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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Richard III; Macbeth's Death; 3-Frog Crest; Good
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0279.  Tuesday, 29 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Chantal Payette <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Mar 1994 10:46:41 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0272  Re: Richard III
 
(2)     From:   Lonnie J Durham <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Mar 1994 13:04:26 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Macbeth's Death, R III
 
(3)     From:   Luc Borot <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Mar 1994 20:20:15 +0100
        Subj:   la grenouille de Paris
 
(4)     From:   Ben Schneider <SCHNEIDB@LAWRENCE.BITNET>
        Date:   Monday, 28 Mar 1994 13:18:44 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   A Few Good Men
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chantal Payette <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Mar 1994 10:46:41 EST
Subject: 5.0272  Re: Richard III
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0272  Re: Richard III
 
Thanks so much for everyone's comments, but my main question is the one that
Bill Godshalk pointed out, and I quote:
 
        "...what is the relationship of the play to the written history?"
 
Exactly.  There are indeed two different versions of the character of Richard
III, one bad, one good.  Was it not Henry VII's government that started hate
propoganda against Richard III.  He portrayed himself as the saviour king who
saved the land against the usurper.  Lies, turn into gossip, and then gossip
eventually into fact.  The gossips themselves become part of history.  Anyway,
I am writing about this.  I have found that there are no dependable sources for
the good Richard III except a few mentions here and there.  I am very
interested in the relationship of the history to the play.  It's background,
the influences, etc.
 
Thanks, everyone has already been a real help.
 
Chantal
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie J Durham <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Mar 1994 13:04:26 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Macbeth's Death
 
And I'm with you, Ron Macdonald.  For me, too, the major impact of the close of
*Macbeth* is watching the survivors attempting to draw some rag of assurance
over the great rent in the fabric of meaning that Macbeth has opened up.
 
As for Richard of Gloucester, I think I know whence his nasty disposition
arises.  Once travelling from Norwich in Norfolk to York I stopped for the
night in Grantham, Lincolnshire at an inn called The Angel and
(something--can't remember) where they claimed Richard had once slept.  If he
had the same mattress they gave me,  I'm surprised he did not behead the
population of the entire county.  In any case, I felt I had learned where he
came by the name "crookback."
 
Cheers all,
Lonnie Durham   
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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Luc Borot <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Mar 1994 20:20:15 +0100
Subject:        la grenouille de Paris
 
Dear all,
 
Bill Godshalk invites my reply to his Paris crest suggestion. Though I live in
the South of the country, I was born and raised in Paris, by parents who were
born in Paris, from ancestors who have lived in Paris for 5 generations, which
is very unfrequent in major European capitals.
 
I have an inheritance of Parisian memory, and in my Parisian education, I have
always heard (and it is verified: I checked over the week end) that the Paris
crest had always been (always, i.e. since the 12th century at least to my
knowledge) a sailing vessel on a blue and red background, with the motto
'Fluctuat nec Mergitur' (it sails and never sinks), which was the crest of the
corporations of the "marchands de l'eau", who held a monopoly over Seine river
trade.
 
The tricolour French flag comes from the interposition of the white of the
French monarchy between the two colours of the Paris municipal corporation in
1790 (perhaps end of 1789, my memory fails on this point) to which Louis XVI
consented in that heyday of the first Revolution.
 
I asked my Dad about the frogs on our crest, and he rummaged into his books on
Paris history, without any success on this point. On Paris and dampness in the
Middle Ages and early-modern period, here is some information, though I cannot
reject the idea that the 3-frog crest existed for a tavern or student
corporation. Yet, the university district is on the hill (we dare call it
'mountain', la Montagne Ste Genevieve) on the Left bank, which is much higher.
 
The district where my father and myself grew up is called 'Le Marais' (the
Marsh or Swamp), the 1st, 3rd, 4th districts of Paris on the Right (i.e.
northern) bank of the Seine. It is said that these very low lands on that side
of the river made the inhabitation of the area difficult in the higher Middle
Ages, and that it was still unhealthy in the Renaissance; but then, which
European town of the early modern period could boast of any relevant standards
of hygiene by our modern criteria? Could the frog-crest come from that area? I
aint got no idea, mates. It was the area of the Grande Truanderie and Cour des
Miracles, made famous by Francois Villon in the XVth century before Victor Hugo
took up the theme in *Notre Dame de Paris* with Gina Lollobrigida and Anthony
Quinn in the leading roles.
 
Hence my more than scepticism on reading of the Parisian 3-frog crest in Bill's
message.
 
One more point to conclude this very un-Shakespearean message: the French
phrase for going on strike is "se mettre en greve", i.e. to stay on the river
shore. It is said that it comes from the practice of the Paris workers in the
Middle Ages, who came for a job to the harbour near the present Hotel de Ville,
where the municipal authorities have sat for over 1000 years to this day, and
made their protests there in times of unemployment and dearth. The Place de
l'Hotel de Ville was then called Place de Greve (river shore square or
something of the kind), and the land was sloping towards the river.
 
I doubt whether this helps the debate on those small amphibious animals but
that's all I can tell Bill on his suggestion according to my Paris lore and
after my ole Dad's research.
 
A la votre,
                        Luc
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <SCHNEIDB@LAWRENCE.BITNET>
Date:           Monday, 28 Mar 1994 13:18:44 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        A Few Good Men
 
Dear Ken Rothwell,
 
Great to be talking to you again after all these years. I've been listening to
you with great pleasure ever since I tuned in to SHAKSPER.
 
You say Kent <<smacks of the plain dealer syndrome.>>  Where have I been?  I
didn't know that there was something wrong with plain dealing.  But if Kent is
excessively plain, so is Cordelia, and maybe Lear was doing the right thing,
after all, in dividing the kingdom and retiring.
 
I do think this obsession with ambiguity is peculiar to our times. Our parents
had very little trouble in telling the difference between right and wrong.  But
we know so much more than they did.  As soon as you look into people's psyches
and discover how they got that way, you find it hard to blame them for
wrongdoing.  The line between right and wrong becomes fuzzy. You can't help
feeling sorry for Tonya Harding when you think of the huge insensitive
institutional machine that has been arrayed against her from childhood.  (See
recent NYT op ed piece)  If the line between right and wrong is uncertain, we
can conclude that wrong behavior is a matter of where you stand; it's really
nobody's fault; the times are out of joint.  Which is about where we are today.
 
Question is, is that where Shakespeare was?  Maybe so.  But I think we need to
know a lot more about early modern opinions on right and wrong than we do.  For
one thing, I think we would find that Shakespeare's contemporaries thought
plain dealing was the right thing to do.  Of course that doesn't prove that
Shakespeare thought it was.  Maybe he actually did believe in massaging the
psyches of power brokers.
 
Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER

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