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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Re: Miss-Begetting
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0433.  Thursday, 1 June 1995.
 
(1)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 1995 10:09:43 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Conceptual involvement
 
(2)     From:   David Middleton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 95 11:02:43 CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
 
(3)     From:   Michael Friedman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 1995 16:48:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
 
(4)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 1995 17:33 ET
        Subj:   Miss-begetting
 
(5)     From:   Daniel Vitkus <DVITKUS@EGAUCACS>
        Date:   Thursday,  1 Jun 1995 11:45 +0200
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 1995 10:09:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Conceptual involvement
 
>Can we assume from this that there was a pop culture (or, given these our
>times, a professional medical culture) which equated the sex of the child with
>the participatory gusto of the mother/father at its conception?
 
I don't know about the effects on a child's sex, but for Laurence Sterne, at
least, temperment and fortune were subject to conjugal circumstances: remember
the opening of *Tristram Shandy* (1759), in which Our Hero laments the coitus
interruptus (sort of) of his own conception:
 
"I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in
duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot
me .... that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps
his genius and the very cast of his mind;--and, for aught they knew to the
contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the
humours and dispositions which were then uppermost....  I tremble to think what
a foundation had been laid for a thousand weaknesses both of body and mind,
which no skill of the phuysician or the philosopher could ever afterwards have
set thoroughly to rights."
 
And all for the lack of a digital clock!
 
James F. Schaefer Jr.

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Middleton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 95 11:02:43 CDT
Subject: 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
 
To Gareth Euridge--I don't know of pop culture data regarding vigor during
conception and the sex of the child, but Edmund does comment in -King
Lear- about a cause/effect relation between vigor and legitimacy. You'll recall
his saying, "Why brand they us/ With base?. . . . Who in the lusty stealth of
nature take/ More composition and fierce quality/ Than doth, within a dull,
stale, tired bed,/ Go to th'creating a whole tribe of fops,/ Got 'tween asleep
and wake?" That remark does not appear to refer particularly to either the man
or woman in alluding to "lusty stealth," but rather values the excitement
generated by the "illegitimacy" of the realtionship.  Reminds me of the major
premise of the film -Bocaccio '70- from twenty odd years ago in which Marcello
Mastrioanni requires risk in order to enjoy sexuality.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 1995 16:48:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
 
Gareth,
 
I don't have an answer to the question of the perceived relation between a
woman's participation in the sexual act and the sex of the child produced by
that union, but it sure reminds me of Edmund's soliloquy in *King Lear*
(1.2.1-22) where he claims that because he was conceived "in the lusty stealth
of nature," he is superior to his "legitimate" brother Edgar, who was begotten
in the "dull, stale, tired bed" of marriage.  Edmund's father Gloucester also
comments of his bastard son that "there was good sport at his making"
(1.1.23-24).
 
                                                        Michael Friedman
                                                        University of Scranton
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 1995 17:33 ET
Subject:        Miss-begetting
 
I can't come closer to an answer to Gareth Euridge's inquiry about a possible
early-modern theory of the effect of passion on conception than Edmund's first
soliloquy in _Lr_, when he attributes his own energetic bastardy to "the lusty
stealth" of the love-making between his parents (his father has earlier told
Kent that "there was good sport at his making), whereas the "dull, stale,
tired" marital bed produces only fops.  And fops, of course, are effeminate.
 
Lustily,
Dave Evett
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel Vitkus <DVITKUS@EGAUCACS>
Date:           Thursday,  1 Jun 1995 11:45 +0200
Subject: 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0431  Q: Miss-Begetting
 
re: sex and conception
 
Yes, it was believed that greater vigor and heat during the act of coition
would produce a boy-child, the heat being necessary to bring the seed to
complete development (patriarchal medical theory desscribes a girll- child as
"incomplete", lacking, in this sense).  See _Making Sex_.
 
D. Vitkus
The American University in Cairo
 

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