Recommendations for Associate Editor and Upcoming Hiatus

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.210  Monday, 24 July 2017


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

Date:        Monday, July 24, 2017

Subject:   Recommendations for Associate Editor and Upcoming Hiatus 


Dear Subscribers,


I have not received any applications for Associate Editor. I did receive one from someone who would assist but did not have the credentials that I desire for one I would hand over SHAKSPER to when I decide to give it up.


I recently had a significant birthday that made me reflect on my own mortality, so I am doubly concerned about the future of SHAKSPER. I cannot go on forever.


Consequently, I am changing my plea. If anyone knows of an advanced Graduate Student or tenure-track Assistant Professor who you might recommend as a possible replacement for me, please contact that person and have her send a CV and letter of interest to me. 


Along these lines, I am going to England for the last module in the Bodhi College Committed Practitioners’ Programme that I have been enrolled in for the past two years. I will leave late August 2 and return late August 9.




The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.209  Friday, 14 July 2017


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

Date:         July 13, 2017 at 5:52:13 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER:


Responding to Gerald E. Downs.  Q: 


The problem with is that they charge a fee from students/scholars/people in general who want to download our materials without joining the site.  How we may feel about a site being able to profit from our work will likely vary, but I was not happy about it.  While I still have a site there, I removed my articles and left directions for anyone interested to download my articles for free from MLA-Humanities Commons.  See which also allows you to build a website, but will not charge you for it. has started charging its users for various services like web sites and their enhanced analytics data. 


All best,



Cristina León Alfar, PhD

Associate Professor

Hunter College, CUNY




Oscar Isaac’s Hamlet

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

Date:         Friday, July 14, 2017

Subject:    Oscar Isaac’s Hamlet


The Greatest of Danes, as Oscar Isaac Takes On ‘Hamlet’


By Ben Brantley

JULY 13, 2017


Who’s afraid of “Hamlet”? Certainly not the director Sam Gold, whose gloriously involving new production at the Public Theater treats Shakespeare’s daunting tragedy with an easy, jokey familiarity that’s usually reserved for siblings and longtime drinking buddies.


As in such relationships, Mr. Gold and his top-flight cast — led by a majestically impudent Oscar Isaac in the title role — tease and tweak the object of their affections, which happens to be the best-known play in English literature and one of the knottiest. But that’s because the creative team here obviously knows and loves its “Hamlet” so very well.


Hamlet famously tells his mother that he is cruel only to be kind. Mr. Gold’s production is disrespectful only out of a profound and deeply humane respect. It’s an attitude that pumps gusty air into the musty corridors of the royal castle at Elsinore. And the show’s intimidating four hours pass as quickly as a night at a bar with some of the best storytellers you’ve ever met.


Staged in the Public’s tiny Anspacher space, this “Hamlet,” which opened on Thursday night, invites you to get close to its doomed characters — almost as close as Hamlet is to his Ophelia when he lays his head in her lap. But we have an advantage over Ophelia (embodied with heartbreaking incomprehension by Gayle Rankin, in a breakout performance), whom Hamlet must keep in the dark as to his real intentions.


We, on the other hand, are taken directly into the tortured prince’s confidence. And when Mr. Isaac confides, we listen. . . . 


He demonstrates an even greater verbal nimbleness as a Hamlet who uses wordplay as a sword, fending off invasive intimacy. He’s an overgrown student who, you suspect, has lived largely in his own mind for most of his life. But just before the story begins, Hamlet’s father has died. And Mr. Isaac’s performance is informed, above all, by Hamlet’s startled awakening to the cosmic mystery — and biological fact — of death.


[ . . . ]


On the night I saw “Hamlet,” our pre-performance warm-up man was no less a personage than Keegan-Michael Key, half of the inspired comedy team Key and Peele, who asked us to shout out that we were doing all right. (Mr. Key soon rematerialized as a most convincing Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend.)


[ . . . ]


Even when they start to speak Shakespeare’s words — starting with an opening scene in the pitch dark, set on the castle battlements — they sound very 21st-century. Many of their observations are pitched directly to us, as if the audience were their grievance committee.


This has the effect of declassifying, as it were, speeches so classic that they have calcified in the collective imagination. The language’s beauty is always secondary here to what the characters want — no, need — to express, both to one another and to themselves. And the troubled relationships of the extended family of Elsinore have rarely read so clearly or affectingly.


