may get us nearer to knowing how any particular corruption occurred.


Q2 is corrupt (as all agree) in that Juliet is given two speech headings in a row (992 & 997). Q1 assigns Romeo the line (723) given to Juliet at Q2 997; one of these prefixes is wrong. Editors disagree, for good reasons, as to how all these lines should be divided. I haven’t a strong opinion but Q1 is not a guide if it is a shorthand report. In such cases, designating speeches is guesswork (editorial). The same is true of the following crux.


The grey-eyed morne smiles on the frowning night,

Cheering the easterne cloudes with streames of light;

And darknesse flected, like a drunkard reeles

From forth daye’s path-way made by Titan’s wheeles.


Here England’s Parnassus prefers Romeo’s quatrain to either Friar’s version (Q1 or Q2) of the same lines. Van Dam observes of the 1600 publication that if “fleckted was wrong . . . the collector or printer . . . would have changed it. He would have had more reason . . . than for his alteration of Checkring and streaks into Cheering and streames. . . . Flickted could be the aphetized form of afflicted. Spenser and Milton used the word afflicted . . . meaning of overwhelmed, overpowered.” Van Dam also convincingly cites A Mirror for Magistrates, 1610:


All jag’d and frounst, with diuers colours deckt,

They sweare, they curse, and drinke till they be fleckt.


This accepted usage confirms the general acceptance of Romeo’s Q2 speech instead of the repetition by the Friar (fleckeld, Checking). As van Dam observes, the Q2 Friar’s version repeats the transposition in Q1 (‘flecked darkenes’) and its last line. Though van Dam felt Romeo’s correct lines belonged to the Friar while I believe they are Romeo’s, I agree the second Q2 version derives from Q1 -- one of many reprinted portions of the text that show, some more forcefully than others, the Q2 compositor had ready access to (and willing, injudicious use of) the first edition alongside his “corrective” manuscript.


The two versions in Q2 are often cited as produced in Shakespeare’s foul papers (and as evidence of foul papers) where an altered version was meant to replace another, when Shakespeare is supposed to have forgotten to cross out the “deleted” lines. That unlikely event is coupled to desire for foul-paper copy and unhooked from Q1 to form a standard part of a circular rationale: oddities mean Shakespeare at Work.


I believe the Friar’s speech in Q2 was added from a corrupt Q1. Yet in a memorial reconstruction the reporter of 2.3 is presumed to know who was speaking. Short of reassigning lines in the theater or the printing-house, there seems (at first) to be no easy way to piece a sequence of error together. But if Q1 is a shorthand report, matters are simplified; if the actor portraying Romeo transposed his lines (as he was wont), they would have been delivered (accidentally or on purpose) in this order:


Hence will I to my ghostly Friers close cell,                 1003

His helpe to craue, and my deare hap to tell.               1004

The grey eyde morne smiles on the frowning night,      999

Checkring the Easterne Clouds with streaks of light,    1000

And darknesse fleckted like a drunkard reeles,            1001

From forth daies pathway, made by Tytans wheeles.   1002


Which is just how Q1 reads, corrupt as it is:


Now will I go to my Ghostly fathers Cell,                       725

His help to craue, and my good hap to tell.


                     Enter Frier Francis                   (night,

   Frier: The gray ey'd morne smiles on the frowning    727

Checkring the Easterne clouds with streakes of light,   728

And flecked darkenes like a drunkard reeles,               729

From forth daies path, and Titans fierie wheeles:         730


As proved by John of Bordeaux and Philaster, the clearest evidence of mistaken speech headings (and not to mention the numerous ascription errors in Q1 R&J itself), the stenographer had no time to identify or to assign speakers in his shorthand text. He marked changes of speakers, and pauses, just in case; but waited on transcription to match headings by inference from the dialogue. He may have left much of the job to the recipient of a pilfered text. In this instance, as with the preceding lines, mistakes were made. “Frier Francis” (whoever he is) got the checkeld and fleckered lines by accident.


