[This essay, which followed quite closely upon my publication of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus: a 1604-version edition (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1991), was delivered as an invited paper at the Waterloo Conference on Elizabethan Theatre in July, 1993. After long delays, it was published in Elizabethan Theatre XV, edited by A. Lynne Magnusson and C. E. McGee (Toronto: P. D. Meany, 2002), pp. 128-54.]
1. Collaborating on/with the Real Shakespeare
One of the oddest pieces of Shakespearean commentary written during the past century is an extended dialogue by one William Bliss, published in 1947, which contains on its first page an urbane denunciation of Shakespearean commentators as “the ultimate nadir of human foolishness” (Bliss 3). If in this regard the book invites description as a self-subverting artifact, in other respects as well it is a thoroughly paradoxical performance. Yorick and Eugenius, the partners in this dialogue, are loud in their insistence that Shakespeare is best taken unmediated—or at least without the glosses of scholars “who, like cuttle-fish, obscure him with their sepia emanations” (4), and without the explanations of interpreters like John Dover Wilson, whose method in What Happens in ‘Hamlet’ is compared to that of “the man who blindfolded himself and went searching in a dark cupboard for a black cat that wasn’t there” (233).
Over helpings of bread, beer and stilton, vintage port and fine cigars, Yorick and Eugenius affiliate themselves rather with “the best critics—the real critics,” whose emphasis on taste also provides them with an argument against those textual ‘disintegrators’ who in every scene or passage which they thought to be flawed saw the hand of a lesser playwright with whom Shakespeare must have collaborated. As Eugenius says, “It’s like bad claret or bad sherry. Claret may be bad and sherry may be bad, but even bad claret must be claret and bad sherry is still sherry” (159). Yet despite their insistence on the whole Shakespeare and nothing but Shakespeare, Eugenius and Yorick are themselves (with readily discernible motives) playing the old game of interpretive appropriation—and in what emerges as the book’s central trope of self-legitimation, they witness and collaborate in a fully authorized extension of the Shakespeare canon.
The book which I have been describing is entitled The Real Shakespeare—an echo, no doubt, of Dover Wilson’s The Essential Shakespeare (which by 1947 was in its eighth printing)—and to a greater extent even than Dover Wilson, Yorick and Eugenius are nosing after the real, the essential, the indispensable Shakespeare. But being themselves “real critics,” they actually find him—or rather, after ever stronger hints that an invisible presence has been appreciatively eavesdropping on their conversations, Shakespeare discloses himself, materializing in the final chapter to drink a glass of wine with them. This Real Shakespeare, in a gesture of approval, gives Yorick his signature as an Imprimatur (it is duly reproduced on the page facing the table of contents). And as an answer to Eugenius’ mention of Matthew Arnold’s “Others abide our question, Thou art free,” he composes a sonnet, which ends: “I have not grudged my store, / But with both hands have poured for them my wine. / They who love wine will drink and ask no more. / Secretum meum mihi, for the rest: / I keep my Self locked up in my own breast” (303).
In these lines from what I suppose we should call Sonnet 155, the Real Shakespeare offers himself as an exemplary instance of autonomous subjectivity. He also legitimizes an interpretive criterion of “taste” in words whose sacramental overtones confirm Michael Bristol’s identification of “Shakespeare,” that “ghostly entity” who is the benign “love-object of traditional humanist scholarship,” as “the name of a tutelary deity or cult-object” (Bristol 19).
At this point, several paradoxes become evident. Although this book seeks, and finds, a Shakespeare who is the sole and undivided author of his Works, it represents the process of its own composition as a dialogical and fully collaborative one. And while identifying Shakespeare with his Works, and with a transcendental subjectivity bound neither by history nor by materiality, it nonetheless acknowledges its own immersion in both (in relation, for example, to its purported completion “in mid-May of 1940, at the moment when Norway was being swallowed up and just before France was over-run by the German armies,” and to the wartime paper shortage which delayed its publication until seven years later [ix-x]).1 But more importantly, from my perspective, this Real Shakespeare with his signature and supernumerary sonnet illustrates what I take to be an inescapable feature of the textual condition—namely, that authenticity, whether interpretive or textual, is a function of supplementarity.
This is at once the central joke and the legitimizing trope of Bliss's book. His seriously held opinions—for example, that “just as Theobald and Malone are responsible for the swarm of subsequent annotators and conjecturers ... who made [Eugenius’] school-life a burden..., so are Schlegel and Coleridge responsible for the half-idolatrous, half-analytical school of modern Shakespearean criticism which,” says Yorick, “has darkened my later life” (63)—these opinions are made to rest upon a jocular fiction reminiscent of the larger-scale forgeries of William Henry Ireland, that indefatigable ‘discoverer’ of Shakespearean signatures and texts who was only exposed by the still more indefatigable Edmond Malone. Ironically enough, in one respect at least Bliss is closer than he realizes to the great eighteenth-century editor who, like him, was anxious to preserve Shakespeare’s writings “pure and unpolluted by any modern sophistication or foreign admixture whatsoever” (Malone 2). But the dialogue form by means of which Bliss advances as Shakespearean the modern (or at least twentieth-century) opinions of Quiller-Couch and Sir John Squires is hardly unsophisticated; and there is perhaps a “foreign admixture” to the sonnet fathered on Shakespeare, which in its turns of phrase owes more to Fitzgerald’s orientalizing Rubáiyát than to the Sonnets of 1609. Yet if sophistications and admixtures stand between the reader and the Real Thing, they are also, as this case appears to suggest, the only means by which its authenticity can be certified.
2. Authenticity, supplementarity, origins
The example with which I have begun is perhaps a slightly eccentric way of arriving at a textual-critical paradox that Margreta de Grazia’s intriguing study of what she calls “the reproduction of authenticity” in Malone’s 1790 edition of Shakespeare has recently brought to prominence. As she remarks in a brief but illuminating analysis of the First Folio of 1623, the preliminary items in this text “represent the different activities involved in the production and promotion of the book”; they
are organized to publicize the functions on which the Folio depends: publishing, patronage, purchase, performance, and acclaim. As Shakespeare’s authorship is acknowledged by the title-page and throughout the preliminaries, so too additional activities contributing to the making of the volume are acknowledged in the dedication, address, catalogue of plays, list of actors, and panegyrics. (De Grazia 21-22)
However, in editions of the era inaugurated by Malone there remains no trace of the text’s implication in this social network of contributary functions. The Folio's preliminaries are replaced by a textual apparatus, which as de Grazia points out, in reproducing a text, “in making it again available and accessible,” also “dictates the terms of its reception.” Despite its appearance of being merely ancillary, the textual apparatus in fact specifies the text’s identity and the means by which that is to be known (functioning ideologically, in this regard, “like an Althusserian state apparatus that shapes and positions subjects”); and at the same time it “predisposes the reader to specific modes of reading and understanding. Its bracketing preliminaries and appendices and its interpenetrating notes encode the rules by which the content is to be valued and understood” (De Grazia 10-12).
