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Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0326  Thursday, 20 September 2018


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

Date:         September 20, 2018 at 1:27 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand


I may be biting off more than I want to chew, but I’m going to engage with Gerald’s latest post about Bordeaux


Gerald makes things difficult by quoting lines in a mixed-up order. First, he quotes 308, then he goes to 646, then he goes backward to 643, then further back to 310, then forward again to 651, repeating some lines he has already quoted. Neither does it help that the words are given in original spelling. I expect most people here are fluent in original spelling, but Bordeaux spelling is more eccentric than most, so why not help us by modernizing it? The only reason not to do so is if the spelling itself is evidence of shorthand. If that’s the reason then please (a) modernize everything except the words that are evidence of shorthand, and (b) explain why they are evidence of shorthand, because it’s not self-evident.


I have done the best I could to put the lines in order of line number, and modernize the text:


[Lines 308...]

FERD. Let magic be a means to get me grace of lovely Rosaline,

And I will make thee partner of my wealth.


Then all my love is buried up in loss.

VAND. Not so, my Lord, we’ll have another plot.

Where wealth wins not a woman unto love,

There rather is abundance or contempt.

But let that damsel be oppressed with want,

Touch her with need and that will make her shrink


[Lines 643...]

VAND. Nay, stay my gracious Lord.

Even now my promise past shall be performed

And Rosaline, whose rigor wronged your heart,

Shall by my art be enforced to love.

FERD. Ah, Vandermast, thou flower of Germany,

Famous for cunning, favor me so much

To get me grace of lovely Rosaline,

And I will make thee partner of my wealth.

I will - what will I?

VAND. Tut, tut, my Lord. 

Your oaths are lovers’ oaths, too soon forgot. 

I break no promise to one oath you swear.

But sit you down, and while you feed on spleen,


After correcting what I have done, could Gerald please answer a genuine question? In what way is this passage evidence of shorthand reporting?


Pervez Rizvi 


Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0325  Wednesday, 19 September 2018


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

Date:         September 18, 2018 at 10:17 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Young Hamlet and Shorthand


Tiffany Stern claims shorthand evidence for Q1 Hamlet; Terri Bourus cites William Matthews: “As an historian of shorthand objected, 80 years before Stern’s essay was published, ‘always there is a far simpler explanation’” (YH, 87). Bourus misleads readers because Matthews wasn’t generalizing but discussing specific, non-Hamlet evidence advanced by another writer: “Often the shorthand solution suggested by Levy is wrong, and always there is a far simpler explanation” (M, 247). Matthews begins his next paragraph: “Alphabetic shorthand, and in particular . . . Willis’s stenography, deserve better treatment than they have so far received.” He further suggests:


In the absence of concrete evidence . . . probabilities incline one to the belief that Willis’s stenography of 1602 is unconnected with the earlier bad quartos, although the labor of examining [Q1s] Hamlet and Pericles in connection with his system might be well repaid. (248)


Even today, shorthand and Shakespeareans deserve better. ‘Alternative solutions’ should be weighed; for example, van Dam remarks:


It cannot be denied that these mistakes may be due to the spoken words being misunderstood. But this need not be the case; they are by no means characteristic of the reporter, for the printer and even the scribe, as we have . . . pointed out, make exactly the same mistakes. (8)


For a particular ‘suspect,’ the issue must be what serves as ‘concrete evidence.’ The unlikely discovery of stenographic notes means next-best evidence is a first transcription of a reported playtext. Even so, any concretion must rely on textual and bibliographical inferences that alternative explanations—if any—fall short or are overtaxed in circumstances requiring their accommodation of all relevant evidence. I think John of Bordeaux is such a play. I would like to hear from any in agreement or not as I run through some pertinent passages. I’ve tried to elicit comment from more scholars than I cared to ask—with almost no response. I believe one example can overcome generations of naysaying; years in the making of expert stenographers must yield years of reporting—and many texts do follow the Bordeaux template.


