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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Q-F Lear; Falstaff; Suicide; Ideology
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0425.  Monday, 7 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Robert G. Marks <
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        Date:   Saturday, 05 Apr 1997 00:52:54 -0800
        Subj:   "Let the mad" Lear "rumpus begin."

[2]     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <
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        Date:   Sunday, 06 Apr 1997 11:11:18 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0413  Qs: Falstaff

[3]     From:   Juliette Cunico <
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        Date:   Saturday, 5 Apr 1997 15:21:45 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0402  Re: Suicide

[4]     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Saturday, 5 Apr 1997 11:22:51 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Ideology


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert G. Marks <
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Date:           Saturday, 05 Apr 1997 00:52:54 -0800
Subject:        "Let the mad" Lear "rumpus begin."

I was interested to read Steve Urkowitz submission on Q and F
particularly with reference to Lear. Those of you who read my earlier
posts on Cordelia and the Fool will perhaps surmise correctly that I
have a deep interest in this play, and that I use the opportunity of
this forum (which I, like Steve, find wonderful) to unashamedly promote
the sale of my book : _Cordelia, King Lear and His Fool_ which I wrote
over a period of some 15 years!

I am not familiar with the New Folger edition of Lear, but can't help
thinking that any attempt to let the reader know what the Q and F offers
can't be anything but positive in helping the modern reader to come to
grips with the reason for the two texts. Reading a conflated text has
left us in the dark for too long.

H.A. Mason calls for something radical to be done. "Although the critics
by and large agree on a high estimate of the play, they agree on nothing
else. There is therefore a task of mediating and searching for a reading
that will command wider assent than any so far obtained."

I was interested to see Steve Urkowitz point to some differences in
speech prefixes between Q and F. I believe that we can learn a lot about
the play by noting the differences between the speech prefixes and stage
directions in Q and F. While some differences might have been caused by
compositor error, I believe that not all are this way.

Note that the prefixes for Oswald's speeches in Q are "Gent", "Osw" and
"Stew". We know that the speeches prefixed by these abbreviatons were in
fact all intended for Oswald to speak because of the redaction to one
prefix "Stew" in F.

In Q the speech prefixes for Edgar are his name or some abbreviation of
it, but Edgar's stage direction at 3.6 calls for the entry of "Tom," his
disguised name. The F changes this to his name.

I maintain that we can safely conclude from this and other evidence,
that, as in many plays of the era, consistency in speech prefixes in
Lear can not be counted on, and that one character's speeches could be
introduced by more than one prefix. So that if Cordelia never went to
France but served her father disguised as his Fool, it would be
perfectly natural to simply prefix her speeches while she is dressed in
the motley with "Fool". There are many reasons why I conclude this which
I can't go into here.

But, if she didn't go to France, did France leave her alone in England?
I don't believe that he did. To me he would have been going against his
assertion that "love's not love When it is mingled with regards, that
stands Aloof from th'entire point." I have come to see him there
disguised under the different speech prefixes - Servant / Knight /
Gentleman, all of which are disguises employed by other characters
elsewhere in Lear.

We have treated these speeches as though they were spoken by three
"minor characters" in the play instead of being possible indicators of
the different disguises France employed in order to stay by the side of
his new wife. If Oswald can have three speech prefixes why can't France?

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we have no list of the
characters of Lear before Nicholas Rowe's seven volume edition of
Shakespeare's plays of 1709. There is no list of characters for Lear and
most of Shakespeare's plays comes with his authority, and we often have
to draw conclusions about who says what based on our general
understanding of the action of the play.

I contend that when at the end of the play Lear says, while looking at
Cordelia's face "And my poor Fool is hanged... Look there, ...."
Shakespeare is telling those in his audience who hadn't already seen it,
that Cordelia had been Lear's Fool.

