The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.296 Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Date: November 21, 2017 at 1:53:53 AM EST
Subject: RE: SHAKSPER: Richard III
John Briggs remarks:
There is a suggestion that at least part of the play in F1 was set from a quarto (Q3 or Q6?) - this suggests that FMS was not divided between the two compositors. Now, what was FMS a transcript of? What needs to be established is whether one (or more) quartos was transcribed. This would mean that FMS lacked independent authority, so this point needs to be determined first.
Points of general agreement: a) One-sixth of F was printed from Q3 (in two sections, with little alteration); and b) Qs 3 & 6 were used as F copy throughout with annotation from manuscript copy (FMS). Confusion reigns thereafter. F changes are so numerous that editors assume FMS was authoritative, even though many alterations are clearly without authority. Because F reprints Q, the nature of FMS is speculative.
As to the nature of the first quarto copy (QMS), memorial reconstruction raises its head. I have a soft spot for the slightly bonkers suggestion of the entire cast reconstructing their playbook - I still think (pace Jerry Downs) there is scope for shorthand recording in such a scenario.
Of course a quasi-performance could be recorded but that hypothesis requires others (e.g. Why?.) Whole-cast reconstruction and theatrical reporting would be different. For example, “playbookers” would identify which of their multiple characters were speaking, and to whom; there would be added banter and slow delivery. Record of a bona fide performance would generally be restricted to dialogue.
Steve Urkowitz notes:
Now, I am fully aware that mere correction of an erroneous belief with real-fact will not deter its continuation in the mind of a believer.
Perhaps not fully, unless Steve counts himself a believer. Correction of a real-fact . . . happens all the time.
Steven Urkowitz, “Reconsidering the Relationship of Quarto and Folio Texts of Richard III,” English Literary Renaissance 16.3 (1986), 442-466. I show that all the textual variants ascribed to erroneous memory are actually more simply explained as normal and typical authorial revision.
If more simple is more “actual,” then “revision” is enough. Why authorial? Q1/F variance is largely arbitrary. “Ascribed to memory” is too limiting. F alters Q throughout, often objectionably. All the evidence matters. I’ll look for the article. But I agree with Steve in important ways, up to a point.
The Bad-Q / Good-F binary doesn't hold up to any expanded viewing of context and simple close-reading of the alternatives.
I agree, if for different reasons. Q is surely a bad quarto, as Q evidence attests. Authorized F is a mistaken assumption, by which Q should not be judged. The nature of QMS must be determined primarily by its sufficiency of internal evidence. Most F variants have nothing to do with that question, as Steve agrees (perforce). However, F editors did try to correct Q, in part from FMS additional text; there is considerable overlap. But Steve’s “binary” bogey doesn’t hold sway any more, according to the NOS. They argue that Q1 is not a bad quarto (MR) but a theatrical adaptation of FMS; that is, QMS derives from FMS by unbroken written transcription. Steve seems to believe revision was the other way about, from Q to F (authorial foul papers to revision by Shakespeare). Not to be outdone, NOS accepts revision of an “authorial complexion” from F to Q. Steve denies memorial transmission; NOS accepts significant memorial influence but gives it a pancake complexion (powder-puff cover-up: forget memory).
Write to tell me what you think.
We have two years before NOS tells us why they knew what they already know; it’s our last chance to think, pre-real-real-fact. To start, a ‘My Theory / Their Theory’ “binary” is no good if each relies on the same mistaken assumptions; other alternatives will be ignored. For instance, if Steve’s “No MR but Q to F authorial revision” comes up against NOS’s “No MR but F to Q theatrical revision,” both are invalid if QMS is a shorthand report.
A lot of variants were taken to indicate Q corruption (of FMS or an F-like text); is the only alternative “authorial”? One can do worse than Pickersgill (New Shakspere Society’s Transactions, 1875, google books): 4.4.174, Q: ‘In thy company.’ F: ‘With thy company.’ “It is not worthwhile to dwell on this example . . . .” Does it take a Shakespeare to exchange ‘In’ for ‘With’? I think not.
4.4. 355: ‘Say I her sovereign, am her subject loue (Q); low (F)’: “ . . . upon the face of it the mark of an injudicious corrector, in whose eyes ‘love’ in the sense of ‘lover’ was an offence[.]”
King. Why then, by God—
Qu. God’s wrong is most of all.
If thou hadst feared to break an oath by him, (Q 4.4)
Rich. Why then, by Heauen—
Qu. Heauen’s wrong is most of all.
If thou didst fear to break an oath with him (F)
“. . . there is . . . a bad case of blundering . . . where ‘God’ is changed to ‘Heaven, and yet ‘him’ is allowed to stand.” These are not real-facts favoring Shakespeare’s “simple” revision of an obvious word-for-word reprint (as here). When variants pile up, less and less remains for His hand. But less also remains of FMS authority.
What I think is that Q1 and QMS begat F, whose alterations are derivative or editorial (cur’d). Hammond (Arden2) observes: “There are . . . directions one would think more . . . authorial foul papers . . . . [3.3.96]: ‘Enter Hastin. a Purssuant’ . . . . preserves from the Chronicles the coincidence that Hasting’s interlocutor bore the same name as himself . . .”
Q1 dialogue supplies the name: ‘Well met Hastings, how goes [it]?’ And the condemned Hastings at 3.4 supplies the .2 set direction: ‘I now repent I tolde the Pursiuant . . . .‘ Q’s printer had no need of the Chronicles here. F went further by replacing Hasting’s ‘Hastings’ with ‘Sirrha’; the F agents may not have understood the coincidence. These simple possibilities make for complex text.
Gerald E. Downs