1995

Re: What is this list for, exactly?

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0796.  Monday, 16 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Marcello Cappuzzo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 01:06:46 +0100
        Subj:   Re:  What is this list for, exactly?
 
(2)     From:   Milla Riggio <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 00:15:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0789  What is this list for, exactly?
 
(3)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 07:54:43 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0789  What is this list for, exactly?
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcello Cappuzzo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 01:06:46 +0100
Subject:        Re:  What is this list for, exactly?
 
May I ask Jonathan Sawday a very simple question?  You are "a Shakespeare
editor," and you "write and think about Early Modern European culture." You
"teach (and have taught) the plays, texts, images, philosophy, politics, and
science of that era to undergraduates and postgraduates in the UK, and in
Ireland, and in the US." In a word, you are a scholar who *could* give SHAKSPER
valuable contributions.  Why don't you do so, why don't you state what you'd
like to discuss to start with, instead of wasting your time (and perhaps not
only yours) listing what you do not like of other people's discussions?
 
Marcello Cappuzzo
University of Palermo
 
P.S. If you want to teach me how to get rid of my "absurd devotion to
having [my] name spelt correctly," I'm ready to listen to you, but on one
condition:  that you don't really believe that as long as you wear your wig
and don't take sides people'll mistake you for a man *super partes*.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Milla Riggio <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 00:15:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0789  What is this list for, exactly?
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0789  What is this list for, exactly?
 
A postscript to Jonathan Sawday's message:
 
When I first joined SHAKESPER, I looked forward eagerly to the exchanges on the
list.  I don't know whether they have simply become so familiar to me that I no
longer find them exciting or whether they have become so personal, so
repetitive, and well, on the whole, to me at least so nearly banal or what, but
I now discover that I have 244 unread letters in my system.  I haven't taken to
deleting them, because I fantasize that when I get around to actually reading
them, I will find something of real value imbedded there.  But, in truth, I
have not found the time even to open the files for the past two months until
today and I chose to read the one message that questioned the meaning of the
list.
 
For what it's worth....
 
Milla Riggio
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 07:54:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0789  What is this list for, exactly?
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0789  What is this list for, exactly?
 
Mr. Sawday,
 
This list, or any list, is for members to exchanges views on topics related to
the subject of the list. The various threads are labelled, in part, so that
members may skip what doesn't interest them. The twelve step program has a very
useful motto which is passed along to all who take part: "keep what you like
and leave the rest." The discussions that seem fruitless to you may not seem so
to those involved in them. I suggest you ask questions or bring up topics on
subjects that are of interest to you. You'll find that you attract others who
share your interests.
 
Stephanie Hughes

Shakespeare and "Literature"

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0795.  Monday, 16 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Thomas G. Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 18:26:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0787 Shakespeare and "literature".
 
(2)     From:   Ed Gieskes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 19:58:13 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0787  Re: Importance of Shakespeare and Related Issues
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas G. Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 18:26:06 -0400
Subject: 6.0787 Shakespeare and "literature".
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0787 Shakespeare and "literature".
 
Terry Hawkes, one of my favorite SHAKSPERean clowns, offers the following
thought:
 
>> 1. Shakespeare was a playwright. 'Literature' is something that has been
>> thrust upon him.
 
Now, as far as I can recall, "literature" in around 1600 meant something like
"acquaintance with authoritative cultural writings, mostly classical poets and
philosophers."  In this sense, "literature" was something one had rather than
something one did, and W.S. had it thrust upon him at Stratford Grammar School,
not very thoroughly if we choose to believe Greene and Jonson. In this sense,
then, he did "have" literature. But more than this, what he was by the
standards of his time, was a _poet_, a very ancient profession whose basic
canons were well understood by most Elizabethans. He was fully recognized as
such in his own time. He worked for a living in the theater, writing and acting
in plays (and so produced "literature" in the slightly later sense of "things
written down") and at one time tried to get a toehold on the poetry/patronage
circuit, but gave that up for reasons we do not know. So that though we could
say that "literature" was thrust upon him, "poetry" was a vocation he chose for
himself (or one that was the product of some divine thrusting on, if you like).
 
Much that we now call "literature" was once covered by the category "poetry"
which still does a pretty good job of pointing us at certain recurrent
questions about human imaginative activity, questions very relevant to what we
now call "Shakespeare". Is anyone going to object if I choose to talk about
Shakespeare as a poet?
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Gieskes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 19:58:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0787  Re: Importance of Shakespeare and Related Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0787  Re: Importance of Shakespeare and Related Issues
 
Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes:
 
>I have been pondering Terrence Hawkes statement that what Shakespeare produced
>was not literature. What was it then? And if what he produced wasn't
>literature, who did "produce literature"? Is this observation the result of
>some four-syllable ism that has somehow passed me by? I hope someone will
>enlighten me lest I continue to operate under what appears to be a vast
>misunderstanding.
 
