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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Re: Polonius, Authorship, and Court News
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0439.  Wednesday, 18 May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Martin Green <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 May 94 09:03:58 -0400
        Subj:   Re: D. J. Kathman on Polonius and Authorship
 
(2)     From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
        Date:   Tuesday, 17 May 94 06:54:09 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0437  Re: Polonius and Authorship
 
(3)     From:   Joseph Lawrence Lyle <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 May 1994 08:28:56 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0437  Re: Polonius and Authorship
 
(4)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Tuesday 17 May 1994 13:23 ET
        Subj:   Court News
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Green <
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Date:           Monday, 16 May 94 09:03:58 -0400
Subject:        Re: D. J. Kathman on Polonius and Authorship
 
I completely agree with David Joseph Kathman's observation that Burleigh's
being the model for Polonius (if indeed he was) proves nothing about the
authorship question.
 
As Mr. Kathman points out, one assumption in the argument to the contrary is
that
 
>William Shakespeare of Stratford could never have known enough
>about Burleigh to caricature him, since he (Shakespeare) was not a member of
>Court
 
in response to which Mr. Kathman presents a convincing number of ways in which
Shakespeare could have been well-informed indeed about Burleigh. To his list, I
wish to add one more item: if Shakespeare was a personal acquaintance of the
third Earl of Southampton (as I believe, in my recent book, I have conclusively
shown he was), then in the earl, who had been Burleigh's ward from his eighth
to 21st years, Shakespeare would have had an excellent source of information
about  Burleigh's person and personality, and, most particularly, of such
pronouncements and wisdom as Burleigh  was apt - no doubt often, and at great
length - to pass on to his young charge.
 
M. Green
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Date:           Tuesday, 17 May 94 06:54:09 EDT
Subject: 5.0437  Re: Polonius and Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0437  Re: Polonius and Authorship
 
Thomas Ellis misses the point of the poems circulated under the Earl of
Oxford's name.  Obviously these were clever satires that everyone in the court
laughed  at or knowingly winked about.  Clearly Oxford took the opportunity to
transcribe in shorthand the native woodnotes wild of the Stratford maltster for
the amusement of his intimate circle who were in on the conspiracy.
 
                              Oxfordowitz, First Earl of da' Bronx
                              (my other works are published under the pseudonym
                               WW Greg)
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Lawrence Lyle <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 17 May 1994 08:28:56 -0400
Subject: 5.0437  Re: Polonius and Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0437  Re: Polonius and Authorship
 
 
Hooray for Thomas Ellis (who showed us a bit of the real Earl of Oxford).
What's all the fuss about?
 
Jay Lyle
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Tuesday 17 May 1994 13:23 ET
Subject:        Court News
 
Thanks to Dave Strathman for his salvo.  Let me suggest as a source for court
news what would later become the servants' hall.  Large households--the
Queen's or Burghley's--had dozens and dozens of people, some of whom were in
position to see or hear the most intimate and sensitive details of their
masters' affairs; they came and went on errands and visits, became guests in
other households when their masters travelled, moved from livery to livery as
the opportunities allowed (e.g. Lancelot Gobbo shifting from Shylock's service
to Bassanio's), left service to set up as tavern-keepers or small-holders.
Actors were technically and to some extent practically servants of Lord
So-and-so or even the monarch, and in any case would have had all kinds of
opportunity for chatting with the full-timers.  Anxiety lest the servants
betray household secrets appears in many of the contemporary treatments of the
servant's role--Baptista worries about it in Act 4 of <Shrew>: no smoke
without fire, I think. Nashe's account of the servant's life in <The
Unfortunate Traveller> is a fiction, not a treatise, of course, but it rings
true, and testifies to the importance of gossip and other conversation in the
life of people who spent a lot of their time waiting for orders.  I've been
persuaded for years that Shakespeare was a great listener--if only because
most of the contemporary comments about him are so kind--and the amount of
information you can pick up if you are willing to listen with real interest is
great, as any working reporter will tell you.  In any case, it's not as if the
kinds of information necessary to produce a satirical portrait of a
statesman--a nickname, a trick of speech, the names of some foreign visitors
or correspondents--were exactly state secrets.  And the likelihood that
Shakespeare picked up a lot of his incidental knowledge in this way--to say
nothing of his familiarity with many kinds of human behavior and speech--seems
very strong to me.
 
                                       Dave "Little Pitcher" Evett
 

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