1995

Re: Antonio

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 701 Wednesday, 20 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Kay Wade <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 14:24:00 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0697  Qs: Antonio
 
(2)     From:   Robert F. O'Connor <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 12:16:15 +0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0697  Qs: Antonio; Tennyson
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kay Wade <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 14:24:00 -0700
Subject: 6.0697  Qs: Antonio
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0697  Qs: Antonio
 
Sam Schimek asks about downplaying Antonio's antisemitism.  I think it would be
fatal to do that; his antisemitism is necessary to the play.  Shylock doesn't
go out of his way to entrap Antonio into anything; in fact, he at first offers
to assist Antonio.  It is  Antonio's refusal to be under any obligation to a
Jew that leads to the pound of flesh situation.  A kind of PC pretense that
nobody is antisemitic does away with any reason for the play, it seems to me.
 
Further, Shylock is given abundant reason for finally insisting on payment.
He's had to put up with prejudice and mistreatment from Antonio and the general
populace, his friends are ragging at him, his daughter runs off with a
Christian and is so uncaring of his feelings that she steals a ring that was a
cherished memento of his wife and sells it (to buy a monkey, as I recall), and
one way and another his feelings are thoroughly trampled on. Finally, he
strikes back.  I don't see how that makes him a monster, but rather a very
troubled human being.
 
Further, I find Shakespeare's treatment of Portia very interesting.  People
seem to be mesmerized by her wonderful speech about mercy instead of justice,
but then what does she do?  She enjoys playing her razzle-dazzle trick and
entrapping Shylock, while keeping Antonio and Bassanio in unnecessarily
prolonged fear that Antonio would die when she could have settled things much
sooner.  Then, after she's had her big moment, she immediately drops any talk
of mercy and instead talks justice, justice, justice.  When Antonio and the
Duke both try to let Shylock off the hook, it is Portia who insists on grinding
him down.
 
Shakespeare doesn't beat you over the head with the moral of a story, but it's
the Christians in this play who come off badly when you really look at the
text.   I can't imagine that it escaped Shakespeare's notice that Portia talks
pretty but doesn't follow through.  Remember he prepared the way in Act I
(ii.21) where she says, "If to do were as easy to know what were good to do,
chapels had been churches and poor men's cottages princes' palaces.  It is a
good divine that follows his own instructions:  I can easier teach twenty what
were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert F. O'Connor <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 12:16:15 +0700
Subject: 6.0697  Qs: Antonio; Tennyson
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0697  Qs: Antonio; Tennyson
 
Greetings all.
 
Sam Schimek inquired about recent performances of *Merchant* and the way
Antonio was presented:
 
>1) Antonio & Bassanio's potential homosexuality: Was this mined on stage? Did
>it undermine of help the performance? Did it give Antonio more dramatic power
>as an outsider a la Shylock?
 
A recent (1991/2) production by the Sydney-based Bell Shakespeare company
foregrounded (without overstating) this idea by having the first scene of the
play staged in a bath-house, all present being clad only in towels. This was,
according to the director's notes, a deliberate use of the connotations of a
gay community that the audience might associate with a bath-house - the
implication being underlined - to the disappointment (and annoyance) of some by
a passionate kiss between Antonio and Bassanio.  I couldn't say whether it
helped or hindered the performance, but it did mark both Bassanio and Antonio
as 'outsiders' to the dominant heterosexual paradigms of mercantile Venice:
this might, in fact, make Antonio not only more sympathetic to Shylock as a
fellow outsider, but would perhaps undermine the 'dramatic power' that the
latter had over him.
 
>2) Antonio's Anti-Semitism: How was this presented to the audience? How was it
>received? Was it glossed over in order to compliment the numerous "good
>Antonio" speeches?
 
As far as I can recall (an some other Australian correspondents who saw the
production may disagree with me), Antonio's anti-Semitism was very much
down-played - but not entirely glossed over.  Bassanio came across as far more
anti-Semitic, but this may in fact have been a very personal animosity toward
Shylock himself - his Jewishness being a secondary consideration - on account
of the moneylender's hatred of - and threat to - Bassanio's beloved Antonio.
 
>3) Antonio as Christ-figure: Was this addressed overtly, left as an
>undercurrent or ignored? Was any stage-symbolism milked from this?
 
Not an issue in this production.
 
