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Monday, April 16, 2007

Notes and Queries = Our New Series?

Unless you're Spenserian enough to go to Kalamazoo (which I'm not), the conference season has come and gone. Feels like it's time to come up with some new tricks to teach this old d/bl/og. We should definitely do another reading group (any suggestions? how about someone who's dead, and therefore can't ruin our tenure cases when we insult them?). And I'd love to see more plays in that Holzknecht supplement. But who wants to go down familiar paths when you could do something completely new? Like something that started in 1849?

We all know the hoariest of the literary studies journals, Notes and Queries. Sample made up entry, c. 1912:

Owing to the overwhelming presence of isolating verbal markers such as 'em', 'hem' 'them' and 'anthem' in addition to four incidences of 'een' alongside 'er' and 'erm' in "The World Tost at Tennis," we must hesitate to accept Mr. Cope-Hervington II's conjecture that Thomas Middleton was eating almonds at the time of the play's composition. Like the revered Countess of Pembroke, however, Middleton was quite possibly a pecan-enthusiast, as evidenced by his collaboration with Thomas Heywood on the now-lost pageant "Pecania Triumphans," which was likely commissioned by the honorable company of Barbary Nut Merchants, of whom there remains no extant record beyond the lost pageant itself. In short, the Cope-Hervingtonian hypothesis cannot stand, and we are left, at best, with guidance merely from Malone, who on this question and all others, favored hazelnuts. Further inquiry is needed &c.

Now, if this isn't the stuff that blogs are made of, I don't know what is. In fact, Notes and Queries was basically the original Blogging the Renaissance, but with paper, and standards. So, with this in mind, I suggest that we begin to offer our own version of NQ. I happen to know for a fact that my fellow bloggers stumble across useless esoterica in their endless search for True Knowledge (I also happen to know for a fact that several people consider my entire first book project to be an exercise in framing useless esoterica as True Knowledge), and I'd like to ask them to begin to share it here.

How will this be different from the EEBOnics series? Good question. Whereas the EEBOnics posts tend to follow the "Hey, look at this strange text I've found" line of discussion, a line that perhaps encourages us (i.e., me) to offer general, informal observations about one thing or another that could be, and in fact have been, refuted by people who actually know something about the texts in question, N and Q posts will be brief paragraphs about small discoveries that are noteworthy, obscure, probably new to the internet's version of public knowledge, but that don't necessarily fit into any kind of over-arching argument about early modern culture. Here's one:

Three or four years ago, I came across the following exchange between characters named Moll and Eare-lacke at a scene-break in A Match at Midnight (p. 1633):

Doesn't this look like a friendly jab at Beaumont and Fletcher? William Rowley is a leading candidate for the play's authorship ("W. R." is on the 1633 title page), and he certainly was one of Fletcher's 10,000 collaborators. But whoever wrote it, this is seems to be a prime example of on-stage playwright nudging. Intriguing!

That's it. A Note. Further inquiry is necessary, &c. Or not. Just thought it was kind of cool, and I know there's no way I will ever be able to use that information for anything other than sharing it with like-minded people, people who have made the mistake of devoting their time and energy to a field of study that leads them to the point where they can read the above lines and think, "Hm. That is not the most boring thing I have ever seen." Of course, maybe you are writing a book on playwright nudging in early modern drama. In which case... you're welcome.

I wonder... will more Notes and Queries follow this post? Inkhorn? Simplicius? Hieronimo?

What ho?

  • At 4/17/2007 09:54:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Dang it--I hate to ask this, but are we sure this is a polite jab at John Fletcher?

    It strikes me more that this "Fletcher" is just an "arrow maker," not our man John.

    But I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise.

    And I agree, Cope-Hervington was a hack. But what kind of nuts were people cracking in theaters? Surely not hazelnuts, pace Malone. I'm inclined to agree with Crow and Yearling that it was walnuts.


  • At 4/17/2007 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Inkhorn wrote…

    "Taking whole money for piec't arrowes" sounds maybe like a jab at a notorious collaborator? Maybe?

    The nuts were clearly pistachios. Which were always, at the time, washed down with lime rickies -- as you can still see people doing, in some English villages, to this day.


  • At 4/17/2007 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Thanks, Inkhorn, for horning the readers of this blog, and taking no money for your pains.

    That's an intriguing hypothesis, and who knows, probably right, but I'm genuinely not sure this would have been the reputation of Fletcher in 1633. Was Fletcher associated with this practice any more than any other playwright?

    Obviously, the only real way to answer this question is to get started on our John Fletcher Allusion book.


