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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Audio Series; Incest; Jennings's Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0452  Monday, 11 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Peschko <epeschko@den-mdev1>
        Date:   Saturday, 9 May 1998 21:03:13 -0600 (MDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0443  New Audio Recording Series

[2]     From:   Linda Vecchi <
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 >
        Date:   Friday, 8 May 1998 14:16:22 -0230 (NDT)
        Subj:   Re: Incest in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Linda Hobbet <
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 >
        Date:   Sunday, 10 May 1998 22:09:59 -0700
        Subj:   The RSC Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Peschko <epeschko@den-mdev1>
Date:           Saturday, 9 May 1998 21:03:13 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: 9.0443  New Audio Recording Series;
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0443  New Audio Recording Series;

> Penguin Audiobooks will shortly be releasing the Arkangel Complete
> Shakespeare Series, consisting of new, unabridged audio recordings of
> all 38 plays.  Each cassette will cost $16.95; the series will also be
> available on CD.  The casts will consist of British actors.  The text is

Holy cow! Do you get a volume discount if you purchase the whole thing?
And will there be a 'complete set' to purchase (eventually)?

If the quality of the Shakespeare series rivals that of the Canterbury
tales audio tapes, it will certainly be something to look forward to...

Ed (whose only quibbles with the Canterbury tales are 1: that they are
abridged and 2: that they aren't in Middle English...)

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Linda Vecchi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 8 May 1998 14:16:22 -0230 (NDT)
Subject:        Re: Incest in Hamlet

In response to Roy Flannagan's query, I, too, have missed the earlier
discussion on this topic, and I have no early modern evidence to
provide.  However, I do have a personal anecdote which I use every year
when I teach Hamlet in my undergraduate Shakespeare course.

I tell my students that I have a personal attachment to young Hamlet's
concerns because my grandmother married two Vecchi brothers.  As the
family story goes (which was related to me AFTER my grandfather's
funeral), when Secondo Vecchi (my natural grandfather) was on his
deathbed, he asked his younger brother, Louis, to "look after his
family." Louis took this request very seriously, and one year and a day
following Secondo's death, Louis and my grandmother were married.  I was
told this story by my mother as a way of explaining why my father
(first-born son of Secondo, nephew and eventual step-son to Louis) and
grandfather had never gotten along (even though they had worked in the
family business together for 30 years).

This bit of family history always sparks some interesting comments from
my students and encourages them to see Hamlet's predicaments in human
terms.  In terms of Prof. Flannagan's question about incest and Church
law, I was told as part of this family narrative that the marriage to
Louis was not considered incestuous because my grandparents had followed
the rules of the Roman Catholic Church.  Before Louis asked for my
grandmother's hand, he had to explain matters to his parish priest.  The
priest then wrote to his bishop asking for a waiver of the consanguinity
laws.  This letter eventually had to make its way to the Pope (so the
family story goes; I have no documentation of this process), and it was
only upon the Pope's letter of approval that Louis and my grandmother
were married.

My information is vague, but the story and how my family has reacted to
it intrigues me.  There is still an air of mystery and awkwardness about
this narrative in my clan.  As children we knew nothing about it, as if
it was forbidden information.  Even many years later, at my
grandmother's funeral (she outlived her first husband by 70 years; her
second by 20), when my father referred to the manner of Secondo's death,
I heard one of my aunt's muttering "that isn't right; that wasn't the
way it happened."

Shakespeare tapped into the heart of brooding mystery and fear which
seems central to such stories.  For me there is a special connection,
but for many others it must also strike a cord.  Anyway, offered for
what it is worth.

Linda Vecchi
Department of English
Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Linda Hobbet <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 10 May 1998 22:09:59 -0700
Subject:        The RSC Hamlet

I have been interested in the comments about the RSC Hamlet with Alex
Jennings because I will be seeing it at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in
two weeks.  I will be taking my two high-school age nieces (freshman and
junior).  It will be their first Hamlet and I hope it will be as
exciting for them as my first Hamlet was for me.  They participate in
community theater in the small North Carolina town where they live and
they have seen some Shakespeare on stage, but they haven't had it taught
to them.

This sounds like a fairly radical production of the play, so I was
wondering if anyone who has seen it could give me advice on how to
prepare them for it.

Thank you,
Linda Hobbet
 

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