1994

Q: London/Stratford Contacts and Info

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0623.  Monday, 18 July 1994.
 
From:           David R. Maier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 00:21:38 -0700
Subject:        Vacationing Artistic Director seeks London/Stratford
                contacts and info
 
This message is posted for Jan Powell, a member of the List:
 
I am the Artistic Director of the Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company in Portland,
Oregon.  I will be vacationing with my 9 year old daughter in England from July
29 through August 15 and am interested in making contact with the theatre
community in London and Stratford, in seeing good theatre and in finding
reasonably priced B&B type accommodations.
 
Tygres Heart produces uniquely American Shakespeare in an intimate, blood- red
experimental theatre in Portland's Center for the Performing Arts.  My company
trains together in Shakespearean stagecraft, the cornerstone of our work being
textual analysis based upon a specific technique of disciplined metrical
interpretation.  After a study of the text, we approach the work as though it
had never been performed, the concept springing from a sense of love and
irreverence. (As a side-note, Tygres Heart is hosting the 1995 annual meeting
of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America.)
 
It is important to me to establish a network of theatre scholars and
practitioners to broaden our work and incorporate influences from around the
world.  I would like to establish contact with members of the British theatre
community to discuss interpretation, production and the possibility of
collaboration.
 
1) I would like to talk with production people at the RSC and the National;
also any directors, producers, etc. who are taking unique approaches to the
interpretation of Shakespeare. If anyone could suggest names and a way to make
contact, please let me know.
 
2) The York Mystery Plays:  Are they being produced this year?  We hosted them
in Portland several years ago and would like to reestablish contact.
 
3) I would also appreciate a run-down on current productions and any
suggestions or recommendations of what to see and what to avoid.
 
4) If anyone knows of any reasonably priced, cozy B&B type accommodations
close-in to London I would appreciate a referral.
 
5) I would also appreciate a referral if anyone knows of a family in London
with a 9-ish year old child who might like to make an American friend (when my
daughter completely loses patience with all of my other activities).
 
6) I am directing a production of Henry V this season and have been giving some
thought to a trip to Agincourt and/or Harfleur.  Having never been to either of
these places I have no idea whether there is anything there which would make
such a trip worthwhile.  Any suggestions on those or other particularly
pertinent Henry V-related sites would be helpful.
 
7) I would like to contact Clare West, a choreographer with, I believe, either
the English National Opera or the English Touring opera.  Her notable work
recently has been with Phillip Glass.  Does anyone know how to reach her?
 
Please respond either to the List or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Thank you for your assistance.
 
Jan Powell
 
--
David Maier
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Character

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0622.  Monday, 18 July 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 15 Jul 1994 20:18:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0614  Re: Character
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 11:54:00 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
(3)     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 18:51:35 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
(4)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 17:57:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
(5)     From:   William Proctor Williams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 16 Jul 94 19:19 CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
(6)     From:   John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Jul 94 13:01:00 BST
        Subj:   SHK 5.0618 Re: Character
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 15 Jul 1994 20:18:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0614  Re: Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0614  Re: Character
 
For John Drakakis, once more
 
John, I think that you and I are not in total agreement, BUT further I think
that most of our disagreement comes from positions that you and I attribute to
each other, positions that we do not, in fact, hold. I am apparently
caricaturing your position on materialism and historical limitations, and you
are distorting my point about mimesis.
 
I have maintained and will continue to maintain that shit is transhistorical --
if I may use that four letter word. My point is, purely or impurely, there are
certain things that animals do. If your body does not carry out its natural
functions, you are dead. That seems to be the paragmatic view.
 
I do not believe in a transhistorical "essence" nor an "oceanic mind." I gather
that we both feel that humans are a product of their historical moment, that we
can not transcend anything.
 
Of course, emblem books conditioned the sixteenth and seventeenth century
response to life. And, of course, I agree that the sixteenth and seventeenth
century playhouses were "emblematic" in that they suggested that all the world
(the Globe) was a stage. They (and, let's  face it, we) all play roles. They
prepared a face to meet the faces that they met.
 
