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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Re: Issues Surrounding Biography
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0501.  Thursday, 22 June 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jun 1995 12:50:38 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0498  Re: *Metamorphoses*
 
(2)     From:   Terrence Ross <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jun 1995 13:59:01 -0400
        Subj:   Why biography
 
(3)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jun 1995 14:32:34 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0497  Re: Why Biography?
 
(4)     From:   Michael Yogev <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 Jun 95 09:18:35 IST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0495  Re: Why Biography?
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jun 1995 12:50:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0498  Re: *Metamorphoses*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0498  Re: *Metamorphoses*
 
Sorry Everybody;
 
David Kathman has handed me a fistful of arguments surrounding my recent post
regarding the authorship issue, and he, and others who responded privately, are
correct in taking me to task for opening this issue when I had promised not to.
He is right that we will soon have another forum for this, and I will wait
until then to respond.
 
Penitently yours,
Stephanie Hughes
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terrence Ross <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jun 1995 13:59:01 -0400
Subject:        Why biography
 
David-Wilson Okamura cites the movie "Amadeus" as justification of his low
opinion of Mozart.  I suggest he look at Maynard Solomon's new biography, which
is at least meant to be a plausible chronicle of Mozart's life.  If "Amadeus"
is persuasive as biography, perhaps we should decide matters of Shakespearean
biography by reference to the old Second City TV skit "Shake & Bake," in which
WS and Bacon were crime-fighting buddies when they weren't writing "Hamlet."
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jun 1995 14:32:34 -0700
Subject: 6.0497  Re: Why Biography?
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0497  Re: Why Biography?
 
Poor Stephanie Hughes, strayed onto the Stratfordian turf and couldn't make it
around the block without getting slugged and mugged by the same old doorstep
sitters, knowing nothing new, wanting to know nothing new, having no new
insights and a real attitude about strangers traveling to know more of
Shakespeare and his world and his life.
 
She might have been warned by Thomas Carlyle, his Heroes and Hero- Worship and
the Heroic in History. He considers Shakespeare along with Dante: "Shakespeare
and Dante are saints of poetry; really, if we think of it, *canonized*, so that
it is impiety to meddle with them." He admits to the nothingness of his
biography, the total nowhere and nowhen that connects him with being a writer
of the poems and plays, but that's ok with Carlyle:  "How much in Shakespeare
lies hid...Speech is great; but silence is greater."
 
On the other hand, the Oxford group has invited a well-known
Shakespearean/Stratfordian scholar to discuss with us his arguments and
findings. We can't always agree, of course, but he is being treated with
courtesy, and there are things to learn from him, and I believe we consider him
an asset to our discussions.
 
But the greater part of speech on the subject of Shakespeare's biography, is
silence on this line, therefore....
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Yogev <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 Jun 95 09:18:35 IST
Subject: 6.0495  Re: Why Biography?
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0495  Re: Why Biography?
 
Just a few mainly chastened thoughts about the issue of biography as far as
Shakespeare is concerned.  The desire to connect the man with his works is
indeed one born of our interest in such artistic figures as Mozart, Freud, etc.
but as Stephen Orgel points out ("What is a Text?" in, I think, _Shakespeare
Reproduced_), the problem with making links of Shakespeare's life or presumed
character is that his texts are a very compromised mixture of his own papers,
the cuts and changes suggested by players or directorial interventions in the
heat of rehearsals for production, and the myriad hands of editors and other
playwrights who took it upon themselves to add to or amend the plays.  As a
result, the texts we would like to use to figure Shakespeare the man are just
not (as poststructuralist critics endlessly reiterate) "authored" in anything
close to the same fashion as are Mozart's works or Freud's writings.
 
The interest in constructing Shakespeare the man pales, in my mind, compared to
the fascination with the subjectivities his texts suggest and subvert.
 
Yours in dis-content,
Michael Yogev
University of Haifa
 

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