What, in view of this interpellation of the text by its apparatus, does it mean to claim, as I have done, that authenticity is a function of supplementarity? It means, first, that the notions of textuality and the protocols of interpretation which we may be inclined to accept as natural are to be understood rather as historically conditioned concomitants of a particular social imaginary (the shape of which is at least implicit in the structures of the apparatus). It means also that authenticity, though apparently a primary term, or an effect of precedence, is actually secondary, and an institutional construction. Although the following definition of “authentic,” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary from a text printed in the 1840s, is close to the word's etymological sense, it would now I think be accepted only among religious fundamentalists: “That is called authentic, which is sufficient to itself, which commands, sustains, proves itself, and hath credit and authority from itself.”
In the usage of contemporary textual critics, authenticity still implies temporal or originary primacy, as well as authorial presence. But none of these is self-evident; they require demonstration, elucidation, argument: in short (to slip into a Derridean French), suppléance. Which is to say that that which establishes, glosses, frames, introduces or comments upon a text is itself also text, and works, in the double or duplicitous sense of the French verb suppléer, at once to supplement and to supplant that which occasions it. What this in turn means is that editorial work has some claim to be regarded as a form of collaboration in the shaping of a text—and not just in the shaping of its secondary or belated forms. For thanks to a temporal doubling (and doubling back) that is inherent in the project of editing, it is precisely as an intervention in the text’s originary processes that a successful or ‘authoritative’' edition legitimizes its claim to re-present to the contemporary reader the text’s authentic form.
Let me speak from my own small experience with editorial work. The 1604 quarto of Christopher Marlowe's Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, a slim volume of six signatures, contains, on forty-three printed pages (not counting the title page) a text some 1,500 lines in length. My own 1991 edition, based on this version of the play, offers a text that I would claim is demonstrably closer, both verbally and structurally, to the play’s “originary textual moment” in the early 1590s (as opposed to what Jerome McGann would call subsequent or “secondary moments of textual production and reproduction” [“Monks” 192-93]); this claim, if valid, generates the odd conclusion that the text of a late twentieth-century edition is in certain respects more authentic than that of the first quarto. But the play-text in this edition, preceded by some ninety pages of introductory matter, occupies ninety-two pages (with explanatory notes crawling in some instances halfway up the page, and eleven-odd pages given over to textual collations), and it is followed by four appendices (the first reproducing scenes from another quite distinct early version of the play), which together occupy a further one hundred and nineteen pages.
Although this edition claims in something like the conventional manner to be reproducing “Marlowe’s” play-text, what it presents is actually, for these and other reasons, something new and different. Its modern-spelling text effaces one delicate layer of meaning present in the early quartos (though as Randall McLeod’s analyses of the differences between old spelling and old typesetting make clear, a similar charge could also be levelled at any old-spelling edition). More significantly, the choices made from among the variants offered by the two substantive versions of Doctor Faustus differ from those of any other text or edition of the play, and two scenes are printed in a sequence for which there is no precedent in the early quartos or in previous editions.2 And finally, the critical and textual apparatus by means of which I sought to reconstitute the context and early textual history of the play and to legitimize my editorial decisions is itself implicated in issues of contemporary cultural politics. Such at least is the opinion of Leah Marcus, who describes this edition as having been shaped “to recuperate Marlowe for the left” ("Recent" 399). (On one level correct, this comment is on another more interesting level evidence of what amounts to a substitution of political labelling for critical thought—a matter to which I will return.)
What these differences and these indications of an engagement at once with Elizabethan and with contemporary history, with the text's originary context and with the edition's own context of reception, add up to is obvious enough. The recursive movement by which this or any other edition professes to return to a point near the beginning of its text’s trajectory through history is simultaneously and more distinctly an extension of that trajectory, a further removal of the text-in-history from its originary moments of textual and dramatic production and reproduction. But insofar as an edited text establishes itself as canonical, has the editor not also inserted herself as a collaborative presence into the text's originary processes?
3. Performative collaboration
As an example from the realm of performance may suggest, the integrity of any recursive movement into the past is directly dependent upon a concurrent recognition of this movement's participation in the concerns of our own time.
In the spring of 1989, the government of Margaret Thatcher was celebrating the tenth anniversary of its accession to power. “Prosperity” (meaning the deindustrialization of a large part of Britain, and a steady transfer of wealth from poor to rich) and “social peace” (a euphemism for the crippling of the trade union movement and the steady erosion of civil liberties) had been imposed upon the country. In an address to the Assembly of the Church of Scotland Mrs. Thatcher intimated that any remaining opponents of her political program were attempting to sabotage an achievement for which she did not hesitate to claim divine sanction. This is the context in which I attended two quite different performances of Richard III in London. The first was mounted by the Phoenix Theatre and the Renaissance actors’ company in lovingly rendered period costume, as the vehicle for a star turn by Derek Jacobi; the second, a part of the sequence of history plays directed for the English Shakespeare Company by Michael Bogdanov, was a jangling postmodern discord of incompatible costumes, sets and acting styles.
Yet it was the Phoenix production that seemed the more thoroughly permeated by contemporary concerns, and I would claim without hesitation that the Bogdanov production was the more historically responsible of the two. As in his Henry IV, Part I, where a punk Hotspur wore plate armour in the council and battle scenes, occasionally with a khaki shirt draped over his shoulders, while Worcester sported the buff coat of a Cromwellian trooper, Falstaff dress scarlets, and the Douglas the battledress of a highland regiment of 1914, the costumes in Bogdanov's Richard III effectively disrupted any perception of the play as a museum artifact by insistently reminding the audience of the different historical contexts, up to the present, with which this play has interacted. The Jacobi Richard III appeared, by comparison, oddly mummified—except in its closing moments, when Richmond's concluding speech, proclaiming an end to civil strife, modulates at last into prayer:
Abate the edge of Traitors, Gracious Lord...
Let them not liue to taste this Lands increase,
That would with Treason, wound this faire Lands peace.
Now Ciuill wounds are stopp'd, Peace liues agen;
That she may long liue heere, God say, Amen. (sig. t2v; V. v. 35, 38-41)
Delivered in the Phoenix production by a Richmond who faced the audience in full armour with his armoured followers kneeling in ranks behind him, these lines seemed an electrifying (if slightly exaggerated) anticipation of Mrs. Thatcher’s authoritarian piety: what an audience might easily have taken for the voice of the Bard himself resonated in an uncanny way with the proclamations of the Iron Lady. The effect of proto-Thatcherite apologetic appears to have been unintentional, the management of the Phoenix Theatre and the Renaissance actors’ company having only days before made public their contempt for Mrs. Thatcher's social and cultural policies. It was, rather, an uncontrolled release of meaning generated by the overlapping of two discourses, Shakespearean and contemporary, which the unreflective archaism of the production seems to have prevented the director from recognizing.
In contrast, Bogdanov’s expedient of having these same lines delivered by a suit-and-tie Richmond whose announcement of “Smooth-fac’d Peace” (sig. t2v; V.v.33) was mediated by a bank of television monitors made explicit the contemporary generic category of the speech: we were witnessing a performance by a very skilful politician.
