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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: April ::
Re: *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 239.  Saturday, 17 April 1993.
 
(1)     From:   John Cox <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Apr 1993 14:47 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
(2)     From:   Gordon Jones <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Apr 1993 16:26:22 -0230 (NDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0238 *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
(3)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Apr 1993 14:17:34 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
(4)     From:   Tad Davis <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Apr 93 15:14:01 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Apr 1993 14:47 EST
Subject: 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
Rene Girard has a wonderful chapter on Joyce's reading of Shakespeare's
biography in *A Theater of Envy*.  It doesn't answer any of your questions,
but you shouldn't miss it while you're working on this topic.
 
John Cox
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gordon Jones <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Apr 1993 16:26:22 -0230 (NDT)
Subject: 4.0238 *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0238 *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
Re Hamnet/Hamlet as the filial name, a lively correspondence has been
going on over the past few weeks in the columns of *The Times Literary
Supplement* between Eric Sams and Robert Nye.  Enjoy!
 
Gordon Jones
Memorial University
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Apr 1993 14:17:34 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
>1) Is the factual information Stephen uses to back up his claim true?
>I.e., did Shakespeare really leave Ann Hathaway his secondbest bed?
 
Yes, though it wasn't as bizarre a bequest as it may seem to us.  This
kind of thing was actually fairly common, and we should resist the
temptation to read in too much.
 
>Was his son's name really Hamnet?
 
Yes.
 
>Did he really beat his lead actor (I forget the name) to an assignation?
 
Couldn't say... it IS a fun story, though, and I BELIEVE its history
can at least be traced back to prior to _Ulysses_.
 
>Does the conclusion Stephen draws about Shakespeare's brother having
>had an affair with Ann seem completely wacko to those of you who make this
>kind of conjecture for a living, or is it plausible?
 
Sounds wacko to me, but I'm not an authority.
 
-- Rick Jones
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Apr 93 15:14:01 -0400
Subject: 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0238  *Ulysses* and *Hamlet*
 
That was always one of my favorite episodes in "Ulysses," especially the
part where the ghost of Shakespeare says, "None wedda seca but who killa
farst," or words to that effect. To reply to the specific items of
interest:
 
Yes, Shakespeare left his wife Anne his second-best bed "with the
furniture." It may or may not have been intended as a slight. It was
certainly an afterthought, because it was inserted between two other lines
in the will. Some have suggested it was an affectionate gesture, because it
may have been the bed they actually used; the "best" bed may have been
reserved for guests. The operative word is "may." Some have argued that
Anne was entitled to a third of Will's estate, regardless of the terms of
the will, but I believe Schoenbaum's most recent conclusion on this is that
not enough is known about specific legal customs in Stratford.
 
In the realm of pure speculation, I would say two things about
Shakespeare's marriage: (a) he spent most of it elsewhere, which suggests
it was, at best, a companionable rather than a passionate relationship; (b)
it lasted for 34 years, which by contemporary standards was a very long
time -- and which may also suggest that it was a companionable rather than
a passionate relationship. (Hey, I said this was "pure speculation.")
Divorce was a remote possibility, though it was extremely difficult to come
by; but physical separation was always an option, and it may be significant
that when he "retired" from the stage, Shakespeare moved back rather than
moving further away. When Anne died, seven years after Will, she "earnestly
desired to be laid in the same grave with him."
 
The marriage began under a cloud, whatever apologists claim for the
possibility of handfasting. Anne was three months' pregnant, and while
handfasting may have exempted them from charges of fornication, it would
never have made the children legitimate.
 
Another note to interject here: Schoenbaum suggests that Anne, 26 years old
when they married, was "a bit long in the tooth for the marriage market."
But Lawrence Stone's study of the customs of the time suggests that people
married later then than often supposed; people were typically in their
mid-20s, often because of the long period of apprenticeship. It was
Shakespeare who was the exception at 18, rather than Anne: such a
remarkable exception that it seems clear he wasn't apprenticed to anyone
and had no particular prospects at the time.
 
Shakespeare's twins were named Hamnet and Judith, probably after neighbors
Hamnet and Judith Sadler. It may be significant (and may not be) that
Hamnet Sadler witnessed Shakespeare's will as "Hamlett Sadler": like
chimney and chimbley, Hamnet and Hamlet may have been used interchangeably.
I personally can't help but think some of the grief surrounding the death
of Hamnet Shakespeare turns up in "Hamlet."
 
And yes, according to one contemporary account, he really beat Richard
Burbage to an assignation. A woman watching Burbage do Richard III was so
taken with the performance that she arranged for him to come to her later
and announce himself as Richard III. Shakespeare overheard and went there
first, "and was entertained and at his game" before Burbage got there. When
Burbage showed up and had himself announced, "Shakespeare caused return to
be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard III." This story
comes from the diary of John Manningham, a law student who lived in London
at the time. Is it true? Probably not, but it's the only contemporary
gossip we have.
 
Did Shakespeare's brother have an affair with Anne? Sounds wacko to me. On
the other hand, if you'd told somebody in 1593 that this struggling
29-year-old actor/playwright/Shakescene from the boonies was going to spark
this level of interest 400 years later, and be talked about by a community
of scholars and fans over a worldwide electronic network... I believe you
would have been made to feel distinctly uncomfortable.
 
Tad Davis

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