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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Qs: Polonius; LLW
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0333.  Saturday, 8 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Roger Schmeeckle <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 16:43:01 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Polonius as a source of worldly (un)wisdom

[2]     From:   Gabriel Z. Wasserman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Mar 1997 19:12:57 -0500
        Subj:   Love's Labour's Won


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Schmeeckle <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 16:43:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Polonius as a source of worldly (un)wisdom

I am puzzled about the line of Polonius' advice to Laertes: "to thine
own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst
not then be false to any man."

This used to seem to me to be good advice.  Now I am not so sure.
Polonius seems to be an example of the servant without principle, whose
only values concern how to get on in this world.  "Neither a lender nor
a borrower be," for instance, may be good, worldly advice, but it is
also directly contradictory to the teaching of Christ, with which
Shakespeare's audience can be presumed to have been familiar.

Does anyone know any treatments of these lines, or Polonius' speech to
Laertes, or of the character of Polonius, that I might profitably (not
in a worldly sense) consult?

     Roger Schmeeckle

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Z. Wasserman <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Mar 1997 19:12:57 -0500
Subject:        Love's Labour's Won

I am fascinated with LLW.  Here is all the information I know about it:
In Palladis Tamia, Wit's Treasury, Francis Meres writes the following:

As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy
among the Latines : so Shakespeare among ye English is the most
excellent in both kinds for the stage; for Comedy, witnes his Ge'tleme'
of Verona, his Errors, his Loue labors lost, his Loue labours wonne, his
Midsummer night dreame, & his Merchant of Venice : for Tragedy his
Richard the 2. Richard the 3. Henry the 4.  King John, Titus Andronicus
and his Romeo and Juliet.

Hmm.  Loues Labour's Lost is paired with Love's Labour's Won, so LLW is
probably the sequel to LLL. Many candidates haue been proposed including
*Much Ado* by H. H.  Furness in his superb New Variorum Shakespeare, *As
You Like It*, *The Tempest*  (a ridiculous idea, considering the fact
that it hadn't yet been written in 1598), *The Taming of the Shrew*...

But wait a minute.  In 1953 a booksellers list was found listing items
that had been sold.  The "Drama section" went something like this [no, I
don't haue it in front of me]
                        A kite for Hawk catching
                        No kite For Hawke catching
                        Euery man in His Humour
                        The Taming of a Shrew
                        Loues Labour's Lost
                        Loues Labour's Wonne
                        Dr Faustus

I'm sorry if my reconstruction is miserable, which I know it is, but
it's all I could do.

The mention of it (STILL PAIRED WITH *LLL*) causes the editors of the
Oxford edition of  Shakespeare to believe that it was printed: a
reasonable assumption.  However, they think that this is proof that
*LLW* is NOT *the taming of THE Shrew*:  after all, they  reason, *The
taming of the Shrew* is already mentioned in the list.  However, it
actually isn't--*The Taming of *A* Shrew* is.  No, I don't believe that
*A Shrew* is a memorial reconstuction of *The Shrew*, nor do I believe
it to be a source, or an analogue-I believe it to be an earlier
Shakespeare play.  But that is irrelevant to our discussion.  Furness's
argument is very persuasive, and is based mainly on comparisons between
Berowne {bih-roon} (or Biron, or what you will) and Beadick, as well as
between Rosaline and Benetrice.  I know that you all know this, but I
wanted to put it all in writing in order to start a conversation.

Your honour's all in duty,
Gabriel Z. Wasserman

Post Scriptum:  I believe *LLW* to be a lost play of Shakespeare's.
 

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