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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Contarino; Iago; Autolycus; Edmund Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0498  Monday, 25 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Sara Jayne Steen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 11:03:20 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0491  Contarino the Dane

[2]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 09:12:48 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0472  Re: Iago

[3]     From:   Karen Pirnie <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 19:54:09 EDT
        Subj:   Autolycus

[4]     From:   Judy Lewis <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 May 1998 09:44:40 +1200
        Subj:   Edmund Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sara Jayne Steen <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 11:03:20 -0500
Subject: 9.0491  Contarino the Dane
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0491  Contarino the Dane

On Jacobean stage costumes, I'd consult Jean MacIntyre of the University
of Alberta.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 09:12:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0472  Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0472  Re: Iago

Thanks, Ed, for the dialogue with my few lines on Iago, and sorry to be
getting to this after a delay. But no, I wouldn't agree with your
paraphrase of my idea. The safest thing to do would probably be to refer
you to the relevant passages in 'Shakespeare's Universal Wolf' (pp.
98-109) or the article version in the Fall 95 issue of the journal
Criticism. But a short answer here follows. It's not that Iago is
"someone good at using reason" because he's good in some ways,
disastrously awful from another point of view. And I should add that I
think Iago, like so many others, is a layered character and the layers
aren't necessarily unifiable. I agree that he can be seen as a
trickster, has great fun, and I think that Bernard Spivack's discussion
of Iago and the Vice character from 1958 still has something to say for
it. But to me more interesting to our perch at the turn of the 21st
century is the way the play implicitly analyses and critiques crucial
characteristics of emerging modernity through Iago. His instrumental
reason takes on its destructive characteristics because it is, in
Habermas's terms, autonomous, broken from containing myths, ideologies,
religions, etc. Now as Bill Godshalk might remind me, there were
numerous precedents for this in the ancient world-but they didn't
crystallize into the inter-connected, self-perpetuating systems we still
live in and with. One of the paradoxes involved is that instrumental
reason has its own logic and is not really under any individual's
control (cf. Foucault). Iago uses instrumental reason, but instrumental
reason, as it were, uses Iago as well, with deeply irrational results;
that is, instrumental reason, because it is value-free, very often
violates the rationality of ethics-and in Iago's case, even
self-interest, inasmuch as he ends up destroying himself as well as his
victims. I also agree that the play is plain that he begins his scheming
motivated by deep envy and that Janet Adelman has gotten at some of the
crucial psychoanalytic and race-related issues involved. But I think the
play also discloses the autonomous and destructive vectors of
instrumental reason within modernity as an autonomous theme of its own.

Best,
Hugh Grady

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Pirnie <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 19:54:09 EDT
Subject:        Autolycus;

In reply to Clifford Stetner:

Barbara Mowat's article "Rogues, Shepherds, and the Counterfeit
Distressed" (*Shakespeare Studies* 22 [1994]: 58-76) discusses the Greek
mythological associations of Autolycus's name as a source of dual
reactions to him.  He can be seen either as an "unemployed vagrant" or
an artful trickster.  Your etymology would tip the balance toward the
rogue, adding what Mowat calls "darker pejorative resonance" to this
character whom modern audiences more often find amusing.

Karen Pirnie

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judy Lewis <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 May 1998 09:44:40 +1200
Subject:        Edmund Shakespeare

I don't know how much is based on fact and how much is pure fiction, but
the most interesting book I have read about Edmund Shakespeare is You,
My Brother, written by Philip Burton (adoptive father of Richard
Burton), published by Talmy Franklin Ltd in 1973.  I picked it up years
ago as a remainder for a few dollars but it may be available in
libraries still.  Burton suggests that Troilus and Cressida was written
for Edmund; the play was seldom performed because the first performance
was in front of a very old Queen Elizabeth whose inability to last the
distance was the kiss of death for the play.
 

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