1998

Re: Laertes as King

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1187  Wednesday, 25 November 1998.

[1]     From:   Fran Barasch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 10:45:44 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King

[2]     From:   John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 15:49:11 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 13:28:49 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King


[4]     From:   F. Nicholas Clary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 13:36:24 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Barasch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 10:45:44 EST
Subject: 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King

On "give me my father":  Polonius's body has been sent to dinner and, as
I recall, Hamlet won't tell where.  Laertes wants the body to pay last
respects. Rather customary, I should think. fran barasch

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 15:49:11 -0000
Subject: 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King

N. R. Moschovakis seems to be jumping the gun a little bit.  Claiming
that Shakespeare's text interrogates the ideology of divine right does
not necessarily mean that Shakespeare was challenging monarchy per se,
or indeed, that he was anti-monarchist.  On either of these two issues
we have no way of knowing.

While there may be different attitudes to the institution of Monarchy at
the turn of the 16th century, and while there were clearly challenges to
Elizabeth's rule, I hardly think that the issue of monarchical authority
was being seriously challenged- or to put the matter more succinctly, in
danger of being replaced. Take a look at Fulke Greville's unpublished
Treatise on Monarchy.  There was however considerable interest (as
witness Shakespeare's Roman Plays) in alternative forms of government,
but we should be careful before assuming that this could easily
translate into a political position-not yet anyway.

There was, however a growing awareness of those contradictions that it
was the function (not the purpose) of ideology to occlude; the most
significant of these contradictions was that a divinely ordained king
COULD be killed, or, that a divinely ordained king could be politically
useless (or even worse, dangerous).  The debate about what might be done
in those circumstances goes back, at least to Bishop John Ponet's
Treatise on Power.

I think that the comparison with Richard II isn't a valid one because
Richard IS king by divine right. He's a bad king, that's certain, but
his deposition has to be very gingerly handled. In the case of Claudius
he HAS killed what we assume to be the lawful king, and he has usurped
his position, and the language which authorises his position. We need to
go to Marlowe's Edward II for a more realistic appraisal of the material
foundation of royal power and to the forlorn Edward's: "What are kings
when regiment is gone/But perfect shadows in a sunshine day". Quite
clearly at the turn of the 16th century there was considerable interest
in the emerging gap between the dominant ideology on the one hand, and
the historical realism emanating from Machiavelli and a number of Roman
historians on the other. Certain possibilities became thinkable as a
result, although to suggest that Shakespeare was a card-carrying
anti-monarchist is not the conclusion that I would draw, myself from
this.

Cheers
John Drakakis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 13:28:49 -0500
Subject: 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King

Katherine Batay and I made the point some time ago that Claudius is
actually quite a good king, in the sense of an effective statesman who
seems in most things to strive successfully to advance the interests of
his subjects generally.  We cited in particular his brilliant diplomacy
in the Fortinbras affair, avoiding a bloody war (for which he was
nonetheless wisely providing), and turning the attack against a
traditional enemy.  We also alluded to his ability to unify a kingdom
which must have been seriously divided by the sudden death of the old
king and a disputed election, in which the more "natural" successor was
defeated.  His putting down of the Laertes uprising, without shedding a
drop of blood, is another example, especially considering the continued
parlous condition of the country and his own psyche..

Claudius' wrong doings were of a private nature, essentially driven by
his lust for Gertrude.  (I acknowledge, however, that regicide for the
purpose of supplanting the old king on the throne, as well as in bed,
smacks of a more public transgression, but not every analogy can be
perfect.)  And, of course, it was perfectly normal for him to try to
cover up such an embarrassing interlude.

I wonder if anyone can think of a modern instance.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           F. Nicholas Clary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 13:36:24 -0500
Subject: 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1180  Re: Laertes as King

In The Dramatic Censor (1770), Francis Gentleman made the following
comment on the "Laertes as King" passage:

        "Laertes is ushered in with a strange insinuation importing no less
than a proposition to chuse him King; how this became necessary, or is
reconcileable I cannot see as in a preceding scene the King says, that
he cannot enforce any law against Hamlet on account of the murder
committed because 'He's loved . . .  offence' [2665-8]. Nay speaking of
the matter afterwards to Laertes, the king delivers himself thus 'Why .
. . graces' [3025-9]. Now if Hamlet was so extremely popular, how is it
possible to suppose the Laertes by complaining of a private injury,
shold supersede him in the people's favours, and gain their voices to
the prejudice </p.26><p.27> of his birth right besides Laertes's attack
upon, and language, to a monarch, without knowing a syllable of the
matter he contends about, makes him an absolute drawcansir equally the
foe of justice, reason, and decorum; indeed the author seems to have
been sensible of this, making the king say 'Will you, in revenge of your
dear father's death Destroy both friends and foes?'" (1:26-27).

