1996

Re: MUCH ADO about explication

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0344.  Monday, 6 May 1996.

(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 05 May 1996 16:21:35 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0340  MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

(2)     From:   Jeff Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 5 May 1996 21:08:59 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0340 MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

(3)     From:   Joseph Lockett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 5 May 1996 20:40:51 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

(4)     From:   Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 06 May 1996 15:38:59 +0300
        Subj:   re. MUCH ADO about explication


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 05 May 1996 16:21:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0340  MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0340  MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

Chris Stroffolino asks about this pssage: Don John says: "Fie, fie, they are
not to be named, my lord {Don Pedro}, / Not to be spoke of; / There is not
chastity enough in language / Without offense to utter them" (4.1.97-98).  I
assume that "they" and "them" refers back to "vile encounters" (93) in Don
Pedro's speech.  I assume that the "offense" would be given to the assembled
onstage audience -- if Don Pedro detailed Hero's supposed faults, and I further
assume that Don John does not want details to be given because details can be
falsified as readily as verified.  He wants the charges to be vague.

Chris is right in drawing our attention to Don John's strange charge that
"language" in general lacks "chastity enough" to detail Hero's "vile
encounters" without giving offense.  It may be hyperbole: e.g., she's so bad
that you can't talk about her without offending people!

Or is it a way of subtly absolving himself from the slander?  E.g., it's the
language that's at fault; don't blame me.  In any case, I wonder if Chris could
unpack his second paragraph for us.  Have some words dropped out? Obviously
"words" are important!

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeff Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 5 May 1996 21:08:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0340 MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0340 MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

I believe Don John is saying that language does not provide words chaste enough
to describe Hero's crimes without offending the listener.  In other words, he
is lamenting the absence of euphemisms.  He is also conveniently avoiding
describing events that never happened, which is always advisable when telling a
lie.

Jeff Myers

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Lockett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 5 May 1996 20:40:51 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Re: MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

Quoth Chris Stroffolino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>:

>        "There is not chastity enough in language/ Without offence to
>         utter them." (97-98).

I just finished a run playing the role of Leonato, so I thought I'd comment on
this.

Our Don John played this line as "Hero's crimes are such that I cannot refer to
them, even in glancing circumlocutions, without giving offence to you by their
very nature and integral lewdness."  You cannot describe these crimes without
being offensive: there are no chaste euphemisms equal to the task.  (How would
one refer to bestiality, say, while at Victorian high tea?)

As to WHY John would interject so, look at the text and situation itself. Don
Pedro has just laid forth the whole of his and Claudio's "proof":

        "Myself, my brother, and this grieved Count
         Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,
         Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window,
         Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
         Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
         A thousand times in secret." (IV.i.89-94)

This is an accusation that invites questions and conjecture, the very thing
that John's plot using Borachio cannot easily withstand.  Who was the ruffian?
Was Hero in her room at that time (no, as we find later).  How could this have
happened "a thousand times" if Beatrice has "until last night... this
twelvemonth been her bedfellow" (IV.i.148-9)?

John knows his plot cannot withstand such inspection, so he cleverly and
quickly brings the attention of the wedding party back to the emotional impact
of Hero's crimes themselves, and not their rational context.  He thus sets
Claudio off into his "O Hero!  What a Hero hadst thou been!" speech, and thus
their subsequent departure.

Rather than a paean to the deceptive qualities of language, John's rhetorical
slight of hand seems to me more an example of the deception he can practice, of
the false emotional masks which he can don, but which escape the rest of the
characters of the play (Benedick "Well, every one can master a grief but he
that has it" (III.ii.26), Leonato "Men can counsel and speak passion to that
grief which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it, their counsel turns to
passion" (V.i.20-23), for example).

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 06 May 1996 15:38:59 +0300
Subject:        re. MUCH ADO about explication

Reply to Chris Stoffolino:

I had not thought to examine "Much Ado About Nothing"  for Hebrew, but this
prompted viewing of the church scene, shows there is quite a lot. It does seem
profitable to continue researching the whole play, for the clues and ironies
that I anticipate will be revealed as they are in this scene. Even Hero's name
transposed into Hebrew refers to her denunciation. It is hee, meaning 'she' and
roah, meaning  'bad': ' She is bad'.  The name has other interesting
possibilities and they all come to bear.

Concerning  that  troublesome word  "utter".  When Friar Francis in his purity
of mind uses it during the wedding ceremony, saying, "charge you, on your
souls, / to utter it." , utter can have these Hebrew meanings:  aut , 'sign'
and tur, 'explore' , 'on your souls explore this sign, this significance' He
also can be saying  'hamper' itar  (alef, tof, resh) and 'remove'  ator, (aiyn,
 tet, vov, resh) " impediments".