This partial translation—the stage images were those of postmodern media politics, while the words remained those of a Renaissance monarch—may have seemed laboured. But Bogdanov deserves credit for having recognized that the play discharges its energies into an atmosphere that is always already ideologically charged, and that our receptions of it are unavoidably informed by that context. His imposition on the play-text of a complex array of disjunctive historical ironies imposed a parallel recognition upon the audience both of its own historical distance from the originary context of the play, and also of the layers of historical mediations through which our experience of early modern play-texts is filtered.
A quite different kind of irony arose out of the Jacobi production’s striving for period authenticity—for the last moments of that production constituted a thoroughly present-day intervention, a legitimation by the Bard of the new social and economic order which during the run of that production was being celebrated by Mrs. Thatcher’s supporters as the precarious achievement of her ten years in office. This production, I would insist, was historically irresponsible—not just because I happen to disapprove of the appropriation of Richard III which it facilitated, but also, more importantly, because the effect was accidental, uncontrolled, unintended: who, indeed, could be regarded as answerable for it? But this kind of abdication of historical responsibility—which amounts to neglecting the elementary fact that we cannot be faithful to a play-text’s historicity if we have forgotten our own—is as much a routine matter among textual critics as it is among actors and directors.
4. An ideology of editorial authenticity
The notion of textual authenticity corresponds for most purposes to a condition of belatedness. A text may in fact be of single, mixed, or sedimented authorship; it may be pseudepigraphic or forged. But only in the backward-looking perspective of a later age, in which the myriad filaments linking earlier texts to their contexts of originary production and reproduction have been severed or obscured, does it become important to categorize a text as authentic or inauthentic—to seek, in other words, as much of a reconstitution of originary contexts as may be required for an assessment of the text's early provenance. Such a project of reconstitution involves, inescapably, an interweaving of those earlier contexts with one's own—which is to say, with such factors as one’s gender, social class, and race, one’s institutional and discursive situation, ideological convictions and desires. This is also part of what it means to describe textual authenticity as a function of supplementarity.
The understanding of editorial work that I have begun to outline here goes counter to what has been until the past decade the dominant metaphysic and master-narrative of textual criticism.3 Consider, for example, the work of Sir Walter Greg, of Fredson Bowers, and of G. Thomas Tanselle, three of the most distinguished textual-critical theorists and editorial practitioners of this century. An oddly Neoplatonic note can be detected in the utterances of all three: in, for example, Greg’s famous distinction between the “substantial” and “accidental” features of a text (Greg 43), which might be taken to imply a scholastic separation of the ‘essential thing’ from its historically specific materiality. Bowers, taking up this distinction, described the “accidentals” of a text as “the system of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and word-division that clothes the words,” and spoke of the need “to strip the veil of print from a text by analyzing the characteristics of identified compositors” (Bowers 167, 87; emphasis added). What is veiled in these metaphors is apparently not the text's material ‘body,’ but rather a kind of trans-historical essence. As the human soul is clothed by the body, so the immaterial substantial text is veiled by its accidents; in each case the second, inessential term is made to bear the burden of corporeality—and also, it might seem, of historicity. Although an element of abstraction is unavoidable in textual analysis, there are surely less metaphysically loaded ways of talking about the processes that give rise to textual variants.
But Neoplatonic metaphors such as these appear to be no more than offshoots of an implicit master-narrative that has arguably shaped the empirical narratives of the last several generations of textual critics. Tanselle’s account of what he calls “the immutable condition of written statements” offers us a glimpse of this Neoplatonic master-narrative. “[I]n writing down a message,” he says, “one brings down an abstraction to the concrete, where it is an alien, damaged here and there through the intractability of the physical” (Rationale 64-65). His concluding assessment of the value of textual criticism is equally revealing. Although literary works, those “‘Monuments of unageing intellect’,” are subjected “in their passage to us ... to the hazards of the physical,” these “flowerings of previous human thought ... in their inhuman tranquillity have overcome the torture of their birth.” Textual criticism, through study of the constantly changing "containers" in which literary works are housed, “helps us to see the process by which humanity attempts, sometimes successfully, to step outside itself” (Rationale 93). Elsewhere, in a manner which suggests that the work of the textual critic may itself be an expression of this impulse to transcendence, Tanselle defines historical scholarship as an attempt, “through an informed imaginative effort, to escape into the thinking of another time, even though one knows that the escape is never complete and that it will have to be reattempted by others in the future” (Textual Criticism 134; emphasis added). His quotation from Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium” was clearly not adventitious: in refusing to recognize the present as history, and textual critical work as a form of historical agency which is enmeshed with the present at the same time as it engages with the past, Tanselle makes historical scholarship complicit with a Yeatsian nostalgia for “the artifice of eternity” (Yeats 218).
Greg, Bowers and Tanselle are displacing into textual terms the Neoplatonic story of the soul’s descent from an originary unity to a state of materiality, multiplicity and error, and its purifying reascent to the One. In terms of the genre with which we are concerned, the text can be said to descend from its authorial originator into a confused world of theatrical alterations, memorial corruption, censorship, revision, copyist’s errors and compositorial alteration—the dark world, in textual jargon, of the Bad Quarto4—from which it is to be led back to a state of primordial unity by the ministrations of the editor.
Donald Pizer has in terms rather like these caricatured the view, which he attributes to Greg and his successors, that “a text emerges from its author’s imagination trailing clouds of glory. Then, shades of the prison-house of unauthorized, ill-advised, and self-censored change close down upon it.” The editor’s role in this quasi-religious allegory is almost a priestly one: confronting the corrupt published text, “he cleans it of its worldliness and restores it to its original purity” (Pizer 147).
No one would quarrel with the project—as one among others—of restoring a text to a state preceding the accretions or reinscriptions of secondary moments of textual production and reproduction. But by what criteria is that state to be determined? And how, except through an institutionally conditioned and ideologically motivated blindness, can a project of restoration ever escape its own nature as a historically constrained intervention in the discourses both of its own time and of the text's originary context? The Neoplatonic master-narrative I have identified conflates the project of editorial restoration with Romantic conceptions both of authorship and of the ministrations of scholarship, thus obscuring what McGann calls “the dynamic social relations which always exist in literary production—the dialectic between the historically located individual author and the historically developing institutions of literary production” (Critique 81). To acknowledge this dialectic is to recognize both the inescapably collaborative nature of the text’s initial production, and also, I would argue, the presence in its subsequent reshapings of what Jeffrey Masten has spoken of as diachronic forms of collaboration (Masten 339).
Textual critics working with Elizabethan and Jacobean play-texts have, until recently, presupposed an autonomous author whose intentions were authoritatively expressed in the lost manuscript which it has been their goal (within the limits of possibility) to reconstruct. But as Stephen Orgel has remarked, theatrical companies often commissioned a play, stipulated its subject, apportioned sections of the plot to different playwrights, and then revised the resulting text—from which it follows that “the very notion of ‘the author’s original manuscript’ is in such cases a figment” (Orgel 84). If it no longer makes sense to conceptualize the author-function as confined to a single individual, to a noetic Unity conceived of as the sole origin of an ideal textuality which on its descent to the physical or worldly plane declines into multiplicity and error, by the same token the task of analyzing the contributions of agents other than the author or authors to the collaborative processes by which the text is shaped (I am thinking of players, censors, printers and, most distinctly, editors, subsequent as well as contemporaneous) acquires a certain urgency.
