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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Re: Polonius; "The Stately Legate"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0426.  Thursday, 12 May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Martin Mueller <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 May 1994 22:07:55 -0500
        Subj:   Polonius
 
(2)     From:   Helen Vella Bonavita <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 May 1994 11:39:08 +0800
        Subj:   "The Stately Legate"
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 May 1994 22:07:55 -0500
Subject:        Polonius
 
The argument that Shakespeare's Polonius is a gentle or not so gentle dig at
the late Burleigh strikes me as persuasive, if not completely compelling.
Delight in the leakages of systems of representation is an important part of
theatrical fun, and there was probably a lot more of it than we imagine. It is
telling that the famous anecdote about Shakespeare's substituting himself for
Richard Burbage with a female fan by claiming that William the Conquerer came
before Richard III turns on such leakage.
 
But if Polonius *is* Burleigh, what does that have to with questions of
authorship?  The playwright who wrote about the relationship of authority and
license in the figures of Lear and the fool knew that if you went too far you
were in trouble but if you didn't go far enough you'd also be in trouble.
 
Just how dangerous would it have been to say unflattering but eminently
deniable deniable things about a dead politican that would have amused some
powerful patrons and enraged others? We probably don't know.
 
I have learned from this discussion that there is pretty good evidence for the
argument that in some ways Polonius *is* Burleigh. But the evidence has no
bearing whatever on questions of authorship.
 
Martin Mueller
Northwestern University

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Vella Bonavita <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 May 1994 11:39:08 +0800
Subject:        "The Stately Legate"
 
I don't know whether this will be of any help or particular interest, but
for what it's worth:
 
I don't have the exact reference by me, but in (I think) Acts 3 or 4 of
King Lear the king complains: "I like not the fashion of your garments; you
will say they are persian, but let them be changed".
 
Helen Vella Bonavita (University of Western Australia)
 

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