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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: May ::
Re: Dolabella; Aumerle
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0373.  Wednesday, 10 May 1995.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 May 1995 23:50:47 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0359  Re: Cleopatra and Dolabella
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 06 May 1995 22:53:25 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Goodbye Dolabella
 
(3)     From:   Helen Vella Bonavita <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 May 1995 11:49:44 +0800 (WST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0362 Re: Aumerle
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 May 1995 23:50:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0359  Re: Cleopatra and Dolabella
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0359  Re: Cleopatra and Dolabella
 
In his last posting, Don Foster makes it abundantly clear that I will have to
call his reading of A&C 5.1 into question if my reading of Dolabella's mission
is to have ANY credit. Don argues that changes to the manuscript were made in
the playhouse, that during rehearsal "Agri." had to be amended to something
else. Stanley Wells supported by Gary Taylor (A TEXTUAL COMPANION) says the
following: "The manuscript appears to have been in a more finished condition
than most of Shakespeare's foul papers, but shows no signs of originating in a
prompt-book" (549). Evans (RIVERSIDE SHAKESPEARE) makes, basically, the same
judgment. Therefore, Don's contention that A&C was set from a playbook is not
supported by previous editors -- the editors that he cites contra moi!
 
So, if Dola. were substituted for Agri. in the manuscript, the probability is
that Shakespeare made the substitution. As Don points out, this scene shows
signs of reworking. Unfortunately, Don's account of 5.1 is not based on the
Folio, but a later edition, so some of his assertions are based on emendations
rather than Folio readings. Editors have worked to clean up this scene more
than Don acknowledges, and in doing so, have done my hypothesis a distinct
disservice.
 
From my hypothesis, A&C 5.1 has been reworked, but not by a nameless
bookkeeper, overseer of the press, or compositor. Shakespeare reworked the
scene to underline Dolabella's role in this last act.
 
SHAXICON can take us only so far into Shakespeare's workshop.
 
Bouncing back, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 06 May 1995 22:53:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Goodbye Dolabella
 
There's only so much that can be said about a minor character, and we perhaps
have reached our limit. In any case, I wish to thank everyone who has responded
to my Dolabella hypothesis. You have certainly given it a thorough scrutiny,
and your resounding conclusion is: NOT PROVEN. Possibly the two best things
that you've said about the hypothesis are (1) that it may be an interesting
theatrical option (Don Foster) and (2) that it caused you to reconsider the
power struggle between Caesar and Cleopatra (Chris Stroffolino).
 
Thanks for your comments, your stern objections, and most of all for giving the
hypothesis such a patient hearing.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Vella Bonavita <
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Date:           Friday, 5 May 1995 11:49:44 +0800 (WST)
Subject: 6.0362 Re: Aumerle
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0362 Re: Aumerle
 
Having lurked on the internet for nearly a year, I would like to jump in with
my two cents worth on the subject of Aumerle. I agree with Luc Borot that the
scene should not be treated purely as comedy, but I think that York himself
should be given a little more sympathy than he seems to have received. Possibly
he makes his son a guilt-offering to his conscience, to expiate his own
perceived fault in having stood by at Richard's deposition. There is also a
parallel with the Abraham and Isaac story, in which Henry plays the part of God
to perfection. Richard's power as king brought death; Gaunt points out that
Richard can shorten but not extend life, but Henry, in pardoning his cousin,
does exactly that, and is rewarded by the Duchess' acclamation: "a god on earth
thou art!"
 
So although the scene is quite funny, when looked at with the rest of the play
it isn't just comic relief, and I think York, placed in an impossible position
from the beginning of the play, deserves a little more sympathy than he has
generally received.
 
I do hope this isn't totally old hat or anything like that
 
Helen Vella Bonavita.
 

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