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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0253  Wednesday, 25 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Kenneth Meaney <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998 16:24:28 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[2]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998 08:42:18 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[3]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998 17:06:24 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[4]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Mar 1998 10:02:03 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Meaney <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998 16:24:28 +0200
Subject: 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

I can think of two objections to Pervez Rizvi's suggestion that Richard
III's

>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)

should be amended to read:

>But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
>Nor made to court an amorous-looking lass;

(1) Amendment is unnecessary: the line makes perfectly good sense as it
stands. We are shown the image of the lover posturing in front of the
looking-glass. This is "amorous" because the image in it is that of the
lover. (c.f. such constructions as "the condemned cell")

(2) If the line is amended as suggested, the next two lines simply
repeat the sense, and the speech does not move forward. As the text
stands, we get some development: first the lover preens himself before
his mirror (anyone with teenage children will be familiar with this),
then he goes and shows himself off to "a wanton ambling nymph."

Ken Meaney

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998 08:42:18 -0800
Subject: 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

> 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

I don't get it.  Maybe I'm jarred by watching _My Own Private Idaho_ too
many times, but "tricks" can mean more than one thing, at least now.  As
for "sportive," look up Genesis 26.8.

In any case, the historical Richard was accomplished at chivalrous
sports.  I'm told that his interest in broadsword fencing was the reason
for his overdeveloped right shoulder.

Cheers,
Sean.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998 17:06:24 -0500
Subject: 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

I take it that Richard images himself (not) looking at himself in an
amorous glass because lust and vanity are commonly paired in renascence
thought and art.  The decisive commonplace is the emblem of Venus,
mirror in hand.  Shakespeare's male lovers sometimes in their distress
ignore their appearance (Romeo, Hamlet), but sometimes fret about it
(Claudio, acc. Benedick, replacing thoughts of armor with thoughts of
doublets-a fairly close analogue to Richard's comment, Benedick himself
shaving, Malvolio in cross-garters).  The proposed emendation strikes me
as comparatively banal.

Reflectively,
Dave Evett

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Mar 1998 10:02:03 -0000
Subject: 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0248  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

I don't want to do criminal damage any more than John McWilliams. I'm
more interested in the process of recovering from the criminal damage
already done by compositors A,B,C,D etc.

Let's look at another looking-glass, the one mentioned by Perdita when
she and Florizel enter in fancy dress:

                               I should blush
To see you so attyr'd: sworne I thinke,
To shew my selfe a glasse.

This is the Folio text. It can be comfortably defended, as Ed Peschko
has defended R3. But most editions accept Theobald's emendation of
'sworn' to 'swoon'. It makes better sense, and the presumed error is an
easy one for a compositor to make - these are precisely the claims I
make for 'amorous-looking lass'. Now, you can stick to the Folio text,
as Riverside does, and your position would be perfectly reasonable. But
if you are with the majority and accept 'swoon', then what is the
clinching argument which tips the scales in favour of this reading but
against 'amorous-looking lass'? That is not a rhetorical question; I'd
sincerely like to understand.

(I don't think it will do to say that for The Winter's Tale we have only
one text whereas for R3 we have several quartos and the Folio, all of
which agree on 'amorous looking-glass'. If you advance that argument
then you forfeit the right to change any reading which is common to all
the texts. But look in any edition except Riverside and you'll see that
editors do emend such readings.)

I remember writing here a few months ago that there are some new words
or new meanings for old words for which we credit Shakespeare, but which
are probably just misprints. I suspect that the same might be true of a
few phrases like 'amorous looking-glass'. To anyone tempted to regard
complexity or obscurity as good evidence for authenticity, I say this:
Pick some passage for which everyone agrees on an emendation; undo the
emendation to restore the original text; then try to explain that text.
If you are articulate, intelligent, and know your Shakespeare (I dare
say everyone on this list qualifies!) then I'd be very surprised if you
can't come up with a 'meaning' for the corrupt text which is satisfying,
perhaps more so because the corruption creates a difficulty of
interpretation which stimulates our minds and makes us think that what
we are reading is typically 'Shakesperean'.

Thanks for listening.
 

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