After 2.2 the identical-enough-for-repertory-work verses were repeated to begin Q2 2.3. It’s no use applying Orenthal logic here (“Why leave a glove at the scene and another at home? Not guilty.”) The compositor did it all right; and he made a bit more money not asking reasons why. Considering the plentiful evidence of memorial reporting in Q1 and the evidence of how shorthand affects texts, I think this sequence is a likely alternative for how the Q1 & Q2 corrupt versions came about. It should be remembered that we aren’t discussing “plain text” but corruption, for which there are reasons.


Gerald E. Downs



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

Date:         December 8, 2012 8:43:43 PM EST

Subject:     Shorthand, R&J


Steven Urkowitz remarks:


> To return to my ongoing conversation with Gerald

> Downs. I’m pretty sure that he and I aren’t going to

> change one another’s minds,


I have no expectation of either event. My argument is to show others that Steven is wrong about the early texts of Shakespeare’s plays, at least partly in response to invitations to read his writings. I think most every scholar is wrong to some degree because shorthand was lost to consciousness sixty years ago. Steven is especially vulnerable. 


> I’ll not take on lots and lots of Gerald Downs’s points

> (as I have with similar arguments such as those of

> Peter Alexander).


Editors still agree with Alexander. No one likes to deal with every point of contention, but when denying memorial transmission unwanted evidence can’t be shunted aside without misinforming others.


> Gerald Downs accepts as possible my reading of a

> variant as a possible instance of authorial revision:


>> That is a conceivable possibility . . .


As I observed, the “conceivable possibility” is, after all, highly unlikely; the more of them gathered together, the more unlikely the hypothesis and the less likely the single instance. In contrast, memorial texts turn aloose categories of error that can be expected to recur, and they do. It is no coincidence that “revisions” begin on suspected corruption and end with sound text. That’s because Steven has it backwards. The problem is, for those less versed in the matter, it’s a pain getting versed. Over the years R&J has supplied many instances of corruption but in a bottomless pit one may not recall or even see them all.


> Further, if, as Gerald urges, a poet doesn’t go at his

> revisings repeatedly using a finite toolbox of patterns

> (as I imagine our WS did in the transformations of R&J

> from Brooks’ Romeus and Juliet to Q1 to Q2),


We agree the toolbox is imaginary. Erne suggests Q2 follows Brooks more than does Q1. That’s expected of a cut, memorial report.


> how can Gerald support his own claim that the

memorial transcribers will repeatedly make the

> same kinds of errors o-so-regularly as they moved

> from Q2 (or the unknowable text from which Q2 was

> also derived . . .) to generate the versions printed in

> Q1. Bad-guys can produce repeated patterns but

> good-guys can’t?


Memorial, scribal, shorthand, editorial, and compositorial errors are all categorized to some extent. We see (some of us) the same mistakes repeated in similar circumstances. It’s an inductive process that may even be experimental—with data collected at the turn of the sixteenth century. For example, after studying the graphically clear evidence in John of Bordeaux I turned to a play with which I had no familiarity that had its own Q2. Because the printer himself apologized for the bloody Q1 Philaster text I predicted—that’s what you do with hypotheses—shorthand symptoms would show. Maguire reported no speech prefix problems in Q1 but Q2 discovered sixty mistakes. The other categories are represented too. Q1 R&J is no slouch either.


> I project [Gerald E.'s] position would be that the

> author functioned in an artistic economy of scarcity

> where opportunities to change things were severely

> restricted.


My position is that the evidence supports memorial reporting and faulty printing, not authorial revision. “Artistic authorial economy” hasn’t much to do with it.


>I’m gonna have to apologize again.


No, the “moderator” must like it. I only point out that personal attack is not argument.


> At the end of R&J 4.2, Q1 shows us [the Capulets]

> exiting together:

>   Moth. We shall be short in our prouision.

>   Capo: Let me alone for that, goe get you in,

> Now before God my heart is passing light,

> To see her thus conformed to our will.

