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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: April ::
Re: Sh./KJV; Postmodern; Beatrice/Don Pedro
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0376  Tuesday, 21 April 1998.

[1]     From:   Paul Franssen <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Apr 1998 16:50:55 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0359  Shakespeare and the King James Bible

[2]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Apr 1998 14:29:32 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0368  Re: Shakespeare as Character

[3]     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Apr 1998 00:45:43 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0356  Re: Beatrice and Don Pedro


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Franssen <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Apr 1998 16:50:55 +0200
Subject: 9.0359  Shakespeare and the King James Bible
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0359  Shakespeare and the King James Bible

I wholly agree with John Velz that the scenario of Shakespeare revising
the King James Bible is a highly unlikely one, even though the
coincidence of Shakespeare's name "appearing" in Psalm 46 is indeed
striking. However, as I have argued in an article in *Connotations* 3.2
(1993-94), it is no more that just that, a coincidence; the AV was based
on a number of earlier translations, many of which have very similar
wordings in almost (though never exactly) the same relative positions of
46 words from the beginning and the end respectively. Thus, it would
only take a small further change in the text for this astounding
coincidence to happen. Just like in probability theory: it is in itself
unlikely for the roulette ball to light on the black 100 times in a row,
but once this has happened 99 times, the chances of another such
occurrence, completing the series of 100, are about even. So it is with
this coincidence of having "shake" and "speare" in 46th positions in
psalm 46.

Although this is, therefore, a highly unlikely scenario, it makes for a
wonderful anecdote, as Anthony Burgess realized when he made it the
centrepiece of his story "Will and Testament," which in itself forms the
opening of his novel *Enderby's Dark Lady.* For a reading of this story
in relation to Kipling's "Proof of Holy Writ," the other crucial text in
this minor genre of "Shakespeare-as-bible-translator" fictions, see my
article in the volume on *The Author as Character* (on fictions
concerning famous real authors), edited by my colleague Ton Hoenselaars
and myself, forthcoming in 1999 with Fairleigh Dickinson UP.

Paul Franssen
University of Utrecht
The Netherlands

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Apr 1998 14:29:32 EDT
Subject: 9.0368  Re: Shakespeare as Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0368  Re: Shakespeare as Character

"I'm a post-modernist. And rich, too."

That's the main reason I distrust post-modernists.  They're all rich.
It's a class struggle thing.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Apr 1998 00:45:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0356  Re: Beatrice and Don Pedro
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0356  Re: Beatrice and Don Pedro

I do not want to make TOO much ado about my suggestion that Beatrice
might express a slight momentary amorous interest in Don John, and I am
sensitive to John Drakakis' point that we must distinguish our READINGS
from "the play" (more on this later), but I do believe there is as much
of a textual basis for this possibility as there is for any other
reading of her first seeming come-on to Don Pedro "I would rather have
one of your father's getting...."(2.1.303-05) (although I am not
discounting the possibility of other readings).  First, I would like to
respond to Michael Friedman, who claims that Beatrice's derogatory
comments about Don John (in 2.1.134) would invalidate my claim. But she
also makes derogatory comments about Benedick, and more than a few
readers can "see through" those comments, so that argument does not hold
for me.  Furthermore, I think it is important to see the similarities
between Beatrice, Benedick and Don John in the first two acts of the
play (while at the same time being attentive to the obvious differences
of the play's "dominant discourse").  All three of these characters are
separated from the general hooplah, enthusiasm and courtesy of the
Hero-Claudio, Don Pedro-Leonato society. Don John's critical function,
often obscured by the fact that he's "a villain", is to test the idea of
"love" espoused by Don Pedro and accepted by Claudio and, seemingly,
Hero. Beatrice shares many of the same thoughts as Don Pedro (though I
don't have time to go into it all here, one could consult my 50 page
chapter on the play), yet she expresses these thoughts through WIT (and
thus the seriousness of her challenge to much of the dominant values of
Messina is obscured by wit, and by the fact that, unlike Don John, she
wants to criticize the society while AT THE SAME TIME live merrily
within it)--until later in the play when we can see Beatrice express
more passionately the same criticisms she expressed comically earlier in
the play. Now given this READING of Beatrice's character, and
understanding her as not simply a woman whose sole function is to get
"hitched" in the happy ending, but who is attracted to Benedick because
she believes he too has some of the same skepticism towards the dominant
values of this society, and wants an "alliance" with him, but that he is
afraid of her (either because she DOES go to far with her witty
criticisms, or because Benedick is simply afraid to make the first
move), Beatrice is at this point in the play (2.1.) left quite alone
("sigh heigh ho for a husband"). I am aware (in response to Dave Evett)
that there is not ALOT of evidence to go on that Beatrice is attracted
to Don John, but what DO YOU (plural) make of, for instance,  her comic
desire for a man to be made "halfway between Don John and Benedick"?
Familiarity with Shakespeare has taught me that such statements, though
they may seem casual and insignificant, often take on deeper
significance on rereading, and since her "proposal" to Don Pedro is
INDIRECT, and since she immediately rejects him the second she gets him
to propose to her, and since she doesn't  express nearly as much
interest in Don Pedro as she does in  Don John (even though her way of
expressing interest in a man is to be contentious), and since she may
feel at this point that she too has lost Benedick, or that Benedick has
not proven worthy of her, this all adds up to a strong possibility that
she may be at least considering Don John as COLUMN 2. Of course it's
only momentary, at this point Don Pedro sets in motion his second plot
to bring Beatrice and Benedick together. Well I have more to say, and
could say this better, but I wanted to clarify and also sound more
thoroughly what OBJECTIONS others might have to this argument---even if
we can't change each other's minds.....

Chris Stroffolino
 

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