Writing of stenographic reporting and “early modern consumers”, Terri Bourus asserts that “evidently no one believed that such a text could adequately represent a full-length play” (YH, 83). If John of Bordeaux is a transcription—as strong, convergent evidence evidently indicates—players preparing the manuscript for performance vouch for adequacy as testimony cannot.


Playtext dialogue repetition can be memorially transmitted; alternatives up to theatrical reporting are subject to (con)textual analysis. In Bordeaux (Greene’s Friar Bacon Part 2, sole MS. copy), lines 308-09, ‘Iarman’ Prince Ferdinand asks magician Vandermast to ‘let magick be amenes to get me grace of Lovlie Rossaline / and I will mak the partener of my wellth’; a request repeated more than 300 lines later (my verse / lining):


   ffer     a vandermast thow flower of Iermani, / famous for cunning  646

  favor me so much / to gett me grace of Lovlie Rossalin /

  and I will make the partener of my welth / I will what will I /

   vand   tut tut my lord your othes ar Lovers othes / to sone forgot / 

  I [bre?]ak no promes to one othe you swere                     650


In preceding lines, Vandermast’s extrametrical vocative helps to reassure the gracious Ferdy:


nay stay my gratious Lord / even now my promis past shalbe

pformd / and Rossalin whos rigore wronged yor hart

shall by my arte inforced be to love                     645


Vandermast had earlier (310ff) nixed Ferdinand’s request ‘to get me . . . Rossalin’ as a match-making bust; but he now reminds the prince of his promise to force her ‘grace’:


    Ross]fferd   then all my love is buried vp in losse

    Vand   not so my Lord welle have another plot, / where weallth

        wines not a woman vnto love / ther rather is a boundaunce

        [in] or contempt, / but let that damsell be opprest with wante

        tuch her with ned and that will mak her shrincke . . .        316


When Vandermast recalls his promise at 643, ‘Ferdinand’ mistakenly repeats his earlier response; aware of the error, he asks his ‘fellow’ for help—who laughs it off as a literally forgotten oath:


favor me so much to get me grace of Lovely Rosaline

and I will make thee partner of my wealth . . .

I will . . . what will I?

    Vand.      tut tut, my Lord,

your oaths are lover’s oaths too soon forgot

I break no promise to one oath you swear; but sit you down

and while you feed on spleen . . .                651


Despite errors of transmission, Greene’s verse is notably regular; both performance and report are well done. Speech prefixes in bold were added by revisers planning a new performance. Tellingly (with many instances), the scribe’s ‘Ross[acler] is corrected to ‘Ferdinand’ at 312: Rossacler was John of Bordeaux’s (and Rossaline’s) son. Somehow, S thought the name refers to the German King Frederick’s son, through line 338. Both sons join the grouped entry at 409, as dialogue finally identifies Rossacler as Bordeaux’s boy at 487/496. These ascriptions—together with all back-filled entries—confirm (with other evidence) that speeches were assigned from dialogue, and often written afterward.


Other evidence conforms to shorthand transmission—as theorized before or learned from this text: no verse lining, little punctuation, and actor-error were supposed; but speech headings reliant on dialogue are largely unappreciated. Many features throughout indicate transmission of unusual form.


I’ve written to two noted theatrical historians who replied that they’re not textual scholars. Can these disciplines be separated? Chettle and Holland are recorded making history within this very manuscript. Which company bought Greene’s stolen play? The fact that Shakespeare’s plays are extant only in print doesn’t simplify but obscures history. I’ll note more reasons to believe Bordeaux is a shorthand report.


Gerald E. Downs


Review of Davenant's Macbeth Performed at the Folger

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0324  Monday, 17 September 2018


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

Date:        September 16, 2018 at 12:06 AM EDT

Subject:    Review of Davenant's Macbeth Performed at the Folger


Dear all,


In my review, I compare Davenant to Shakespeare and describe the production. My verdict is to hurry out and see it if you are anywhere near or if it comes near you in some form.


Pepys’s observation in 1667 is appropriate:


a most excellent play in all respects, but especially in divertisement, though it be a deep tragedy, which is a strange perfection in a tragedy, it being most proper here, and suitable."


