The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.132 Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Date: March 20, 2019 at 1:55:25 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Hamlet Q1
Gerald Baker remarks:
when [Brian Vickers] questions Maguire’s approach to the 1603 quarto, saying "How can we put Q1 Hamlet on 'an equal footing' with Q2, of which it is an attempted clone?" and referring to Q2 as “the authorised edition” he is assuming (it seems to me) and using as part of his argument that which the argument seeks to demonstrate.
I think Vickers is not arguing this position but agreeing with critics. Many too easily accept Q2 copy as holograph and ‘authorized’ goes too far.
If Shakespeare’s name as author ‘authorises’ Q2, then . . . it ‘authorises’ Q1 as well. Scholars may argue for the inferiority of the Q1 text, but one can’t invoke WS’s name on Q2 as part of a demonstration of any perceived Q1 inferiority and Q2 superiority.
The title pages are not good evidence of authorship or playing companies for these issues, either way.
I do not understand the logic by which the n-grams and collocations listed on Brian’s website are here regarded as indicators of actors’ memories being contaminated by other repertory items while in other cases lists . . . are regarded as proof of common authorship.
Generally, parallels need evaluation. There can be added signs of borrowing beyond mere collocation. The borrowed words may not fit the Q1 context, or they may be close enough to Q2 phrasing to have called them to the actor’s or a reconstructor’s memory. Even distant Q2 passages could be involved because Q1 transposes so much. Van Dam lists a few instances. Many parallels ought to be regarded first as borrowings, not proof of common authorship.
Brian suggests that [Marcellus] is “the most accurate reporter (probably because he had access to his own ‘part’)----my emphasis, to indicate that the argument has shifted from certainty to only likelihood. Given the conclusion that Brian comes to, that the postulated reconstruction was . . . by a group of actors, it seems illogical to place so much emphasis on Marcellus’s role . . .
I doubt any need for actors’ parts in the memorial run-up to Q1; that can’t be proved.
The [MR] theory allows for convenient explanations of difficult scripts and thus removes any need for actually engaging imaginatively with such scripts: but as hard evidence the script is what we have and we are bound to see if we can make sense of that script theatrically before invoking a hypothesis to explain its difference from another version of a play
One may “engage imaginatively” with Q1 before or after. Whether it makes sense theatrically doesn’t make the evidence of corrupt memorial transmission go away. Q1 worthiness in anyone’s imagination runs a poor second to evidence that it is derivative and corrupt in the main.
We are being asked to believe that none of [the King’s men] could remember their parts with sufficient accuracy to produce a closer or more correct version of a popular, recognizable play that was no more than three years old and probably less.
Q1 is obviously memorial but this proposal can’t be right, I agree. However, the play’s dating is not all that free of preconceptions.
They ordered these things differently, it seems, at the Admiral’s, where presumably Alleyn retained his script as Greene’s Orlando, to have it turn up centuries later in the Dulwich papers......)
A bad Orlando quarto turned up in 1594. Maguire declined comparison to the player’s part, as I recall, though Greg wrote a book about the two. All such cases should be kept in mind because their features are often repeated. Orlando seems to have been played by competing companies and the quarto must be a shorthand report of the shortened play. The relationship between extant texts, though certain, isn’t really clear. A long history in a short time.
If there was a need to construct a version of Hamlet, surely the author would be an obvious person to include in the project.
Surely not, if it was someone else’s project.
[Vickers’s] . . . argument would also need to take into account why the succeeding longer version (Q2) was entrusted to one of the publishers of the ‘unauthorized’ quarto. . . . I can’t envisage a path that convinces me it would lead to a collaborative reconstruction in ‘02 by major players in Shakespeare’s acting company.
Hirell’s article on the Stationers’ ‘Roberts memoranda’ is good. Roberts had entered Hamlet, which was ‘stayed.’ If Q1 popped up unannounced, the publishers would reconcile their claims; players wouldn’t be involved.
Bourus concludes that the “errors of logic and evidence” in Irace’s work (and also Petersen’s) “are endemic to all nineteenth- and twentieth theories of memorial reconstruction.” That’s why she doesn’t additionally address Duthie or Hart. . . .
Bourus skirted issues and relied on Maguire, as I’d guessed. However, I agree that MR is a faulty theory.
[T]here is a big gap between positions on Q1, and I’d like to think it’s bridgeable but fear it’s not. On the one hand, proponents of the idea that it is a seriously corrupt text: as far as I can see, their only interest in the book is in trying to identify the medium and agent(s) of corruption. On the other, holders of a position that there is no ostensible reason to assume derivation or inferiority in the book: for them (again, as far as I can see) their interest takes in the book’s publication history and the affects and performativity of the text it contains. I guess I lean much more towards this group . . .
The first interest is in manifest Q1 corruption. Part of textual analysis is to question how it came about; it’s not “assumed” but inferred from passage after passage. Dissenters avoid evidence. Q1 is a travesty; does acknowledgment mean less playable? In light of Q2/F, yes: ‘not capon crammed’ performativity is questionable.
Gerald E. Downs