>4) In general, what was the final opinion of the play? Worthy of production or
>racist script that offends? While my opinion is of the former, one cannot
>overlook the large body of opinion leaning towards the latter. Then again,
>being offensive never alone makes a play unworthy of production.
 
The Bell Company were very conscious of the potential 'offensiveness' of the
play, and this was publicly stated to be one of the reasons for choosing to
perform it - the same rationale being used (and, in my opinion, equally poorly
defended) in their choice of *Shrew* for their national tour last year.  It
was, overall, a good production.  I think the play is worth producing, if only
in recognition of the 'warts and all' nature of Shakespeare's works.  It is not
enough to defend *Merchant* (or *Shrew*) as being part of the dramatist's
unstinting exploration and representation of all facets of human nature; we
should be prepared to admit that the dramatist may have been possessed of
'distaseful' attitudes, as much as we should be prepared to admit that he wrote
some bad plays.
 
I don't think there's any hiding from the play's racism - but I agree with Sam
Schimek that offensiveness alone should not exclude the play from performance.

Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Ethiop)

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 700 Wednesday, 20 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 13:11:19 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0696  Re: Teaching Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 15:58:45 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0696  Re: Teaching Shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   Robert Appelbaum <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 20:27:52 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Teaching Shakespeare
 
(4)     From:   Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 23:30:02 -0400
        Subj:   Re: ethiop
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 13:11:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0696  Re: Teaching Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0696  Re: Teaching Shakespeare
 
What seems odder that Mr. Godshalk's royal "We" was his advice.  He points out
that we must now realize that we don't know the meaning of many Eliz. words and
that "Ethiop" might have just indicated an aesthetic preference. He then
advises that students should simply be told that the word indicates aesthetic
preference and move on.  But, it has not been established that the word only
indicates aesthetic preference and this approach, though possessing the merit
of following the paradigms established by the contemporary, should be follwed
thoroughly to have the desired effect. It might be better if it was explained
to the student that the words of the text may mean whatever they want them to
mean -- and this way declaring a new meaning for Ethiop would be merely the
simple produce of a common day.  By the time the students get to the word the
method would have already been established and no sutures will show.  This
seems much better than following the advice of another poster and just removing
the inconvenient word -- this might be detected and would be inconvenient when
one speculates on the horrible effects the censor might have had on the plays.
 
As a graduate of an historically black college I will mention that informing
students that the word indicates a merely aesthetic preference won't go over
anyway.  There is no better way to arouse suspicion and students know "better"
(rightly or wrongly). It seems better to confront all this right off.  Begin
with Othello and see what happens and then, eventually, you might move the
discussions away from contemporary concerns and have a go at chatting about the
literary.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 15:58:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0696  Re: Teaching Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0696  Re: Teaching Shakespeare
 
Eric Armstrong has recently corrected my use of "WE."  Which reminds me, of
course, of the Lone Ranger and Tonto when they are surrounded by hostile
Indians.  I am afraid, however, we are all part of the society in which we
live. There are only a few ways to become unstuck, e.g., suicide.  I do not buy
the Virginia Woolf contention that one segment of society can stand aloof from
another segment.  I think Donne was right: no woman is an island.
 
But I don't think Eric understood what I was driving at.  I was not being
complacent.  I was trying to point out that most of us make non-rational
esthetic judgments.  The "ethiope" question might well lead to a classroom
discussion of these non-rational judgments, and allow us to see ourselves more
clearly. Many of these non-rational judgments may not be conscious.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
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From:           Robert Appelbaum <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 20:27:52 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Teaching Shakespeare
 
The thread on teaching Shakespeare is petering out for now, but I would
nevertheless like to respond to two posts, one of them aimed toward me.
 
(1) I found Bill Godshalk's response to "Ethiop" stunningly insensitive. It was
the kind of response that only those who have never been victimized by
prejudice can make: it's only an aesthetic judgment!  There is, I think, an
important sense in which Shakespeare's racism is in fact only aesthetic --
since blackness was just beginning to acquire the more sinister meanings it
would adopt in the next century, as a part of the development of the slave
trade.  But Bill, there it is, already in kernel: it is ugly to be be black!
And there are those of us who are old enough to remember when it was ugly to be
a Jew.  If you look at American literature in the 1920s you will find that it
was once thought ugly to be Scandinavian. Only aesthetic judgments?
 
