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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: December ::
Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0942.  Monday, 4 December 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Sunday, 03 Dec 1995 19:37:06 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0938  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
(2)     From:   An Sonjae <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Dec 1995 09:47:15 +0900 (KST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0938 Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
(3)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Sunday, 03 Dec 1995 20:09:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0938  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
(4)     From:   Peter C. Herman <
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        Date:   Sunday, 3 Dec 1995 20:19:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0938 Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
(5)     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Dec 1995 14:03:05 +1100 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Soliloquies and audiences
 
(6)     From:   Stephen Buhler <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Dec 1995 11:08:52 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0938 *Imaginary Audition*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Sunday, 03 Dec 1995 19:37:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0938  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0938  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
Dear Moray McConnachie----I think the book you're looking for is by Harry
rather than John Berger and is called Imaginary Audition rather than Auditory
Imagination. I think it, along with Christy Desmet's Reading Shakespeare's
Characters, is one of the most recent interesting (or most interesting recent)
books on what you would call "silent reading"-----hope this helps,
 
Chris Stroffolino
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           An Sonjae <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Dec 1995 09:47:15 +0900 (KST)
Subject: 6.0938 Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0938 Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
If the question is whether or not Ophelia might overhear Hamlet and whether or
not Hamlet knows Ophelia is listening, these are surely production-related
matters since I do not think anyone can find any clear basis for a single
answer in the text. No one seems yet to have pointed out the rather unsubtle
nature of the question; given the fame-notoriety of the lines in question, the
theatrical experience can never be a naturalistic one (and the lines are hardly
natural ones, are they?) since the audience is sitting there like the jury at
an elocution contest: right, here he goes, where's he going to put the
stresses? How fast will he take it? Anguished Hamlet ponders death! Anguished
actor ponders surrender! From my limited experience of productions, the entire
speech serves to remind us that we are watching actors reciting lines that say
more than anyone would normally say. Hamlet might just as well have Ophelia
check his pronunciation, since we all know what happens later in the play
anyway and I do not see how we can try to go back to being a "naive audience"
again.
 
An Sonjae
Sogang University. Seoul

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Sunday, 03 Dec 1995 20:09:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0938  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0938  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
Thank you, Tom Bishop, for your insights into the difficulties of "this
soliloquy stuff" and the positing of a distinction between the character and
the actor (author?). Especially in Falstaff's case. Certainly the idea of
soliloquy as an expression of the "real" and/or "more authentic" psyche of the
character is something that seems alien to Shakespeare's non-essentialist
notions of identity, and perhaps we should consider such speeches as Othello's
(over the sleeping body of Desdemona) and Iachimo's (over the sleeping body of
Imogen) to be a kind of soliloquy as well.
 
At one point Coleridge speaks of Leontes' "soliloguies in the form of
dialogue", but more pertinantly I'd like to address the question of RICHARD
II's soliloquy you addressed---
 
I have been studying how I may compare Richard II's soliloquy to what Keats
calls Shakespeare's NEGATIVE CAPABILITY. For this soliloguy does seem to call
attention to dramatic artifice on a level similar to say the PYRAMUS AND THISBY
scene in MND (both written around the same time and they both occur near the
end of their plays). Yet, in Richard's case, the soliloquy works on a double
level in the sense that it can be both Richard speaking as well as *possibly*
"Shakespeare himself". Though the latter is no doubt a perlious assertion, some
of the METADRAMATIC critics like James Calderwood and John Blanpied have
addressed this point in detail. Harry Berger, in the book Moray asks about,
unfortunately ignores this soliloquy (though his book does center around the
play and character of R2). Anyway, I am curious what you mean when you say:
 
       "though the scene itself makes great and moving play with the
        sudden peopling of the world with Richard's mind who are "really"
        there in the audience."
 