It's a fairly simple issue.  Shakespeare wrote (primarily) plays for the public
theatre in early modern England.  Such plays were not considered "literary"
(this term itself is problematic in the period) until later.  "Literature" is a
category invented later (the OED dates the earliest use of the term in the
modern sense to 1779 (Samuel Johnson)). The observation is the result of
attention to the contemporary reception and evaluation of what Shakespeare
produced, not any -ism in particular.
 
Literature meant something more like learned written discourse in the period
and did not necessarily (or even often) apply to what we might call literary
art.
 
I hope that helps.
 
Ed Gieskes

Re: Historical Fact

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0793.  Monday, 16 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 20:08:47 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 6.0788 Historical Fact
 
(2)     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 21:07:21 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Historical Fact
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 20:08:47 +0100
Subject: Historical Fact
Comment:        SHK 6.0788 Historical Fact
 
If David Lindley thinks that "history" is constructed (by whom, under what
conditions, and for what purposes?), and "relies upon traces that are always
mediated through text", how can he persist in his thoroughly empiricist belief
in the integrity of "fact"?  Moreover, how can he then proceed to assert that
Macbeth, Lear or Measure For Measure have as "a significant constituent of
their preoccupations" the "fact" of Elizabeth's death in 1603 and her
succession by James I, without himself constructing a narrative?
 
The movement here from "fact" to "crypto-fact" to use Lindley's own tendentious
expression, seems palpable.
 
Perhaps instead of lecturing others he might like to ponder a little more
seriously than his inadequate digestion of fashionable positions seems to have
permitted, the philosophical horns of his own dilemma. That might require a
little less self-righteousness, and a greater willingness to examine his own
clearly faulty assumptions, particularly those which depend upon his reluctance
to acknowledge the interconnections between "fact" and interpretation. Even
F.R.Leavis knew that there is a value implicit in the realizing.
 
Best wishes
John Drakakis
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 21:07:21 +0100
Subject:        Re: Historical Fact
 
David Lindley offers two 'facts':
 
>1) Elizabeth died in 1603 and was succeeded by a Scottish monarch, James I.
 
I've never encountered a serious argument to the contrary. It is generally
accepted without gainsay.
 
>2. For a long time it was assumed that Jonson's masque, Golden Age Restored,
>was performed in 1615. 'Factual' evidence - the ambassadorial reports
>discovered by John Orrell - demonstrates incontrovertibly that this is wrong,
>and that the masque was performed in 1616.
 
This issue clearly is one about which conflict has arisen. Orrell put forward
some documents in an effort to change what gets said about the subject.
 
Lindley has chosen a good pair of examples of why the notion 'fact' is not very
useful to describe such disparate cases. In the latter example I guess (I have
no knowledge of the particular case) that before Orrell's work the earlier view
was presented as 'fact'. If not, there are plenty of other examples: the
flatness of the world is a good one.
 
The phenomena do not divide themselves up into two categories, 'fact' and
'opinion'. Rather we do the dividing when we find an example of the latter so
compelling and apparently incontrovertible that we promote it to the former
category. Lindley's notion of 'fact' requires that these unchangeable,
unchallangeable statements must be available for periodic alteration. The
category 'fact' undoes itself.
 
Gabriel Egan

Re: *MV*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0794.  Monday, 16 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 16:23:03 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
(2)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 08:27:34 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
(3)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Oct 1995 08:34:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Oct 1995 16:23:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
I am reading John Lyon's book-length study of MV now and he says something to
the effect that every time we think we are presented with a character whose
"interiority" or psychological depth we can identify with, that sure enough
Shakespeare (or the play) will take that away from us. I think there is
something to be said for that (re Shylock, Portia, Antonio, etc.)... I also saw
recently an offhand quote (not pursued) by W.T. McCrary that claims that
Antonio is like Timon of Athens in the first half of his play-- and Shylock is
like Timon in the second half. I find this worth exploring in terms of the
relation between these two characters, whether viewed psychologically or
functionally ("politically"). cs.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 08:27:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
Jesus Cora;
 
I agree that Shakespeare's target with Shylock was more puritanism than
anything relating to the jews,( but there is no question about his
anti-semitism as well). We see the same issues involved in his outburst about
the value of music in the same play, showing in vivid terms his scorn of those
who deride music. Who would do such a thing? The puritans were doing just that,
from pulpit and bookstall, blasting music, poetry, musicians and poets as tools
of the Devil. I believe that in Sir Toby's remark to Malvolio, "Dost think
because thou art virtuous there will be no more cakes and ale?" (not sure I
remember it right) we have the playwright's statement to the rising tide of
Puritanism that was threatening even then to engulf the theater, and all the
arts in England. I see Shakespeare's work as in great part an effort to save
what he saw as golden in the culture, encapsulate it in works of theater that
would survive the cultural holocaust to come, to gladden a less ideological
time at some future date. An unconscious effort probably, although he did have
his eye on posterity in the sonnets.
 
