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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Iambic Pentameter; Iago; Parallel Scenes; Ideology
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0241.  Wednesday, 19 February 1997.

[1]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 08:51:24 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   RE: Iambic Pentameter

[2]     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 08:52:54 -0800
        Subj:   Iago's Homosexuality

[3]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 13:55:27 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0225 Re: Parallel Scenes

[4]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 15:52:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0235  Re:  Ideology


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 08:51:24 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        RE: Iambic Pentameter

For Hilary Zunin:

Of WS's 104,000 or so lines in 37 dramatic texts, approximately 28% are
in prose, 7% in rimed verse, and 65% in blank verse, according to
Harbage.  Of these, I have no idea what percentage are "perfect," as you
put it.

Regards,
Evelyn Gajowski
U of Nevada, Las Vegas

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 08:52:54 -0800
Subject:        Iago's Homosexuality

Dear SHAKSPERians,

This email is for Trace Shelton.

People have been arguing for years about Iago's sexual orientation, but
the potential love object in question is usually Othello, rather than
Cassio, so that's a not uninteresting take.

A famous theatrical production was the Richardson as Othello, Olivier as
Iago 1938 at the Old Vic, directed by Tony Guthrie.

One account of how Guthrie and Olivier came up with the homosexual
interpretation of Iago is quite funny (I believe the teller of this tale
is the theater photographer Angus McBean):

        Olivier:I wonder what motivated Iago to have risen to that
                position, he must have been an intelligent man.
        Guthrie:I've always wondered, it's one of the difficulties of
                the play.
        Olivier:I know Tony, let's play it with Iago in love with
                Othello.
        Guthrie:What a wonderful idea-- but we must never let Ralphie
                know!

                        [qtd. in Gary O'Connor, ed., Olivier In
Celebration
                (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1987) 179.]

Of course, the more famous and useful account is Olivier's:

Tony Guthrie and I were swept away by Professor [Ernest] Jones's
contention that Iago was subconsciously in love with Othello and had to
destroy him.  Unfortunately there was not the slightest chance that
Ralph would entertain this idea.  I was, however, determined upon my
wicked intentions, in cahoots with Tony; we constantly watched for
occasions when our diagnosis might be made apparent to the
discriminating among the audience, though I must say I have never yet
discovered any means of divulging something that is definitely
subconscious to any audience, no matter how discerning they might be.
In a reckless moment during rehearsals I threw my arms round Ralph and
kissed him full on the lips.  He coolly disengaged himself from my
embrace, patted me gently on the back of the neck and, more in sorrow
than in anger, murmured, "There, there now, dear boy; good boy.... "
Tony and I dropped all secret connivance after that.

I had one more trick up my sleeve; Ralph had to fall to the ground when
Othello, frenzied by Iago's goadings, is helpless in the clutches of a
paroxysm.  I would fall beside him and simulate an orgasm-terrifically
daring, wasn't it?  But when the wonderful Athene Seyler came round
after a matine she said, "I'm sure I have no idea what you were up to
when you threw yourself on the ground beside Ralph."  So that was the
end of that stroke of genius and out it came.

                        [qtd. in Olivier's CONFESSIONS ON AN ACTOR,
105-6]

Marvin Rosenberg's MASKS OF OTHELLO has some good material on this
production, and others like it, as well (see especially page 181ff).

S. Foster Damon, the famous Blake scholar and poet, wrote a privately
printed volume under the name Samuel Nomad, and you might enjoy his poem
"Iago," set in Othello's "sixth act"-

                Racked to death throughout life!  And shall the earth
                belong alone to the meek, strong, and wise?
                To live, must we not grasp their good through lies
                and mask our indirections with our mirth?
                Admittedly we are of little worth
                judged by the twelve commandments; but no eyes
                read our dark hearts.  God dare not moralize
                on the defects he gave us at our birth.

                Yet- my revenge, accomplished, turned to error
                and vanished, expiated.  Life was purged
                by death; nothing at all remained thereof,
                except the internal truth, which now upsurged.
                Even my basic hate was burned by terror
                down to its real root, a hidden love.

[Nightmare Cemetary, printed at R.I.S.D.{Rhode Island School of Design}
in 1964.]


Finally, please do not take it the wrong way when I caution you about
casually bandying words like "homosexual" with regard to early modern
culture.  A group of intelligent scholars (e.g., Eve Sedgwick, John
Boswell, Bruce Smith) have argued that the category as we know it
doesn't fit texts like OTHELLO as neatly as we creatures of the 1990s
might like.

        Best wishes,
        Brad Berens

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 13:55:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0225 Re: Parallel Scenes
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0225 Re: Parallel Scenes

I seem to remember an opera written  in the 1920's entitled CALIBAN ON
THE YELLOW SANDS based on THE TEMPEST. I'm still kicking myself for not
buying the only copy I've ever seen. I'm sure you can find it in a big
university library.

and then take hands,
Billy Houck

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Feb 1997 15:52:51 -0500
Subject: 8.0235  Re:  Ideology
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0235  Re:  Ideology

> The imposition of one culture on another is
>usually undertaken in the name of 'humanity'. Can we have forgotten that
>already?

asks Terence Hawkes.

How can those of us who watch the Cultural Materialists insisting that
their vision is the only vision ever forget it?  Let's talk about
attempts at cultural imposition, but, most of all, let us resist
cultural imperialists, even those who come dressed as a Welsh rabbit.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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