5. Metaphors of textual (re)production
However, before engaging with these different forms of collaboration, and in particular with the diachronic collaboration involved in editorial work, more needs to be said about the role of metaphor in textual critical work. If textual-critical discourse is to be separated from its previous commitments to a master-narrative which occludes a wide range of social and historical factors, it seems all the more important to recognize the extent to which apparently commonsensical formulations can carry an unacknowledged metaphysical and ideological weight. I would suggest, for example, that to accept a convenient distinction between “literary work” and “text” in the manner proposed by Tanselle is to succumb to the entire metaphysic and master-narrative of the traditional textual critics.
However, some statements of an opposing view of textuality as social and collaborative are also open to question. Anne Mette Hjort, for example, has argued that one important consequence of moving “from a reified view of the ‘work’ as the complete, perfect and unmediated externalization of an inner intention, to a view of the work in which its relations to different social and historical groups are foregrounded” would be
a shift of emphasis from the author’s ‘work’ to what Gadamer has called the ‘effective-history’ of a work. All of the different scribal emendations, all of the changes made by actors, all of the various appropriations, become an integral and unalienable part of the work’s meaning—for the appropriations of a ‘work’ and any emendations that these might involve only make manifest the ways in which the work can combine with specific intentional horizons to produce meaning. (Hjort 274)
But to the extent that emendations, changes and appropriations can be separately identified, and to the extent that one can speak of the “work” as distinct from the various subsequent “intentional horizons” in conjunction with which its meaning is produced, the words “integral and unalienable” seem inappropriate. In adopting a notion of meaning as a presumably integral summation of all possible reinscriptions, enactments and appropriations, is Hjort not re-entering Plato's domain, if by the back door?
A similarly totalizing note may be audible in the following statement by Jean Howard and Marion O'Connor, even though they acknowledge meaning, understood historically, as plural rather than singular, and conflictual rather than additive:
... every reading or staging of a play is implicated in ideology in that it produces the play within the codes and conventions sustaining particular, interested constructions of the real. Far from distorting the “true” meaning of an unchanging text, however, such constructions are the text: it lives in history, with history understood as a field of contestation. (Howard and O'Connor 4)
Here a conflation of textual and theatrical modes of production (which as Terry Eagleton suggests are incommensurable, though in certain respects analogous ) is accompanied by a parallel conflation of text and appropriation. I would want to admit that any use of a text (whether in reading or in theatrical production) is also an appropriation and, as such, transformative—and to admit as well that only through such interactions can meaning be generated. But unless it were possible to distinguish in some way between the various material forms or versions assumed by a text and the acts of appropriation responsible for its interpretive and textual differentiation, how could we acknowledge the contributions of censorship, of hostile amendment or subtractive reinscription, and of editorial work to the processes of change? And how could we identify the discursive currents or ideological formations implicated in these processes?
Metaphors are available which make it possible at once to acknowledge the discontinuities involved in successive receptions and appropriations of a text, and also to recognize the common features shared by such divergent or successive versions as Q1 and Q2 Hamlet or the A and B texts of Doctor Faustus.
Text as palimpsest: this metaphor, foregrounding the potential violence of acts of appropriation and reinscription, can remind us that these are also acts of erasure and of substitution—but acts which the resistant materiality of the text’s earlier states makes it possible to trace, to identify, and even to reverse. The suggestion, clearly, is that in its later states the text becomes a product of social and collaborative processes. But what was it to begin with?
The metaphor of text as weave (exploiting the derivation of “text” from the past participle of the Latin texere, “to weave”) permits us to insist that social and institutional contexts (from contextus, meaning “woven with”) must be understood, not as forming a background in contradistinction to which the canonized text takes centre stage, but rather as integral—though not unalienable—constituents of the text in which they participate. Whether or not it is subjected to material alterations in its passage through time, the text is unavoidably de-contextualized (which is to say that certain of the discursive elements which traverse it drop out of the weave); at the same time, equally unavoidably, it is re-contextualized, with an overlay or insertion of new discursive strands. These processes, though ineluctable, are not unmotivated, and can therefore become the object of analyses that are ideological as well as textual-critical in inflection. I have studied Marlowe's Doctor Faustus in this vein (see “Misreading,” “History”); John Barrell’s tracing of the erasure from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 of an early modern discourse of patronage, and its replacement by a post-Romantic one of autonomous subjectivity, offers a more elegant example of this kind of work (Barrell ch. 1). Although in these instances the issue of collaboration is ignored, the metaphor can easily accommodate the possibility of a textual weave constituted and reconstituted by a plurality of agencies.
I offer, with some diffidence, a third metaphor. Alan Sinfield has recently proposed that at what he calls the “faultlines” in a text—small fractures, discontinuities or slippages produced within it at places where the social order’s “own criteria of plausibility fall into contest and disarray”—“a dissident perspective may be discovered and articulated” (Sinfield 45-46). Faultline stories, addressing such “controversial aspects of our ideological formation” as class, race, gender and sexual orientation, “are the ones that require most assiduous and continuous reworking”; it follows that “The task for a political criticism ... is to observe how stories negotiate the faultlines that distress the prevailing conditions of plausibility” (47). Would an extension of this geological metaphor perhaps allow one to speak not just of faultlines (or for that matter of processes of textual sedimentation), but also of larger tectonic movements of textual or discursive fields in interaction over time, and hence of diachronic textual change as well as of synchronic fissures within texts? Analogies from plate tectonics are in several respects suggestive: I will mention here only that the interactions of plates, with consequent discontinuous releases of tension or pressures in such linked phenomena as subduction and elevation, take place in response to eddying circulations of the underlying magma.
6. Forms of Marlovian collaboration
But the problem may not be entirely or even primarily one of textual-critical metaphorics; it may be more directly the result of what Gary Taylor analyzes as a saturation of our “intertextual spaces” by the institutionally isolated texts of Shakespeare (Taylor 130). Advancing a claim for Thomas Middleton as “a great writer; greater than Marlowe, Jonson, or Webster; as great as Shakespeare,” Taylor asks: “How might our editorial paradigms—that is, our models of intertextual space—be different, if they were founded on the evidence of Middleton’s texts, rather than Shakespeare’s?” (133-34).
His answer is startling. The Middleton canon—or that, rather, of “Middleton et al.”—would have obliged editors, critics, and theorists to confront the fact of authorial revision; to acknowledge that the survival of authorial manuscripts or of the promptbook of a play’s first production does not resolve questions of textual authority; to dismiss the binaries of folio and quarto, good and bad quarto, authorial foul papers and theatrical promptbooks; to reject “the simplistic generic divisions” imposed by Shakespeare’s First Folio, as well as the more basic opposition between literary and non-literary texts; to recognize “a collaborative model of textual production” as normal both at the authorial level and that of printing houses; to admit the possibility that a work need not be a complete work, nor an oeuvre a Complete Works; to attend to the materiality of the text in relation to such matters as Middleton’s evident concern with the semiotics of print and with the marketing and reception of his writings; and finally to accept that Middleton’s plays, written both for popular and for elite theatres, tell us more about the relations between composition and dramatic transmission than do Shakespeare’s, which emerge from an unusually sustained connection of playwright with company (Taylor 134-39).