  • At 4/17/2007 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Greenwit wrote…

    It's funny. When I first read this passage, I was SURE it was a B and F joke. When I wrote the post, I looked at it again, and I had a moment of doubt. But I went ahead anyway. It was the "pieced arrows" business that put me over the edge... unless that's some kind of proverb I've never heard (when will Tilley go online?), it really does look like a collaboration joke. Plus, didn't I hear somewhere that Beaumont was a bit of a player? Not, like, an actor player. A playa. Schoenbaum, following Chambers' summary of best guesses by Fleay and others, dates the play 1621-23. That's as far down that particular research pathway as I'm willing to go, but it seems early enough for a Fletcher joke to work. Kind of disrespectful to the by-then dead Beaumont. Maybe we should change the entire dating narrative of the play based on one possibly non-existant joke? A Match at Midnight was clearly written in 1611 when Rowley, jealous of the success that the King's Men were having with the newly popular plays of the city's most esteemed collaborators, decided to take the coward's way and...

    It actually does read a lot like mid-period Middleton...


    This is why I don't do dating/attribution studies.


  • At 4/17/2007 02:24:00 PM, Blogger James wrote…

    On another note, I am deeply offended by the phrase "What ho?"

    I demand the immediate resignation of Truewit and an apology to the Rutgers women's basketball team.


  • At 4/17/2007 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Inkhorn wrote…

    I've always vaguely aspired to write a Note and Queries piece. Actually, I sort of think all of my articles really are Notes and Queries pieces in disguise. They could basically all be presented in this form --

    "Hey, did you know X [insert random factoid here]"

    "No way."

    "Yeah. Weird, huh?"

    "Weird, huh?" is pretty much my critical move of choice. It's the New Weirdism. Which looks basically a lot like the Old Weirdism -- hence, Notes and Queries.

    On an unrelated note: when is someone else going to do a Holzknecht?


  • At 4/17/2007 03:25:00 PM, Blogger Pamphilia wrote…

    Ah, but did theatre goers consume Spanish pistachios or Turkish ones? For that answer I'm afraid one might need to consult L.M.N.O. Spence-Whittington's seminal piece of 1902, "Pistachios for Mustachois," on the embargo on Spanish Pistachios by the Levant Company, and their subsequent replacement with Ottoman Pistachios, also known as "Turkey Nuts."


  • At 4/17/2007 04:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Well, Inkhorn, I've been meaning to ask: would you accept a Holzknecht from someone outside the collective? I've been toying with the idea of returning to blogging and as practice posts I've written a few modeled on Holzknecht Redivivus. I'm still unsure about my return to blogging, so maybe I could somehow get them to you all for use on BtR.


  • At 4/17/2007 07:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    A dating change needn't be necessary, as printing was bringing their collaboration back into the public sphere some 8 to 10 years after they wrote together. In 1619-1622, two editions each of Philaster (1620, 1622) and The Maid's Tragedy (1629, 1622) were printed (I am not sure about other collaborations and their printing history and haven't the time to look them up). The products of their collaboration were certainly available in the early 1620s for such a joke, howsoever unverifiable.


  • At 4/17/2007 07:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    sorry, that should be (1619, 1622) not 1629.


  • At 4/17/2007 08:42:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Anonymous: true enough, but those two plays are thought to be actual collaborations. And I'm still not sure Fletcher's collaborative activities were all that different from someone like Heywood's (who claims to have had a finger in something like 80 plays, right?), or more particularly, were thought to be so much different that Rowley would make a joke about them in this context. Again, though, I could be wrong.

    Also, yes, we'd love for others to contribute to Holzknecht Redivivus. You'll just need to come up with a better handle than "Anonymous."


  • At 4/17/2007 08:46:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    A good, true hearted Englishman would never eat either Spanish or Turkish pistachios (though papist courtiers might). A loyal Englishman would ask for only a native nut, like the black walnut.


  • At 4/17/2007 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Greenwit wrote…

    I'm quite happy to have returned from 11 hours away from the internet (I know, how did I survive) to find that the conversation on this post is split down the middle between comments about the potential allusion and comments about nuts. Nuts v. allusions: Who will win?


  • At 4/17/2007 11:29:00 PM, Blogger Greenwit wrote…

    oh, and I am totally in favor of the rise of the New Weirdism. Sounds like a great panel title, actually. GEMCS? NEH summer seminar, 2013? sign me up.


  • At 4/18/2007 03:49:00 AM, Blogger Adam wrote…

    i myself find N and Q a little expansive in its purview and prefer instead that staple of Borders, the 'Journal of the Cornish Place Name Society.'


  • At 4/18/2007 08:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Given that Moll's 'minde runnes sure upon a Fletcher or a Bowyer', suggesting her perceived availability to either man, could it also be an early dig at the unconventional sexuality of B&F? Cf. Aubrey's anecdote: they 'lay together ... had one wench in the house between them, which they did so admire; the same cloathes and cloake, &c., betweene them'.

    This is totally N&Q. Preferably with a title beginning 'A Neglected Allusion to...'

    And hurrah for the New Weirdism. A couple of years ago a friend and I considered putting together a panel that we privately called "Weird Plays What We Have Read" (which might, in fact, be the title of pretty much every essay/chapter I ever write).


