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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: May ::
Re: Texts; Funeral Elegy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0352.  Wednesday, 8 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Wendy G. Thomas <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 May 1996 15:37:27 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0343  Re: Texts

(2)     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 May 1996 15:08:00 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 7.0343 Re: Texts

(3)     From:   Richard J. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Sunday, 5 May 1996 22:29:02 -0700
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Wendy G. Thomas <
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Date:           Monday, 6 May 1996 15:37:27 -0700
Subject: 7.0343  Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0343  Re: Texts

At 11:08 AM 5/6/96 EDT, you wrote:

>Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0343.  Monday, 6 May 1996.

Dear John Drakakis,

> I couldn't help but notice the word you mentioned in the discussion of
> "Fetishise."). You said, "Couldn't you argue from this statement to "book
> fetish"?  This sounds like biblioholism to me."

I can't help it, I have to tell you about this great 100 year old book called
"Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac" by Eugene Field, the same man who is famous
for the rhyme, "Little Boy Blue Come Blow Your Horn," and many others. Perhaps
you meant "bibliomaniac" rather than "biblioholism." Whatever you meant, I just
wanted to let you know of this really great book. In it, Field mentions that
balding comes about from reading in bed. Perhaps this was true for our beloved
Bard?

Thanks for allowing me to stick my two cents in.
Wendy Thomas

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 May 1996 15:08:00 +0100
Subject: 7.0343 Re: Texts
Comment:        RE: SHK 7.0343 Re: Texts

I wonder if I can tease out Gabriel Egan's definition of "fetishism" just a
little more because I think that while "to invest irrationally with
significance" will do as a general rule of thumb, I'm not sure that it takes us
very much further.

Maybe we should go back to Marx Capital vol.3 where capital fetish is described
in the following way:

        While interest is simply one part of the profit, i.e. the surplus value
        extorted from the worker by the functioning capitalist, it now appears
        conversely as if interest is the specific fruit of capital, the original
        thing, while profit, now transformed into the form of profit of
        enterprise, appears as a mere accessory and trimming added in
        the reproduction process.  The fetsh character of capital and the
        representation of this capital fetish is now complete.  In  M-Mi  we
        have thew irrational form of capital, the misrepresentation and
        objectification of the relations of production, in its highest power:
        the interest-bearing form, the simple form of capital, in which it
        is taken as logically anterior to its own reproduction process;
        the ability of money or a commodity to valorize its own value
        independent of reproduction- the capital mystification in the
        most flagrant form.
                                ( Capital, (Harmondsworth, 1981), p.516)

In the Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis Freud offers us the example of a
man "quite indifferent to the genitals and other attractions of women" but
whose libido became fixated on the shoe of a governess who was charged with
teaching him English. (I really am not making this up!):

        A thin scraggy foot, like the one he had then seen belonging to
        to his governess, thereupon became (after a timid attempt at
        normal sexual activity at puberty) his only sexual object; and the
        man was irresistibly attracted if a foot of this kind was associated
        with other features besides which recalled the type of the
        English governess.  This fixation of his libido, however, made
        him, not into a neurotic, but into a pervert- what we call a foot-
        fetishist

I need not refer you further to Freud's essay on Fetishism (1927) But I think
you can now see why I don't think that the term "fetishize"  is what the
Shakespeare Originals series is doing with quartos.

I come back to the larger editorial questions, on which Gabriel Egan has a
point.  The term "Originals" here I take as relative, i.e. relative to the
editorial accretions which have accumulated over 400 years.

The terminology does, however, raise a number of questions concerning (as Bill
Godshalk has indicated) the relations between compositors, printers, publishers
and booksellers.  It is, of course, possible to have commodities (i.e. books as
commodities) BEFORE the advent of capitalism, but then the onus is upon us to
try to work out how these commodities might have fitted into a
late-sixteenth-century or early-seventeenth century economy.   What might, say,
the practice of cuncurrent printing tell us about the relationship between
compositor to printer to publisher apropos the structure of the working day.
Is there an exploitative relation in play here, of the sort that Marx describes
in full-blown capital, or is the kind of relationship similar to the
representation that we find in Simon Eyre's shop in Dekker's The Shoemakers'
Holiday?

Cheers
John Drakakis

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J. Kennedy <
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Date:           Sunday, 5 May 1996 22:29:02 -0700
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

The writer of the Funeral Elegy goes on at some length about the "goodness" of
his man, as these few quotations will show.

"...Rememb'ring what he was, with comfort then
May pattern out one truly good, by him."

"...To progress out his life, I could display
A good man in each part exact and force....

"...Such harmony of goodness did preserv
As nature never built in better kind...."

"And as much glory is it to be good
For private persons, in their private home...."

"So henceforth, all (great glory to his blood)
Shall be but seconds to him, being good."

"...his taintless goodness, his desertful merit."

"...since the happiness
Depends upon the goodness of theman."

"But since the sum of all that can be said
Can be but said that "He was good"...."

Of course we must speak only the good of the dead, but the writer of the Elegy
seems to be onto a theme, and if the writer was John Ford, which I believe from
other evidence as well, we might expect the man to follow along these lines
with some other more fully developed essay on the subject of the "good man".
And so it is.  In 1620, eight years after the Elegy was published, John Ford
wrote "A Line of Life".  It's prose, about 34 pages long, wherein the "good
man" is brought from his bud into full blossom, as these quotations will show.

"For to be truly good is to be great."
"A public man hath not more need to be bonus civis, a good
         statist, than bonus vir, good in himself."
"Great men are by great men--not good men by good men--
        narrowly sifted...."
"A good man is the last brance of resolution...."
"...interposes himself to set at unity the disorders of others
        not so inclined to goodness...."
"...then he cannot but consider that any pains which a good man
        undergoes for reconciliation...he may make all like unto
        himself, that is, good men."
"This very word "good" implies a description in itself more
        pithy, more pathetical, than by any familiar exemplification
        can be made manifest:  such a man...."
"...yet still, as he is a good man, injuries can no more discourage
        him than applause can overween him."
"Flattery and envy...these two miscreant monsters are against
        a good man...."
"The good man here personated...."
"In this respect even kings...justly lay a claim to the style
        of good men...."
"...a good man, so well deserving from all grateful memory
        service and honour...."

Truly, a "good man" is not hard to find in "A Line of Life."  If anything,
there's a few too many of him.  In his next to last paragraph of the piece, the
"good man" is mentioned 8 times. Then comes the "Corallary" to the piece.  Ford
mentions those who may have lost eminence, but he assures us that a "good man"
will be redeemed, for honors are "but instrumental causes of virtuous effects
in action."  As is usual, and as is mentioned by his editors, Ford often jumps
onto ideas that he never quite wrestles to the ground, such as his last words
in "A Line of Life" about the good man.

"To all such as do so--and all should so do that are worthy to be such--a
service not to be neglected is a proper debt, especially from inferior
ministers, to those whose creation hath not more given them the prerrogation of
being men, than the virtuous resolution leading them by a Line of Life, hath
adorned them with the just, known, and glorious titles of being good men."

Well, whatever it might mean, it surely means that John Ford was much taken
with the notion of the "good man", the same as the writer of the Funeral Elegy.
Add this to the other several reasons that John Ford might have written the
Elegy.
 

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