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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Frogs; First Times; Bookshelves; Leontes' Jealousy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0264.  Wednesday, 23 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Ronald Dwelle <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Mar 94 10:10:51 EST
        Subj:   frogs
 
(2)     From:   Douglas Green <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Mar 1994 09:57:22 +0600
        Subj:   belated first times
 
(3)     From:   Ben Schneider <SCHNEIDB@LAWRENCE.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Mar 1994 10:25:08 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Renaissance Bookshelf
 
(4)     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Mar 94 11:06:10 EST
        Subj:   Jealousy
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Dwelle <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Mar 94 10:10:51 EST
Subject:        frogs
 
I always thought "frog" was synecdochic--referring to the clothes (coats?)
typically worn by the French. I don't know where I got this idea (all my
scholarship/memory is being lost to the aging process), but I'm pretty sure I
didn't make it up. I also somehow think that frog is primarily of American
origin rather than English. ?
 
My word-search gives me only three hits of "frog" in Shakespeare, none
referring to French. I also note that the OED's reference to "Dutch" is mostly
pre-Shakespearean.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Green <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Mar 1994 09:57:22 +0600
Subject:        belated first times
 
Though I'm always a bit behind in my SHAKSPER postings, I've greatly enjoyed
the occasional "first times" that show up amid headier speculations about
quartos and imagining Gloriana, as well as the post-/anti-/anti-anti-
colonialist debate about the Tempest.  (Has Ania Loomba's Gender, Race, and
Renaissance Drama [Manchester UP, 1989] already been mentioned?  If not, it
should be.)  At any rate here is my own first time with Shakespeare:
 
Actually, it's not really.  By ninth grade, we had read the usual RJ and JC.  I
loved, like others on this list, the histrionics of reading aloud, if only (and
especially) in private.  But it was reading the Merchant of Venice that bound
me to Shakespeare:  You see, "I am a Jew" who was raised a Catholic and
attended parochial schools.  Shylock's speech meant more to me than the fiery
young instructor, Mr. Mooney, could possibly have imagined.  Couple the
emergence of my own 'subtext' in a sometimes alienating environment (the
unconscious jokes of other students, the anxiety over who goes to heaven and
who to hell [I feared for my Orthodox grandparents], etc.) with the "quality of
mercy" and my own devout Catholicism at the time, and I was hooked--less by the
play itself than by the way parts of it became passages in a quite different
internal drama that is still replayed on occasion.
 
Douglas E. Green, 
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  / (612) 330-1187
Campus Box #13, English Dept., Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN 55454
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <SCHNEIDB@LAWRENCE.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Mar 1994 10:25:08 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Renaissance Bookshelf
 
To Phyllis Rackin:
 
You say <<The danger for modern scholars is . . . the temptation to assume a
monolithic audience constructed in our own image, (and if we are scholars, that
image is likely to be bookish.)>>
 
But if we are new historicists that image is likely to be sharply in conflict
along class lines.  The real question, if we are interested in the way
audiences influence the content of plays, is not whether the audience is
divided into ranks, or status groups, but the extent to which ranks or status
groups affect taste.  The less educated, certainly, are more interested in
spectacle, but do they sit by calmly and watch themselves burlesqued in the
mechanic scenes of MAN and MND and the mob scenes of JC?  Kieth Wrightson
(English Society 1580-1680, Rutgers 1982), speaking of the English hierarchy,
puts the question as follows:
 
<<Were relationships between people of different social position characterized
by vertical ties of patronage and clientage, or by the animosities generated by
class solidarities?>>
 
Marx, funnily enough, comes down on the side of vertical ties (before the cash
nexus takes over.) (Manifesto)
 
A whole lot more work needs to be done before we get a definitive answer to
this question, if ever.
 
Coming back to bookshelves, my thesis would be that books were in style, and
assuming that the lower classes ape the upper classes, (styles filter down)
there may be more bookshelves around town than we imagine.  Again, who is
buying all these conduct books and translations of Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch,
Montaigne?
 
Respectfully submitted,
             BEN SCHNEIDER
             
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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Mar 94 11:06:10 EST
Subject:        Jealousy
 
A belated contribution to the Leontes/<Winter's Tale> exchange. (Has anybody
calculated the half-life of a SHAKSPER discussion?) As to performances of the
play, the one I saw at Stratford, Ontario, in 1986, directed by David William,
with Colm Feore as a Leontes literally prostrated by remorse (he took much of
5.1 face down on the floor, too ashamed to raise his eyes above Paulina's
feet), is on my list of Ten Most Memorable Experiences of Shakespeare in the
Theater--less risky and provocative than Robin Phillips' <Cymbeline> of the
same season; like most of Williams' work, a steady, thoughtful opening out of
the text, sunrise rather than fireworks.  The relationships among Hermione,
Paulina, and Leontes were strong.  Goldie Semple made audience as well as
Polixenes wish to extend their time with her as a beautifully generous and
maternal Hermione; anybody who has seen her knows that she is splendidly
statuesque, in the Lillian (or Jane) Russell sense--but she also gave back the
term its literal meaning in a final scene all the more remarkable because it
was taken so slowly- -long moments filling with wonder after nearly every
speech, including the wonder of those of us in the know that minute after
minute she could not be seen to move.  The audience on the night I saw it gave
it that rarest and most precious of theatrical accolades, several seconds of
its own amazed silence before the applause began.
 
As for Leontes, here's a question for interlocutors who need to authorize the
suddenness of his jealousy by pointing to some specific early modern pathology,
and also for those who seem to assign critical value only to those critical
acts that thematize (here, in terms of time, etc.), and, indeed, for those who
would insist on looking at it in terms of the social construction of sexual
possessiveness, et al: What should I <do>, critically and/or pedagogically,
with my own experience of sexual jealousy--with the fact that once, in a social
situation rather like the opening of the play, when I turned to catch a glimpse
of a woman I loved, looking up into the face of a male friend with what I could
interpret as pleasure and sexual interest, touching him and receiving his touch
("But to be paddling palms"), on the spot, without a perceptible moment's
opportunity for consideration, the monster claimed me for its own, so that the
blood pounded in my head, my bowels clenched, I fled out into the darkness to
recover myself, was able after awhile to return to the party and make civil
conversation, yet still inwardly wrestled with tumultuous feelings for many
hours.  The experience makes the sudden onset of Leontes' jealousy a
non-problem for me, and so liberates my analytical time and energy to
concentrate on what L. does to act out the feeling-- considering, as I do so,
that I did not take immediate vengeance on the offending lover, reject her
claims to my reasonable judgment, etc.  Nothing in a lifetime of reading in and
around Western writing suggests me that my experience was unique or even
peculiar- -constructed in some merely local way by the special circumstances of
the American Middle West in the third quarter of the twentieth century.  Is it
inappropriate for me to offer that experience to readers or students in the
hope that I can spare them some trouble, so that they, too, can spend their
energies investigating issues that, in my further experience, better repay
investigating?  It's a real question.
 

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