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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0259  Thursday, 26 March 1998.

[1]     From:   John McWilliams <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Mar 1998 13:06:01  +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0253  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[2]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Mar 1998 21:36:06 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

[3]     From:   John Jowett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Mar 1998 14:29:55 GMT
        Subj:   Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John McWilliams <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Mar 1998 13:06:01  +0100
Subject: 9.0253  Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0253  Re: R3's "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,

I take this point well (and the very good point that we are not dealing
with uncorrupt texts in the first place). But for a truly inspired
emendation such as "a babbled of Green Fields" in HV I just don't think
this is the case. We had to struggle to get any sense whatever out of "a
table of green fields", but the revelation that the line was actually "a
babbled" was wonderful (well, it was before my time, but you take the
point). And this emendation was based on some good evidence to do with
handwriting that made a 'b' look like a 't'.

John McWilliams
Cambridge

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Mar 1998 21:36:06 EST
Subject: 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0243  Qs: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

Pervez Rizvi offers a whimsical emendation to substitute "amorous
looking lass" for the reading "amorous looking glass" in Richard of
Gloucester's opening speech in R3.  Ah, well.  Silly season is upon us.
The triumph of his antic wooing of Lady Anne leads Richard at the end of
the next scene to do what he said earlier he couldn't:

       Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
        That I may see my shadow as I pass.

But emendation requires little other than a happy gift of guessing.  How
about if the "g" from "looking glass" actually belonged two lines later,
and the "wanton ambling nymph" should really read "wanton _g_ambling
nymph"?  A reference to early casino activity in Plantagenet London?

Blithily blithiry,  frim ti mich bibli-igriphy,
Stivi Irkiwitz

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Jowett <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Mar 1998 14:29:55 GMT
Subject:        Re: R3's "amorous looking-glass"

Pervez Rizvi suggests (18 March) emending Richard III's 'Nor made to
court an amorous looking-glass' to '...amorous-looking lass'.  The same
reading was proposed previously by H.B. Vaughan in _New Readings and
Renderings of Shakespeare's Tragedies_ (1878-86), but I don't think it
has had any takers.  Vaughan also followed Q1's 'loue' for F's 'Lute'
two lines earlier: 'To the lascivious pleasing of a love'.

'Love' and 'lass' are both over-literal, and 'looking-glass' is not, as
Pervez suggests (25 March), obscure in meaning.  Nor, as pieces of
quirkily estranged language, are 'lute' and 'looking-glass' arbitrary.
The slip from the object of courtship (the 'lady' or Richard himself) to
the means for courtship (lute or looking-glass) is almost exactly the
same in both lines.  The trait perhaps anticipates some comparable
confusions between means and ends in Richard's later actions, as though
he constantly substituted his instrumentality to himself for his
theoretical goal-a postulate about 'character' that can here be grounded
in a detail of rhetoric.

After successfully wooing Anne, Richard revises his view, proposing to
be 'at charges for a looking-glass' after all.

John Jowett
 

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