1997

Re: Branagh's "To be"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.031.  Wednesday, 5 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Hugh Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Mar 1997 22:04:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

[2]     From:   Chris Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Mar 97 21:10:11 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

[3]     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Mar 1997 00:49:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   To Be Or Not To Be, Nunneries


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Mar 1997 22:04:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

I thought the scene was indicating that Hamlet knew they were there.  I
am not sure why, except that Hamlet went directly to that mirror out of
the many choices.

--Hugh Davis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Mar 97 21:10:11 -0600
Subject: 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0314  Qs: Branagh's "To be"

This scene is one to which I paid particular attention, since I think
the staging and the acting of it is quite complex. My reading is that
Hamlet is legitimately suspicious when he initially enters but is _not_
aware that Polonius and Claudius are lurking behind the two-way mirrored
door. He thus delivers the speech to himself, although we (as privileged
viewers) are allowed to see the response from behind the "arras," which
I found quite effective. When Hamlet encounters Ophelia, I felt that
their initial response to one another was absolutely heartfelt and
genuine on both parts. I noticed that when Ophelia was about to begin
(or had begun) what I always think of as her "set speech" (one it almost
seems Polonius might have penned for her), she glanced toward the room,
almost as if to alert Hamlet to the presence of the others. The
interchange that followed seemed curiously formal and "acted," as if the
two of them knew they were playing a game for the auditors. Not until
Hamlet asked Ophelia flat out (but in a whisper in Branagh's
interpretation), "Where's your father?" did I have the sense that he was
finally testing her, and finds her wanting. She does not whisper back,
"Hiding in one of the rooms," and that's the moment when Hamlet seemed
to become genuinely enraged, rather than conveying the somewhat wounded
anger I saw him as playing up until that point. I found the entire scene
marvelously detailed and moving, right up through Hamlet's final
gentleness with Ophelia, her wonderful soliloquy, and Polonius's
apparently genuine concern for her. This is one reason I keep going back
to see the film again.

Chris Gordon, four viewings and counting (who would also like to present
a metaphorical Oscar for best delivery of a single line by an actor to
Rufus Sewall for the power and menace with which he says, "Go softly
on.")

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Mar 1997 00:49:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        To Be Or Not To Be, Nunneries

My chief problem with most interpretations of this scene, including
Branagh's, is that they ignore the fact he has been sent for.  He is
supposed to walk into the lobby after being told by someone offstage,
'there's someone to see you'.  He walks in, reading a book, dealing with
questions of taking action against a sea of troubles.  By SHEER
coincidence, Ophelia shows up, the one girl he has been unable to see
for months.  She proceeds to accuse him of breaking up with her, when
both know perfectly well that it was the other way around ...

Which is as much as to ask, Has anyone seen a production of Hamlet in
which the meaning of the lines and context of the scene were taken
seriously?

Andy White
Arlington, VA

MV Film; Memories; Great Lakes; Ideology

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0315.  Tuesday, 4 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Kenneth S. Rothwell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 09:46:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0304 Re: MV Film

[2]     From:   Tom Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 10:21:02 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0289  Re: Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

[3]     From:   John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 13:22:27 +0200
        Subj:   Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

[4]     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 23:00:18 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0295   Ideology


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 09:46:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0304 Re: MV Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0304 Re: MV Film

Dear Friends, Brooke Brod is probably correct about the Welles MV. It's
listed in the British Film Institute on-line catalog as an "unfinished
project circa 1969." More interestingly we're also told that "footage
from this project can be glimpsed in Oja KODAR'S 1988 feature, JADED."
I've been meaning for some time to track down JADED to see for myself,
but I've been too busy tracking down the current crop of Shakespeare
movies. Ken Rothwell

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 10:21:02 -0500
Subject: 8.0289  Re: Shakespeare on the Great Lakes
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0289  Re: Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

Harry Hill writes of his memories of various people quoting Shakespeare

>My French Canadian neighbours in Montreal do it, my
>friends in Norwegian mountain villages do it, I heard a German
>hitchhiker get quite far with "Sein oder nicht sein; das ist hier die
>Frage". The ones for whom it is far less of a habit have been, I think,
>my students, but I intend to ask them tomorrow, and tomorrow.