A few years later, in the edition of Hamlet that he prepared for Bell
(1773-4), Gentleman offered the following comment on the behaviour of
Laertes:

        "Though Laertes has great provocation to rouse him, yet such peremptory
violent and abusive behaviour to his sovereign, breaks through the
bounds of decorum and allegiance, unpardonably; and we by no means see
why the rabble offer to chuse him King."

About a century later Frank Marshall, who would work with Irving on his
edition of Shakespeare, offered the following the comment on the
kingship question in A Study of Hamlet (1875), reminding his readers of
an earlier interpretive position taken by Gervinus and recommends an
editorial note provided by Malone:

        "It would seem that, with 'the rabble' at least, the popularity of
Claudius had been short-lived. His accession was probably more owing to
the nobles than to the people: they had wished to place young Hamlet on
his father's throne; and now that he had been sent off by Claudius to
England, in order, as they thought, to get rid of him as a successor,
the people clamoured to be allowed to choose for themselves and to make
Laertes King: Gervinus credits the energy of Laertes with the creation
of this 'rebellion, which looks giant-like;' but it is probable that he
found the work of creation at least half-done: the fact that Hamlet had
been sent out of the kingdom had more to do with their riotous attitude
than any love either of Laertes himself or of his father, who had been
so mysteriously killed. On the question as to whether the Crown of
Denmark was elective or not, see an interesting note given in Malone's
'Shakespeare' (ed. 1821, vol. vii, p.
209)."

I offer these excerpts for those interested in the earlier stages of the
present exchange on this listserv.

        Nick Clary

Re: Presentism and Maps

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1186  Wednesday, 25 November 1998.

[1]     From:   David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 08:47:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism

[2]     From:   Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 09:44:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Presentism

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 13:33:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1166  Re: Presentism and Maps


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 08:47:08 -0500
Subject: 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism

Query to those of you more on top of early modern historiography than I
am.  Was there a kind of presentist debate toward the end of C16 between
a traditional view of history as morally exemplary (Sidney recommending
the Cyropedia because the essentials of governing well had not changed
in two millenia) and a more material view, more aware of a past
materially different from their present, emerging from the antiquarian
study of Camden et al.?

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 09:44:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Presentism

Hugh Grady writes that we need to be aware of "the role of the present
in our constructions of the past." Shakespeare agrees. Look, for
example, at Falstaff's retelling of the Gadshill robbery in 1H4 (2.4),
or Hotspur's revision of the meaning of his first meeting with
Bolingbroke (1H4 1.3).  One of the major points of the history plays is
that we all revise the past to meet our needs in the present. If
Shakespeare knew this 400 years ago, then it's about time we took it
seriously today.

The problem is that if this understanding of the interpenetration of the
present and the past is taken to extremes, some may conclude that there
is no real knowledge of the past. But this conclusion does not
necessarily follow. What does follow is that we may have a damn good
"take" on a certain part of the past, but our conclusions must always be
open to the possibility that they are partial, misleading, or false.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 13:33:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.1166  Re: Presentism and Maps
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1166  Re: Presentism and Maps

Regarding the frequently cited case of Bohemia in WT, I agree that
geography serves as a kind of poetic metaphor.  It is important to
remember that Shakespeare's romance reverses the geographical
relationship found in his source (Greene's Pandosto (?) (I believe this
is the title. I have not read it): i.e. in Greene the vieux jalous is
the king of Bohemia, and the lost one is recovered in Sicilia.
Reversing this geography suggests to me a poetic value to the respective
locales: something to do with the relationship of a hot southern Italian
region to a cold northern Germanic region, or perhaps simply figuring
the relation of London in the south to the centers of rural festivities
in the north of England.