(2) Chris Warley raises the objection that when I argued against condescending
to students I was "essentializing" their "authenticity" as subjects, as well as
the "subversion" I seemed to imply to be their mission vis-a-vis the study of
Shakespeare.  I was doing no such thing. I was, however, calling attention to
what I called the "rehearsal" of old controversies regarding the groundlings --
a controversy to be found in the words of WS himself, and to which I do not
think there is an ultimate solution.  We are all, as even the WS of some of the
Prologues seems to be, caught in a bind between democratic impulses and the
inevitability of hierarchical order.  As teachers we are always on high (we are
the authorities; we are "those who know": we give out the grades).  It doesn't
seem possible that we can get away from that entirely, and for that reason I am
not so opposed as others on the list seem to be to the theatrics with which
some teachers introduce the study of Shakespeare.  I don't like condescension,
but in some hands theatrics can be something of a levelling device.  In any
case, all I was saying was this, without a thought of anything so vexed as a
strategy of decommodifying subversion: we ought to love our students: we ought
to love and respect them.  And our teaching ought to be an expression of that
love.
 
Robert Appelbaum
UC Berkeley
 
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From:           Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 23:30:02 -0400
Subject:        Re: ethiop
 
Two thoughts occur to me about "handling" the situation as you described it:
 
1)Turn to Romeo's speech.  There the word 'Ethiop' is used in a positive way,
as the gorgeous backdrop for a brilliant jewel; or at least I've always
interpreted it as positive.  [Of course, he does go on to say she's a dove and
everyone else is crows, doesn't he?]
 
2) Is it too facile to consider that perhaps we are to think less of Hermia for
her use of the word?  I think Bill G.'s take on society's esthetic judgments is
probably appropriate.  Hermia also calls Helena a shrimp--are your short
students offended by that?  Most of Shakespeare's yokels are stupid, and we're
playing Winter's Tale's yokels as Southern yokels, even here in Newnan, GA.
Should my Southern audiences be offended that we are "indicating" stupidity
with their own accent?
 
It's a tough situation.  Good luck!
 
Dale Lyles

ATHE Panel

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0698, Tuesday, 19 September 1995.
 
From:           Linda Miles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Sep 1995 17:21:06 -0500
Subject:        ATHE panel possibilities
 
I am a PhD candidate looking to put together a panel proposal for ATHE 1996.
The work I'm doing right now involves direcing techniques/Shakespeare's
comedies/issues of gender.  Right now I remain fairly flexible, looking for
anyone interested in any of the following trajectories (into which my work can
fit):
 
directing & Shakespeare
directing & comedy
directing & gender
Shakespeare production & gender
Shakespeare's comedies & gender
etc.
etc.
 
I think there is a lot of potential in these areas, and that we can put
together an exciting combination of papers.  Anyone working in similar arenas
and interested in collaborating on a proposal, please contact me PRIVATELY.
 
Linda Miles
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Comics; Marlowe; Burgess

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 699 Wednesday, 20 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Scott Shepherd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 13:58:13 -0400
        Subj:   comic books
 
(2)     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 95 16:09:53 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0693  Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
(3)     From:   Karen Saupe <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 16:14:56 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0693 Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
(4)     From:   Thomas G. Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 19:29:05 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0693  Re: Marlowe Comics
 
(5)     From:   Dermot Grice <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 11:31:33 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0693 Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
(6)     From:   James Schaefer <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 13:11:03 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Anthony Burgess
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Shepherd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 13:58:13 -0400
Subject:        comic books
 
All plays should be published as comic books.
 
Workman Publishing (1 W 39 St NYC 10018):
        Othello illustrated by Oscar Zarante
        King Lear illustrated by Ian Pollock
        Macbeth illustrated by Von
Maybe they've added other titles by now.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 95 16:09:53 EDT
Subject: 6.0693  Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0693  Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
Jeremy--
 
I would be interested in hearing more about your thoughts and writing on the
Shakespeare-Sandman connection. I have read and enjoyed Sandman since the
beginning of its run. You can email me privately if no one else expresses an
interest.
            Annalisa
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Saupe <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 16:14:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0693 Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0693 Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
Workman Publishing has at least three Shakespeare comix (Chris Gordon has
already mentioned Pollock's _Lear_, the best of the lot):
 
_Ian Pollock's Illustrated King Lear, Complete and Unabridged_ (Workman, 1984)
 
_Macbeth, the Folio Edition_, illustrated by Von (Workman, 1982)
 
_Othello, Complete & Unabridged_, illustrated by Oscar Zarate (Workman, 1983)
 
        (Are there more?)
 