I think I hear a song coming on:

"Old do it, youth do it, educated and uncouth do it,
Let's do it; let's quote the Bard.
Actors whenever you look do it;  Joseph Banks and Captain Cook do it;
Let's do it; let's quote the Bard.

"In Montreal the PQ does it, but they do it in French,
Jacques Chirac too does it, though it makes him blench;
Norwegians fishing on the fjords do it,
People say in London even bawds do it.
Let's do it, let's quote the Bard."

You can all continue on your own.

Tom

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 13:22:27 +0200
Subject:        Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

The correspondence on this subject has been edifying.  However, I want
to correct Andrew White who thinks expurgated Shakespeare postdates the
great days of Shakespeare on the minds and tongues of ordinary people.
Not so.  Bowdler's first *Family Shakespeare* (in which all the hells
and damns are gone but some of the best bawdy undisturbed, as his
sister, who did much of the work, did not understand it) appeared in
1807, if memory serves.  At the very time Shakespeare was being
disseminated by the countless thousands of fascicles (ancestors of
modern paperbacks) by Charles Knight (first edn.  1838-43), the
expurgated ("bowdlerized") texts were also proliferating.  Note that the
two movements are related to each other.  It is precisely because Shak.
had the potential to become a household property that the Bowdlers felt
impelled to make him safe for maiden ears (yes, ears; Knight intended
that the plays should be read *aloud* en famille, as the installments of
Dickens's novels were in the same years).  And cf. the title *Family
Shakespeare*.  Note that the process the Bowdlers started is still
alive:  V-chips for kiddies of some families in our time to block some
of the  sex and violence on t.v.  We laugh at the Bowdlers for missing
the bawdy and catching the irreligious expletives.  But we tolerate
intolerable violence while up front sex is rated R.  My wife dared to
teach Romeo and J. out of an unexpurgated edn. to 9th graders 30 yrs ago
in Montogmery County MD.  The beginning highschoolers responded quite
well, on the whole.  But that was a  different time from both the 1840s
and the 1990s.

Cheers!
John

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 23:00:18 GMT
Subject: 8.0295   Ideology
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0295   Ideology

Sean K. Lawrence comments

> One assumes that students who felt that there was
> nothing worth commenting on [in Shakespeare's texts]
> would not sign up for the course.

Paul Hawkins's comment was that he merely enabled students to form their
own ideas about literary texts.  As Lawrence notes, the existence of a
course presumes that there is value in commenting, and signing up for
the course indicates acceptance of this proposition, which is itself an
idea about literary texts.

> Even to say that "there is nothing worth
> commenting on" would be to comment.

But it would be nothing more, and so would not attract high marks.

> I would even say that all teaching, even lecturing, is
> a sort of dialectic between my concerns and those of
> my students, in which their responses condition me as
> much as mine conditions them.

Really "as much as"? The students know you are paid to be there, for
which they might expect a certain amount of guiding. If you're pointing
them away from blind alleys (such as the temptation to treat a play as
merely a poem) and towards the richer pastures, you're conditioning them
more than they are conditioning you.

Paul Hawkins maintains the position that 'anything goes':

> I tell my students that in my class and in
> their papers, any response is in order, as long as it
> can be developed and argued.

Sexist, disablist, racist, and homophobic attitudes can all be developed
and argued by students in their essays.  Might these be "in order", or
should they be noted and refuted? (I don't mean statements that suggest
that texts contain these attitudes, but rather statements which are
themselves offensive. "The English win the war because the French, then
as now, are too effeminate" might be an example.)