I would like to ask a similar question about what the early textual history of Christopher Marlowe’s writings can tell us about the nature of collaboration and collective invention in early modern England—including, very distinctly, what Jeffrey Masten calls diachronic forms of collaboration. Then, narrowing my focus to a single play, Doctor Faustus, I want in conclusion to ask what some representative recent interpretations of the evidence bearing on the different versions of this play-text reveal about the present state of Marlovian textual criticism.
As the first volume of Roma Gill’s new Oxford edition of Marlowe very aptly reminds us, the most conspicuously authorial mode of Marlovian collaboration is translation—a mode which develops from the brilliant young scholar’s line for line renderings of Ovid’s Elegies and Lucan’s First Book to the mocking dissidence of his treatment of Vergil in Dido Queen of Carthage (which the title page of the quarto of 1594 informs us was written in collaboration with Thomas Nashe),5 and finally to the lapidary playfulness of Hero and Leander, a poem which entirely displaces its classical archetype. If Marlowe can be said to have ‘collaborated’ with Ovid, Lucan, Vergil and Musaeus in variously re-presenting, subverting and supplanting their texts, there is perhaps an appropriate irony to the manner in which his own writings were absorbed into post-mortem collaborations by writers of his own age.
The first of these are the ‘completions’ of Hero and Leander by George Chapman and by Henry Petowe, both printed in 1598, which attempt (one with a severe strength, the other feebly) to limit and control the anarchic force of Marlowe's ironies. To these one might perhaps add Nashe’s wonderfully burlesque retelling of the story in Lenten Stuff, printed in the following year—or, fifteen years later, Ben Jonson’s in Bartholomew Fair.
Paul Kocher proposed Thomas Nashe as author of the comic prose scenes of Doctor Faustus—an attribution John D. Jump thought seemed “unduly hard on a prose-writer who, whatever his faults, did not lack liveliness” (Marlowe 1962: xlii).6 Eric Rasmussen’s analysis of function-word frequencies makes it seem more likely that at least two of these comic scenes (I. iv and IV. i) were the work of Marlowe’s Cambridge contemporary Henry Porter (Rasmussen 71-73).
In these latter cases the assumption is that Marlowe and Porter (or Nashe) worked together. A rather more contentious—and, once again, diachronic—form of authorial collaboration is evident in the revision of Doctor Faustus carried out in 1602 by William Birde and Samuel Rowley. These writers were paid by Philip Henslowe “for ther adicyones in doctor fostes” (Greg 11-12), but in fact recast and reoriented the entire play in a manner that largely deprived it of its dissident, interrogative force, and returned the legend to the moralizing and repressive form which Marlowe had subverted (see Marlowe 1991: xiii-xv). A similar, if less violent, revisionary collaboration may underlie the only existing version of The Jew of Malta: Thomas Heywood, who saw this play through the press in 1633—a full four decades after Marlowe’s death—may have contributed more to it than the dedicatory epistle and the prologues and epilogues for court and public performance that are confessedly his. (But comparison, alas, is impossible: no copy survives of the version entered for publication in the Stationers’ Register in 1594.)
What then of playhouse collaboration? It might seem unlikely that the poet who in the Prologue to 1 Tamburlaine expressed his scorn for “iygging vaines of riming mother wits, / And such conceits as clownage keepes in pay” (Marlowe 1941: 9)—that is, for the least literary and most improvisatory form of dramatic performance current on the Elizabethan stage, the jig—should have lent himself to collaboration with actors, and comic actors at that. However, there is reason to believe that one actor at least contributed in a quite distinctive manner to the comic scenes of Doctor Faustus.
Thomas Lodge’s and Robert Greene’s play A Looking-Glass for London and England resonates with Doctor Faustus in a manner that has long nagged at textual critics: the usurer’s speech of despair in A Looking Glass resembles parts of Faustus’s final speech, and a piece of comic business involving a clown’s fantasy of beating a devil to death appears both in the 1604 quarto of Faustus and in A Looking Glass (where the fantasy is very nearly actualized). The usual approach to this intertextuality has been to argue that A Looking Glass is the derivative text, and that the 1604 or A-version of Doctor Faustus thus antedates that play’s first performance in 1591-92. The usurer’s speech may well be an opportunistic imitation of Faustus, in which case the comic business in A Looking Glass would also most likely be derivative.7 But is there perhaps another alternative?
In an intriguing conjecture, Roma Gill has raised the possibility that this comic routine originated, not in one play or the other, but rather in the improvisatory repertoire of an actor who helped to shape the slapstick routines in both plays—a clown of the kind that (in Hamlet’s words) “keepes one sute Of ieasts, as a man is knowne by one sute of Apparell” (Q1, III. ii. 33-35). In this case, Gill proposed, the actor can be named. John Adams, who played with Sussex’s Men in 1576 and The Queen’s Men in 1583 and 1588, was well enough remembered to be linked with the famous clown Richard Tarlton in the Induction to Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair (1614): “Adams, the rogue, ha’leaped and capered upon him [Tarlton], and ha’dealt his vermin about as though they had cost him nothing.” Gill’s suggestion that during the 1590s Adams was one of the Admiral’s Men and dealt his vermin about in Doctor Faustus I. iv. 21-29 is very appealing—as is her supposition that, having acted the role of the Clown (also named Adam) in A Looking Glass who beats and mortally wounds a devil, he subsequently contributed the “kill-devil” jest to Doctor Faustus I. iv. 45-49 (Marlowe 1990: xix-xxi).8
If there is thus reason to suspect that actors collaborated in the constitution of the play-texts which we know under the name of Marlowe, one can also point to the much more plentiful evidence of their participation in the transmission and in the writerly or memorial reinscription of these texts. Roslyn Knutson’s study of the Elizabethan repertory system has shown that its needs were in part responsible for the shape taken by the 1602 revision of Doctor Faustus. And as I have argued elsewhere, traces of memorial transmission can be detected in both the 1604 and the 1616 versions of Doctor Faustus (Marlowe 1991: lxix)—while in the case of The Massacre at Paris, what we possess is a text that seems entirely constituted by the work of memory, to the extent that the textual body of its sole surviving version, an undated octavo, seems scarcely less mangled than those of the figures who, throughout the play, are shot, stabbed, defenestrated and drowned.
Of equal importance is the evidence of printing-house collaboration in the production of Marlowe’s texts. It would be most interesting to know, in the case of Tamburlaine, what exactly were those “fond and friuolous Iestures, digressing (and in my poore opinion) far vnmeet for the matter,” which Richard Jones excised from the text that he printed in 1590, lest they “prooue a great disgrace to so honorable & stately a historie....” One might surmise that, like the Calyphas episode in 2 Tamburlaine IV.i, these passages would have undermined the totalitarian fantasy which the “honorable and stately” text we possess seems, for the most part, to legitimize. There may, in other words, be a connection between Jones's apparent approval of “the Scythian Shepheard ... that became so great a Conqueror, and so mightie a Monarque,” and his distinction between the “matter of worth” which contributed to this image of Tamburlaine and those “graced deformities” which—at the very least—must have deflected an audience’s attention in other directions. Whatever the nature of the deleted material,9 the Tamburlaine plays that London audiences knew in the late 1580s contained a comic counterweight to tyranny which is lacking in the printed text. Arguably, then, this printer’s politic collaboration—which Marlowe, if he cared, had no means of resisting, since the text was not his property—has had a decisive impact upon all subsequent interpretations of these plays.