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From:           Thomas G. Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 19:29:05 -0400
Subject: 6.0693  Re: Marlowe Comics
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0693  Re: Marlowe Comics
 
Winging two birds with one stone, there is also a brilliant comic-book version
of Doctor Faustus, in which Faustus' 24 years run from 1960 to 1984, with
various bits of modern history going on in the background while Faustus and a
_very_ beautiful Mephistopheles make their way across the foreground. Highyl
recommended. I dont have it to hand, but will hunt up my copy for details.
 
Tom
 
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From:           Dermot Grice <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 11:31:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0693 Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0693 Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
One novel about Marlowe that nobody seems to have mentioned yet is Icarus
Flying_by Liam Maguire, published by Ormond Books in 1993. Though not a
masterpiece, it is worth reading.
 
Dermot Grice
dgrice.acs.ryerson.ca
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Sep 1995 13:11:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Anthony Burgess
 
If you follow up David Evett's advice and read Paul Theroux's fantasia on the
theme of Anthony Burgess in this summer's fiction issue of the *New Yorker*,
don't miss the disclaimer letter a couple issues later from the presumably real
(then? now?) Mrs. Theroux.  Future biographers, beware!
 
Jim Schaefer

Qs: Antonio; Tennyson

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0697, Tuesday, 19 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Sam Schimek <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
        Date:   Monday, 18 Sep 1995 16:30:55 -0700
        Subj:   MoV's Antonio in Performance
 
(2)     From:   Snehal Shingavi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Sep 95 22:34:53 CDT
        Subj:   Tennyson's IN MEMORIAM
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Schimek <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Date:           Monday, 18 Sep 1995 16:30:55 -0700
Subject:        MoV's Antonio in Performance
 
I am attempting to survey recent portrayals of Antonio. While the literature on
Shylock is somewhat overwhelming to say the least, the title character tends to
fall by the wayside and is used only to throw Shylock into relief. I am
interested particularly if the following aspects were addressed:
 
1) Antonio & Bassanio's potential homosexuality: Was this mined on stage? Did
it undermine of help the performance? Did it give Antonio more dramatic power
as an outsider a la Shylock?
 
2) Antonio's Anti-Semitism: How was this presented to the audience? How was it
received? Was it glossed over in order to compliment the numerous "good
Antonio" speeches?
 
3) Antonio as Christ-figure: Was this addressed overtly, left as an
undercurrent or ignored? Was any stage-symbolism milked from this?
 
4) In general, what was the final opinion of the play? Worthy of production or
racist script that offends? While my opinion is of the former, one cannot
overlook the large body of opinion leaning towards the latter. Then again,
being offensive never alone makes a play unworthy of production.
 
Thank you in advance.
Sam
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Snehal Shingavi  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Sep 95 22:34:53 CDT
Subject:        Tennyson's IN MEMORIAM
 
I was reading section 12 of Tennyson's IN MEMORIAM for a class on Victorian
Poetry in which we have discussed the influence Shakespeare played on the
Victorians when the images presented in that passage seemed to remind me very
much of Gloucester's death scene on the cliffs of Dover in KING LEAR.  While I
know (or  at least the very helpful footnote tells me so) that he is talking
about his dead friend, Hallam, who is returning on the boat, I feel very
confident that the image he presents of himself (crazed, animated, confused,
dazed) and the scenes around him (the cliffs, the water) and the things he says
("is this the end? " ... "is he come yet?") are echoes of Gloucester's own
feelings about his son and his own death.  How would such a reading change the
meaning of the poem if at all?
 
I have some thoughts, but am not sure at all.  if the image is one of
patrernalistic love then surely this can be another attempt to bridge the gap
in homosocial discourse that Tennyson feels exists and disrupts the poetic
process (sections 5, 7, and 8).  he can explain his deep rooted sentiments for
Hallam in similar terms as gloucester can explain his love for his son.  if it
is more po litically situated, than the image represents a sort of usurpation
of power that is present (tennyson's own anxieties about the changing critical
and literary  circles and the value and quality of his work) throughout KING
LEAR.  These are all random speculations and any suggestions will be
appreciated as a paper seems forthcoming.

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