Gabriel Egan

Re: MND; Tmp

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0313.  Tuesday, 4 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 14:58:03 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: MND

[2]     From:   Julie Blumenthal <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 03 Mar 1997 16:03:54 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0308 Re: MND; Tmp


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 14:58:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: MND

I understand your distinction and irony between "allowed," etc.

However, if you switch Oberon and Titania, then Oberon has no more
opportunity to allow or disallow any topping than Titania does in a
regular production.  I'm having difficulty seeing how an instantly
smitten Oberon could be said to "allow" anything.  After all, that's the
whole point, isn't it?  The victim of the juice has no choice.  So back
to my original question: in what ways would a smitten Oberon be
different from the usual Titania?

And (this just occurred to me) it is not Hermia and Helena who have the
juice applied to them.  It is the men.  Of course, they awake to bandy
about the affections of the women, don't they?  It's all too hard a knot
for me to untie, so far.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Julie Blumenthal <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 03 Mar 1997 16:03:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0308 Re: MND; Tmp.
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0308 Re: MND; Tmp.

> Hermione's fidelity in *Winter's Tale*, Perdita and Marina's chasteness
> - in the latter case almost a palpable force - all connect with the

I must step in here and attempt to differentiate between virginity and
complete lack of sexualization.  To my mind, _all_ of the aforementioned
ladies show a marvelous sense of sexuality as a character trait; witness
Hermione in I ii or Perdita's flower speech in IV iv, as well as some of
Miranda's lines.  In this I find a major difference from Marina!
Notably, I think, because Marina's major role is as a restorer of the
past, vs. a way into the future (Mir. and Per.).  In fact, most of the
proof of their virginity comes as a show of their honor in not
succumbing to their 'earthly desires.'  There's a difference between not
doing it and not wanting to!

Vis a vis Ariel - - the extremely popular RSC MND of a few seasons back
had a male and fairly melancholic Puck whose depression quite obviously
stemmed from his love (physical and otherwise) for Oberon, and his
jealousy over Ob.'s infatuation with 'the Indian boy.'  To me, it was a
highly effective choice which gave Puck a heck of a lot more depth than
anything I'd seen before.  I imagine a similar male Ariel-Prospero
reading could be interesting.

Julie Blumenthal

Qs: Branagh's "To be"; Ben Jonson

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0314.  Tuesday, 4 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Edna Z. Boris <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 03 Mar 97 10:12:15 EST
        Subj:   Branagh's "To be"

[2]     From:   Lim Lee Ching <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Mar 1997 02:08:14 +0800
        Subj:   Ben Jonson


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edna Z. Boris <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 03 Mar 97 10:12:15 EST
Subject:        Branagh's "To be"

I'm curious to know people's reactions to Branagh's handling of the "To
be" speech.  Claudius and Polonius are behind a mirrored door in a
mirror-filled hall. Hamlet walks directly to that door; they are able to
see Hamlet, but Hamlet cannot see them.  As he speaks the speech, the
camera cuts back and forth from Hamlet to them.  At one point Hamlet
holds his dagger up to the glass and we see Claudius recoil
precipitously.

Did anyone interpret this staging as intended to show Hamlet knowing
they are there?

In Branagh's notes on the scene, he says that Hamlet is "unaware," but
he also says that that "Hamlet seems to spell out the whips and scorns
as if Claudius was personally responsible."  The notes also say that
only at "Go thy ways to a nunnery" does Hamlet know they are there when
he hears a tiny noise and sees Ophelia's reaction.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lim Lee Ching <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 04 Mar 1997 02:08:14 +0800
Subject:        Ben Jonson

This may not be the best place to ask, but does anyone know of any good
Ben Jonson related materials(other than the texts to the plays)
available on the Web. I can be contacted off-list at:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Many Thanks.
ching

Re: Facsimiles

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0312.  Tuesday, 4 March 1997.