Jones’s intervention may have been “politic” in a second sense—as designed in part to pre-empt the reaction of the ecclesiastical censor by whom Tamburlaine the Great would have to be licensed before it could be printed (see Clare 17). In the case of Doctor Faustus, however, one can identify censorship which took place in the playhouse rather than the printer's shop. This play was entered in the Stationers’ Register by Thomas Bushell in January 1601, and the earliest surviving edition was printed by him in 1604; in the mean time, in 1602, the Admiral’s Men commissioned a revision of the play and made it once more part of their repertory. Either at this time or in 1606, when the Act of Abuses imposed heavy fines for profane references to God in stage plays, this version of Doctor Faustus (which was eventually printed in 1616) was subjected to a systematic censorship.
By my count there are twenty distinct places in parallel passages at which the 1616 or B text diverges from the 1604 or A text in what could be described as theologically motivated ways.10 Only six of these are merely mechanical substitutions of, for example, “heaven” for “God.” The other fourteen changes are of clearly doctrinal import, and function together to re-orient the play in relation to the dominant ideology whose faultlines the A text so terrifyingly exposes. Thus, for example, Faustus’s A-text cry,
Oh God, if thou wilt not haue mercy on my soule,
Yet for Christs sake, whose bloud hath ransomd me,
Impose some end to my incessant paine (A: 1483-85; V. ii. 91-93)
becomes in the B text something at once less vivid and more moralistic:
O, if my soule must suffer for my sinne,
Impose some end to my incessant paine (B: 2067-68).
The disturbing (but entirely orthodox) notion that there is a category of people who will not receive mercy because they are not among the elect, and therefore not among those for whom Christ's blood was shed, has been replaced by an acknowledgment of guilt; the question of God’s role in Faustus’s present and future sufferings has been effaced.
In the immediately preceding scene a similar effect can be noted. According to the Old Man of the A text, Faustus’s sins can only be expelled by "mercie Faustus of thy Sauiour sweete, / Whose bloud alone must wash away thy guilt" (A: 1312-13; V. i. 45-46); at the same time, however, the Old Man expresses a violent revulsion from the "stench" of his "most vilde and loathsome filthinesse" (A: 1308-9; V. i. 41-42)—hardly an encouraging reaction to a sinner who already believes that God “loves [him] not” (II. i. 10). In contrast, B’s Old Man speaks not “in wrath, / Or enuy of thee, but in tender loue, / And pitty of thy future miserie” (B: 1825-27). His theology is likewise different: leaving open the possibility that it may be within Faustus’s own power to repent, he suggests that he is a fitting object of love, human or divine: “Yet, yet thou hast an amiable soule, / If sin by custome grow not into nature” (B: 1818-19). Faustus responds in both texts to the Old Man’s intervention with an outburst of despair, the second line of which—“Damnd art thou Faustus, damnd, despair and die” (A: 1315; V. i. 48)—is significantly missing in B. The Old Man counters with a vision of divine grace, which in neither text does Faustus seem actually to receive; the Old Man leaves him, in A, “with heauy cheare, / fearing the ruine of thy hopelesse soule” (A: 1327-28; V. i. 60-61)—and in B, “with griefe of heart, / Fearing the enemy of thy haplesse soule” (B: 1841-42). Faustus then asks himself, in A, “Accursed Faustus, where is mercie now?” A: 1329; V. i. 62)—a question for which B, re-using an earlier line in a manner that constitutes clear evidence of secondariness, substitutes “Accursed Faustus, wretch what hast thou done?” (B: 1843).
These variants shift the meaning of this sequence: where A implies a causal link between Faustus’s despair and the divine agency whose mercy hovers just beyond his reach, the faultline which this text exposes is obscured by B’s insistence on Faustus’s own perverse agency and that of the “enemy” whose victim he has made himself. The problem which A presents—that of the perversity of a whole Calvinistic order of discourse11—is reduced in B to a simpler one, that of the perversity of a single stage figure. The A-version of this play invites us to question an ideological order—and, by implication, the religious-political system which it legitimizes; the B-version prefers to interrogate one guilty, terrified mortal.
What these instances of different forms of collaboration—contemporaneous, diachronic, and institutional—reveal most distinctly is an oeuvre which from the beginning prompted contestation and reinscription. In every case I have discussed authorship is in one way or another parodied, stressed, dispersed, or supplemented. What, then, would be the difference if the evidence of Marlowe’s texts, rather than of Shakespeare’s (or, as Gary Taylor proposes, of Middleton’s), were to provide the basis for our editorial paradigms—for what Taylor calls “our models of intertextual space” (134)?
The most obvious conceptual change that would be required is suggested by the fact that while various forms of collaborative composition and reinscription can be detected in most of the ten major texts which go by Marlowe’s name, in several cases—1 and 2 Tamburlaine and Hero and Leander, to begin with—the revisionary processes which followed upon Marlowe’s own work appear to have been ideologically motivated, and in the revisions to Doctor Faustus ideological motivation can be demonstrated.
I have argued above that editorial work amounts to a form of diachronic collaboration, a recursive intervention in the text’s originary processes as well as an extension of its historical trajectory. The early textual history of Marlowe’s writings suggests how urgent it is to recognize that editorial interventions occur within an intertextual space that also has a clear temporal dimension, and that owes its original shape to ideological pressures quite different from those of our own time. Different, and yet perhaps analogous in function. To revert to a geological metaphor, the early texts reveal faultlines and patterns of occlusion and subduction that correspond to the pressures which re-shaped and deformed these texts. However, similar forms of occlusion and subduction are embarassingly evident in twentieth-century textual critical work—and are similarly the product of ideological pressures that it is possible to identify. One of the most interesting facts about the application of twentieth-century textual-critical methods to Doctor Faustus must surely be that its result, for something like half a century, was the legitimation as “authentically Marlovian” of a version of the play that can now be recognized as having been produced by repressive revisions undertaken a decade and more after Marlowe’s death.
Does it need to be said that our efforts to restore the contextual weave which reveals the text’s permeation by and participation in history are themselves ideologically motivated acts?
7. The “Marlowe effect”?
These suggestions may seem scarcely novel. Leah Marcus, for example, has advocated a practice of “local” or “topical” reading which, suspending “our ruling methodologies” in favour of “a more open and provisional stance toward what we read and the modes by which we interpret,” would embody “a process of continual negotiation between our own place, to the extent that we are able to identify it, and the local places of the texts we read.” Observing at the same time the fluid and provisional nature of Shakespeare’s play-texts, she has remarked on the manner in which modern editors have edited ideology out of these texts (Puzzling 36, 44-45). Elsewhere, in one of the most stimulating and strenuous of recent textual-critical interpretations of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, she insists that “It is time to step back from the fantasy of recovering Marlowe as the mighty, controlling source of textual production and consider other elements of the process, particularly ideological elements that the editorial tradition has, by the very nature of its enterprise, suppressed” (“Textual” 3). But her application of these insights, if in certain respects intriguing, is in a larger sense disappointing.