  • At 4/18/2007 09:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    new weirdism is the rallying call of every single one of my footnotes, which are now suffering as i hack the diss into articles (damn those 8000 word limits). I have nothing to fun or smart to say about F&B, (or cornish names for that matter). but my favorite footnote right now discusses the "sneaky" mating rituals and sexual conflicts of "naturally promiscuous insects" (in a piece I'm working on about animals and rape). Stay clear of the fly Sepsis cynipsea, y'all.


  • At 4/18/2007 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    Lucy, I think you mean "Weird Plays Wot We Have Read"


  • At 4/18/2007 01:36:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    I'm also a practitioner of the New Weirdism, which is also pretty much where my pedagogy begins and ends. (Me, to class: "Hey, did any of you guys think that this was really weird. . .? Yeah? Good! You should! It's TOTALLY WEIRD! So, uh. . . what's up with that?")

    I should also admit that I actually have a "note" forthcoming in N&Q, albeit on a subject so far removed from my actual field that admitting to it here probably doesn't compromise my top-secret identity. And I gotta say: it's really satisfying to be able to say, "Hey, betcha didn't notice this neat thing!" in print on a subject about which I'm not actually supposed to know anything.


  • At 4/18/2007 01:46:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    Sadly, my admission is worse than Flavia's: Notes & Queries rejected a note that I sent them. Jebus.


  • At 4/18/2007 02:03:00 PM, Blogger Greenwit wrote…

    Poor H. Don't worry, as I mentioned in the post... we have no standards here! Publish that Note with us!


  • At 4/18/2007 02:20:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    Unfortunately, T, if I did so, it would blow my cover. So: rejected by NQ, and self-rejected by BtR!


  • At 4/18/2007 04:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    On a somewhat related note, I once wrote this mock CFP for the amusement of my friends:



  • At 4/18/2007 06:54:00 PM, Blogger Flogging the Renaissance wrote…

    I am somewhat reluctant to say so, as the work has yet to be published and I am loathe to be “SCOOPED,” but I believe I have definitively laid to rest the question of allusions to Beaumont and Fletcher (in collaboration or solus) in the later Jacobean and the Caroline drama. The particular question your entry addresses turns, not entirely unexpectedly, on a passage in ther Ballad of Chevy Chace (entered in the Stationers Register in 1624). I must, I’m afraid, leave you in suspense about the exact nature of the connection until the appearance of my own forthcoming piece (part of a larger monograph in progress) in NQ. I have been reading your web-log with considerable interest, occasional enjoyment, and not infrequent surprise. In particular, I raised my eyebrows at your dating All’s Lost By Lust, a play with which I am quite familiar (it too is the partial subject of a monograph in progress), c. 1614. Time permitting, I will take this matter up in the margins of your web-log or in the pages of my own: http://floggingtherenaissance.blogspot.com/. Yours, with apologies, &c. FMT (Dr.).


  • At 4/18/2007 09:33:00 PM, Blogger Greenwit wrote…

    Not to be a pedant (just read an essay from 1915 in which someone was trying to rescue James I from the charge of pedantry, thereby proving not only the King's pedantry, but also the author's, and, of course my own), but Inkhorn's post on All's Lost dates that play at 1619. That might also be off-base, mind you... but not in a 1614 kind of way.

    And if the Renaissance can be blogged, then it most certainly can be flogged. Also possibly clogged, should one have the necessary skills with the shoes. Welcome to the site.


  • At 4/19/2007 12:19:00 AM, Blogger Inkhorn wrote…

    Pogging the Renaissance?


  • At 4/19/2007 01:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    O curious Fletcher, O prick-shafted Buts,
    How distinguisheth we the nutmeg from the nuts.


  • At 4/19/2007 02:00:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    Snogging the Renaissance is the one I most look forward to reading.


  • At 4/19/2007 02:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Hmm. Piec't arrows and prick-shafted buts.

    Aren't we really snogging the Renaissance?

    (yeah, baby!)


  • At 4/19/2007 02:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…


    Ha, I wrote my comment (and didn't send it) when a student came in. . . then sent it without realizing!

    I bow to you, Flavia. . .


  • At 4/19/2007 02:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    If you're sure you don't mind others writing entries for Holzknecht Redivivus, I'll put some up on a blog I made up for the purpose. Feel free to cut-and-paste them to house them here if you don't want to be directing readers hither and yon.



  • At 4/19/2007 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    I love it, Wat.


  • At 4/19/2007 05:08:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    Cleophila: there's plenty enough Renaissance for everyone to snog, I think.


  • At 4/20/2007 08:30:00 PM, Blogger Pamphilia wrote…

    Careful, Flavia, this could get ugly . . . get your hands off my Renaissance!


  • At 4/21/2007 12:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Might I offer Francis Barker's Tremulous Private Body as a reading group suggestion? While it isn't exactly recent, it does satisfy your requirement that the author not be living.


  • At 4/24/2007 08:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Francis may no longer be with us, but his brother very much is, and may check out BtR from time to time... Just a thought.


  • At 4/24/2007 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    I'll bite: who is Francis Barker's brother?


  • At 4/29/2007 11:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…



 Scribble some marginalia

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