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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Re: Bile; Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0979.  Tuesday, 30 September 1997.

[1]     From:   Derek Wood <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Sep 1997 12:20:56 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0962  Black bile and Medical History

[2]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Sep 1997 15:26:44 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0973  Re: Ophelia

[3]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Sep 1997 13:55:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0973  Re: Ophelia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Derek Wood <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Sep 1997 12:20:56 -0300
Subject: 8.0962  Black bile and Medical History
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0962  Black bile and Medical History

Lawrence Babb's Elizabethan Malady  remains helpful on questions like
this one and is very readable, also. Since too much thinking could
produce an excess of melancholy, this question is especially relevant
for our profession, more so since poverty and a bad diet worsened the
condition of scholars. Certainly, your student would also enjoy looking
into Burton' Anatomy of Melancholy, I would think.

Derek Wood.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Sep 1997 15:26:44 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 8.0973  Re: Ophelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0973  Re: Ophelia

Bill Godshalk: don't you think Dave Evett is whizzing an ironic arrow at
False Cardiff Himself when he says Ophelia is a figure of speech?

        Harry Hill

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Sep 1997 13:55:08 -0400
Subject: 8.0973  Re: Ophelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0973  Re: Ophelia

Bill Godshalk writes: "Dave Evett's suggestion that Ophelia "is a
complicated figure of speech, not a person, and need not be accounted
for by anything in particular outside the text" seems to be based on a
rather minimalistic vision of reading and interpretation."

I said "need not," not "could not" or "should not"-otherwise I'd be even
more inconsistent than I actually am, having just accounted for some
elements of the Ophelia material by means of things outside the text in
that same post.  I might more accurately have written that Ophelia
_begins_ as a complicated figure of speech; readers do, of course,
interpret what they read, in manifold ways, and actors, of course, do,
too.  But some kinds of interpretation seem more productive than
others.  In general, I think it more productive to work on the things
that are present in texts than those that are absent-e.g. bawdy songs
vs. an account of how the singer learned them, or (Bill having written
that "We assume that Ophelia had a mother") mothers in the text
(Gertrude) vs. mothers not in the text (not only Ophelia's, but also
Polonius', and Claudius', and Rosencrans', and Gildenstern's, and the
Player King's . . .).  The repeated absence of mothers from the
Shakespearean texts has been noticed (only some of them-hundreds of such
absences merit no attention), and study of the phenomenon has proven
critically useful.  Study of the absence of an accounting for Ophelia's
knowledge of bawdy songs might be useful.  But it doesn't seem to have
much urgency-I don't think anybody has yet shown that the absence of
such accounts as regards other Shakespearean song-singers has much
interpretative significance: it's the fact that she does utter them that
seems to matter.  But I may be wrong-was the question about where she
learned them one the Cincinnati actors addressed to their dramaturg
Raised independently by him as a matter worth thinking about?  A
recurrent feature of rehearsals of that scene in productions of the
play?

Characteristically,
Dave Evett
 

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