>                                            Exeunt.

> But Q2 gives a nicely different end of scene:

>  Mo.  We shall be short in our prouision

> Tis now neare night.

>  Fa.  Tush, I will stirre about.

> And all things shall be well, I warrant thee wife:

> Go thou to Juliet, helpe to decke up her, 

> Ile not to bed to night, let me alone:

> Ile play the huswife for this once, what ho?

> They are all forth, well I will walke my selfe

> To Countie Paris, to prepare up him

> Against to morrow, my heart is wondrous light,

> Since this same wayward Gyrle is so reclaymd.

> Exit


> I think Van Dam’s exercise won’t be able to reconcile

> these variant ends-of-scene.


This is a cut where Q1 loses some nice lines in the process. That probably happened every time a Shakespeare play was cut. There is no convincing evidence that Q1 was revised to Q2. Some passages demonstrate that Q1 loses sense with the cutting. For example, R.G. White observed long ago that “The text of Q1 . . . is so often incoherent that its great corruption is manifest; and on a comparison of the corrupt passages with the text of Q2, the corruption, in most instances, seems unmistakably due to an imperfect representation of that text . . . . He gives a number of convincing examples:


“Our wonder at Sh.’s ever describing an apothecary’s shop as stuffed with beggarly accounts of empty boxes is at an end when we . . . see how he was led to stuff the shop instead of the alligator . . .” Yet now I wonder how the modern director makes hay first with the stuffed gator and then with ye stuffed shoppe. And what was Shakespeare thinking? “I got it! Stuff the alligator for Q2! What will I (or Steven) think of next?” Let’s let Shakespeare off the hook. Q1’s stuffing is a memory turkey.


"Again, when, in the last scene of the play, Capulet, according to [Q1] exclaims,


   Capo: See Wife, this dagger hath mistook:

For (loe) the back is emptie of yong Mountague,

And it is sheathed in our Daughters breast.           Q1 2135


“we are at a loss to understand the phrase, ‘the back is emptie,” and no less to discern what connection there is between the empty back of Rom. and the dagger in the breast of Iul.” But Q2 helps us out of our trouble . . .”


   Ca. O heauens! O wife looke how our daughter

This dagger hath mistane, for loe his house

Is emptie on the back of Mountague,

And it missheathed in my daughters bosome. Q2


Is it really likely that Shakespeare wrote the Q1 version? Steven could deal with the many Q1 problems like this. “Why not?” Well, let’s face it; Q1 is a mess without the cherry-picking.


> . . . with van Dam and Gerald Downs . . .

> we must contemplate the kinds of mish-mash

> scrambling with agents and versions slip-sliding

> away from an Authorial Original.


The evidence insists. The agents existed.


Gerald E. Downs


Richard Strier on “Shrews and Jews”


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0508  Monday, 10 December 2012


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

Date:         December 7, 2012 4:45:08 PM EST

Subject:     Richard Strier on “Shrews and Jews”


Here’s Richard Strier’s 2012 University of Chicago Humanities Day Keynote Lecture on Shakespeare’s Prejudices: Shrews and Jews (c. 53 min long). After the four and a half minute intro by Dean Roth, Dr Strier explores the ironies of Shrew, then, about 30 minutes into the video, probes those of Merchant:



Joe Egert 


Book Announcement: Shakespeare et la postmodernité


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0507  Monday, 10 December 2012


From:        Jean-Christophe MAYER <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 10, 2012 5:01:40 AM EST

Subject:     Book Announcement: Shakespeare et la postmodernité 


Book Announcement:

Jean-Christophe Mayer. Shakespeare et la postmodernité : Essais sur l’auteur, le religieux, l’histoire et le lecteur. Bern : Peter Lang, 2012, xii + 305p. ISBN 978-3-0343-1196-0 (paper), ISBN 978-3-0352-0166-6 (eBook).


