Academic journal article Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England

The Laws of Candy: Who Was Ford's Collaborator?

Academic journal article Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England

The Laws of Candy: Who Was Ford's Collaborator?

Article excerpt

JOHN Ford, a Carolinian playwright, is best known as the author of the macabre tragedy 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. His extant list of works is not long, and The Laws of Candy (LC) initially published in the first Beaumont and Fletcher's folio of 1647 is not considered one of Ford's best plays, though a student of versification like myself should not be judgmental. LC is supposed to have been written in 1619-23: it was performed by the King's Men, and the cast list for the original production added to the play in the second Beaumont-Fletcher folio (1679) includes the names of all members of that company who were active during the original production. Relying on that list of actors the play was suggested to have premiered between the spring of 1619 and summer 1623.

Earlier scholars were frustrated at their inability to find evidence of John Fletcher's style in the play. H. D. Sykes (1920) identified its author as Massinger, while the perceptive E. H. C. Oliphant (1927, p. 478) claimed that the author was John Ford. Cyrus Hoy in his detailed treatment of authorship in Fletcher's canon (1956-62) confirmed Ford's authorship. Brian Vickers (2002) attributed the play mostly to Massinger. It is hard to imagine that LC belongs to the author of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. Three of Ford's plays-The Lover's Melancholy, The Broken Heart, and the lost Beauty in a Trance (licensed November 28, 1630) are known to have been acted by the King's Men, so they are all relatively early plays. This may imply that LC is also early, which could help to explain its crudity in versification. If the play was written as early as 1619 or 1620, it could be the earliest of Ford's extant dramatic works. In my versification analysis of LC I discovered, besides Ford, another hand (Tarlinskaja 2014, p. 2431). In this essay I present more material on the difference in versification styles of Ford's text and the portion of a tentative collaborator. On the basis of the versification data we shall try to suggest who Ford's coauthor might have been.

John Ford was born in 1586; he was six years younger than John Webster and Thomas Middleton, three years younger than Philip Massinger, and a year younger than William Rowley. Ford was not a typical Jacobean drama- tist, such as Webster and Middleton; his plays represent both Jacobean and Carolinian epochs in their plots, style and versification (Tarlinskaja 2014, 238-44). Before looking at Ford's dramas, I need to present, in a nutshell, my principles of versification analysis.

All analyzed plays are composed mostly as metrical texts: iambic pentameter, a ten- (or eleven-) syllable line where predominantly unstressed and predominantly stressed syllables alternate. The predominantly unstressed syllabic positions are called metrically weak (W) and predominantly stressed positions are metrically strong (S). The scheme of iambic pentameter is WSWSWSWSWS (W), but an actual iambic line does not consist of separate syllables or even of separate words, but of phrases: phonetic and syntactic. Words in speech are connected syntactically. In the analysis of English verse it is convenient to use a concept of "metrical phrase " also called a "metrical word" (Gasparov 1974). Because English has so many monosyllables, we have to add a potentially stressed monosyllable on W to the adjacent word whose stress falls on S. Here are examples of lines segmented into metrical words (stressed syllables on S are emphasized): Too soon | dejected, | and too soon | elate ! A thousand | Wings, | by turns, | blow back | the Hair ; Ariel himself | shall be the Guard | of Shock (Pope, The Rape of the Lock, 3.102, 136, 2.116), Full ten years | slander'd, | did he | once | reply? (Pope, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, 374). Divided into metrical words the lines look like verse, not like prose or beads scattered on a page.

The first two parameters of versification analysis are the placement of word boundaries and of the most frequent syntactic breaks after syllables 2-10 (or 2-11) between adjacent metrical words and adjacent lines. …

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