The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.014  Thursday, 10 January 2019

 

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

     Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:21:09 PM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

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

     Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:34:36 PM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

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

     Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:44:27 PM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

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

     Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:54:44 PM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

[5] From:        Jim Ryan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         January 9, 2019 at 5:04:33 PM EST

     Subj:         NOS and Scene Division 

 

[6] From:        Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         January 9, 2019 at 4:19:21 PM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

[7] From:        Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         January 10, 2019 at 5:49:35 AM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

[8] From:        Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         January 10, 2019 at 5:52:53 AM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:21:09 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

“perhaps New York City should recognize that “Fifth Avenue” privileges number over human agency, and rename it for, say, the first contractor to pave it.”

 

For decades Sixth Avenue has been “Avenue of the Americas,” replete with the national arms of the various Western Hemisphere states, but no one cares and most still give directions to locations on Sixth Avenue.

 

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:34:36 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

"Upside is always followed by down, looker(s) is followed by on, and devoid is followed by of. The attempt of Segarra et al. to detach function words from their dependence on content words fails utterly."

 

And, of course, there are infinitives to deal with. For example, “to bloviate” is a single lemma; how does the program distinguish that from two words consisting of a function word and a verb?

 

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:44:27 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

In 1664, Philip Chetwinde published the second impression of F3, which he first published in 1663. The second impression added seven plays not theretofore included in any of prior collections—namely Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Locrine; The London Prodigal; The Puritan; Sir John Oldcastle; Thomas Lord Cromwell; and A Yorkshire Tragedy. Only Pericles has earned canonical status (in part). It seems likely that Chetwinde’s additions were included to create a new work for sale in a market that was already saturated with the old editions.

 

Is there a moral here?

 

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 9, 2019 at 2:54:44 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

NOS cites F4 as “H E R R I N G M A N”. Actually, the book seller Henry Herringman was only one member of the syndicate which published the collection. Other members included R. Bentley, E. Brewster, and R. Chiswell.

 

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 9, 2019 at 5:04:33 PM EST

Subject:    NOS and Scene Division

 

The wide variation of scene boundaries from one edition of Shakespeare to another, noted by Pervez Rizvi and Gabriel Egan, strongly suggests that our understanding of the Shakespearean scene is incomplete. I’d like to advance a novel approach. It is not a cleared stage or “continuous action” that ultimately determines scene division. It is the overall chiastic structure (ABCDCBA) in which one important element in each scene, usually an action, is reflected in the corresponding scene of the other half of the play. The symmetry of the architecture establishes the scene divisions.

 

Consider the last scene of Folio Macbeth. It is routinely divided at each cleared stage in the battle sequence, yielding three scenes: the killing of young Seward, the fight between Macduff and Macbeth and the ascension of Malcolm. But the Folio preserves a common Shakespearean practice of beginning and ending the plot action in the centers of the first and last scenes. Duke Vincentio confers his authority on Angelo at 1.1.43 of 83 and enters to retrieve his authority at 5.1. 277 of 540. In LLL the Lords’ vow of seclusion is sworn in the center of the first scene when Berowne signs the oath (1.1.155 of 315) and is forsworn (“We are again forsworn, in will and error”) in the middle of the last scene (5.2.471 of 931]). So, too, in Folio Macbeth, the charm the Weird Sisters initiate in the first scene ends at the center of the last scene when Macbeth, informed that Macduff was untimely born, says, “And be these juggling fiends no more believ’d” (5.7.49 of 104). The Folio scene should remain intact to preserve Shakespeare’s habitual central emphasis. (The play thus has not 29 but 27 scenes, perfectly in keeping with its other triplicities: 3x3x3.)