However when the deceitful  Don John says the word other Hebrew connotations
are present. The proximity and notion of the word language  results in the
common expression  atur  lashon  meaning ornamental and insincere speech . This
is the confirmation that Chris Stoffolino sought for the criminality of
language.  The phrase can thus be continued , "without offense"  to 'embellish'
 or  by  the word for 'odor',  atar (aiyn, tof, resh) .

It is worth looking for Hebrew ironies in everything that Don John says but let
this suffice for the query.

                                                      Florence Amit

Re: Texts

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

(1)     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 5 May 1996 20:45:45 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0338 Re: Texts

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 05 May 1996 15:53:47 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0338  Re: Texts


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 5 May 1996 20:45:45 +0100
Subject: 7.0338 Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0338 Re: Texts

John

>I would be a little more persuaded by Gabriel Egan's use of the term
>"fetishise" if he could convince me that the late 16th or early 17th century
>book trade was a full-blown capitalist activity.

Would you settle for 'fetishize' = 'irrationally invest with significance'?
The Shakespearean Originals do not do diplomatic transcription, despite the
claim of the General Introduction. To retain some accidentals and not others
without a stated set of criteria has the effect of privileging certain
textual features without good reason.

Gabriel Egan

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 05 May 1996 15:53:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0338  Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0338  Re: Texts

John Drakakis writes:

>I would be a little more persuaded by Gabriel Egan's use of the term
>"fetishise" if he could convince me that the late 16th or early 17th century
>book trade was a full-blown capitalist activity.  In what ways was the author,
>and/or the compositor alienated from the fruits of his labour? In what ways did
>the book represent a fetishized object?  How might that differ from the ways in
>which we treat books as commodities now?

These are very valuable questions and well asked.  In the past half century, we
have learned more about the book trade in the late 16th and earlier 17th
century, but, for example, what was the economic function of man like Thomas
Thorpe?  He seems -- and I mean "seems" -- to have been some kind of capitalist
middle man.  But was he really a "publisher" in the 20th century meaning of
that word?  Was he the man who put up the capital, paid for the printing, and
then distributed the books to the booksellers? Did he get a percentage from the
sales? Did he pay royalties of a sort to writers in his stable?

Or was the 16th-17th century book trade really very much a "vanity" trade? Did
men like Thorpe act as agents for people who wanted to have their books
published?  Did he get money up front from writers who paid his fees? IF
Shakespeare used Thorpe as an "agent," wouldn't Thorpe expect to get paid for
his time? (Note the "if.") I'd love to know for sure.

If by "fetish" we mean "an object of unreasonably excessive attention"
(possibly sublimated sexual attention), then books seem to have had that value
by the early 17th century.  See the Epistle to the quarto of *Troilus and
Cressida* which hints at a lively second-hand book trade: when Shakespeare's
"Commedies {are} out of sale, you will scramble for them, and set vp a new
English Inquisition" (A1v). Couldn't you argue from this statement to "book
fetish"?  This sounds like biblioholism to me.

Re: Revenge Plays; Hamlet Q1

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0341.  Sunday, 5 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Clifford Ronan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 4 May 1996 09:32:58 +0200 (MET DST)
        Subj:   Re: Revenge Plays

(2)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 4 May 1996 16:44:38 -0700
        Subj:   Hamlet Q1


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Ronan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 4 May 1996 09:32:58 +0200 (MET DST)
Subject:        Re: Revenge Plays

Dear Gareth Euridge,

Have you seen the 1995 *Four Revenge Tragedies* edited by K. E. Maus for Oxford
World Classics.  $10.95, it says.  It includes Spanish Tragedy, Revenger's
Tragedy, Atheist's Tragedy, and Revenge of Bussy D'Amboise.

Cliff Ronan

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 4 May 1996 16:44:38 -0700
Subject:        Hamlet Q1

George Duthie in his book "The 'Bad' Quarto of Hamlet"+, proposes a "reporter"
that patched up a "Hamlet" for the 1603 edition.

"...in the process of memorial reconstuction the reporter has confused similiar
situations in different plays of the same type. Either that, or he has
diliberately borrowed from other plays in reconstructing 'Hamlet'.  [and]  "A
memorial reconstructor, reproducing 'Hamlet' as best he could, has,
diliberately or involuntarily, borrowed passages from other plays altogether,
often setting them down incorrectly since he had only his memory to aid him."