[ . . . ]


Charlayne Woodard is a regally ambivalent Gertrude, whose fatally divided loyalties to her son, Hamlet, and her husband, Claudius, are always in tremulous evidence. The crafty actor Peter Friedman is at the top of his game as both the officious Polonius and a vaudevillian gravedigger.

Anatol Yusef is splendid as a pugilistic Laertes and a lyrical Player King; and Roberta Colindrez and Matthew Saldívar are teamed to piquant effect as a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who, for once, don’t disappear into the woodwork.


Some interpolations give pause. Do we really need to see Polonius sitting on the toilet? Or Ophelia bingeing and purging with a big dish of baked pasta? Or syringes substituted for the usual swords and daggers? I totally bought Hamlet’s running around in his underpants for his “antic disposition” scenes. (And, by the way, this production completely grasps the comedy, as well as the tragedy, of “Hamlet.”)


[ . . . ]


This production daringly has him delivering the beginning of his “to be or not to be” soliloquy while laid out on a table, like a corpse on a bier, trying on sweet oblivion for size. Being dead is not a natural fit for him, of course, not yet.


But while Hamlet’s relationships with others — with his family, and with Ophelia, Horatio and even Laertes — are all compellingly and persuasively rendered, it’s a dead man to whom he is most magnetically drawn. Whenever this Hamlet sees his father’s ghost, his face turns rapt and wondrous.


And it is impossible not to feel that universal ache of longing for connection with those who left the world before us, who still speak to us in our heads; to erase forever the line between the quick and the dead.




Texts of King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.207  Thursday, 13 July 2017


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

Date:         July 4, 2017 at 7:57:17 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Texts of King Lear


These are my last posts on Q1 2.4 and its F additions (blue) and alterations (red), from the Blayney/Stone/Vickers continuum. I had intended shorter, separate analyses. I appreciate Hardy's patience: 


                             Enter Lear and Gloster.

   Lear. Denie to speake with mee, th'are sicke, th'are

They traueled hard to night, meare Iustice fetches, (weary,

I the Images of reuolt and flying off,

Fetch mee a better answere.

   Glost. My deere Lord, you know the fierie qualitie of the

Duke, how vnremoueable and fixt he is in his owne Course.  90

Lear. Vengeance, death Plague, plague Death, confusion, what fierie quality,

Fiery? What quality?

why Gloster, Gloster, id'e speake with the Duke of Cornewall, and [E4v, outer]

his wife.

   [Glo.  Well my good Lord, I haue inform’d them so.

    Lear. Inform’d them? Do’st thou vnderstand me man.]

   Glost. I my good Lord.

   Lear. The King would speak with Cornewal, the deare father

Would with his daughter speake, commands her , tends, seruice,

[Are they inform’d of this? My breath and blood:]

Fierie Duke, tell the hot Duke that Lear,                                100

Fiery? The fiery Duke, tell the hot Duke that ---------

. . .

Goe Tell the Duke and's wife, Ile Il’d speake with them

Now presently, bid them come forth and heare me,

Or at their chamber doore ile beat the drum,

Till it cry sleepe to death.

   Glost. I would haue all well betwixt you.

   Lear. O me my heart, my rising heart. But downe.

   Foole. Cry to it Nunckle, as the Cokney did to the eeles, when

she put vm it h pâst aliue, she rapt vm knapt ‘em ath coxcombs with a stick,

and cryed downe wantons downe, twas her brother, that in pure 120

kindnes to his horse buttered his hay.


Earlier I’ve discussed both my agreement with Blayney on F’s derivation of ‘Fiery? The fiery Duke’ from Q miscorrection and my inference that F’s ‘commands, tends, seruice’ conflates Qu’s ‘come and tends seruise’ with Q2’s ‘commands her seruice’(from Qc). Uncorrected Q1 intended come and tend’s, just as ‘the Duke and’s wife’ means and his. F is understandably helpless in printing house mix-ups resulting in two faulty versions from which to choose.