The antisemitism is all too real however, as is the sexism in Shrew and the
racism in Titus Andronicus. These should not be seen as personal flaws in the
author's character, but an expression of the feelings of the time. Shakespeare
felt himself on firm ground comparing the Puritan moneylender to a Venetian
jew, because he could count on his audience's antisemitism to get his point.
Earlier I suggested that teachers of Shakespeare to minority students might
tackle Shakespeare's racism by discussing it right at the start, explaining it
in cultural and historical terms, and enrolling the class in discovering
instances of it. I still feel that this is a very beneficial approach, both to
making Shakespeare relevant to their personal experience, and to healing the
social wounds that remain open due to a cultural bias so deep that it is
embedded in the language itself, dark still a synonym for evil or danger, fair
still a synonym for goodness.
 
Stephanie Hughes
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Oct 1995 08:34:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0792  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
Joe Nathan;
 
I believe that someone else a little earlier expressed the same thought, that
Shakespeare lost control of Shylock. I agree, but would take it further. I
believe that this loss of control was part of Shakespeare's method and to some
extent a measure of his greatness. I believe that he would start with a
combination of persons known to him and historical or classical or folk
characters he knew from reading and form his characters by combining them into
one character, but that at some point the character would come to life, and he
would simply follow. The measure of his greatness is that he was usually able
to manage these powerful and independent personas sufficiently to create a
balanced drama.
 
Stephanie Hughes

Re: *MV* and Antonio

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0792.  Sunday, 15 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Jesus Cora <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 13 Oct 1995 15:58:48 UTC+0200
        Subj:   SHK 6.0777  Re: Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
(2)     From:   Joan Hartwig <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 13 Oct 95 22:48:06 EDT
        Subj:   RE: Antonio and *MV*
 
(3)     From:   Joe Nathan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 14 Oct 1995 05:31:03 -0700
        Subj:   MV
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jesus Cora <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 13 Oct 1995 15:58:48 UTC+0200
Subject: Re: Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        SHK 6.0777  Re: Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
Dear Shakespeareans,
 
I am afraid I have missed much of the debate on *MV* and I do not know whether
my suggestion has already been made. Has anyone thought that Shakespeare's
Shylock could be the embodiment of a critique against Puritans covered with the
veneer of what seems to be antisemitism? For some reason or another,
Shakespeare concealed his disapproval of Puritans unlike Jonson in *The
Alchemist* and *Bartholomew Fair* or Thomas Randolph in *The Muses' Looking
Glass*. Perhaps, Shakespeare fancied antisemitism as "politically correct" -if
I may say so- as a contrast to the overt depiction of a Puritan on stage.
 
The literal reading of the Bible, favoured by some sects, would be the idea
aimed at in the whole business of the bond and the trial scene. Here's a new
turn in the discussion. Does anyone agree?
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joan Hartwig <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 13 Oct 95 22:48:06 EDT
Subject:        RE: Antonio and *MV*
 
Although it is a bit late to enter into the discussion, I was delighted to find
Bill Godshalk considering the possibility that Portia (and Shakespeare) would
make a joke to "take the audience with her" in asking "Which is the merchant
here? and which the Jew?"  I have always understood that this was a joke to
tease the audience out of the all-too-serious stances it may have taken on
judging either Antonio or Shylock.  Not that serious matter does not follow.
Comic shifts in perspective are, to my reading and seeing, one of Shakespeare's
fortes.
 
Has anyone mentioned Bernard Grebanier's *The Truth About Shylock* (New York:
Random House, 1962), in which he reviews almost twenty analogues for the "pound
of flesh story" both in ancient times and in fiction more contemporary with
Shakespeare's time?  Shakespeare was not only aware of Marlowe.
 
Considerately,
Joan Hartwig
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Nathan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 14 Oct 1995 05:31:03 -0700
Subject:        MV
 
This thread has certainly produced some lively posts.  I read them all with
great interest.  This is not an original thought, but I wonder if anyone agrees
with my conclusion that - particularly in this play -  our beloved bard lost
control over the key characters. Did Shakespeare's script turn out as he
originally intended? I have this mental image of Shakespeare setting out to
write his play -- and then the characters took over.   For instance -- Who
wrote the Hath-not-a-Jew-eyes-speech?  Shakespeare or Shylock? I doubt - given
the standard image of the Jew which was prevalent in Shakespeare's day -- if
the author set out to arouse any sympathy for Shylock --  but he did.    Where
does the line *Which is the merchant and which the Jew?* come from?  Did
Shakespeare write it as comic relief?  Or did Portia make her entrance and
surprise Shakespeare (and us) with it in order to make a point we had never
considered?  And what about that last act?  With Shylock disposed of, who
insisted on a confrontation with Bassanio/Antonio -- Shakespeare or Portia?
 
As I said, I know there is nothing original here.  This concept has been
expressed many times.  But for some reason I feel it more in MV than in any of
Shakespeare's plays.  The only other writing which gives me such a strong
feeling of an author losing control of his own creation is Wagner's Ring. Is
this totally crazy - or does someone else feel it too?

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.