And in the sixteenth century, those people said many times, "so many men, so
many minds." I think that means -- among other things -- that there is no such
thing as the "Renaissance mind." (And, John, I'm NOT accusing you of suggesting
that there was such a thing!) I gather that in the early modern period there
was a range of possible response to ANYTHING, including a play. I don't believe
that early modern people AS A WHOLE had ONE habitual response. I have plenty of
scholarly evidence (enough to satisfy anyone's protocols) for this statement.
There may have been "main ways," but there were also byways. I like the byways.
 
"The question of what was SHOWN (and also of what was narrated) on the
Elizabethan [and Jacobean and Caroline?] Stage is far more problemtic than you
seem to think," you say, John. Now, this sounds like something I'd like to hear
about. Are you talking about stage directions? Or business that we seem to read
from the words? Not as much animal blood as we've been led to believe? I'd like
to know what I seem to think.
 
And, John, you mention the "scholarly protocols for validating" evidence. Are
these "protocols" like the "canon," impossible to buy at the local bookstore?
Maybe we should decide what evidence will be admitted in this case.
 
Jimmy Jung's wellies, I take to be Wellingtons. What he means is "the bullshit
that John Drakakis and Bill Godshalk have generated is getting too deep for
ordinary shoes." And so, John, you and I even read our own time in different
ways, and I'm sorry to hear that you are a tea-totaller. The French have
conclusively proven that red wine is good for your heart, and --- you've got to
have heart!
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
P.S.  And, John, I'm sorry that I misread your take on sixteenth and early
seventeenth century selfhood or subjectivity. Did those folks develop their
sense of self in the same way we do, perchance?
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 11:54:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0618  Re: Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
Pat Buckridge has done us a service by quoting Nuttall's response of Knights,
and I think Nuttall has the best of this argument. Surely, most of us
distinguish between our real world and fictional worlds. Thomas Pavel in
FICTIONAL WORLDS discusses the possibilities. Playgoers have to make inferences
about the fictional world of the play. Dramatic figures have implied histories;
otherwise, they would know nothing. The playgoer does not know if Lady Macbeth
has had children or, if she has, how many she's had. What the playgoer knows is
that she claims to have given suck, and Macbeth doesn't respond by saying,
"rot."
 
David Evett's examination of LEAR is interesting, but is he confusing the
fictional world or worlds of the play with the real world of early seventeenth
century England? Shakespeare DOES emphasize social roles and role-playing in
his plays. Jaques claims that all the world is a stage, and that all men (not
women, according to him) play similar roles. But Harbage used to claim that
this account was undercut by the appearance of old Adam at the end of his
speech, and Adam does not fit into any of Jaques's categories. But, even so,
the plays recurrently emphasize social roles, and rarely mention physical
attributes, as David notes.
 
But could these facts have more to do with the repertory system than the social
system? The actors had to keep many roles in mind, had little time to rehearse
new plays, and needed some stability of role -- a speciality. They were type
casted. And physical attributes were not emphasized because a different actor
might have to take the role next year.
 
I suspect that these final comments will please John Drakakis!
 
Yours,
Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 18:51:35 -0300
Subject: 5.0618  Re: Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
David Evett:
 
Thank God someone is looking at empyrical evidence amongst all these
declarations of creed!
 
I'm wondering, though, where your evidence points us.  Kent may insist on
referring to himself as a "servant," but isn't there an irony in this?  The
fact that people can change roles, or that disjunctions can exist between a
character's (for want of a better word) role and her or his situation seems to
be predicated on an identity that transcends social or metaphysical "role".
 
