The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.198 Wednesday, 14 June 2017
Date: June 13, 2017 at 3:19:48 PM EDT
Subject: Agreeing with Urkowitz - Formerly "Texts of King Lear"
I meant to respond to these posts by Steve Urkowitz (which I agree with %100 by the way) much earlier but a combination of bad sciatica, a longer commute and forced relocation prevented a timely response.
Here’s one of Steve Urkowitz’ responses from May 23, where he quotes part of an earlier post by Gerald Downs:
Urkowitz: --->Here's a conclusion to a recent Blind Guy One narrative: note the diction of “superfluous” and “fatuous,” “corrupt” and “self-interested.”
Downs--->"The malady surely extended to passages in prose, where “space-metal” was conserved by using margins so wide that restoration in Q1 presented a difficult problem. I believe one solution was to remove superfluous text. Whether the cuts were recorded or discovered during F redaction, their frequent restoration indicates probable eyeskip omission of other text. That would explain the lack of normal evidence in Q and F and the fatuous nature of the F additions. Perhaps some examples will show why the inference is virtually forced: remember, Q is a corrupt report made over by a series of self-interested print house agents."
The method of labelling something obviously good as bad probably has a name that I’m not aware of (not quite “poisoning the well”, where you begin an argument with something that actually is bad) but it’s a common technique in the pseudo-scholarship of Shakespeare studies. Vickers, in his awful book on supposed Shakespearean plays that may be co-authored, uses the technique as well as a variation on the poisoning-the-well technique, where he quotes some other idiot’s (like T.M. Parrott) poor opinion of Titus Andronicus before he begins his own disparagement.
For example, when Vickers wants to find likenesses between Titus and Peele, he accepts the F1 editorial changes:
Q1 2.2 The hunt is vp the Moone is bright and gray,
F1 2.2 The hunt is vp, the morne is bright and gray,
Early in the morning the moon could be up, and it would be both bright and grey, so the original Q1 version makes sense. But Vickers wants to find some comparison between this and Peele’s Old Wives Tale:
OWT: The day is cleare, the Welkin bright and gray
so he accepts the F1 version.
But when Vickers wants to use Parrott’s disparagement of the line in 1.1 that uses the word “pantheon”, he again uses the version that makes the least sense:
“Ascend, fair Queen, Pantheon. Lords, accompany”
which a modern editorial choice. Both Q1 and F1 have “pantheon” modify “lords”:
Q1: Afcend faire Queene: Panthean Lords accompany
F1: Afcend Faire Qeene[sic],
Panthean Lords, accompany
Vickers quotes Parrott concerning the first version above, Co-Author, p157:
“As [Parrott] put it, ‘though one rose from the dead to persuade us, no ear trained to the music of Shakespeare’s verse could accept such lines as his’, indeed, Parrott could not find a single trace of Shakespeare’s hand in the whole act.’”
Which is idiotic, since the act is full of Shakespeare’s usual touches. If you assume that “pantheon” in this case is just a figurative way of saying “most high”, and “accompany” is pronounced “accomp’ny”, it’s just a typical feminine ending.
Later (May 24th), Steve points out the use of hendiadys in Hamlet:
“Before looking at LEAR, first consider another instance of Shakespearean authorial revision from another multiple-text play. The rhetorical figure hendyadis—where two nouns linked with the conjunction “and” are used to describe another noun, as in “a rogue and peasant slave”—was included in rhetorical handbooks. In a prize-winning, often-reprinted essay in PMLA (1983) George T Wright noticed that alone among professional playwrights of his time Shakespeare regularly uses the figure hendyadis, averaging five or six instances in each of his plays.”
The Wright paper should be essential reading for any student of Shakespeare’s style. But Vickers uses another trick in the pseudo-scholar’s handbook, that of redefining the term in question, a kind of moving-the-goal-posts trick. Foster used hendiadys in his argument for the Funeral Elegy as Shakespearean, so Vickers proceeded to re-define the examples in the Elegy as non-hendiadys, and to re-define many of Wright’s examples as well! Foster also pointed out many of the likenesses between the Funeral Elegy and “A Lover’s Complaint”, so Vickers then tried to re-define ALC as non-Shakespearean, and the attribution to Davies that resulted is one of the more absurd attributions in the history of Shakespearean scholarship. This technique is not confined to Shakespeare studies, it happens in the sciences too.
Over the last 5 years or so it has been claimed that Neanderthals mated with early modern humans. Such claims are easy to make when you rely on statistical analysis of genomes, without references to the fossils, or even without reference to basic concepts in evolution, such as speciation. That these two mated seems as unlikely to me as chimps and orangutans mating:
But without the pictures, how would you know? The Neanderthal bones are vastly thicker, the orbits are much larger, the skull is low and long, the rib cage is conical like a gorilla's:
If they mated, why didn’t human forms become more robust, rather than more gracile? Why would they differentiate in the first place if they could mate? Years ago on the ANTHRO-L listserv I postulated that the larger eyes of the Neanderthals could mean that they were crepuscular and/or nocturnal, that they therefore occupied a significantly different environmental niche, and that would explain the speciation, as well as their robustness, as they might have had to grab and fight animals by hand rather than use a bow and arrow. Now, that may be completely wrong, but at least it makes sense. But when you point out the physical differences, the proponents of the mating theory just re-define what makes a fossil “modern human” versus “Neanderthal”, and begin to include the more robust forms. The neandertal issue is also much like Vickers’ tricks with attribution in that Vickers depends on you not having a collection of Peele or Davies on hand to examine so you can see how ridiculous the claims are, he can just take words out of context at will.