 Book synopsis in English:


Shakespeare is one of the most performed authors worldwide, but his texts have also been a crucial testing ground for a wide variety of critical theorists. This book looks at the impact of the postmodern and poststructuralist movements on literary studies and more specifically on Shakespeare studies. Steering clear of overly dogmatic or reactionary positions, it offers fresh solutions to current critical problems. It invites us to rethink the way we relate to Shakespeare’s text through a re-examination of four key notions: the Author, Religion, History and the Reader. The paradox of Shakespeare’s presence and absence as an author is investigated, as well as the “religious turn” in Shakespeare studies. Through a constructive critique of New Historicism and Presentism, the links between literature and history are reconsidered and established on new ground. Finally, and even if Shakespeare wrote mostly for the stage, the book shows how his early readers significantly transformed the reception of his works.


 About the Author:


Jean-Christophe Mayer is a Research Professor of English Renaissance Studies employed by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). He is also a member of the Institute for Research on the Renaissance, the Classical Age and the Enlightenment (IRCL) at University Paul Valery, Montpellier, France.


 Publisher description and orders:

The Venus & Adonis Dedication


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0506  Friday, 7 December 2012


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

Date:         December 6, 2012 11:23:20 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Ven. Dedication


>Larry Weiss asks why would WS incorporate a hidden 

>message which only he would understand? I thought I 

>had provided a reasonable scenario. He was evidently 

>angry and frustrated with Wriothesley (see 3 above) and 

>this was a uniquely satisfactory way of sticking up a finger 

>at the cause of his distress (a person whom he could not 

>take to task within the public eye). Like a disgruntled 

>waiter spitting into the hamburger of his objectionable 

>customer, who then proceeds to consume the mixture 

>without anyone (but the waiter) being the wiser.


Ah, but the hamburger eater, like the man who consumes a spider in his drink, may well become ill as a result.  If Southampton does not see the spider, he can suffer nothing.  Shakespeare would have to have been supremely neurotic to derive satisfaction from his unperceived insult.

PBS Series “Shakespeare Uncovered”


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0505  Friday, 7 December 2012


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

Date:         December 7, 2012 1:12:30 PM EST

Subject:     PBS Series “Shakespeare Uncovered”


[Editor’s Note: I learned of this series from Mike Jensen. –Hardy]


PBS Series “Shakespeare Uncovered” to Feature Ethan Hawke, Joely Richardson, Trevor Nunn and More

By Adam Hetrick

29 Nov 2012 


Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi and Trevor Nunn are among the artists who will host a six-part PBS series exploring Shakespeare’s classic plays, which will debut Jan. 25, 2013, across the nation.


Each episode of “Shakespeare Uncovered,” according to PBS, “explores and reveals the extraordinary world and works of William Shakespeare and the still-potent impact they have today.” The first installment airs at 9 PM in the New York area. Check local listings for specific times.


Each installment will feature interviews with actors, directors and scholars who have worked on the plays; key elements to the tales, including locations; and clips from stage and film versions of Shakespeare’s works. Special excerpts, staged specifically for the program, were filmed at Shakespeare’s Globe.



Here’s a look at the episodes:



Shakespeare Uncovered: Macbeth with Ethan Hawke

Jan. 25, 2013


“Ethan Hawke invites viewers on his quest to play Shakespeare’s murderous Thane of Cawdor by researching the true story and real-life events that served as the play’s inspiration. Historian Justin Champion visits the actual Scottish sites of the story on Hawke’s behalf, introducing him to Dunsinane where Macbeth supposedly lived, and to the history books that distorted the true story and consequently led Shakespeare to do the same. Immersing himself in some of the most memorable and innovative productions of ‘the Scottish Play,’ Hawke gleans extraordinary insights into Shakespeare’s understanding of the criminal mind. Lady Macbeth’s relationship to the titular Thane is a critical role in the play and is examined by observing Shakespeare’s Globe actors rehearsing and performing scenes from the play, as well as by revisiting recent productions starring Patrick Stewart and Antony Sher.”



