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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: December ::
Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies; Renaissance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0953.  Saturday, 9 December 1995.
 
(1)     From:   J.H.Sawday <J.H.Sawday%southampton.ac.uk@ukacrl>
        Date:   Thursday, 7 Dec 1995 18:33:38 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0945  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
(2)     From:   John Lavagnino <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 8 Dec 1995 16:18:19 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Renaissance typefaces
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J.H.Sawday <J.H.Sawday%southampton.ac.uk@ukacrl>
Date:           Thursday, 7 Dec 1995 18:33:38 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 6.0945  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0945  Re: Silent Reading and Soliloquies
 
I may have missed something on the soliloquy issue, but the point might still
be worth making: isn't it the case that the `fashion' for the soliloquy is, in
effect, the discovery and then manipulation (on the part of a number of later
16th cent. dramatists) of a powerful and convincing tool, with which it is
possible to persuade an audience / reader that they are in the presence of the
generation of thought processes, which offer a convincing *illusion* of
similarity to their own sense of what it might be like to think? My comment
(which some might think to be no more than a statement of the blindingly
obvious) is prompted by Descartes' manipulation of the soliloquy *form* in his
_On the Nature of the Mind_ (pub. 1641) where he reflects on his own sense of
what it is like to think:
 
   `I, who am certain that I am, did not yet know clearly enough what I am...
   What then did I formerly think I was? I thought I was a man. But what is a
   man? Shall I say a rational animal? No...what then am I? A thing that thinks.
 
Do others find an echo of Hamlet here? In any case, the construction of this
`thinking thing', whether on the stage or encountered in the silence of one's
own reading, might be thought of as conforming to that eerie sense which
Georges Poulet tries to isolate in his _Phenomenology of Reading_: `I am on
loan to another, and this other thinks, feels, suffers, and acts within me'.
Poulet is trying to describing the process of (silent) reading to oneself, but
I seem to have heard actors trying to describe their craft in similar terms.
Kate Belsey, in her _The Subject of Tragedy_ offers another way of thinking
through the problem, when she observes that the 16th cent. dramatist is cut
free (again in a formal sense) from alliterative verse, to roam around in the
`flexible and fluent iambic pentameter' which promises the _illusion_ (again)
of `fullness' or a sense of interiority. That expression prompts me to wonder
about the relationship between the emergence of Renaissance portraiture, and
the deployment of conventions which allow soliloquies to flourish. John Pope-
Hennessy, back, I think, in 1963, described the history of the portrait as the
`story':
 
   ...of how eyes cease to be linear symbols and become instead the...organs we
   ourselves possess...lips cease to be a segment in the undifferentiated
   textureof the face, and become instead a sensitized area through [which]...a
   whole range of responses is expressed....etc etc.
 
In other words, is the emergence of the soliloquy part of an almost Darwinian
narrative, which appears to trace the evolution of the representation of
`interiority'? Is it, even, the discovery of the soliloquy which actually
allows Descartes in the 1620's, 30's, and 40's to pursue his project of fixing
the sense of thinking onto a sense of embodiment? And how, I wonder, could one
pursue the relationship between shifts in the conventions of portraiture and
shifts in the conventions of representing `thinking things' (sometimes called
`characters' or some such) without becoming hopelessly lost in abstraction?
Forgive me if I have rambled. This problem vexes me.
 
Many thanks, by the way, to all those who responded (publicly or privately) to
the `What is this list for' thread. I enjoyed the ensuing discussion hugely,
especially those contribtions from the more forthright members of the list.
 
Jonathan Sawday
Dept. of English,
University of Southampton
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Lavagnino <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 8 Dec 1995 16:18:19 -0500
Subject:        Re: Renaissance typefaces
 
John Mucci asks about computer typefaces with long s, ct ligature, thorn, etc.
I've no first-hand experience, but word has it that Adobe Caslon and Apple
Hoefler Text GX have the long s and some of the now-obsolete ligatures; the
former is available from Adobe (<URL:http://www.adobe.com), and the latter is
part of the QuickDraw GX system that Apple produces for the Mac
(<URL:http://www.apple.com>).
 
The thorn is actually present in quite a lot of PostScript and TrueType fonts:
the problem is (merely) to figure out how you get at it on your machine.
 
John Lavagnino, Women Writers Project, Brown University
 

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