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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: April ::
Re: Physical Size of Elizabethans; RSC MND
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0250.  Monday, 1 April 1996.

(1)     From:   Ron Dwelle <
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        Date:   Sunday, 31 Mar 1996 09:52:13 -0800
        Subj:   Re:  Physical Size of Elizabethans

(2)     From:   Richard Kincaid <
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        Date:   Sunday, 31 Mar 1996 21:48:49
        Subj:   Re: RSC MND


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Dwelle <
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Date:           Sunday, 31 Mar 1996 09:52:13 -0800
Subject:        Re:  Physical Size of Elizabethans

Regarding the physical size of Elizabethans, relative to current Americans--in
a former life I was an animal breeder. One of the usual side effects of
"out-crossing" (that is, breeding outside of the normal gene-pool of the
standard population) is an increase in physical size. If you want to reduce
size, you "in-breed" (that is, breed to a close relative from the same
gene-pool). Presumably, there was little genetic out-crossing in Elizabethan
England. Another side-effect of outcrossing, by the way, is loss of stability
in temperament (i.e., wild and crazy offspring). But that's another American
story.

I know I've read a clear allusion to the phenomenon in Shakespeare, but I can't
locate it offhand. I thought it was the Lord or huntsman in the Sly induction
in Taming, but there's no direct reference to size outcomes in breeding--just
to other dog-breeding facts which presumably dog-handlers and Shakespeare were
well aware of.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Kincaid <
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Date:           Sunday, 31 Mar 1996 21:48:49
Subject:        Re: RSC MND

I don't know what Michael Sharpston considered homoerotic about RSC's MSN.
Perhap's when Puck was nestled in Oberon's arms while Operon told him his plans
and Puck kissed him on the cheek? Yes that did hint at a possible sexual
relationship, but it certainly wasn't overtly erotic! And certainly not as
prominently sexual as Bottom's shlong (or a representation thereof) hanging out
of his fly. And what do you think Oberon wants the Indian boy for: to feed him
mead?

All too often MSND is put on so devoid of the sexual liberty that the fairies
represent that it might as well be a childrens show: cute little fairies
running around in pixie outfits. RSC suggested the libertine nature of the
fairies as opposed to the constricted lives of the Athenians without going
overboard. In fact, they could hae gone further.

And Bottom's "shlong" was just a piece of cloth, easily explained by quick
thinking parents as just having his shirttail protruding from an open fly.
 

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