 

It is not only the overall plot action that is reflected in paired scenes of the chiastic design. Nested actions are also chiastically disposed, both in their beginning and ending actions and in their climactic incidents. Hector’s initial challenge and his death are paired in the third and third last scenes of TC (23 scenes, 1.3 and 5.8); Troilus and Cressida pledge fidelity in 3.2, and Cressida betrays Troilus with Diomedes in the paired 5.2. Parallel plots like the courtships of Romeo and Paris are mirrored step by step in corresponding scenes: the futile summoning of the suitor (2.1 and 4.3), the profession (or not) of love (2.2 and 4.1), planning the wedding (2.3 and 3.5), and setting the date (2.4 and 3.4). (These reflections, by the way, confirm that Romeo and Juliet contains 23 scenes.) Character actions are paralleled or contrasted: Caesar and Cassius consider omens of their deaths in corresponding scenes (JC, 17 scenes, 2.2 and 5.1); Goneril turns Lear out, and in the paired scene Cordelia embraces Lear (Folio Lear 1.4 and 4.6). In each mature play one element in every scene has its chiastic reflection.

 

“Continuous action” is no more reliable as a scene determinant than a cleared stage. The first two scenes of Folio Cymbeline, for example, are often run together because the two gentlemen in the first scene comment, before exiting and clearing the stage, on the approaching Posthumous, Imogen and the Queen. It begs the question to declare this a “continuous action.” But, clearly, the immediate stage business cannot decide the issue. Only the chiastic reflections explain the Folio’s division into two scenes here. The first scene is devoted to the family losses of Cymbeline, which are remedied in the reunion of his family in the last scene. In the second scene Posthumous is banished from his adoptive family; in the penultimate scene he has a vision of his biological family. Scene divisions cannot be determined by the local action, but they can be determined by the more comprehensive view of the chiastic design.

 

As a final example, consider scene 2.2 in Folio Lear that Gabriel Egan discussed in his recent post. In addition to the performance advantages of retaining the scene’s integrity that Egan mentioned, the chiastic reflections also recommend adhering to the Folio division. The central incident in the exceptionally long scene (481 lines) is the short conversation between the Fool and Kent on Lear’s fortunes, a mere 22 lines (238-260); this conversation is mirrored by the conversation between Cordelia and the Gentleman in 4.3 on Lear’s madness. This reflection extends the other suggestions in the play of the “melding” of Cordelia and the Fool (e.g., “And my poor fool is hanged! [5.3.306]). Though a full explanation of the reflections in these two scenes is beyond the scope of a post, I will point out that the chiastic design of the play and its scene divisions are based on the major characters in each scene; the reflection of Cordelia and the Fool thus has more support than the single scene pair might suggest.

 

An awareness of the chiastic design assists in more than determining scene boundaries. It highlights the commonalities between scenes and scene pairs that underpin groupings of scenes into larger sections. In this way it reveals the constructive strategies that Shakespeare used instead of the traditional five acts, which are, as marked in the plays, in every case misleading.

 

It is worth noting the Folio plays that exhibit a chiastic design though their scene divisions are routinely changed: King Lear, MM, Macbeth, 2 HIV.  Too often we think of Shakespeare as a little messy and careless, in need of our tinkering and improving. The Rorschach Shakespeare may inspire our creativity, but it diminishes the breadth of his genius and the precision of his artistry.

 

I would like to acknowledge Mark Rose’s indispensable Shakespearean Design as a guide to scene analysis and as the spark igniting my spatial approach. (It is unfortunate that the Hallett’s in Analyzing Shakespeare’s Action: Scene versus Sequence, chose to make Rose the whipping boy in their insistence on an exclusively temporal, narrative reading of Shakespeare. A full appreciation of Shakespeare requires both a temporal and spatial analysis.) For a full discussion of Shakespeare’s scene division and the chiastic outlines of the mature plays, see my Shakespeare’s Symmetries: The Mirrored Structure of Action in the Plays, McFarland, 2016.

 

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 9, 2019 at 4:19:21 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

Dear SHAKSPERians

 

As he says, Brian Vickers has indeed published much on Shakespearian authorship attribution using reason and logic. 