Shakespeare Uncovered: The Comedies with Joely Richardson

Jan. 25, 2013


”Joely Richardson investigates (with her mother Vanessa Redgrave) the legacy of these two brilliant cross-dressing comedies, with their missing twins, mistaken identities, and characters in disguise; their connections to Shakespeare’s personal life; and the great romantic heroines created by Shakespeare in two perennially popular plays. Richardson investigates the comic and dramatic potential of female roles written for male actors to play. At the same time, Richardson demonstrates that Shakespeare revealed an acute understanding and sympathy for women when he wrote these characters. Redgrave’s portrayal of Rosalind in As You Like It made her a star in England and soon after, all over the world, and the show reveals the legacy of strong, sassy, witty women that we inherit from William Shakespeare’s great comedies.”



Shakespeare Uncovered: Richard II with Derek Jacobi

Feb. 1, 2013


“In returning to the role of a deposed monarch whose crown is taken from him, Derek Jacobi takes a 360-degree view of this great political thriller whose title character he played more than 30 years ago. Jacobi shares insights on the play’s political twists – and their modern equivalents – that have kept Richard II resonant for centuries through its understanding of power’s tendency to corrupt and distort the truth, and how quickly power may be lost. While coaching actors at Shakespeare’s Globe, Jacobi describes how the play was used by the Earl of Essex in his attempted coup against Queen Elizabeth I, and persuaded Shakespeare’s own company to stage it to encourage the Earl’s ‘plotters.’ Jacobi reveals how the plot nearly cost Shakespeare his life. Also featured are notable excerpts from the upcoming Great Performances film adaptation starring Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart.”



Shakespeare Uncovered: Henry IV & Henry V with Jeremy Irons

Feb. 1, 2013


Jeremy Irons uncovers the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s most iconic ‘history plays,’ from the true English history embedded into the works to the father-son drama that Shakespeare created. In disclosing Shakespeare’s sources – and steps the playwright took to distort them – Irons uncovers the historical truths behind the story and how they inspired some of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues. On a journey to the battlefield at Agincourt in Northern France, the climactic location of these plays, it’s revealed how the Bard was more subversive and less patriotic than his ardent admirers often think. Irons also invites viewers behind the scenes at the filming of key sequences in the new Great Performances adaptation starring Irons himself as the father-king, Henry IV, and Tom Hiddleston as his son, Prince Hal, who becomes Henry V.



Shakespeare Uncovered: Hamlet with David Tennant

Feb. 8, 2013


“An acclaimed Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s hit production (also a recent Great Performances production), David Tennant meets fellow actors who’ve tackled this most iconic of roles, including superstar Jude Law, and compares notes on the role’s titanic challenges. Tennant digs deep into the text about the doomed Danish Prince alongside the actors Simon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw. With them he works to plumb the deeper meanings of the play and the reason it is widely considered the greatest of Shakespeare’s canon. The historical sources and religious wars, existential questions of the meaning of life and death, the idea that ghosts exist and may speak – all these and a searing personal drama, too – comprise this Everest of a play. Tennant also finds that many actors who have played Hamlet share an experience that is deeply and profoundly personal. This is also, perhaps, the reason audiences feel the play touches them more than any other before or since.”



Shakespeare Uncovered: The Tempest with Trevor Nunn

Feb. 8, 2013


”Trevor Nunn, the legendary director who has helmed 30 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays – and aims to complete them all before he retires – takes us through the magical and mysterious world created in the playwright’s last complete work. Nunn considers The Tempest as Shakespeare’s farewell from the stage, and explores the biographical nature of the play and its connection to the playwright’s often troubled family life. He also explores the stagecraft – the fact that Tempest is a play of special effects, apparitions and magic. Some of The Tempest’s most famous and most enthusiastic fans contribute their ideas about its lead role of Prospero, including Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren and acclaimed film and theatre director Julie Taymor, who recently directed a film adaptation that features Mirren in which the lead role was recast as a female named Prospera.”




Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.