In one of my few lectures (I'm a grad student) I told my (captive) audience
that Hamlet is fighting the efforts of others such as his mother, Claudius, and
Ophelia, to prescribe his being to him, metadramatically enough.  1.3 seems to
exemplify his difficulty:  as the usurped heir, he either carries far too much
responsibility to "carve for himself, as unvalued persons do," or he's so free
of cares that he can "with a larger teder walk," as Polonius thinks.  In either
case, others take it upon themselves to define him, without much consistency,
and Hamlet himself is left standing beyond these definitions as "courtier,
soldier, scholar."
 
I suppose what I'm saying is that everyone in the plays, as in life, have roles
which they act, but against which they can also rebel, and their ability to
rebel shows that they can, as Pico della Mirandola (or Michel de Montaigne, if
we insist on a reference available to Shakespeare) believed, choose their
being.
 
This is just a few thoughts, of course, but I'll be interested in what anyone
says.
 
        Cheers,
        Sean Lawrence.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 16 Jul 1994 17:57:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0618  Re: Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
I've been thinking more about Dave Evett's comments on LEAR. He comments that
the dramatic figures have "No favorite foods, colors, kinds of music, hobbies."
Now, Lear certainly has a hobby, a hobby that the upper classes have had from
Roman times until the present: hunting. And Gloucester, I believe, has had a
similar hobby: womanizing. Regarding food, Kent claims that eats no fish --
whatever he may mean by that.
 
And I'm wondering if a careful analysis wouldn't uncover other individually
defining characteristics. And I further wonder how many contemporary plays tell
us about the favorite foods, colors, music, and hobbies of the dramatic
figures. Pinter's THE DUMB WAITER does, but there are others that don't.
 
As to plays that are different from LEAR, what about HAMLET where Horatio is
named thirty times (according to the Harvard concordance), and Horatio's social
and family ties are not carefully defined in the play.
 
All in all, I think Dave may be right when he surmises that what he has found
in LEAR helps to define the specific fictional world of the play.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 16 Jul 94 19:19 CDT
Subject: 5.0618  Re: Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0618  Re: Character
 
What this exchange demonstrates is that Shakspeareans, without any reference to
having seen the playscripts, "otherwise known as works" cannot shut up their
collective faces.
 
Could we, in future, have only people on this particular net who know something
about the text, the stage, and the meaning of the plays to HIS audience and to
ours.
 
William Proctor Williams
Northern Illinois University
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
PS: I do not wish to shut +real+ students off from this list, but I am getting
damned tired of writing their term papers for them.
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Jul 94 13:01:00 BST
Subject: Re: Character
Comment:        SHK 5.0618 Re: Character
 
I was wondering when someone would throw into the discussion Hamlet's advice
to the players, though I'm a little surprised to find Pat Buckridge also
throwing in the prologue to EMH. I guess what grabs him here are the lines:
 
                    But deeds and language, such as men do use,
                    And persons such as comedy would choose,
                    When she would shew an image of the times,
                    And sport with human follies, not with crimes.
 
I leave aside the fact that the prologue itself is in couplets, and that in the
1601 quarto version the names are Italian.  Surely the point here is that
Jonson is offering a REPRESENTATION.  Perhaps Pat Buckridge has been influenced
too much by Tony Nuttall's A New Mimesis, and by its dogmatic adherence to a
referential model of language. Hence, of course, his impatience with anything
that might savour of symptomatic reading.  I would want to argue that what I've
just said about Jonson could also apply to HAMLET; suiting the action to the
word etc. holding "as `twere the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her
feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form
and pressure." (III.ii.22-4). The assumption is that what we are looking at
here is an unmediated "showing", whereas a number of details to which I have
already referred militate against this.
 