Ellen Moody


Re: Young Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0324  Monday, 17 September 2018


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

Date:         September 14, 2018 at 11:43 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Young Hamlet


I began a reply to Gerald Baker on the Young Hamlet thread. I appreciate his interest, which I hope will continue through my discussion of John of Bordeaux.


Downs’s posting on 3rd August (if you want to look at the speeches without . . . ellipses . . . speeches are on sig. B4r in Q1, C1r-v in Q2).


I advocate first sources and accessible editions. Hardy’s post-length great offender, I rely on ‘. . .’


such transposition cannot prove corruption if there is another possible cause . . .


Single instances can be powerful evidence; the case against Q1 is also furthered by the numbers in each corruption category. The Qs provide many instances; other possible causes are overworked.


Downs suggests “…the player of Hamlet probably learned the lines as in Q1.” 

Is he saying that the Q1 speech is an accurate transcript of what the player spoke? [Yes, probably.] [Then] the corruption . . . stems from the player—in which case we’re not far from [MR], except in [MR] the player is remembering inaccurately, and in this case the player would be learning inaccurately . . .


To reiterate (imo), Q1 must be bad MR badly performed and theatrically reported. I cite van Dam’s analysis by which he supported shorthand transmission. He attributes some Q1 corruption to ‘revisers,’ who I think were ‘reconstructors.’ He neglects that possibility. My concept for a good while has been to ‘conflate’ reconstructor-memory and performer-memory. Van Dam’s arguments apply to both and it is hard to know which agent is responsible for which error. However, some mistakes can really only be explained by performance, as Leartes’s, ‘I will . . .’ Van Dam asserts that no writer or rewriter would originate (or transpose) such a senseless line at that spot; therefore, it was an actor’s muff. That’s why I quote his argument. In Q2, to ‘stay’ means to ‘support’—not to ‘stop’ (though in each case meaning derives from to ‘hold up’ (see Schmidt—and Clarence in R3 1.4). Moreover, the King puts the dialogue back on track. I’m going to show a similar sequence in Bordeaux.


In the instance where Baker objects to my ‘probably’, van Dam notes that the player managed to get all the elements into the speech, but in the wrong order. I suppose that would happen in a reconstruction phase, when the reporter had time to wrack his memory; an actor is unlikely to succeed as well onstage. That’s why I say he probably learned the lines as the original reporter remembered. Q1 is too corrupt for simple explanation. 


(I assume . . . GD reckons the ‘correct’ version of the speech is something close to the Q2 version [right] if . . . that were also significantly corrupted, then we are in total freefall).


Q1 is far more corrupt than F or Q2.


The player . . . is presumably Richard Burbage . . . is GD saying that [he] . . . was incapable . . .?


The ‘Hamlet’ associated with Q2/F would not be associated with the corrupt Q1 performance. That is, the players were not the King’s Men. However, we can only know how good they were by shorthand reporting (our only time machine, which some doubt).


1st August, he considers Bourus’s critique of van Dam [64-8]. He says that she “seems not [to] have seen his book . . .” That’s actually a pretty insulting accusation . . .


An inference. Van Dam treats theatrical reporting, as readers must know. Bourus assumes he’s arguing MR: misleading her readers, especially at the given passage. Scholarship is subject to criticism. Bourus herself seems to believe in harsh criticism; I presume she enjoys correction, as all should. 


[GD] talks of phrases ‘missed out’ in Q1 . . . The phrases are absent from Q1: he has to demonstrate that they should have been there and suggest the agency by which they came to be absent: to say something is ‘missed out’ is to assume that which is to be proven.


This mistakes my (unclear) suggestion. Laertes’s ‘My will . . .’ is obviously transposed to later in Q1 than in Q2, as van Dam saw. The player knew the line, but Q1 dialogue somehow kept him from delivery in the proper spot; renewal of ‘revenge’ talk induced his later error. I agree with van Dam that the line is senseless as transposed, but is good evidence of theatrical reporting. That’s inference, not assumption. Q1 is proven a travesty to most who study the evidence. 