Stone posits Gloster’s and Lear’s F additions as augmenting ‘I my good Lord.’ “That [the initial two] lines did not belong to the original text is shown by their association with the next addition . . . to suppose that both passages were omitted from Q would be virtually to assume a method and purpose in the omissions” (241). But if a separate Q omission had to be restored, the three lines would not be missed (by readers) if removed to obtain space. For example, eyeskip from one ‘Cornewall’ to the other would also omit two of the added F lines; removal of a third (‘Are they inform’d . . .’) allows room for a partial Q foul proof restoration. Some such accident and repair explains otherwise unlikely “revision” in the running stream of corruption in an obvious reprint. It’s not as if the lines couldn’t belong: expendable in a pinch, they were recovered in F; or so my hypothesis goes.



My last on Lear 2.4; Vickers’s One Lear led Blayney to impart his long-withheld conclusions on Q1 printing, which actually support Sir Brian’s hypothesis that Q printer’s copy was more like a Q/F conflation than recently supposed. Special circumstances in printing and reprinting a report indicate that F restored Q omissions. Upcoming editions (Variorum & Oxford) will probably stick to mistaken assumptions and resultant theories but a full statement of probabilities can wait on their publication. Q1 2.4:   


                                    . . . no you vnnaturall hags,

I will haue such reuenges on you both,

That all the world shall, I will doe such things,

What they are yet I know not, but they shalbe

The terrors of the earth, you thinke ile weepe, [F3r, outer]

No ile not weepe, I haue full cause of weeping,   280

But this heart shall breake, in a 100. thousand flowes

Or ere ile weepe, O foole I shall goe mad.

                      Exeunt Lear, Leister, Kent, and Foole.

   Duke. Let vs withdraw, twill be a storme.

   Reg. This house is little the old man and his people,

Cannot be well bestowed.

   Gon. Tis his own blame hath put himselfe from rest,

And must needs tast his folly.

   Reg. For his particuler, ile receiue him gladly,

But not one follower.                                                           290

   Duke. Gon. So am I puspos'd, where is my Lord of Gloster?            Enter Glo.

   Reg. Corn. Followed the old man forth, he is return'd.

   Glo. The King is in high rage, & wil I know not whe-    293

   Re. Corn. Tis good best to giue him way, he leads himselfe.(ther.


  [Glo. The King is in high rage.

   Corn. Whether is he going?

   Glo.  He cals to Horse, but will I know not whether.]   


   Gon. My Lord, intreat him by no meanes to stay.

   Glo. Alack the night comes on, and the bleak winds

Do sorely russel, for many miles about ther's not scarce a bush.

   Reg. O sir, to wilfull men

The iniuries that they themselues procure,        300

Must be their schoolemasters, shut vp your doores,

He is attended with a desperate traine,

And what they may incense him to, being apt,

To haue his eare abusd, wisedome bids feare.

   Duke. Shut vp your doores my Lord, tis a wild night, 305

My Reg counsails well . . .    Exeũt


Stone was convinced that redundant F additions are non-authorial, though his explanations are incautious: Q1 l. 293, “being hypermetrical, the reviser has split it . . . and, with the interpolated matter, makes . . . pentameters. Since the plot involves frequent journeys on horseback, he probably felt it safe to introduce the detail . . . . Subsequent events [show Lear] on foot” (242).


Hypermetrical lines are usually corrupt, pentameters correct. 3.1 shows Lear left an entourage that hadn’t departed afootback. With little reason for revision, F recovery is a likely alternative.


If outer F proofing wasn’t in reference to copy (Blayney), mishaps would compound. The margin was set by “quotation quadrants” that minimized space metal but cramped longer verse lines. Such a quad was used to set Gloster’s entry in the far right margin (a standard location for the device but here expediently supplying an entry missing from the text).


F and Q ascriptions (for Cornwall, Regan, and Goneril) play musical jeers. We shouldn’t assume correct/incorrect or alternate authorial versions; theatrical reporting of multiple speakers is conjectural without dialogue indication. Arden3 credits the “F editor,” implying non-authorial assignment. But both texts must be taken into account. Of course, Leister’s exit with Lear is a red flag. If a compositor failed to note Gloster’s reentry (whose line is squeezed in) or if he set line 291 as two (with two speakers, and included the set direction, Q1 evidence is consistent with reduction by a line. The F-only reading itself comprises a line-and-a-half and two prefixes. By omitting the Duke’s ‘Whether is he going’ and Gloster’s ‘He cals to Horse,’ Q1 will have made room for two lines, should we ‘reason the need.’


