The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.188 Monday, 22 May 2017
Date: May 8, 2017 at 2:25:24 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Texts of King Lear
Some features of early Lear texts are difficult to reconcile except to the Vickers hypothesis that F restores Q1 omission. Although Blayney curtly rejects both space-saving Q1 abridgment of its copy and recovery of cuts from a parallel stemma, credible textual history supports correction of Q1 omissions in F by further reference to Q1 printer’s copy:
1). Q1 (1608) is a theatrical report (Stone, Bordeaux); the author wasn’t subsequently involved.
2). Seriatim-set Q1 was foul proofed before correction at press (Blayney).
3). F manuscript copy, reliant on Q1 and Q1 copy, helped and failed to help correct Q1 (Stone).
4). Text was accidentally omitted in Q1 verse, some of which was restored by foul proofing.
5). Prose and verse printed as prose were often too dense for simple restoration of omission.
These phenomena are generally misunderstood: authorial Q copy is mistakenly assumed; foul proofing is ignored; Q1 copy (the manuscript origination of printed transmission) is considered a one-off resource; and omission is deemed incidental.
Disturbed Q1 verse and F correction indicate eyeskip. Restored prose is harder to discover in margin-to-margin text and reprinting. But Stone noticed puzzling characteristics of F additions that may be explained by Q1 omission.
We cannot argue that, if some of the passages unique to F display the marks of interpolation, all must therefore be interpolations. . . . [T]hat none of the fresh material in F is strictly necessary may . . . argue either addition in F or omission in Q; but when we know that some of it has been deliberately added we may find it more significant that the Q text does not actually require the expansions it has received (69).
[E]vidence of style cannot be assessed altogether objectively: nevertheless it might be argued that . . . the style of the additional passages . . . is never particularly distinctive (81).
Thus the hypothesis of revision . . . is assisted rather than otherwise by the further hypothesis that the reviser was able to call in aid no separate authority but only the manuscript which had [served] in the composition of Q; besides resolving most of the remaining difficulties presented by the evidence, the second hypothesis supports the first [with] an intelligible motive for the revision . . . . (91)
[It is] reasonable to assume a double [Q] recension. . . . Collation with [Q copy] would result in a number of corrections . . . recovery of matter accidentally or mistakenly omitted from Q. . . . The second stage of revision would produce substitutions, expansions and cuts. (115–16)
Stone presumed (despite the “recovered matter” alternative) that most additions in F are post-Q1 and non-authorial. Their unimpressive content and quality were reasons for thinking so, as he indicates of separate instances:
[If] an interpolation, there is no particular reason for it. . . . Another redundant interpolation . . . . The additional lines in F merely make the connection more explicit. . . . The reviser has seen a pun . . . . The passage introduces two circumstances not alluded to in Q . . . . That these lines did not belong to [Q1] is shown by their association with the next addition . . . to suppose that both passages were omitted from Q would be . . . to assume a method and purpose in the omissions. (239–40)
These judgments are mitigated by the possibility that purposeful Q1 omission was employed. Stone noticed both early Q1 correction and recovery of text in F but missed their extent. Had he known Blayney’s explanation of crowded Q text, Stone may have suspected deliberate excision of unimportant text to make room for meaningful recovery. Consider the Q texts of 3.2 and 3.4:
Foole. . . .
Good Nunckle in, and aske thy daughters blessing, 11
Heers a night pities nether wise man nor foole.
Lear. . . .
I taske not you elements with vnkindnes,
. . .
You owe me no subscription,why then let fall your horrible
Here I stãd your slaue,a poore infirme weak & (plesure
Despis’d ould man,but yet I call you seruile
Ministers,that haue with 2. Pernitious daughters ioin’d
Your high engēdred battel gainst a head so old & white
As this, O tis foule. 24
Foole. Hee that has a house to put his head in . . .
Lear. No I will be the patterne of all patience Enter Kent.
I will say nothing. 38
. . .
Kent. . . . hard by here is
a houell . . . repose you there, whilst I to this hard house . . .
which euen but now . . . denide me to come in, returne and
force their scanted curtesie. 67
. . .
Lear. . . . come bring vs to this houell?
(Q1, 3.2.11–78, sig. F4)
Enter Lear, Kent, and foole
Kent. Here is the place my Lord . . .
. . .
Lear. . . . but I will punish sure,
No I will weepe no more, in such a night as this!
O Regan, Gonorill, your old kind father (lies,
Whose franke heart gaue you all, O that way madnes
Let me shun that,no more of that.
But I will punish home;
No, I will weepe no more; in such a night[,
To shut me out? Poure on, I will endure: 18
In such a night] as this? O Regan, Gonerill,
Your old kind Father, whose franke heart gaue all,
O that way madnesse lies, let me shun that:
Stone rationalizes F’s ‘To shut me out? Poure on, I will endure: / in such a night’: “If this is a revision . . . [keeping No] necessitated the loss of as this . . . . and that the third line was devised to piece out the sense . . . until the whole phrase In such a night as this? Could be repeated in the fourth. . . . It [is] tempting to regard the passage as a case . . . of accidental omission in Q: the compositor’s eye might well have jumped from in such a night . . . to in such a night as this . . . . What lies between, however, is extremely suspicious. . . . Does [Lear] even know that he would be refused . . .? [Kent] has not yet started on his mission [to force the issue] before Lear speaks (in F) of being ‘shut out.’” (243)
As revision, the line-and-a-half serves little purpose other than to repair the meter. But 3.2 dialogue shows Lear refusing to seek his daughters’ aid; and Kent’s report confirmed that he could only beg for shelter. There’s insufficient reason to deny the addition’s legitimacy.
Eyeskip is highly probable: Q1’s first ‘in such a night’ picked up as this from the repeated phrase (and one ‘in such a night’ was omitted). Identical words in front and back of interpolation are too coincidental; the chances of revision repetitions in the same spots as proven omissions are less than for eyeskip opportunities. (Though dialogue repetition is common, the question is of placement). Further, Q1 meter is made good by dropping ‘as this.’ The harmless omission was ignored, recorded for future inclusion, or missed.
To argue revision is to ignore the pointlessness of this and similar additions and the lack of meaningful changes. The Q1 text should be examined for difficulties also inherited in F that may tell against authoritative sources. For example, at 3.4.25 ‘but Ile go in’, and 3.4.130 ‘How fares your Grace?’, F follows Q’s mistaken speech headings. At 3.2.19ff, Q1 breaks from regular verse (with “quotation quad” margins?) to crowd lines using various tools, if somewhat oddly. I guess more foul proofing restoration, of which I’ve now shown enough instances to establish chronic Q1 eyeskip omission and its consequences in Q and F.
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.
Gerald E. Downs