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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Re: Shakespeare on CD; New WWW Site; Boys and Women's
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 1020. Thursday, 22 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Dec 1994 10:10:05 -0600
        Subj:   Shakespeare CDs
 
(2)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Thursday, December 22, 1994
        Subj:   Shakespeare on CD-ROM
 
(3)     From:   Andreas Schlenger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Dec 1994 18:40:52 +0200 (MESZ)
        Subj:   New WWW-Site
 
(4)     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Oct 1994 11:44:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0850  Re: Boys and Women's Roles
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Dec 1994 10:10:05 -0600
Subject:        Shakespeare CDs
 
I have the World Library Shakespeare CD. It's okay, though hardly a scholarly
tool. It has all of the Monarch Notes, which makes it useful if you ever mess
with chasing down plagiarism, I guess. The texts are useful for general
searches, but not much more. (I copy them onto my hard disk and search them
inside Microsoft Word, but there's a search engine on the CD.) Copying to the
hard disk is easy, which is not always the case.
 
However, a word of warning. Some World Library titles are defective. There's a
"Great Poetry Classics" that I bought for the text of The Faerie Queene, but
the text of that poem stops in mid-stanza at 2.4.33. It's a design flaw, they
say, that will be corrected in the next pressing -- whenever that is. So far I
haven't found any problems like that with the Shakespeare.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Thursday, December 22, 1994
Subject:        Shakespeare on CD-ROM
 
I recently received an announcement for the upcoming Chadwyck-Healey "A Full-
Text Database of Major Historical and Theatre Adaptations On CD-ROM and
Magnetic Tape: Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare" with 11 major editions
from the First Folio to the Cambridge editions of 1863-66, 24 original
printings of individual plays, selected apocryphal plays, and over 100
adaptations, sequels, and burlesques" -- the good news.
 
The bad news -- the price is $4,000.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andreas Schlenger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Dec 1994 18:40:52 +0200 (MESZ)
Subject:        New WWW-Site
 
Dear members of SHAKSPER,
 
While doing some netsurfing on the Web yesterday, I came across a URL dedicated
to Shakespeare and apparently quite new. Like many young services, its content
is still limited to two or three pages with some links, but the whole project
seemed very ambitious. Try:
 
http://sashimi.wwa.com:80/~culturew/Shakesweb/shakesweb.html
 
A Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to everyone out there!
 
Andreas.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Oct 1994 11:44:14 -0400
Subject: 5.0850  Re: Boys and Women's Roles
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0850  Re: Boys and Women's Roles
 
Re: James Forse and boys:
 
>Let's take a look at some other evidence: c.1600 the Reading town records note
>that a play was delayed because the Queen was shaving.  Davenant's Royal
>patent, 1660 states: *That whereas the women's parts in plays have] hitherto
>been acted by MEN (emphasis mine) in the habits of women, of which some have
>taken offence, we permit and give leave for the time to come, that all women's
>parts be acted by women.*  The poetic prologue to a 1660 performance of Othello
>states: *But to the point: In this reforming age/ We have intents to civilize
>the stage./Our women are defective, and so siz'd/You'd think they were some of
>the guard disguis'd:/ For, to speak truth, men act, that are between/Forty and
>fifty, wenches of fifteen;/With bone so large and nerve so incompliant,/When
>you call Desdemona enter Giant.*
 
OK, but Reading is the "provinces", not London--it's certainly possible that
the selection of trained actors was smaller and a burly adult took on a role
that in the wider talent pool of the metropolis would have been played by a
younger apprentice...
 
As for the Restoration references, I would be very careful about taking them as
undiluted "truth."  There's 18 years, a civil war, and a generation of
continental influence (which taught the the exiles to accept women actresses as
the sophisticated norm) to influence ideas of taste and appropriateness. Even
in the passage cited, the "new" english stage is being touted as "civilizing",
set in opposition to the presumedly barbarian, unsophisticated past.  The
rhetorical strategy is to present actresses as "natural" and men-in-women's
roles as unthinkably gawky and in-credible, a grotesquely incongruous holdover
from the crude old days of outdoor theaters, no scenery, and other
excrescences. And if my memory of the passage is correct, isn't there an
implication--probably more humorous than factual--that the "gawky giants" of 45
are the young men of the Renaissance stage all grown up?  But pretty-boy Edward
Kynaston took on women's roles in the 1660's; no gawky giant he, for Pepys
thought him, in a dress, the loveliest lady in the house (words to that
effect).
 
The best thing ever written on Cleopatra's "boy-my-greatness" line, IMHO, is
Phyllis Rackin's "Shakespeare's Boy Cleopatra, the Decorum of Nature, and the
Golden World of Poetry," (PMLA 87 1972) in which she posits that Cleo's
reference to the boy who plays her, far from being a gratutitous "slam," is the
structuring aesthetic strategy of the play.
 
"Well, boy my greatness!"
 
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 

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