Experience shows eyeskip occurs almost anywhere, often to be caught by copyists themselves. For example, skipping from Regan’s to Cornwall’s ‘Shut up your doors . . .’ (301, 305) eliminates three lines while ‘My Reg counsails well’ warns that she is no longer the speaker. But proofing a filled-up forme would require reference to copy and room-making. Here’s possible (though not suggested) Q copy after speakers were assigned (some by the stenographer—mine in blue) and as Bordeaux predicts (where lineation, punctuation, and set directions were ignored and where words were turned up or down for placing some prefixes in the left margin):


no ile not weepe I haue full cause of weeping but this heart

shall breake in a 100 thousand flowes or ere ile weepe O foole

I shall goe mad )Duke )Let vs withdraw twill be a storme (bestowed

    Reg  this house is little the old man and his people cannot be well

    Gon tis his own blame hath put himselfe from rest and must needs tast

   Reg    for his particuler ile receiue him gladly but not one follower (his folly

  Duke so am I purpos'd  )Regan) where is my Lord of Glo   [290]         (rage

 Reg Duke followed the old man forth, he is return'd  )Glo  ) the king is in high

  Duke  whether is he going )Glo ) he cals to Horse but will I know not whether

 Re Duke Gon [?] Tis good to giue him way he leads himselfe

 Gon Reg my Lord intreat him by no meanes to stay )Glo) alack the night comes

on and the bleak winds do sorely russel for many miles about ther's not

  Reg     O sir, to wilfull men the iniuries that they themselues procure  (a bush

must be their schoolemasters shut vp your doores he is attended with a

desperate traine and what they may incense him to being apt to haue his

eare abusd wisedome bids feare )Duke) shut vp your doores my Lord tis

a wild night my Reg counsails well come out at'h storme    Exeũt


In this imagined circumstance, Cornwall has consecutive marginal prefixes (all guesses). If the Q1 compositor missed out Duke whether . . . whether’, the easiest fix would be to add ‘& wil I know not whether’ to Gloster’s initial line, for which there’s little room. Repairing the lines, F would shuffle speakers, though Cornwall and Regan seem to rule this neck of the prairie.


Restoration of a substitute omission remote from an initial eyeskip can’t be proved. Revision is contradicted rather by dense, anomalous Q1 and numerous F additions more suited to earlier text. Still, eyeskip occurs enough to suggest other instances. At F2v, Blayney’s “correction in some fashion” may include “miscorrection of a particular kind [that] from the proof-reader’s point of view [is] misinterpreting the instructions . . . or carrying them out imperfectly” (221):


   Lear. O reason not the deed need . . .

Allow not nature more than nature needes,

Mans life as cheape as beasts, thou art a Lady,

If onely to goe warm were gorgeous,    [Q1, 2.4.265?]

Why nature needes not, what thou gorgeous wearest

Which scarcely keepes the warm . . .


Furness cites Walker on the first gorgeous, who “doubts if this word be the correct one.” I’m with him, though editors assume meaning merely because it’s ‘Shakespeare.’ If the copy read, ‘If only to go warm were what thou needst’; a skip to ‘what thou gorgeous wearest’ would be caught in proofing. But confusion about the error’s cause and repair could lead to interpolating  ‘gorgeous,/Why nature needs not,’ instead of ‘what thou needst,/Why nature needes not,’ (or whatnot).


Gerald E. Downs





The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.206  Thursday, 13 July 2017


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

Date:         July 4, 2017 at 9:30:27 PM EDT



I joined more than two years ago but true to form never got around to using it. Now I learn that some are protesting its role as a privately held “open source” entity.


My “Pay to Play” notions went out with $20 lift tickets so I wasn’t curious about the outfit’s late $ervice offers. But uploading one’s work seems like a good idea.


Now others are raising questions about profit, peer review, copyright, favoritism, etc. What do Shaksperians think about the site?


I’ve always felt that a moderated list (such as HOPOS) would be best for open discussion of Shakespeare.


It’s hard to imagine a less efficient operation than Lear scholarship of the last 35 years.


Gerald E. Downs




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