The significance of the play's geography has less to do with the
author's intention than with the response of a Jacobean audience largely
familiar with the Greene version confronted by what may at first appear
to be an arbitrary reversal, but which inevitably draws attention to the
poetic elements of geography and its relation to the plot.  Giving a
seacost to Bohemia has a similar effect.  It must have caused many a
snigger in a London full of tars and privateers as it continues to do
among Shakespearean critics.

In conclusion, without the luxury of access to authorial intention, I
cannot read any word in Sh's work as insignificant, let alone a crux
that has kept people guessing for so many centuries of close reading.
Geographical inaccuracies have the effect of abstractinc geography from
the increasingly detailed and accurate mapping skills of the early
moderns and thereby excluding all value from geography other than as
poetic metaphor.

 > > ...the imaginative strategy adopted in _WT_
> differs considerably from the relative verisimilitude of, particularly,
> the History Plays and the Roman plays...a variety of features in
> _WT_, including both geographical and temporal paradoxes, suggest a
> coherent imaginative strategy on Shakespeare's part...
>
> Robin Hamilton
>
> ...I think we +can+ discern artistic strategies at work in the plays
>
>...it's possible to make an approximation to what he would be more
> or less likely to know.  And if we allow such an approximation, to
> separate specific instances into mistake/irrelevance/'deliberate
> error'.  For me, in these terms, the (lack of a) seacoast of Bohemia
> would be so close to common knowledge as to suggest 'deliberate error';
>
> Robin Hamilton

Re: Shrews; SHAKSPOP; Sheep

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1182  Friday, 20 November 1998.

[1]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 08:33:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1176  Re: Shrews

[2]     From:   Pete McCluskey <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 09:31:37 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   SHK 9.1159  Re: SHAKSPOP

[3]     From:   Paul Franssen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 10:19:42 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1161  Re: WT and Sheep


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 08:33:47 -0500
Subject: 9.1176  Re: Shrews
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1176  Re: Shrews

The discussion on Shrew and romance novels seems to warrant a reference
to a new novel, My Man Pendleton, which is apparently Shrew set in the
modern South.  Has anyone read this book?

Melissa D. Aaron
University of Michigan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pete McCluskey <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 09:31:37 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: SHAKSPOP
Comment:        SHK 9.1159  Re: SHAKSPOP

On the 1992 XTC album "Nonsuch," Colin Moulding's song "My Bird
Performs" contains the lines, "Shakespeare's sonnets leave me cold / The
drama stage and the high brow prose," while Andy Partridge's song
"Omnibus" (on the same album) states, "Ain't nothing in the world like a
black skinned girl / Make your Shakespeare hard and make your oyster
pearl."  (The latter song also sings the praises of white-skinned,
gold-skinned, and green-skinned girls.)

Ecstatically,
Pete McCluskey

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Franssen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 10:19:42 +0100
Subject: 9.1161  Re: WT and Sheep
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1161  Re: WT and Sheep

With regard to the proceeds to be derived from sheep, a small
qualification may be in order. I have been told that in the past sheep
(like people) were a lot smaller than they are now. At least, this was
the case in the eighteenth century, and it is hardly likely that they
shrunk after say 1600, to start growing again between 1800 and now. The
size of sheep would, I imagine, also affect the amount of wool they
produce, and definitely the amount of meat. Unfortunately, I only have
this information from hearsay, so I cannot refer the list to any
quotable sources.

Paul Franssen
Utrecht University
Department of English
The Netherlands

Re: Branagh

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1183  Friday, 20 November 1998.

[1]     From:   John Amos <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 23:57:12 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1177  Re: Branagh

[2]     From:   Hugh Grady <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 21:59:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1177  Re: Branagh


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Amos <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 23:57:12 +0000
Subject: 9.1177  Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1177  Re: Branagh

I completely agree with Ed Pixley's reading of Branagh's presentation
of  "How all occasions do inform against me..."  I too thought the scene
was a bit much at first, but the more times I've seen it, the more I've
come to think that Branagh's making a particular thematic point-that
he's not just showboating.  My wife has always claimed that Hamlet's
problem throughout the play is that he just doesn't understand how
insignificant he is (all of us are?).  He needs to accept Claudius'
advice at the beginning of the play, cruel as it sounds.  Fathers really
do die.  Death really is "the common theme" of all nature.  Why should
things be different for Hamlet.  Branagh's staging of the soliloquy just
before the intermission-with the camera beginning up close and gradually
backing up, causing Hamlet eventually to disappear into Fortinbras'
army-suggests that this is the speech in which he finally does decide to
do his duty, where he really does decide that he's just another man
living in a tragic world.