[1]     From:   John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 16:37:42 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0287 Re: Facsimiles

[2]     From:   Tom Simone <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 11:43:01 -0500
        Subj:   Folio Facsimiles

[3]     From:   John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Mar 1997 14:50:12 +0200
        Subj:   Facsimiles


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 16:37:42 -0000
Subject: 8.0287 Re: Facsimiles
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0287 Re: Facsimiles

I don't think that the word facsimile is used to describe these
editions.  They are orthographically modernized reprints of the earliest
editions.  They are emphatically NOT diplomatic editions. Long "s" for
example is modernized, and no attempt is made to reproduce the spacing
after punctuation etc.

They are designed to give modern readers a flavour of what reading an
"original" quarto might have been like, along with errors of various
kinds.  I did the Q1 Richard III but a number of the variants between Q1
and F which I would have liked to have seen printed in the notes at the
end of the volume were cut by the publisher for reasons of cost.

I think "Shakespeare Originals" in the plural is about right.

John Drakakis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Simone <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 11:43:01 -0500
Subject:        Folio Facsimiles

Just a note on what I find to be the most nuanced of all the Folio
facsimiles, the Sydney Lee version of 1906?.  The use of
photolithography from a single copy produced a noble volume with far
superior resolution of the page than in the Norton/Hinman.  Of course,
the Lee facsimile was a limited edition of about 1,000 copies and is
only usually available in libraries, and it does not pretend to the
bibliographic scrutiny of Hinman and his collator.

I was, however, recently surprised by the fine quality of print
impression in a leaf from an original folio.  It retains aura even
post-Benjamin.

Best,
Tom Simone

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Mar 1997 14:50:12 +0200
Subject:        Facsimiles

Louis Marder's detailed account of the problems in the Yale Facsimile of
F1 obviates most of what I sent off to SHAKSPER before I saw Marder's
contribution.  I might add to his information and that of Ken Steele
some tidbits about earlier facsimiles.  Lionel Booth made a type
facsimile (1865) of F1 in honor of the tricentennial of Sh's birth.  It
was a labor of considerable magnitude.  He was so proud of its accuracy
that he offered a large cash reward to anyone who could find an error in
it; no one ever claimed the reward.  Of course no one knew in the middle
of the 19th century what we now know about variants in F1 copies.  I own
a copy of this facs. which I bought for a very low price from the Folger
when they were selling off some extra copies of such books in the late
1960s I believe it was.  Henry Clay Folger bought multiple copies of the
four Shak. folios later in the nineteenth century with the idea that
having multiple copies in one place would someday enable scholars to
learn more about the true text of Shakespeare: an uncanny prophecy of
Hinman's work in the 1950s in the Folger Library vault that led to his
two-volume *The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of
Shakespeare* (Oxford, 1963).

I once examined 15 readings in *JC* in the facsimile of F2 in the series
of Shakespeare facsimiles that Methuen published early in this century
and found that the plates had been tampered with ("sophisticated") to
make F2 look more like F1.  J. H. P. Pafford had earlier demonstrated
that the F1 facs. in the Methuen series had itself been sophisticated.
(See Velz "The Text of *Julius Caesar* in the Second Folio: Two Notes"
*SQ* 20 [1969]: 95-98; J. H. P. Pafford "The Methuen Facsimile, 1910, of
the First Folio, 1623." *N&Q* n.s. 13 [1966]:126-27).

Neither Yale, nor Methuen, nor any other facsimile is a safe substitute
for the Hinman facsimile from Norton.  Now that Norton is bringing out a
big moneymaker in their textbook version of the Oxford modern spelling
Shakespeare, perhaps they can be induced to serve the scholarly
community as they did when the Hinman facsimile appeared in 1968 and
scholars were offered a deep discount on a special cloth-bound edn. at
the same time that a gift edition was being marketed at several times
the price of the scholars' edition.  Many of us have been grateful to
Norton ever since.  It would be a boon to a new generation of scholars
if Norton were to make a press run for another deeply discounted
edition-again limited to scholars and one-time only.

John Velz

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