Aligning the 1604 or A text of Doctor Faustus with militant Calvinism, Marcus sees this text as opening up “a dangerous fissure” in the ideology of the Protestant war party of the early 1590s (“Textual” 17). The 1616 or B text, she suggests, offers “unsettling parallels between the activities of the magician and England’s growing friendship with the Holy Roman Empire” (19); it thus transposes the play’s “simultaneous exaltation and undermining of official ideology,” a transgressive “author function” described by Marcus as the “Marlowe effect” (22), into the accommodationist political mode of the early 1600s. This opens up “the perverse, interesting possibility that significant segments of Doctor Faustus actually composed by Marlowe may have been cheerfully expunged from the play at various times in order to give it a continuing aura of authorial authenticity” (24).
Aided by this happy paradox, Marcus thus locates the play’s transgressiveness in the fact that a figure who can be somewhat tenuously linked in A with the international policies of militant Protestantism, and more distinctly in B with James I's policy of alliance with the Holy Roman Empire, is also a demonic conjurer. However, she has nothing of substance to say about the A text’s much more sustained and troubling interrogation of the equivocal doctrines of Calvinism, or about the B text's retreat from and partial erasure of this interrogation. She thus effectively occludes the play’s most direct engagement with ideology.12 I would maintain that A is a radically interrogative text, and B an “orthodox effacement” of its heterodoxy (Marlowe 1991: xv); on the basis of an allegorizing reading that links Faustus with the Protestant war party or with James I, Marcus represents A and B as alike radical.
Marcus suggests a correlation between B’s location of Faustus in Wittenberg, which she describes as “a haven for lingering elements of late-medieval scholasticism,” and the preference for this text on the part of ‘establishment’ critics who are content with “a brand of theatricality which relies on spectacle and special effects to communicate widely accepted cultural ideas” (6-7); and she proposes a parallel correlation between the preference for A by a younger “Vietnam era” generation of scholars interested in “theatrical starkness, iconoclasm, dissonance” and the A-text’s location of Faustus in “Wertenberg”—no error, Marcus insists, but the duchy of Württemberg, known to Elizabethan Protestants for its past associations with Zwinglian radicalism, the Calvinist sympathies of its duke, and its anti-Imperial orientation (7-8).
Although Marcus is quite right about these textual-political preferences, the correlations she advances seem peculiar. They are scarcely compatible with the claim that B is no less radically transgressive a text than A—but then Marcus does not explain why the dissident effects of A, but not of B, should have been apparent to scholars who had no inkling of the political contexts which she reconstructs. Nor does she try to link these correlations with textual evidence that might enable an assessment of the divergent preferences of scholars in terms of the play’s early textual and political history as well as the ideological postures of twentieth-century textual scholarship. Her characterization of Wittenberg, finally, is misleading: this university was indeed dominated by a backward-looking scholasticism in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries--but so also were the other German universities and academies, where scholasticism was likewise neither “lingering” nor residual, but firmly (and harshly) in the saddle.13
Despite an expressed interest in “identify[ing] differences between texts in order to arrive at historically specific différance” (22), Marcus’s argument is conservative in tendency. Traditionalist partisans of A or of B have argued for the coherence and aesthetic integrity of the favoured text, and for the formlessness of what (in Marcus’s memorable formulation) they have seen as “its dark, monstrous double” (6); they have also tended to make exaggerated claims for their text’s closeness to the play’s originary moment.14 Marcus, following the lead of an influential article in which Michael Warren sought to extend to Doctor Faustus an approach that had discriminated usefully between the two texts of King Lear, argues for the coherence and integrity of both A and B, and the continuity in them of the “Marlowe effect.”
The point of her arguments, like those of Michael Warren, is to restrict the kind of editorial work that can safely be contemplated. Warren wanted to see “the abandonment of editions based on conflations of texts as objects of study or as texts for performance” (112); Marcus wants “to open up the texts to a process of ‘unediting’” (23).15 In response to these projects, the questions of text, apparatus, and history that have given the foregoing reflections on collaboration whatever focus they may possess acquire immediate relevance.
There is no necessary connection between the ideological divergence of the two versions of Doctor Faustus and the question of what editorial procedures, beyond the production of facsimiles or parallel diplomatic editions of A and B, may be appropriate. However, quarto and folio King Lear are two distinct, authorial (and not evidently collaborative) versions of a play. In contrast, A and B Faustus, while still more divergent, are collaborative (and in the case of B, diachronically collaborative) texts, connected in parallel passages in a manner which, though complex, can be briefly described. B's parallel passages are both censored and revised; they are, moreover, largely dependent upon the 1611 reprint of A (Marlowe 1950: 63-72)—though in at least two instances it can also be demonstrated that short sections of A are secondary to the parallel passages in B (Marlowe 1991: lxvii-lxviii).
There can be no excuse for an editorial failure to recognize the temporal priority, the temporal integrity, and (however recursively constituted) the greater authenticity of the A version of the play. But when an analysis that is alert to the ideological contexts that inform the play, and alert to the collaborative processes that have shaped its textual differentiation, indicates to us that the B text is at certain points prior to A, we may feel inclined to question the wholesale dismissal of the B text by some recent editors of A-text editions.16 There is in any event no reason, so far as I can see, why editors and textual critics should want to submit, in the name of “un-editing,” to a new form of what Greg in a deservedly famous article termed “the tyranny of copy-text” (49).
8. Malone lives
The work of Leah Marcus seems to me representative, in its strengths and weaknesses, of the best current textual-critical work on Marlowe. If, while admiring her recognition of a need for ideological alertness, I resist the manner in which she moves to this end, I also find myself wanting to resist her more recent claim—linked, one may suspect, to her commitment to “unediting”—that “For better or for worse ..., the Age of Malone has passed” (“Recent” 400).
My resistance to this claim stems in part from a feeling that in certain respects the Age of Malone has hardly properly begun. In the mid-1960s Fredson Bowers described the work of Shakespeare editors in the following terms: “The editor of a typical modern text is ... likely to rely for convenience on the faulty Old Cambridge collations to give him the readings of the various early editions and a conspectus of editors; at the most, and then only in exceptional cases of conscience, may he check his paste-up sheets against some single copy of the appropriate early edition” (156). Does this not sound rather like the practice of Edmond Malone’s eighteenth-century predecessors?
I am motivated as well, I must confess, by the fact that Marcus’s claim, which concludes her 1992 round-up of the previous year’s work in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, follows hard upon her (generous) assessment of my Doctor Faustus edition. To be thus labelled as participating, whether as agent or merely as symptom, in something as epochal as the End of the Age of Malone, is oddly disconcerting.
Is it in consequence of this embarrassment that I hear, suddenly, a calm voice with a slight Irish lilt imaging what might almost be a textual-critical apocalypse?
This tangle of grey bodies is they. Silent, dim, perhaps clinging to one another, their heads buried in their cloaks, they lie together in a heap, in the night.
