The Marlowe Society

Marlowe's Works

Marlowe's Works
Massacre Woodcut

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

History:

History:

Interpretation:

Interpretation:

Plot:

Plot:

References:

References:

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

Textual History

1. Octavo Edition

The only extant publication of the play text is an undated Octavo edition [O] printed by Edward Allde for Edward White as recorded on the title page:

THE
MASSACRE
AT PARIS:
With the Death of the Duke
of Guise.

As it was plaide by the right honourable the
Lord high Admirall his Servants.

Written by Christopher Marlow.

AT LONDON
Printed by E.A. for Edward White, dwelling neere
the little North doore of S.Paules
Church, as the signe of
the Gun.

There is no entry in the Stationers' Register relating to this publication. Ten extant copies of [O] have survived. [Oliver]1 examined them in 1969 and found very minor variations in the form of a few press-corrections, and listed the copies as follows:

  • British Museum in London;
  • Bodleian Library in Oxford (a copy once owned by Edmund Malone);
  • Victoria and Albert Museum in London (part of the Dyce Collection);
  • Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge;
  • Library of Congress in Washington DC;
  • The Folger Library in Washington DC;
  • The Huntingdon Library in California;
  • The Chapin Library in Massachusetts;
  • Two by private individuals (the White-Rosenbach copy, and the C.W. Clark copy).

Edward Allde (d. 1628)2 inherited his father John's printing business on the latter's death in 1584. He moved into his own premises in Fore Street, Cripplegate in 1593, leaving his mother Margaret to continue her husband's business at the Long Shop in the Poultry. The quality of his work is not generally considered to be of the highest standard. He is perhaps best known for his part in printing the 'bad quarto' of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in 1597 along with John Danter. He was fined for printing unregistered works, and his printing presses were twice shut down. He often printed for both Edward Whites, booksellers father and son, throughout his career, including editions of The Spanish Tragedy (1592?), Tamburlaine Part II (1606) and Titus Andronicus (1611).

2. A Reported and Corrupt Text

It is almost certain that [O] is a corrupt and unauthorised text, most probably compiled from memorial reconstruction by actor(s) or someone else involved with a production. Some commentators have also suggested that the text might have been sourced from an abbreviated form of the play taken on tour.3 The following points are considered in coming to that conclusion:

  • The extant play text is very short at 1,263 words,4 suggesting perhaps that some portion of Marlowe's original text may have been cut.
  • The speeches are noticeably short, with only one speech in the play running to longer than 30 lines (Guise's soliloquy in Scene II). Only fifteen speeches are 12 lines or longer.5
  • The so-called 'Collier Leaf', purporting to be a single sheet from an original manuscript version of the play, shows a fuller text. The soldier's prose speech comprises 169 words compared to 127 in [O], and the Guise's subsequent soliloquy is 16 lines compared to the 4 lines in [O]. If this sheet is genuine, then the original play text was clearly a more substantial body of work.
  • There are a significant number of "fill-in" lines, including those where a character simply addresses another e.g. "My Lord", "My good Lord Admiral" etc.6
  • [Oliver] comments that "one's general impression is that many of the lines were originally in blank verse that has been mangled," and also that "there seem to be relics of imagery that may originally have been striking but is in its present form confused."7
  • There are a significant number of repetitions of lines or phrases, most of which do not appear to be down to the author employing repetition as a deliberate technique for effect.8
  • There are a number of examples of lines that appear in other plays, most notably 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI, strongly hinting at memorial reconstruction, perhaps by actor(s) who have played parts in these other plays (see a list of echoes of lines in other plays).
  • The stage directions in many instances contain fairly full descriptions of the action that is taking place, which might possibly hint at being reproduced from an actor's memory, rather than from, say, an author's manuscript copy.9

It might be speculated, from the lengthy soliloquy extant in Scene II, that an actor who has played the role of Guise has been involved in the textual reconstruction. If the Collier Leaf is genuine, however, then the significant shortfall with regard to the Guise's speech following Mugeroun's murder, contradicts that conclusion unless the reconstruction was based on what was already an abridged version of the play being used by a touring troupe of actors. But whoever sourced the printed [O] text, almost all commentators agree that it is a corrupt memorial reconstruction that represents a significant truncation of Marlowe's original. The likely quality of Marlowe's original is another question altogether (see Critical History).