I could write a whole lot more - in fact I've written 133 pages to show
my line of reasoning, which if you are a serious student of Lear you
should want to consider even if it's just to show me where I'm wrong! I
have also included the complete texts of Shakespeare's sources, and a
conflated text so that you can read the play the way I see that it
should be read. The only real differnce is in the speech prefixes.
Steve Urkowitz concluded with "Let the mad rumpus begin." I concede that
many might consider my thesis fertile soil for a mad rumpus. But I
assure you that I have many answers to questions which have been posed
about Lear and still remain unanswered. The most obvious being the
disappearance of the Fool after "I'll go to bed at noon."

My book presents a radically different approach to King Lear when
considered in the light of the way we have traditionally come to view
the play. But it is not, I suggest, radically different from the way we
have come to view most of Shakespeare's plays, nor those of his
contemporaries. In fact, I believe it is much more in harmony with these
than the traditional approach is.

The first printing of my book was quite limited - sufficient to
establish copyright, and share with a few. I am looking to print a
quantity for sale. Several have already ordered the book. If you are
interested in seeing it let me an expression of interest or order.

House of Cordelia
P.O. Box 36
Harbord
NSW  2096
Australia.

Sincerely,
Bob Marks

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <
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Date:           Sunday, 06 Apr 1997 11:11:18 -0700
Subject: 8.0413  Qs: Falstaff
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0413  Qs: Falstaff

>> Does anyone know of a list of Shakespeare's acting company and the roles they originated? Specifically, I am looking for the actor who first played Falstaff.<<

I've always been given the impression that the role was created by
Walter Kemp.  I was at the RSA this weekend, though, and someone
mentioned that he departed the Lord Chamberlain's men mysteriously in
1599.  We have, moreover, no really solid evidence that *The Merry Wives
of Windsor* was written before late 1601 (it was entered in the
Stationers' Register in January 1602 and must have been written by
then).

I rather wonder if this would tend to effect the vexed question of what
relation the Falstaff of *Merry Wives* bears to that of the 4Henry
plays.  If they could have been written for different players wouldn't
that tend to change our view of their continuity?

Cheers,
Sean Lawrence.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Juliette Cunico <
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Date:           Saturday, 5 Apr 1997 15:21:45 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 8.0402  Re: Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0402  Re: Suicide

See my dissertation, "Audience Attitudes Toward Suicide in Shakespeare's
Tragedies" (1991).

Juliette Cunico

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Saturday, 5 Apr 1997 11:22:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Ideology

I know everyone is probably happy that the aesthetics vs. ideology
thread has taken a break, but I have one further question if there are
any who might be interested in answering it.

When an aesthetic object or an aesthetic response is claimed to be
"ideological," what is the nature of the claim, its force, and its
usefulness?

To make these questions as specific as possible, take just one example
of an aesthetic response:  probably like most readers, I am moved
tremendously by the last scene of *The Winter's Tale*; I am struck most
particularly by the imaginative richness of its conception and the
simplicity of its execution, by the burnished spareness of its language,
and by such particular things in the scene as the effect of the statue
on Leontes, by Paulina's stage management of the situation and her
remarkable line recalling to us the dead Antigonus-"I, an old turtle, /
Will wing me to some withered bough"-before she is integrated into the
comic resolution of the scene, and by the first and only words Hermione
speaks in the scene:

                    You gods, look down,
     And from your sacred vials pour your graces
     Upon my daughter's head! Tell me mine own,
     Where hast thou been preserved? Where lived? How found
     Thy father's court? . . .

More than anything else in the scene, it's these lines that move me, the
representation of a mother's joy made more intense by the direction of
her first words away from the daughter who has been found to the gods
that have brought about this miracle.

While I am sure that most readers of the play are moved-or can be-by
this scene (but that claim can be contradicted), I allow that there is
of course something highly individual about the precise nature and
meaning of anyone's response-no one will be moved by the precise things
in the scene in the precise way that I am moved-shaped as the response
will be by any reader's previous reading and experience.  This allowed,
however, what is ideological about my response? What is the nature of
that claim?  What is its force, and what its usefulness?

Paul Hawkins
 

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