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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Q: Chronology; Utopia, Pornography,
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0139.  Tuesday, 28 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   L.J.Link <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Feb 95 22:07:55 JST
        Subj:   Questions about Chronology
 
(2)     From:   Darby Lewes <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Feb 1995 10:57:20 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   [Utopia, Pornography, and Imperial Project]
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L.J.Link <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Feb 95 22:07:55 JST
Subject:        Questions about Chronology
 
ESTABLISHMENT CHRONOLOGY OF THE TEMPEST, WINTER'S TALE AND CYMBELINE.
 
The only authoritative source for CYMBELINE, WINTER'S TALE and TEMPEST is the
1623 First Folio, and the external evidence for dating are a few items.  Simon
Forman watched CYMBELINE; there is no date for his note about this but the
context makes April, 1611 plausible.  He also saw WINTER'S TALE on May 15,
1611.  The Revels Accounts notes the TEMPEST was performed at court on Nov.1,
1611;  this does NOT mean it wasn't performed earlier; and while it is not
certain that Shakespeare knew Sylvester Jourdan's A DISCOVERY OF THE BARMUDAS,
published late autumn,1610, it seems likely he did.  If he did, it means
TEMPEST was completed after the fall of 1610.
 
What conclusions can we come to from these basic facts of external evidence?
Just because Forman saw CYMBELINE before WINTER'S TALE does not allow us to
infer that the plays were written in that order. Further, the evidence allows
us to conclude that Shakespeare could have finished TEMPEST in late 1610 or
very early 1611.  In short, the external evidence would allow ANY order of
those last three plays.  Nevertheless, there seems to be almost universal
agreement that the order is CYMBELINE, WINTER'S TALE and TEMPEST.  Why?
 
I would appreciate any information which substantiates what I consider the
arbitrary standard chronology.  Let me briefly indicate my own explanation for
this anomaly.  There are, I think, two main reasons.
 
First, internal evidence -- feminine line endings, etc. etc.  Two objections to
such evidence are 1) evaluating and classifying such evidence is only partly
objective; individual judgment always plays a role, and, more importantly, 2)
since all three plays were written within a two-year period (probably less), it
is hard to imagine that Shakespeare's style, always flexible in any case, would
have changed so much that we can say with confidence: this was done in 1610,
and that in 1611. Besides, some sections of WINTER'S TALE are surely as complex
in texture and rhythm as anything in the TEMPEST.
 
Second, tradition and wish-fulfillment.  This, I think, is the more important
reason.  Chambers was the first influential figure to establish this standard
chronology.  Since there's been no hard evidence to dispute it, subsequent
scholars have taken the safe road and followed -- up to today.  But Chambers
suggested his chronology and it's been followed partly because of an
interpretation of the TEMPEST's final lines, SUPPOSEDLY Shakespeare's farewell
to the stage.  If the TEMPEST is his last play [in fact, it isn't], it's nicer,
more symmetrical.  It pleases and panders to our expectations, what we would
like to think.  How awkward if the TEMPEST were to be followed by CYMBELINE, a
decidedly inferior work.
 
I hasten to add that the traditional chronology MAY be correct but I have yet
to discover any clear reasonably objective reasons why it is written in stone
rather than presented as merely one possibility.  Any response appreciated.
 
L.J.Link, Professor, College of Humanities, Aoyama Gakuin Univ. TOKYO
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Darby Lewes <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Feb 1995 10:57:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        [Utopia, Pornography, and Imperial Project]
 
[Please respond DIRECTLY to 
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a member of SHAKSPER.  --HMC]
 
I am in the process of researching a book which examines the links between
British utopian writing, pornography, and the Imperial project. I will be
working in Oxford this summer and am  am attempting to put together a working
bibliography.  Im looking for examples of the following:
 
1) sixteenth through nineteenth century British utopian texts which present
women as geographical territories to be conquered (e.g. Erotopolis/Bettyland,
Stretser's Merryland, Cock's Voyage to Lethe, Burns's Botany Bay). I'm also
interested in any presentation of the female as landscape (e.g. Venus as a deer
park in Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis).
 
2) sixteenth through nineteenth century British texts which describe native
women of color as sexually available (thru rape or native promiscuity) to any
European male.
 
3. pornographic British or American computer games which have as their goal the
rape of native women of color (e. g. Custer's Last Stand).
 
4.  any suggestions as to how one might locate the above.  Currently, I'm
trying bookseller's catalogues, librarians, and collections of bawdy humor.
 
5.  any email lists whose readers might be interested in such a topic.
 
Any input whatsoever would be gratefully received.
 
Thanks,
Darby Lewes
English Dept. Box 78
Lycoming College
Williamsport PA 17701
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