It is curious how willingly, at moments of rhetorical distress, Samuel Beckett comes to one's aid. Having helped Michel Foucault through the famous opening sequence of his “Discourse on Language,” he is now, it seems, going to relieve me of the necessity of providing this much slighter paper with a peroration. But is it possible to misrepresent as ‘peroration’ this voice collapsing into silence?
never there he will never
The last lines—you will have recognized them—of Malone Dies.
Edmond Malone? So has the Age of Malone indeed passed? Or should we rather be imagining a larger continuity, strained but not ruptured by a shift in paradigms? For listen: the voice, or another one much like it, begins again:
Malone is there. Of his mortal liveliness little trace remains. He passes before me at doubtless regular intervals, unless it is I who pass before him. No, once and for all, I do not move. He passes, motionless. (403)
One of these two, the speaker of The Unnamable and this spectral Malone, appears to be revolving around the other. Which, then, is at the centre, and which at the circumference? “I like to think I occupy the centre,” says the voice, “but nothing is less certain” (406). And then, in words which, if spoken by a Shakespearean scholar, or a textual critic of early modern literature, might be taken to imply the dawning of historical consciousness:
It is equally possible, I do not deny it, that I too am in perpetual motion, accompanied by Malone, as the earth by its moon. In which case there would be no further grounds for my complaining.... (407)
1 This same paper shortage did not prevent Dover Wilson's The Essential Shakespeare from being reprinted four times during this period—in 1942, 1943, 1945, and 1946.
2 Such a degree of 'originality' may seem wanton. However, my re-ordering of displaced scenes was based upon an analysis (of a kind not previously attempted) of the differential relationships in the 1604 and 1616 texts between clowning scenes and the principal action (see Marlowe 1991: lxxii-lxxvii). The Revels Plays edition of Bevington and Rasmussen has since adopted the same re-ordering of the displaced scenes. It should perhaps be added that the arguments for ‘un-editing’ which make good sense with respect to other early modern texts falter before Doctor Faustus, both early versions of which contain discontinuities and lapses that make them effectively unactable as they stand. One may suspect that scholars who call for diplomatic editions of the two versions in preference to (not just in addition to) critical editions have themselves perhaps not made the effort of seriously—or playfully for that matter—reading the quarto texts.
3 This and the next several paragraphs expand an argument made in the introduction to my edition of Doctor Faustus (xvii-xviii).
4 The notion of the "bad" quarto has recently come under severe criticism; see Urkowitz, Charney, Werstine, and McGuire.
5 H. J. Oliver has argued, in opposition to the view of McKerrow (Nashe, vol. iv. 295), that Nashe did in fact collaborate in the composition of Dido; see Marlowe 1968: xxii-xxiv.
6 As so often in criticism of Doctor Faustus, this difference of opinion is complicated by the fact that Kocher was talking about the 1604 or A text of the play, and Jump about the 1616 or B text.
7 The suggestion made by Roma Gill in 1979 that there might have been two-way borrowing, with the comic business originating in A Looking Glass (Gill 61), does not seem plausible. Compare Kuriyama 182, Empson 187, and Rasmussen 11-12.
8 The possibility of collaboration in this scene by an actor complicates any attempt like Rasmussen's to establish authorship on the basis of comparative analysis of the function-word fingerprints of Marlowe, Henry Porter and others.
9 The common assumption of critics has been that Jones cut clowning "gags" which had been inserted by actors into the play-text. He was more probably editing out material developed in collaboration between playwright and actors. These “Iestures,” Jones writes, “might seeme more tedious vnto the wise, than any way els to be regarded, though (happly) they haue bene of some vaine conceited fondlings greatly gaped at, what times they were shewed vpon the stage in their graced deformities” (Marlowe 1941: 7). Much the same could no doubt have been said of the sardonic ironies of Marlowe's other plays. I am tempted to think that there may be an ironic echo (a clearly authorial one) of Jones’s words in the contrast between “the wise” and “forward wits” which appears in the final chorus of Doctor Faustus—a contrast which, as I have argued elsewhere, is effectively deconstructed by the syntactical ambiguity of the last lines of this play (“Self-image” 133).
10 These occur at the following places in the two texts (in the lineation of Greg's parallel-text edition): A: 92, B: 88; A: 141-42 (not in B); A: 298, B: 279; A: 446 (not in B); A: 465, B: 413; A: 519, B: 466; A: 631, B: 573; A: 708, B: 649; A: 712, B: 653; A: 726-28 (not in B); A: 1302-13, B: 1813-29; A: 1315 (not in B); A: 1327-28, B: 1841-42; A: 1329, B: 1843; A: 1377-86 (not in B); A: 1462-64, B: 2048-49; A: 1468-69, B: 2053; A: 1471, B: 2055; A: 1483-84, B: 2067; A: 1505, B: 2089.
11 The best extended study of this discourse and its literary consequences is that of Stachniewski. Warren’s often-cited analysis of the two versions of the Old Man’s intervention is deaf to the theological meanings of the scene.
12 Marcus recognizes, to take just one example, that the A text portrays sin “in the ‘Genevan’ mode as an ingrained condition of infected will” (11). However, her analysis takes no account of the fact, clearly relevant to a play whose protagonist cries, “My hearts so hardned I cannot repent” (A: 647; cf. Exodus 4: 21-10: 27, and Calvin, Institutes II.iv.3 and III.xxiii.1), that Calvinist theology also ascribes sin to the inscrutable determinations of God's sovereign will, which itself both wills and works through the perversity of human wills and of demonic agents. On this subject see Stachniewski 292-94; and for samples of Calvin’s equivocations over the issues of human agency and the relation between the divine will and human wills, equivocations which have a direct bearing on Doctor Faustus, see Marlowe 1991: 200-11. Studies of the manner in which the A version of Doctor Faustus plays upon the anxieties generated by Calvinism, which was incontestably the dominant religious ideology of Elizabethan England, include Hunter 39-66, Dollimore 103-19, and my articles “Misreading” 518-29, and “History” 507-15, as well as my introduction to Marlowe 1991.
13 For evidence on the subject, see Wundt, Schüling, Risse, and Freedman.
14 The most recent example of this is Rasmussen’s claim (in a book which is in many ways the most important recent contribution to the textual criticism of this play) that the printers of the 1604 or A text of Doctor Faustus “had as their copy the original foul papers of Marlowe and his collaborator” (31). I do not think this claim can be sustained in the face of countervailing evidence, which includes my own prior demonstration that at II. iii. 35-40 the readings of A are secondary to those of the 1616 or B text (Marlowe 1991: lxviii).
15 She wishes also to “carry [Warren’s] argument further by contending that for Faustus, and for Renaissance drama more generally, a key element of textual indeterminacy is ideological difference” (3). This claim seems to me incoherent: how can ideological difference be manifested, unless through specific textual differences? Textual indeterminacy, moreover, is a notion that sits oddly in the writing of a scholar committed to “unediting,” since it implies consideration of a field of variants—a task that in turn implies the possibility and the potential utility of editorial work.
16 See for example the introductions to the editions of Ormerod and Wortham and of Gill (Marlowe 1985 and 1990).
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