What Pat Buckridge refuses to entertain is the prospect that Elizabethan
culture in all its diversity and contradictoriness, may well have been very
different from our own.  Perhaps he might kile to ponder some "evidence": that
the majority of Elizabethan auditors were non-literate.  Now it needs no
Levi-Strass to tell us that that "fact" insofar as we can establish it, may
well be critical.  Moreover, what if (and there's plenty of evidence to support
this) we are looking at a conjuncture when the non-literate and the literate
exist side-by side? Now I'm not suggesting that we run headlong into cultural
anthropology to solve these problems, but a cursory look at Goody and Watt's
essay "The Consequences of Literacy" in LITERACY IN TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES
(Cambridge, 1967) might throw some light on the discussion. Buckridge seems
intent, like Godshalk, upon focussing upon WHAT is shown, and they persist in
entangling that with their own expectations and assumptions. I don't expect
either of them to accept my reading of their assumptions and values, just to
entertain the possibility that they might be skewing the evidence in the
direction of an untheorized empiricism.  I don't expect them to accept that
either, but one never knows!  My concern is with HOW that showing takes place,
and I want to treat referential statements of the kind that Buckridge isolates
within plays (and he could have added Heywood's Apology for Actors (1612) to
his list) with some degree of caution.  So much for my "assertions".
 
The mention of L.C.Knights does, I think, at least, focus the history of an
anti-character criticism.  I does, however raise a number of problems,
particularly connected with the notion of "themes" criticism.  I'm afraid that
Buckridge is really clutching at straws if he thinks that either Terry Hawkes
or I raise the L.C.Knights essay as some kind of shibboleth.  I suppose it's
what happens when you don't take the trouble to try to establish some kind of
context for a discussion.
 
Finally, Pat Buckridge is right to pick me up on my uncritical deployment of
the phrase "the Elizabethan psyche".  The only problem is that I don't recall
using the phrase!  I did refer to Elizabethan spectators, and I must confess to
a residual Harbagitis there.  I see no reason to assume that the plays of
Shakespeare and his contemporaries "democratized" theatre audiences.  We do
need another model for this which might have some pretentions to greater
sociological accuracy.
 
That's more than enough from me.
 
John Drakakis

TEI Guidelines

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0620.  Friday, 15 July 1994.
 
From:           C. M. Sperberg-McQueen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 15 Jul 1994 12:23:23 CDT
Subject:        TEI Guidelines
 
Readers of this newsgroup (or list) may be interested in the recent publication
of the Text Encoding Initiative's Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and
Interchange.  The material below describes what the Guidelines are and why you
might care about them; appended is a description of how to acquire them in
paper form or retrieve them in electronic form.  Please feel free to re-post
this material to other appropriate lists and groups.  My apologies if this
information is tangential to the interests of the list, or you have already
seen it before, especially if it has already been posted here --- my record
keeping has been disrupted.  Thanks. -CMSMcQ
 
-----
 
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CFP: 18th-C. Shakespeare Editing

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0621.  Friday, 15 July 1994.
 
From:           Robert M Zimmer <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 15 Jul 94 18:55:16 +0100
Subject:        Call for Papers on Eighteenth-Century Shakespeare Editing
 
A call for papers on any aspect of Shakespeare editing in the eighteenth
century, to complete a book formed from papers written for an SAA seminar
entitled "Editing Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century: Territoriality,
Anonymity and Erasure." Submission deadline: October 1 but early enquiries are
strongly encouraged as to the special suitability of particular essay topics.
 
-----------
 
Submissions will be accepted in any of the following forms
      (ordered by preference):
 
 
    Macintosh Disks (MS Word, Word Perfect, or Macwrite)
 
    PC  Disks  (Word Perfect)
 
    email (with a paper backup with formatting information)
 
    paper
 
--------
 
email submisions or enquiries to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
paper or disks to: Joanna Gondris
                   4 Selwyn Court
                   Church Road
                   Richmond
                   Surrey TW10 6LR
                   England
---------

Re: Metrics

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0619.  Friday, 15 July 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jul 1994 21:58:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   "Metrics"? The Thing Itself!
 
(2)     From:   Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jul 1994 22:32:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Metre
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 14 Jul 1994 21:58:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        "Metrics"? The Thing Itself!
 