The idea that the scene is just there to hang the intermission on
doesn't make sense to me.  I remember sitting in the theater, knowing
there would be an intermission, and being surprised that it came so late
in the production...well past the half way point.  It was obvious to me
at the time that the director had chosen that speech to be the climactic
point in the play.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 21:59:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.1177  Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1177  Re: Branagh

Am I the only one who thought Branagh stole the panning shot of Hamlet
just before the intermission from Scarlett O'Hara's "I'll never be
hungry again" soliloquy.

Obviously I'm doing anything to keep from grading papers.

Best,
Hugh Grady

Date:         Wed, 25 Nov 1998 13:24:26 -0200
Reply-To:     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sender:       The Shakespeare Electronic Conference <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
From:         "Hardy M. Cook" <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Organization: Bowie State University
Subject: Interruption in Service
Comment:      SHK 9.1185  Interruption in Service
MIME-Version: 1.0
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Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1185  Wednesday, 25 November 1998.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, November 25, 1998
Subject:        Interruption in Service

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

Unix is unforgiving.  On Friday afternoon, I accidentally an operating
system file and essentially rendered my Sun workstation inoperable.

Because of bureaucratic hurdles that I need not go into, I was not able
to get the technical support to revive my Sun until a few minutes ago.

I will begin after my 2:00 Shakespeare class to catch up.

Let me point out, however, that some of the messages you have sent have
probably been queued for up to five days because my server could not be
found.  Other messages have probably been lost.  Watch carefully the
next few days and if a message you sent does not appear please resent
it.

Back in business,
Hardy

Re: Presentism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1181  Friday, 20 November 1998.

[1]     From:   R. D. H. Wells <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 14:47:08 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Presentism

[2]     From:   Karen E Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Nov 1998 10:39:57 +1000 (GMT+1000)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism

[3]     From:   Hugh Grady <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 21:54:47 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. D. H. Wells <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 14:47:08 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Presentism

Hugh Grady writes: 'I understand Prof. Hawkes has further wisdom for us
about this term'. I'm intrigued. Could Terry give those of us who won't
be able to get to the next SAA the benefit of that wisdom? Just a couple
of sentences? It's unlike him to be so reticent.

Robin Headlam Wells

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen E Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Nov 1998 10:39:57 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism

With regard to Bill Godshalk's latest comment on Terry Hawkes and
Presentism: does "for it" and "agin it" work when one is referring to a
description of a conceptual system?  (I'm honestly asking, rather than
trying to be clever)  I thought that the term "presentist" was being
used descriptively rather than as a statement of position.  If the term
is used discriptively, and if the term has been defined (and here, I
think, is where the problem in the current argument occurs) then one can
debate the definition, or whether the definition properly describes
something or someone.  But you can't be "for" or "against" any more than
you can be "for" or "against" the redness (redism?) of a particular
rose.  I also thought that Terry Hawkes was speaking ironically
(sarcastically?) in his earlier posting about the historians huddled
together for warmth in the wilds of Missouri.  Perhaps I was
mistaken...Mr. Godshalk seems to be getting rather tense about the whole
conversation.

Thank you, David Lindley, for a graceful and well-reasoned comment about
our approaches to the past.  Can I borrow it for use with my students?
Yours from the tropics...

Karen Peterson-Kranz
Department of English & Applied Linguistics
University of Guam

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 1998 21:54:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1173  Re: Clocks; Maps; Presentism

Presentism, re: David Lindley

But why assume that we're talking about a "simple-minded presentism" of
the sort that is an undergraduate's first take? Far from engaging in a
truism, raising consciousness about the role of the present in our
constructions of the past strikes me as very badly needed in an era in
Shakespeare studies now given over almost completely to historicist
assumptions. And while Stephen Greenblatt, Louis Montrose et al. are
hardly doing simple-minded historicism, their very success has resulted
in a widespread forgetting of the present's role in historical criticism
and an often simple-minded historicism!

I agree completely that one of the reasons to study Shakespeare and
other "old texts" is that they can challenge our own assumptions and
provide a reference to a world different from our own. But we can only
perform such a comparison by bringing a consciousness of the present
into our work of interpretation.

Best,
Hugh Grady

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