5th August, he lambasted Bourus [who, I claim] “neglects textual evidence, confuses issues, and too readily trusts authority.” If anyone is “too readily trust[ing] authority” in this discussion, it is not Bourus: she is not the person citing one author over and over again---she engages with many writers, ancient and modern, in the course of her book.


I cite Jenkins and van Dam, who argue the texts rather fully. Bourus cites Maguire, who disallows all comparisons. Bourus follows suit, as I supposed she would. My citations point to actual analysis, most of which I support. Pervez rightly cites Duthie, who argues MR. Van Dam is worthy of citation, especially as a supporter of shorthand theory.


 [GD]: “interpolation in Shakespeare’s days and plays seems reasonable enough; it’s a matter of evidence and literary judgment.” But said evidence is only ‘apparent’: and ‘literary judgment’----well, that’s where authority and experience and subjectivism come in……


I cite Jenkins on F interpolation and van Dam on Q2, who also analyzes Q1. Textual analysis is literary judgment. I agree with their analyses, usually. Even Bourus seems to acknowledge interpolations. Jenkins says we ought to face up to them, and I agree.


I understand that . . . there may lie a whole system of thought [about Shakespeare corruption,] . . . but if so a reader . . . needs to be convinced that it’s [worthwhile] to inspect that larger system, and on the evidence so far presented in this thread (and others) GD has not convinced me to spend my time on it.


Most Shakespearians aren’t curious about corrupt text. For example, Scott McMillin argues Q1 Othello is (in effect) a memorial report. I agree. Of course, I don’t insist on others’ interest. Q1 is a bad quarto; I’ve written up the “Bad Quarto That Never Reached Print” (as Hoppe called John of Bordeaux). I ask Gerald Baker to consider my SB 58 article and some postings now, then get back to me: is Bordeaux a shorthand report? If not, why not? 


Gerald E. Downs


BSA - Membership Renewals 2018/19 Update

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0323  Friday, 14 September 2018


From:        José A. Pérez Díez 

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

Date:         September 14, 2018 at 4:34 AM EDT

Subject:    BSA - Membership Renewals 2018/19 Update


Dear Members and Friends,

Our new website, with its new system for handling renewals and accessing content, is almost ready to launch. However, we still need a few days to make sure that it is working correctly. I will email you again at the beginning of next week to give instructions of how to process your membership renewal. Please bear with us while we finish this major upgrade to our web presence and membership system.

The new system will simplify the way members access their membership details, including their membership number, and our exclusive members' area and online journal facilities. You will all have a unique password to log into the website and access a dedicated ‘My account’ profile page on which you will be able to update your contact details and to renew your membership. The greatest change is that we will no longer be using PayPal, and all payments will be processed directly on our website using credit and debit cards. During the process of switching to the new system, myself and our Webmaster will be available to handle any email queries. 

In the meantime, all existing members (2017/18) will still enjoy access to the old website and contents. There is a small backlog of new and renewed memberships that will be processed manually once the new system is in place. I can only apologise again for the inconvenience. This exciting upgrade had become necessary, and I have no doubt that it will be very beneficial for everyone in the BSA.

I also need to let you know that the BSA Board took the decision to offer concessionary rates to our Education Members for this new membership year. Free membership was granted in 2016/17, initially for one year only, to strengthen our relationship with our hugely valuable friends in the primary, secondary, and further education sector. The scheme was extended into 2017/18, but it has now become necessary to charge a small fee for those memberships. We hope the £15 for a renewed individual education membership will be affordable to the vast majority of our education members, and that our teaching materials continue to support their work in our schools and colleges.

Coinciding with the launch of our new Performance and Media Committee in October, the BSA is pleased to announce a new scheme to engage with theatre makers across the UK and beyond: for one year only, we shall be offering free membership of the BSA to theatre practitioners. We will circulate more information about this exciting new initiative over the next few weeks.

All very best wishes, 

Dr. José A. Pérez Díez 
Membership Officer for the British Shakespeare Association 

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