Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: *Lear* and *Leir*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0708.  Wednesday, 25 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Syd Kasten <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 18:29:13 +0200 (IST)
        Subj:   Love in Lear

[2]     From:   David Mycoff <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 12:12:52 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Assorted Lear Questions

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 08:25:05 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0706  Re: *Lear*

[4]     From:   John E. Perry <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Jun 1997 01:31:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0706  Re: *Lear*

[5]     From:   Gabriel Wasserman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 13:46:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0535  Re: Leir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Syd Kasten <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 18:29:13 +0200 (IST)
Subject:        Love in Lear

It might be of interest to those discussing love in the light of
religious thought to see what the *Ethics of the Fathers*, (a section of
the Mishnah, the oral Rabbinic tradition that was set down in writing in
the second or third century of the Christian era) has to say about love:

"If love depend on some material cause, and the cause passes away, the
love vanishes too; but if it do not depend on some material cause, it
will never pass away.  Which love was it that depended on a material
cause?  This was the love of Amnon and Tamar (II Samuel, 13, v.1ff). And
which love was it that was not dependent on a material cause?  Such was
the love of David and Jonathan.        (I Samuel 18, v.1; II Samuel, 1,
v. 26)"

        Mishnayot Nezikin, Avot (Fathers),Ch.V, 16
        Ed. Philip Blackman, The Judaica Press, New York

Goneril and Regan on the one hand and Cordelia or Kent on the other
could serve as equally good illustrations to the rabbinic aphorism,
substituting wealth and power for "some material cause".

Best wishes,
Syd Kasten

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Mycoff <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 12:12:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Assorted Lear Questions

(1) Elton's KING LEAR AND THE GODS is still very good in showing why it
is quesionable to characterize LEAR as doctrinally "Christian" in a
sense that would be recognizable to its contemporaries.  Elton's view is
consistent with Carl Fortunato's point on the question.

(2) On Fortunato's question of whether or not Lear thinks Cordelia still
lives as he himself dies, Rosenberg's THE MASKS OF KING LEAR provides
interesting history of the varieties acting choices that have been made
in response to this open question (along with much else, of course).

(3) If forced to pick one passage that would "summarize the philosophy"
of the play, I don't think I'd take the "wanton flies" one.  How about,
instead, the concluding lines, variously attributed to Albany or Edgar
(I prefer Edgar for interpretative, not textual-critical reasons):  "The
weight of this sad time we must obey, / Speak what we feel, not what we
ought to say. / The oldest have borne most.  We that are young / Shall
never see so much, nor live so long."  If the play affirms anything, it
is honesty of vision ("see much"-and consider how often the audience and
characters are called upon to see and witness to what is too unbearable
to behold); endurance ("live long"); and a language that tries to be
true to the heart's response to what is seen and endured since language
fails repeatedly to present a more "objective" or rationally verifiable
description of the reality of the world and neither silence nor cries of
animal pain are answerable human responses (Lear lapses into human
speech after his "Howl, howl, howl" and his first words are to excoriate
the silence of the "men of stone.")  I think of Kurosawa's definition of
the artist as "one who does not avert his eyes."  Look upon the
unbearable and bear human witness to it.  I suppose that all tragedies
that escape narrow critical formulas demand that of their characters and
audiences.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 08:25:05 -0700
Subject: 8.0706  Re: *Lear*
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0706  Re: *Lear*

>While there is a great amount of "Christianity" in the play, in many
>ways it seems to depict a world a chaos and randomness, that is almost
>anti-Christian.  Many people see in Gloucester's famous line:

>        "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.  They kill
>        us for their sport."

>a summation of the entire philosophy of the play.  And it is
>particularly noticeable that Albany says of Cordelia, "The gods defend
>her" just before: "*Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms.*"

>This most unacceptable thing in the play - the death of Cordelia - is
>the one thing that most enforces this feeling that all is random and
>*the gods don't care.*   This, of course, is Shakespeare's own addition
>to his source, and is so unacceptable that the ending was usually
>changed by editors until fairly recently.

I agree that there's a strong sense of alienation from God (or, 'the
gods'), but don't think that makes the play anti-Christian.  Leaving
aside the fact that 'the gods' aren't God, and it may only be the pagan
gods who are alien, there's a good possibility of reconciling alienation
with salvation within Christianity.  To Luther, the difference between
the Deus absconditus and the Deus revelatus lies largely in its
appropriation by the sinner/redeemed.  To the faithful, suffering is the
means by which God shows himself, though 'hidden.'  To the sinner, it is
a function of God's mere absence.  But to Luther, in his more
exististential moments, one must experience a sense of alienation in
order to be saved.

I'm just finishing a book on Luther, so am concentrating on him, but the
point is made even more explicitly by Karl Barth in his commentary on
*Romans*, and at least analogous ideas appear, I believe, in a number of
the mystics, particularly those of the 'via negativa'.

Cheers,
Sean

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John E. Perry <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 25 Jun 1997 01:31:21 -0400
Subject: 8.0706  Re: *Lear*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0706  Re: *Lear*

> While there is a great amount of "Christianity" in the play, in many
> ways it seems to depict a world a chaos and randomness, that is almost
> anti-Christian.  Many people see in Gloucester's famous line:
>
>         "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.  They kill
>         us for their sport."
>
> a summation of the entire philosophy of the play.

I'm completely unable to see how Mr. Fortunato arrives at such an
opinion.  Even if we didn't have Edmund's contemptuous dismissal of this
idea (I.2., "This is the excellent foppery..."), every bad thing in the
entire play happens as the result of the deliberate action of a
particular person.  This is in stark contrast to events in other plays,
where often some completely supernatural, or even random, aberration
completely changes the direction of events. I think this why we are
particularly apt to cringe in horror as this play unfolds.

Far from being a philosophy of "the gods kill us for their sport," the
play denies all external influences, plainly exposing people's
deliberate cruelty and disregard for one another, and the susceptibility
of those around them to powerful sinners' selfishness.

This is certainly an overwhelmingly Christian point of view!

john perry

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Wasserman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 13:46:11 -0400
Subject: 8.0535  Re: Leir
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0535  Re: Leir

> From:           David J. Kathman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
> Date:           Sunday, 4 May 1997 00:34:00 +0100
> Subject:        Re: SHK 8.0529  Re: Cordelia; Leontes; Riverside
>
> Patrick Gillespie writes:
>
> >> >And on a related subject: Are the older King Lear
> >
> >> You mean *Leir*?                 [or do you mean Q1?]
> >
> >I mean Leir. Is it seriously being touted as Shakespeare's?
>
> Not by anybody I know of, except possibly Eric Sams, who believes that
> much of the anonymous drama of the 1580s and 1590s is by Shakespeare.

"MUCH of the anonymous drama"?  Eric Sams doesn't believe in
collaborations, so he can only believe that it is ALL by Shakespeare
(which [I think] he in fact does believe {still?  I'm not sure} ), or
NOT by Shakespeare.
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.