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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: July ::
Re: Back to Shylock; Michael Kahn's Comment
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0493.  Monday, 1 July 1996.

(1)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jun 1996 11:15:03 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Back to Shylock

(2)     From:   Thomas E. Ruddick <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jun 96 14:55:21 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 7.0490  Re: Michael Kahn's Comment


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jun 1996 11:15:03 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Back to Shylock

I said I wouldn't post again on the whole Michael Kahn business; I hope the
following constitutes enough of a new spin to mean that I'm not breaking my
word here.  Since I seem to have created the diversion which steered us away
from a potentially very interesting thread, perhaps it is my job to bring us
back.

Milla Riggio says that Michael Kahn did not in fact say what I said she said he
said.  (Whew!)  Fine.  At least that invalidates my conditional sentence, "If
[he] in fact said...", which itself was, I grant, pompous and/or foolish (to
coin a phrase).

But I'd like to return to my original question, in context.  The discussion was
about Shylock in Act I: has he yet decided that he will kill Antonio if given
the opportunity?  What, in other words, does he mean by "feed fat the ancient
grudge"?  It was at this point that Milla Riggio cited Michael Kahn.  Let us
for the moment grant that in Shakespeare, characters "say what they mean and
mean what they say" (I'm not sure this is always true, but it is certainly more
true in Shakespeare than in modern drama).  But how does this advance the
argument or bring us to an even tentative answer?  Someone (sorry, I've
forgotten who) said something to the effect that Shylock's line means that the
"merry bond" isn't so merry after all: that he's hoping to kill Antonio in
revenge.  There's some evidence for that, but I choose a different
interpretation, which I think also has textual (and historio-cultural) support.
 I suggest that both interpretations have merit, and that one reason the play
has survived for 400 years is precisely this multiplicity of possible, valent,
readings.

I infer that Milla Riggio sees a clear textual "answer," else why bring up the
Kahn paraphrase?  But she doesn't say what that answer is, and I just don't see
a single "correct" response.  Obviously I'm misreading, misinterpreting, or
otherwise just not understanding her point.  Would she (or someone!) help me
out, here?

Rick Jones

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas E. Ruddick <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jun 96 14:55:21 EST
Subject: 7.0490  Re: Michael Kahn's Comment
Comment:        RE: SHK 7.0490  Re: Michael Kahn's Comment

Milla: I believe I now understand you to be saying that you have misrepresented
Michael Kahn in your original post?

If so, I direct my umbrage at your silly misrepresentation rather than at Mr.
Kahn himself.

Not to get too Freudian, I hope, but are you sure you didn't personally want to
express such an idea, and did so under the guise of your (mis?) understanding
of Kahn?

So, what (if you care to share) are *your* beliefs?  Also, just for the record,
what did Kahn *really* say?

Thomas E. Ruddick
 

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