3. Dating the Octavo

Unfortunately Edward Allde rarely dated the works he printed, and [O] continues that trend. The exact dating of [O] is difficult to determine, and it can only really be said that it was probably published within the first dozen years or so after the play's stage debut. The following points can be considered in relation to this, although none provide evidence that enables a specific dating of the publication:

  • Allde printed for the Edward Whites throughout his printing career.
  • The Massacre at Paris: undated Octavo first page, first lines.
  • The ornaments that appear in the edition were also used by Allde throughout his printing career - both the woodcut design on the title page, and the capital 'P' decoration that starts the text.10
  • Two lines from the Guise's soliloquy in Scene II are quoted (albeit not quite exactly as it appears in the [O] text) in England's Parnassus (1600)11: "Daunger's the chiefest ioy to happinesses, / And resolution honours fairest aim".12 However, these lines could well have been remembered from a performance, and need not necessarily have been sourced from [O].
  • A note in Henslowe's Diary for 18 January 1602 records Henslowe paying Edward Alleyn for three play-books, including "the massaker". [Oliver]13 wonders whether this might suggest that the play had not been published by this point. However, since [O] is almost certainly an unauthorised and far from complete version of the play text, it may not have precluded Henslowe wanting to purchase the official play-book even if the corrupt [O] had already been published.
  • [Oliver]14 notes that Guise's line "Yet Caesar shall go forth" (XXI.67) is also found in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, has no other known source, and that commentators believe one text must be indebted to the other. If the recall of the author(s) of [O] has been influenced by Julius Caesar, then the publication must have been after 1599 when that play was first staged.
  • The title page of [O] records that the play is "as it was plaide by the right honourable the Lord high Admirall his Servants". Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, whilst holding the position of Lord High Admiral of England from 1585 to 1619, was created Earl of Nottingham in 1596. As W.W. Greg notes,15 thereafter the acting company of which he was patron was generally known as Nottingham's Men. This might argue for a publication some time after the play was performed by the Admiral's Men through the summer of 1594, but before the play was apparently reprised at The Rose in 1598. However, this is not conclusive, and as Greg himself notes, there is at least one example of a play text citing the Lord Admiral's Men as late as 1600 (Look About You).

Despite this last observation, which must be the reason for Nosworthy referring to it as "the ramshackle and surreptitious octavo issued by White between 1594 and 1596",16 most commentators plump for a later publication date. [Oliver] thinks 1602 most probable ("perhaps shortly after Henslowe's company purchased the authentic text from Alleyn"). [Tucker-Brooke's] view is that the publication "follows ... the last revival of the play in 1601," and was perhaps published around the same time as Allde published Tamburlaine Part II in 1606.17

However, since the evidence is generally ambiguous, it can be only really be stated with any degree of confidence that [O] was probably published at some time between 1594 and 1606.

4. Subsequent Editions

Following [O], there was no printed edition of The Massacre at Paris as far as is known until Oxberry's edition in the early nineteenth century. Actor William Oxberry (1784-1824) printed most of Marlowe's plays individually in the years 1818-20, including The Massacre in 181818, and then collected all the plays together in a single publication, The Dramatic Works of Christopher Marlowe in 1827. Oxberry's editorial efforts are deemed somewhat hasty by critics, and the general impression is not enhanced by the title page which identifies the editor as "W.Oxberry, Comedian".

Thereafter the play was included in all the collected editions of Marlowe's plays, starting with [Robinson's] Works of Christopher Marlowe published in 1826, and subsequently in the collections edited by [Dyce] (1850), [Cunningham] (1870), [Bullen] (1885) and [Tucker-Brooke] (1910) .

Following the First World War, two more specific editions of the play appeared. First [W.W. Greg] edited a version of the play for the series of Malone Society Reprints in 1928 , and three years later, [H.S. Bennett] published an edition of The Massacre alongside The Jew of Malta. Thereafter, the only specific treatment came in The Revels Plays series edition in 1969, in which editor [H.J. Oliver] provided a detailed consideration of Marlowe's two least performed plays, Dido Queen of Carthage, and The Massacre at Paris.

 
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