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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Editing; TN Questions; Antinomies
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0411.  Thursday, 3 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Richard A Burt <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 02 Apr 1997 11:36:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0407  Re: Editing

[2]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Apr 1997 11:45:02 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0398 TN Questions

[3]     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Apr 1997 00:03:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0404 Re: Antinomies


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
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Date:           Wednesday, 02 Apr 1997 11:36:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0407  Re: Editing
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0407  Re: Editing

Since Steve asks us to raise our voices, I'll simply say I think Paul is
being quite responsible as an editor, informing readers as to all the
possible ways of making sense of variants and multiple editions,
including Steve's, rather than pushing a narrow agenda.  If sides are to
be taken, I'll stand with him. Best, Richard

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Apr 1997 11:45:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0398 TN Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0398 TN Questions

Dear Friends,

I'm going to take a whack at answering Kila Burton's question about how
long the 12th Night twins have been apart.

Twelfth Night has a date for its title (the night of 5 January, the Eve
of Epiphany). Epiphany was an act of recognition, and the action of TN
drives to the act of recognition between Viola and Sebastian at 5.1.209:
"Most wonderful!" The play is rife with references to time, a striking
clock, and changes wrought by time's "whirligig." Just as the church
calendar year recapitulated the story of Christ, so the 12 days of
Christmas were imagined to engross the 12 months of the year. This
accounts for the curious equivalence of 3 days and 3 months.

The key to establishing the play's internal clock perhaps can be found
in Feste's closing song: "When that I was and-a little tiny boy, etc."
(5.1.366-). This is a light-hearted parody of 1 Corinthians 13, the
Epistle for Quinquagesima Sunday: "When I was a child I spake as a
child, etc." In the minds of the Chamberlain's Men, TN was apparently
associated with Candlemas.  They played it at the Middle Temple on 2
February 1602. The play is variously dated to 1600 or 1601. It happens
that Quinqugesima Sunday fell on Candlemas 2 February in 1600, which
might lend weight to the argument that the play (or an early draft) was
in hand for that date.

>From this assumption, the following calendar may be deduced. According to Antonio, the reunion of Viola and Sebastian takes place three months and one day after the shipwreck (5.1.75-91). If the reunion takes place on Quinqugesima Sunday 2 February (1600), the shipwreck occurred on All Saints' Day 1 November (1599). Oddly enough, this dating sorts well with Curio's question whether Orsino will "go hunt . . . the hart" (1.1.16), a November pastime. November was the Elizabethan month of the dead, and its first two days (All Saints' and the defunct All Souls') were strongly associated with mourning, which accords with Viola's grief for her lost brother, and the talk of Olivia's losses of father and brother (1.2.3-33).

Viola-Cesario enters Orsino's service on the following day (2 November),
and on her third day of service (4 November) she/he is dispatched to
court Olivia. This is the day on which Olivia chides Feste for his
absence (1.5.35-). Malvolio joins in the chiding of his fellowservant
(1.5.71-85). In 1599, 4 November was the 22nd Sunday after Trinity, and
the Gospel reading was Matthew 18:21-end. This is the famous Parable of
the Unforgiving Servant who wishes to be himself forgiven but will not
forgive his fellowservant.

When Viola-Cesario attempts to court Olivia with a prepared text, she
declines: "'Tis not that time of moon with me to make one in so skipping
a dialogue" (1.5.192-3). Olivia is suggesting the moon is not full and
she is not subject to romantic "lunacy." On 4 November 1599 only a
sliver of the moon was visible; the new moon was on 6 November Julian.
This may be coincidental, but I think not.

Then there is Sir Toby's curiously truncated lyric: "O, the twelfth day
of December-" (2.63.73). This comes on the play's long night of song and
drink.  Because England was living under the antiquated Julian calendar,
12 December Julian = 22 December Gregorian. So, the 12 December in
Shakespeare's England was the longest night of the year. Almanacs were
popular, and lettered Elizabethans would have known this.

There are a number of other intriguing (and, I think, compelling)
calendrical allusions in TN (the name "Sir Topas," for example, after
the birthstone of November). But one of the more curious allusions is
embodied in the letter which Malvolio discovers on a day which the
play's internal clock nominates 5 November. Maria characterizes it as an
"obscure epistle(s) of love" (2.3.131). Now, on 5 November the Book of
Common prayer called for English Christians to begin reading Saint
Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians.  Thessaly was the region of
northern Greece which abutted Illyricum. The Geneva gloss characterizes
Paul's letter: "He commendeth them for three special gifts . . .
effectual faith, continuall love, and patient hope." Maria's epistle
urges Malvolio to cast his present skin, hope to be raised, keep
smiling, to wear crosses, and adopt "the trick of singularity"
(2.5.125). This strikes me as an impious parody of Paul's letter, and
his appeal to the Thessalonians to hold their fellows in "singular
love." Some might think otherwise.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Steve Sohmer

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Apr 1997 00:03:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0404 Re: Antinomies
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0404 Re: Antinomies

Reply To David Frankel----

Yes. I agree, they (differences) are "transcended" or they "collapse" at
least at SOME point (though it doesn't necessarily get the last
word)--Would you object to the synonymity of those two words in quotes?
--Chris S.
 

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