 

But his posting on SHAKSPER about “Shall I Die?” to which I was responding didn’t use reason and logic. Instead he simply quoted part of the poem and asserted the “universal disbelief” that it is good enough to be Shakespeare’s work. That is the “Behold!” method and it is unanswerable because it offers no evidence and makes no argument.

 

The evidence and argument in the New Oxford Shakespeare Authorship Companion about the 17th-century manuscript “Rawlinson Poetry 160”, which attributes “Shall I Die?” to Shakespeare, are new and have not been addressed in any of Vickers’s published works. I judged the evidence to be worth the space it took up in the “Datasets” section.

 

The approach to this poem taken in the New Oxford Shakespeare edition itself is uncontroversial. “Shall I Die?” appears in a section called “Poems Attributed to Shakespeare in Seventeenth-Century Miscellanies”, between “Shakespeare Upon a Pair of Gloves” and “Verses on the Stanley Tomb at Tong”.  The Third Edition of the Norton Complete Works, an entirely independent edition recently completed, includes “Shall I Die?” in a section called “Attributed Poems”, placing it first, before “Shakespeare Upon a Pair of Gloves” and “Verses on the Stanley Tomb at Tong”.

 

For all I know Vickers might be right now harranguing the Norton editors for publishing “Shall I Die?” in their complete works edition. If he isn’t harranguing them, then his animosity towards the New Oxford Shakespeare for how it treats this disputed poem is in danger of looking personally motivated.

 

Regards

Gabriel Egan

 

[7]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         January 10, 2019 at 5:49:35 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

Dear SHAKSPERians

 

Gerald E. Downs and Pervez Rizvi defend the practice of sticking with existing standards for naming early editions and counting acts, scenes, and lines even when new knowledge gives us reason to change our naming and counting practices, invoking for their arguments the desirability of maintaining a standard because doing so keeps past scholarship usable. I’d like here to show that what they propose in fact does intellectual violence to past scholarship, in order to advance my claim that less harm is done if we bite the bullet and rename and renumber things.

 

Downs argues that the discovery of an edition of 1H4 that is earlier than the one that had traditionally been labelled Q1 should cause us to name the discovery Q0 rather than calling it Q1 and renaming the existing Q1 as Q2, the existing Q2 as Q3, and so on. Sticking with the existing names, he writes, “allows F 1H4 derivation from Q5 to remain clear to all”. He means that we have existing scholarship (made before the discovery) that claims that Folio 1H4 derives from Q5, and this scholarship’s assertion will remain true so long as we don’t alter the sigla by renaming Q5 to Q6.

 

But think about what the existing scholarship actually asserts. The scholar who wrote that F 1H4 derives from Q5 meant that the Folio was derived from the fifth quarto edition; she had no foreknowledge that we were going to change the meaning of Q5 so that it would henceforth refer to the sixth edition. Downs’s solution to the problem created by the discovery retains the existing naming scheme at the cost of misrepresenting what scholars of the past were actually asserting in their writings.

 

Worse still, if for this one play we give up on the convention that the “1” in “Q1” means “first” and the “2” in “Q2” means “second” (as Downs proposes we do) then all the sigla for all the plays are thrown in doubt. We cannot confine to just 1H4 the harm done by this tweak to the standard.  Any reader looking at scholarly assertions about other plays (say, that Folio ‘King Lear’ is derived from Q2) will have to ask herself “are they counting from 0 or 1 in this case?”, that is, “is Q2 the second edition or the third, for ‘King Lear’?”. The existing convention that Downs’s tweak was supposed to conserve is in fact destroyed by that tweak, since an inconsistency has been introduced into the naming convention.

 

A final consideration is that such attempts to avoid renumbering by digging into the cellarage are unsustainable in the long term. What if an even earlier edition is discovered? Downs’s logic would require us to name it Q-1 (that is, “Q minus one”) in order to leave Q0 where it is.