Such as the Duke in Huck Finn.  And such as Hamlet Q1 seems to be taken out of
memory, dreams, performance and sack, thrust upon the world by ambition and
advantage, poor creature advanced before its time.

+Cambridge 1969.  No. VI, "Shakespeare Problems", edited by A.W. Pollard & J.
Dover Wilson.

Re: Othello's Love

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0342.  Monday, 6 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Pat Dunlay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 05 May 1996 10:19:22 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0337  Re: Othello's Love

(2)     From:   Herman Asarnow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 5 May 1996 09:02:16 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0337 Re: Othello's Love


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dunlay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 05 May 1996 10:19:22 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0337  Re: Othello's Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0337  Re: Othello's Love

Another word on Othello's speech before suicide.  I agree that he refers to his
love for Desdemona, but have always found this speech as his or Shakespeare's
trying to elicit some sympathy for a man who has just cruelly murdered his
innocent wife.  It works too in our post-Romantic world!  Most of my students
modify their outrage at Othello because, poor fellow, he did it out of unwise,
but extreme "love". It sounds much like overzealous wife beaters today. It
could certainly be Shakespeare's way of allowing us to "pity" the fallen hero
in Aristotle's definition of tragedy. At this point, however, I want to stay
angry at him and find myself challenging this speech or at least, encouraging
my students to examine their responses to it.  Interestingly, I don't have the
same response to MacBeth's "Tommorow and tommorrow and tomorrow"  which serves
for me a similar function.  Maybe Macbeth is just a better play!

Pat Dunlay

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Herman Asarnow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 5 May 1996 09:02:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 7.0337 Re: Othello's Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0337 Re: Othello's Love

One might support Seth Barron's "I think the object of Othello's love is quite
purposefully indeterminate" by recalling Othello's speech as he prepares to
smother Desdemona: "It is the cause. It is the cause....Let me not name it to
you, my soul."  The point may be that Othello, quite opposite Hamlet, can't
"think too precisely on the event," or think precisely at all.  He truly cannot
name "it"--why he is about to murder Desdemona--because he does not really know
why he's going to do it.

And W. Russell Mayes, Jr.'s view that Othello is "attempting to revise his
reputation" fits well with the "indeterminate" reading of who Othello loved not
wisely but too well.  Othello's concern about reputation at the end of the play
can indeed be tied back to his wooing of Desdemona, in its boastfulness and its
lack of veracity.  He seems at the end a disintegrating  character flinging
forth whatever ideas come to his mind that might exculpate his behavior--hence
the shifting from one stance, from the "Soft, you..." speech to the other
rhetorical approach, beginning with "No more of that..." (i.e., okay, let's be
frank).  The horror is that, human as he is, his compass is wildly spinning
here.  He sees what's happened, but cannot recover his orientation (his
reason). Only death can stop him spinning.

Herman Asarnow
University of Portland

MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0340.  Sunday, 5 May 1996.

From:           Chris Stroffolino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 03 May 1996 18:30:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        MUCH ADO about explication (paraphrase)

I would be interested in how others explicate this line from the "mouth" of DON
JOHN in the church scene of MUCH ADO. I have not come across an adequate
"reading" of it as of yet. The line is:

       "There is not chastity enough in language/ Without offence to
        utter them." (97-98).

At first I want to invert the order of the phrasing of the second line to "make
sense" of it. "To utter them without offence." The them refers to "hero's
'crimes'"--but what is the offence? To whom? Does JOHN mean that if only
language were more chaste, then I could utter Hero's 'crimes' without offense.
But since language lacks such chastity, I will offend YOU (since you asked) by
giving it (language) free reign, or at least a wider range than had been
previously seen in the restricted "courtesy" (which masquerades as morality) of
MESSINA." (end of my putting words in DJ's mouth)
     ----
The weirdness (for me) of this statement is that it seems to point towards
LANGUAGE as the culprit at least as much (and maybe more) as it does to Hero's
"crimes." If this is so, this seems to be consistent with Don John's function
in the play (which, in part, is to make the more "major" characters confront
the narrowness of their linguistic functional, and the emotional, ethical
consequences such a narrowness leads to (disaster in the H-C plot; stalemate in
the B-B plot). And DJ, in bringing a wider range of linguistic behavior, to
Claudio who never tempted Hero "WITH A WORD TOO WIDE"---the "ill word" that
poisons LIKING, is speaking another line that seems to call attention to this
"substratum" of the PLAY. I don't think this is overanalysis (or what R.), but
am curious what others think. Chris Stroffolino

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