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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Maps
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1141  Monday, 16 November 1998.

[1]     From:   Richard Dutton <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Nov 1998 16:57:00 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1123  Re: Maps

[2]     From:   R. D. H. Wells <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 15:33:57 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 13:02:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

[4]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 13:10:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

[5]     From:   Michael Ullyot <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 23:14:44 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Dutton <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Nov 1998 16:57:00 -0000
Subject: 9.1123  Re: Maps
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1123  Re: Maps

If I dare stick my head over the parapet in the increasingly acrimonious
maps debate, I wonder if it is worth raising the point that it was one
of the great early modern map-makers, John Speed, who-in his 'History of
Great Britain' (1611) -- seems to have castigated Shakespeare as a
Catholic apologist, furthering the agenda of the Jesuit
controversialist, Robert Persons. That, at least, seems to be the gist
of the complaint about the stage treatment of Oldcastle/Falstaff, based
only on the authority of 'this papist and his poet, of like conscience
for lies, the one ever feigning, and the other ever falsifying the
truth' (the passage is more fully quoted in Schoenbaum's 'Compact
Documentary Life, p. 193). Map-making for Speed was an act of Protestant
zeal (as it had been, in rather different form, for John Dee and others
associated with Elizabethan privateering/colonisation). Maps are no more
neutral than any other form of document. Is that why people are getting
so hot under the collar?

Richard Dutton

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. D. H. Wells <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 15:33:57 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 9.1135 Re: Maps
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

On 12 November Terry Hawkes mentioned that among the matters that
'Presentist' criticism concerns itself with is 'the Tudor project of a
new independent national identity'.

I wonder if he could tell us what the governing principles of
'Presentist' criticism are and who its practitioners are?

Robin Headlam Wells

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 13:02:56 -0500
Subject: 9.1135 Re: Maps
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

Terence Hawkes writes:

>'Presentist' criticism engages closely with these issues.

Somehow, the designation "presentist" has evaded my awareness, and I
wonder if I could ask Professor Hawkes for a definition and, perhaps,
for an example.

Thanks.

Yours, Bill

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 13:10:04 -0500
Subject: 9.1135 Re: Maps
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

>Creating a play-world in
>which Bohemia has a sea coast, and where clear references are made to
>the New Testament by pagans who technically should be long dead before
>the gospel is written deliberately dislocates the play from time and
>space in order to universalise it.

I generally agree with Robin Hamilton, but I wonder about the
universalization effect. When a playwright creates a fantasy world that
denies historical and physical reality, is the effect
"universalization"?  Or is something else implied?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Ullyot <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Nov 1998 23:14:44 +0000
Subject: 9.1135 Re: Maps
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1135 Re: Maps

On this subject of Shakespeare's 'warping' of time and space, Robin
Hamilton writes that his dislocations of time (as in characters
referring to things with which they clearly should not be familiar)
universalises the dramatic present in a kind of trans-temporal Everytime
(I paraphrase).  While I agree with this from an interpretive
perspective, I wonder if we can't forget this problematic issue of
Authorial Intent. Indeed, this author is long dead, but to situate
ourselves in what we know of his cultural context for a (tenuous)
moment, we might view these temporal dislocations in another light: when
Hector speaks of Aristotle in _Troilus and Cressida_ (2.2), or reference
is made to clocks in _Julius Caesar_, Shakespeare may be universalising
his narrative, but what seems more likely is that he was either muddled
about his dates or hoping his audience wouldn't catch his anachronisms.
We critics are more than free, however, to interpret these things as we
will; despite its author's intent, a text can often reveal meanings in
cultures far removed from its original composition. That's Mikhail
Bakhtin, as a mentor of mine was fond of quoting:

It seems paradoxical that ... great works continue to live in the
distant future. In the process of their posthumous life they are
enriched with new meanings, new significance: it is as though these
works outgrow what they were in the epoch of their creation.
(Bakhtin, _Speech Genres and Other Late Essays_, cited in Bristol, M.D.,
_Big-time Shakespeare_, 10)

But who's being anachronistic, now? Here I've presented both sides of
the intent/interpretation argument, apparently without taking sides.
Indeed, both sides present compelling cases-but, to paraphrase Troilus
himself, 'if we talk of [intent], | Let's shut our gates and sleep."
(2.2.45f) What critical work would be left to do if all we could do was
throw up our hands and guess at the minds of authors?

But I digress. Robin's posting makes a number of pertinent points, all
of which are most agreeable. Save for this:

>The (relative) rareness of geographical and temporal errors in
>Shakespeare's plays generally suggests that their co-existence
>here is for a purpose.

Relative, indeed: the histories are riddled with temporal and, in
reference to what prompted this discussion, geographical
reconfigurations.

A final note: can I ask Prof. Hawkes to elaborate on what he wrote about
"presentist" criticism, in the context of Welsh prominence in Tudor
England? It's a term I'd never encountered.

Michael Ullyot
 

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