 

The same objection about distorting past scholarship in the name of preserving it applies to Rizvi’s example of Kenneth Muir using the act/scene label of 5.7a in ‘Troilus and Cressida’ in order to impose a scene break where the Globe edition marked none (despite the clearing of the stage with “Exeunt”), while retaining compatibility with the Globe’s numbering. To make this work, Muir had to break with the convention that the first line of a scene is numbered as line 1. Instead, the first line of Muir’s scene 5.7a is numbered as line 9.

 

Consider the past scholarly assertions that are ‘broken’ by this attempt to retain compatibility with the Globe’s line numbering:

 

“Achilles, Menelaus, Paris, Thersites, and Margarelon appear in a single scene”. No longer true: Muir has put them in different scenes. This matters to anyone whose scholarship, perhaps under the influence of Emrys Jones’s Scenic Form in Shakespeare, treats the scene as the fundamental unit of dramatic construction. It also matters to theatre practitioners who organize their schedules around the rehearsal of scenic units.

 

“The opening stage direction of a scene is numbered as line 0”. No longer true: Muir numbers the opening stage direction of his scene 5.7a as “5.7a.8.1”, even though there is no line 8 in his scene 5.7a. That is, Muir’s opening stage direction to 5.7a is given the line number of the last line in the preceding scene. A reader who thinks she understands how line numbers are constructed and who is given the reference to Muir’s “5.7a.8.1” would naturally assume that this is a mid-scene direction but she’d be wrong because of Muir’s departure from the convention.

 

“The number of lines in a scene is equal to the line number of its last line”. No longer true: the last line of Muir’s 5.7a is numbered 23 but there are only 15 lines in it. A reader told that the final exit in 5.7a occurs on line 23 will have a false impression of the length of the scene.

 

The above consequences of Muir’s decision might not be important for one reader’s uses of an edition, but they might very well be important for another’s. The alleged advantage, though, is that Muir has retained compatibility with the Globe line numbering. Thus Rizvi writes that “. . . if a reader picks up a Globe reference in some book or article, say 5.7.10, she does not need to do anything different: she just starts at the beginning of scene 5.7 in Muir and moves her finger down the right margin to the line numbered 10”.

 

Even this advantage is illusory, however. Line 5.7.10 in the Globe edition is “at it. Now, bull! now dog! ‘Loo, Paris, loo!”. But line 5.7a.10 in Muir’s edition is “Now, bull! Now, dog! ‘Loo, Paris! ‘Loo now, my double-“. Because the speech is in prose, the lineation of Muir’s single-column edition is different from the lineation of the Globe’s double-column edition. A reader directed to look at Thersites’ interesting use of the phrase “at it” in line 5.7.10 (using a Globe-based reference) won’t find it there in Muir’s edition since it is 9 lines down in his edition, not 10.

 

In defence of modern editions using the Globe numbering, Rizvi remarks that “The most important point about a referencing system is that we should all use the same one”.  Trouble is, we can’t. Unless all new editions are going to be printed in the narrow columns of the Globe edition, line-number references are going to be thrown off by the relineation of prose passages. The ambition of a single act-scene-line numbering to rule them all is unattainable.

 

Rather than sticking to the numbering that a set of sensible rules happened to produce in a popular edition of the 1860s, and thereby departing from the very rules that produced that numbering, we should instead stick to the sensible rules and let the numbers change as new circumstances dictate. That is the only way to maintain a standard.

 

Regards

Gabriel Egan

 

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

Date:         January 10, 2019 at 5:52:53 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

Dear SHAKSPERians

 

In defence of naming formats instead of persons in sigla, Al Magary writes “Book format is exactly the product of human agency while coping with economics (e.g., cost of paper, compositor pay)”. I’d be grateful if he could indicate what he thinks economics has to do with book format, as this may help us understand why we disagree. Also, in his challenge “For speed in reading galleys of type (upside and backwards), I’ll take on anyone” it would help my understanding if could clarify what he means by reading galleys of type being “upside and backwards”.  These are genuine enquiries: I’m not being facetious.

 

Regards

Gabriel Egan

 

 

 

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