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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0248  Tuesday, 24 March 1998.

[1]     From:   John McWilliams <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Mar 1998 15:20:43 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0243 Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[2]     From:   Paul Franssen <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Mar 1998 16:23:27 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0243 Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[3]     From:   Ed Peschko <epeschko@den-mdevl>
        Date:   Monday, 23 Mar 1998 14:48:50 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John McWilliams <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Mar 1998 15:20:43 +0100
Subject: 9.0243 Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0243 Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

> But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
> Nor made to court an amorous-looking lass;
>
> Doesn't this make more sense?

Well it makes more direct sense, but isn't really half as good is it? I
mean, aren't all complex images slightly 'strained' (if you want to put
it like that). They undermine any too cosy ways of thinking, challenging
us to imagine the unimaginable. Just read Christopher Rick's on
Marvell's self-reflexivity to see what I mean.

If we were to go through English literature and make amendations like
this everywhere it would be criminal damage in my opinion...

Best,
John McWilliams
Cambridge

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Franssen <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Mar 1998 16:23:27 +0100
Subject: 9.0243 Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0243 Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

Pervez Rizvi suggested that Richard's "amorous looking glass" should be
emended to "amorous-looking lass." However, Richard does return to the
idea of a looking glass after wooing Anne: in his soliloquy at the end
of 1.2 he says he will be "at charges for a looking glass" now that he
has won the heart of Anne, and asks the sun to shine until he has bought
the mirror, so that he can see his shape reflected in his shadow. All
this, it seems to me, makes the suggested emendation rather less
attractive.

Paul Franssen
Utrecht University
The Netherlands

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Peschko <epeschko@den-mdevl>
Date:           Monday, 23 Mar 1998 14:48:50 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

> Consider the opening speech of Richard III in which he claims that he
> cannot prove a lover because of his deformity:
>
> But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
> Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
> I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
> To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
> (1.1.14-17)
>
> I've always found 'court an amorous looking-glass' to make sense in a
> very strained way, if at all. It occurred to me that there might be a
> subtle misprint here and that the phrase might actually be
> 'amorous-looking lass', i.e.

I'd say that it makes perfect sense - Shakespeare is playing around with
the different types of love that one can aspire to:

'shaped for sportive tricks' - love of company && friendship
'court an amorous looking-glass' - love of self, narcissism.

' I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph' - courtly love, love of women

In other words, Richard is not only denying that he has the ability to
love in the traditional sense, but that he can love at *all*. He is
completely damaged, out of the reach of normal human companionship, and
deformed completely both inside and out.

At least, that's how I read it.

Ed
 

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