It is with amazement and pleasure in this time of post- colonial criticism
following hard upon a time of psychological interpretation that resulted from
new social perspectives, that I see posters speaking about actual lines, actual
readings, and what Hopkins might have called their gear, tackle, and trim:
their metres and rhythms, the life in them that makes them spring to explosive
emotional sense.
 
This finest of Renaissance playwrights has passed the tests of greatness and
usefulness posited and refined by Horace and Longinus, has lasted and is still
discussed, read and played, not just because he retold good stories, created
and embellished memorable people, wrote some of the best poetry of his age,
addressed implicity, specifically, ambiguously or directly political issues of
the highest import, themes of domestic, spiritual, sexual and universal
magnitude and consequence, but because he did all of this almost every time he
wrote a play. Even from his start in the theatre.
 
The question that has been raised on SHAKSPER in roughly this way, "how strict
can we be when presented as an actor or an internal reader with lines the
structures of which have been written -- possibly corruptly transmitted as many
may be -- in unmistakably poetic/directorial/phonetic/rhythmical ways?"is a
question of most exciting and enlightening significance and worth.
 
I myself, as an actor, have had various experiences which have led me to
conclude that the richest and most spiritually useful thing we can do is to
absorb the lines as an interpreter of Brahms, Mozart, Stravinski, Scott Joplin
absorbs and consumes the exact rhythms, beats, textures and dynamic markings
either marked or implied and encouraged by those composers before he sits down
or stands up to play or sing them. Verse plays are not written to spoken by
prose actors. Those who would interpret them in the study or on the stage as if
they were prose translations --among such readers are the thematic critics, of
course, and often the political ones as well as the image-hunters,
indispensable and thoughtful though they frequently are -- are simply not
talking about the plays at all; certainly not as artistic artifacts, as they
may like to call them. It is as if, listening to Debussy's "Nuages", they were
to talk about cloud formations. It's gossip, talk, not criticism at its most
useful, which in my perhaps limited view is writing that helps us to read.
 
A distinguished colleague of mine has classed me as one who "whines about
anapests" rather than espouse causes. I admire this colleague a great deal
precisely because in his first book he showed, as he always does in
conversation, a fine knowledge of prosody and the effects great writing has on
the bone, or the back as Nabokov would have it. From the bones, from the
tingling in the spine, the effect works its way in the receptive reader or
audience out into the patterns of the heart in human behaviour. In Shakespeare,
indeed in all the fabulously successful playwrights, this effect begins in the
way the story is told by the people who experience it and express in the feel
of their words a "music" that makes us experience it too.
 
I think I told a story two months ago about the days when I could not afford to
turn a part down, and was acting with a touring Shakespeare company on the West
Coast of Canada, got to the first rehearsal ready to play Burgundy in Henry V
and was given the typed-out script. I hadn't read the play for a few years, got
to my bit, and found myself pausing in peculiar places and giving emphases that
were not indicated on the page. "Wait a minute!" I said. "Doesn't that line end
here?" "Look, Harry," said the director, "play for the feeling! Think of the
situation!" .....the very sad point is that the play had been typed out in
prose to save space and paper, and the director didn't care. At all. The care
with which the lines are shaped is not an obsession with interior decoration.
The words are not ornamental, but organic.
 
If we "go for the sense", "go for the feeling", we are going for an utterly
different sense and for a selfish and newly invented feeling. It is leftover
children of the sixties who read these plays as if they were written by
Macaulay or Enid Blyton. There is a disappointing dearth of plain poetic
sensibility around, and it's been around for so many years now that like the
new, like, use of "hopefully" it's become, like, part of our treatment of
language to ignore the most basic facts about the rhetorical and poetic
tradition in which these plays are firmly, loosely, humanely, beautifully
rooted.
 
Yeah for those who are writing in on this thread while the thin spun life of
the plays is still with us.
 
