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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Re: Apocrypha; Othello; Characters; Odor/Weddings
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0148. Thursday, 29 February 1996.

(1)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 21:04:11 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0141  Works Attributed to Shakespeare

(2)     From:   Tunis Romein <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 23:38:21 -0500
        Subj:   Othello: Christian or Moslem?

(3)     From:   John Lee <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 08:57:27 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0139 Re: Characters

(4)     From:   Sheryl Sawin <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Feb 96 13:19:49 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0134  Qs: Odor/Weddings


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 21:04:11 +0100
Subject: 7.0141  Works Attributed to Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0141  Works Attributed to Shakespeare

>I need to find sources which discuss works attributed erroneously to
>Shakespeare. Does anyone have any suggestions? Any help would be appreciated.
>
>Michael Norman
>University of North Carolina at Greensboro

There's been a fair amount written about the Shakespeare Apocrypha; a good
place to start is C.F. Tucker Brooke's 1908 edition of *The Shakespeare
Apocrypha*.  William Kozlenko also edited a book in 1974 called *Disputed Plays
of William Shakespeare*, and there's other stuff out there.  Some of this deals
with plays which many scholars think Shakespeare wrote at least part of (e.g.
Sir Thomas More, Edward III), and some of it deals with plays that were
attributed to him at some point but which virtually nobody believes he wrote
(e.g. Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, The Puritan). Also, if you can find back
issues of *The Shakespeare Newsletter*, that has had a lot over the years about
various works attributed to Shakespeare with arguments pro and con.

Dave Kathman

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tunis Romein <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 23:38:21 -0500
Subject:        Othello: Christian or Moslem?

Iago says this of Othello in his last soliloquy of Act II, the one beginning
"And what's he then that says I play the villain. . . . "

                And then for her
To win the Moor--were 't to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemed sin--
His soul is so enfettered to her love
That she may make, unmake, do what she list . . . .

So Iago evidently considers Othello a Christian.

Also, judging by Othello's words just before his suicide, he couldn't be a
Moslem.  He speaks of once killing a "turbaned Turk":

I took by th' throat the circumcised dog
And smote him, thus.  [He stabs himself.]

That's not the kind of language one Moslem would use to refer to another.

Tunis Romein
Charleston, SC  USA

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Lee <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 08:57:27 GMT
Subject: 7.0139 Re: Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0139 Re: Characters

> What Bowlen, and others seem unable or
> unwilling to concede is that their very notion of "character" imposed on a
> Shakespearean text produces an anachronism.

As John Drakakis says, the notion of 'character' lies at the heart of this
debate. However, whether or not 'character' (i.e. the modern notion of
character as interior and self-constituted inner life, as opposed to the
Elizabethan notion of character as appearance, qv complexion) is anachronistic
is a debate, not a self-evident fact.  As the modern vocabulary of meaning
bound up with the modern sense of character is absent from Shakespearean plays,
the argument for anachronism is nice and direct.  To argue the reverse brings
us to the question of whether a concept can exist before the vocabulary exists
to express it.  One critic who examines this question directly, and comes to
the conclusion that there is an inner life to which our modern terminologies
bound up with character may be intelligibly applied is Anne Ferry, _The Inward
Language: Sonnets of Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare and Donne_ (1983).  I would
also have thought Joel Altman's more recent _Shakespeare's Perjured Eye_
supports this position, finding Shakespeare to have instituted the
'subjectivity effects' from which modern 'character' is created.  This debate,
rightly, could run and run.

One consensus that might be reached, is that -- as John Drakakis suggests --
'character' should not be taught as a given, but rather historicized, and shown
to be a complex word whose meaning has developed and changed, greatly, over
time.

Yours,
John Lee

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sheryl Sawin <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Feb 96 13:19:49 EST
Subject: 7.0134  Qs: Odor/Weddings
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0134  Qs: Odor/Weddings

In response to Michael Best's inquiries:

1. There seems to be a widespread belief that the Elizabethans did not wash,
and that they (the nobility at any rate) covered their bodily smells with
perfume rather than bathing. The poorer classes presumably simply stank. Is
there any evidence to support this assertion?

2. Did the marriage rituals of the time conclude with some kind of charivari --
the awakening of the bedded couple with noise or other kinds of celebration /
torment? Again, I've seen this referred to, but never with any kind of
contemporary reference.

--------------
1.  I'm not sure about the odor thing... but try the multi volume series on
Private Life  (the volume on the Renaissance), put out a few years back.

2.  As for the marriage rituals, George Puttenham describes something like
what you are after (making noise outside the room, throwing walnuts on the
ground and the like) in the _Arte of English Poesy_.  I THINK it is in book
two--although I haven't read it in a while.

Hope these admittedly vague suggestions help.

Sheryl Sawin
St. Joseph's University, PA
 

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