Do you mean that Richard's "peopling" can reflect back on what we've seen in
the play? That what happens in the soliloquy can be a comment on what has
happened in the play outside of the context of Richard's psyche? If this is
what you're saying---and i can't tell--then the soliloquy subordinates
character to plot. Joan Hartwig (and others have followed) has an incredible
essay which shows how the conscious repetition of some of the phrases in
earlier scenes in this play (5.3 and 5.4) in this soliloquy may serve precisely
this THEMATIC purpose, and I think if we take such assertions seriously it may
enable a way of considering soliloquies in ways subvesive to many of the more
"official" readings of the play---whether they side with Richard over
Bullingbroke or Bullingbroke over Richard.... Chris Stroffolino
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter C. Herman <
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Date:           Sunday, 3 Dec 1995 20:19:58 -0500
Subject: 6.0938 Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0938 Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
I think that the book Prof. McConnachie has in mind is _Imaginary Audition_, by
Harry Berger, Jr. (University of California Press, 1989).
 
Peter C. Herman
Dept. of English Georgia State U
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Dec 1995 14:03:05 +1100 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Soliloquies and audiences
 
Further to Tom Bishop's excellent list of examples of types of soliloquy, I'd
like to add Launce's speech at the beginning of 4.4 of _Two Gentlemen of
Verona_. In this solitary (except for the dog who is not being addressed here
but rather discussed) speech he directly addresses the audience, with "look
you", and "You shall judge". In 2.3 he also says (while similarly alone), "I'll
show you the manner of it." These are direct addresses to the audience, but
perhaps it will be argued that these speeches in this play are more Elizabethan
stand-up comedy than Hamlet-like soliloquy. But I certainly know of no other
speeches in Shakespeare, always and importantly excluding prologues, epilogues
and choral interjections (as in _Henry V), where a character in a play
addresses the audience as "you". (I think there are some in Jonson, but can't
recall the references.) I'd be interested if anyone can contradict me on this
point.
 
Adrian Kiernander
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Monday, 04 Dec 1995 12:30:20 +0200
Subject:        Re: re.to Shk 6.0938
 
>>Richard II says "and for because the world is populous/ And here is not a
>>>person but myself/ I cannot do it."  This is harder. It makes very little
>>>sense for the desperately lonely character Richard to be "talking to the
>>>audience" here, though the scene itself makes great and moving play with the
>>>sudden peopling of the world with figures from Richard's mind who are
>>>"really" there in the audience.
 
I would like to make this observation to Thomas Bishop, whose essay I so much
enjoyed:
 
I have long thought and even tried to describe to a few that I believed had
influence on productions, that Richard's  prison scene might with benefit be
orchestrated differently. The prison and Bolingbrooke's audience chamber should
be on the stage at the same time. As Aumerle's mother pleads for the life of
her son (and the continuance of York) Richard envisions the future of the line
in its historic confrontation with Lancaster. Richard's contemplations are
fleshed out with a real presence and the Duchess' couplets become nicely
dispersed throughout.
 
This way Richard's words do have a more on stage-audience (almost)
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Buhler <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Dec 1995 11:08:52 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0938 *Imaginary Audition*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0938 *Imaginary Audition*
 
The book to which Moray McConnachie refers is *Imaginary Audition: Shakespeare
on Stage and Page* by Harry Berger, Jr. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of
California P, 1989).  While this valuable and provocative book is written --
and presented as -- "Against New Histrionicism," Berger's argument is more
specifically with the critical maneuver of appealing to stage practice as
"proof" in support of traditional and naive interpretations of the plays.
Berger prefers to explore how the idea of theatricality might function within
the world-of-the-play, focusing on *Richard II*.  Richard "imagines" himself as
actor -- notably in the deposition scene -- ever mindful of his audience.  On
the vexed question of soliloquies as "thinking out loud" or as "addressing the
audience directly" (whether in character or not), Berger tends to stay in the
"thought" camp, in keeping with his defense of more speculative *textual*
approaches to the plays as opposed to the more pragmatic varieties of the
*script-based* approach.
 
Stephen M. Buhler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
 

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