      Harry Hill
      Montreal
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 14 Jul 1994 22:32:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Metre
 
When one suggests as part of a reading the placing of a stress, a part of the
argument in favour of the reading should, I think, involve metre and rhythm,
since they are the aspects of the text directly related to stress and its
placement.  At the very least, one cannot be surprised when one's reading is
questioned in the light of the line's metre.  I realize that the suggestion of
"I love *thee* not" was peripheral to Douglas Lanier's comments on
"woo'd/wood".  But there it was, and I thought the problem raised some
interesting issues, like the above, about the importance of metre as an
interpretative tool.
 
Of course, Harry Hill was the first to make the point.  Kurt Daw stated in his
excellent post that, metrically, many readings go but some don't.  "What things
go and why" remains, to some extent, an open question.
 
I don't think metre prescribes *one* reading (my post suggested four distinct
possibilities--and they are not exhaustive), but I do think it eliminates some.
 
About interpretation generally, I suspect that any interpretation, even when it
does not directly posit a delivery of a line, presupposes one, and that that
delivery, as a rhythmic thing, has to be defensible in rhythmic terms.  Metre
is only one determinant of rhythm, but it's the main one, and in fact is a
prime determinant of the meaning of a metrical verse poem or play, since it
shapes the relationships of the words that are there.  Likewise, a rhythmic
interpretation has to be defensible in semantic terms, as do political,
historical, physchological interpretations. Whatever interpretative strategy
one employs, the reading generated can be countered by the application of other
interpretative strategies.
 
Rhythm and metre open up multiple readings.  Of the four readings of the line
that I suggested, I favour one for the reasons given, but entertain the others
as possible.  No one has spoken about the middle foot of the line
("therefore"), which can be treated as a primary stress, a secondary stress, or
a pyrrhic iamb.  Add those variations to the 4 readings, and one has 12
distinct readings--and we haven't even spoken about *other* aspects of the
sound of the line, the phonemes and ways of treating them.  But just as rhythm
and metre open some readings up, they close others down.  I don't think that
what I'm asserting about metre is different than what anyone would assert about
other aspects of the text--they can be read in many ways, but not in some.
 
This discussion strikes me as a little strange, because in Shakespeare as in
other poets there are abundant metrical ambiguities, such as one of Rick
Jones's examples,  "that is the question":  regularity or trochaic inversion of
the first foot quoted can both be effectively defended; "that is" could be
delivered as a spondee; and probably someone has unstressed *both* words and
said, "that is THE QUESTion."  I can hear them all.  And even the example from
MND is metrically ambiguous in that there are ranges of reading possible, but
not, I say, the stressing of "thee" and or "me" at the expense of  the two
verbs.  It violates utterly the sense of the line and all known norms of
metrical decency and rhythmic felicity.
 
Yes, it's a matter of taste; please let's not say, "it's all a matter of taste"
and end the discussion.  Conflicting tastes should be disputed hotly.  Without
passionate commitment to those things that one feels are essential to
passionate response to art, what on earth's a heaven for?  Leaving personal
pronouns unstressed except for a particular reason, which this example doesn't
involve, is to me (pathetic as it sounds) one of those things.
 
But of course, the larger question is, do we feel constrained by metrical
verse, and so abandon it, asserting that stresses can at any time fall where we
want them to, metre and sense be damned, and so effectively rewrite Shakespeare
as prose--because when at any time we ignore the metre we turn the verse into
prose, whether or not the right margins remain jagged--or do we celebrate and
revel in the constraints, and through them find the freedom to mean and to be?
 
My earlier arguments in favour of *one* reading--a metrically regular one--of
the line are just that, arguments, not the last word.  My argument against
*one* reading I don't think can be disputed (please prove me wrong if I am).
If critics cannot agree that metre does sometimes preclude *some* readings, and
most of the time guides a range of readings that can be "played within" by
critics minds and pens on the inner ear and by actors' voices on the audience's
ears, then metrical discussion is bound to be more difficult than I had earlier
imagined--and more vital a task for criticism.
 
Paul Hawkins

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