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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Observations of Bedlam
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0835  Monday, 14 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Frances Barasch <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Sep 1998 10:12:54 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

[2]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Sep 1998 12:11:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0831 New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

[3]     From:   Alison Horton <
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        Date:   Saturday, 12 Sep 1998 09:00:46 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

[4]     From:   H. R. Greenberg <
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        Date:   Saturday, 12 Sep 1998 22:46:21 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frances Barasch <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Sep 1998 10:12:54 EDT
Subject: 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

To Roy Flanagan: madness in Continental theatre was standard fare.  See
Flaminio Scala's "Scenarios", tr. Salerno (NY: Limelight, 1989).
Frances Barasch

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Sep 1998 12:11:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0831 New Thread: Observations of Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0831 New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

Regarding Bedlam: There's a study of Bedlam that Mr. Flannagan might
find useful: Robert Rentoul Reed, Jr. Bedlam on the Jacobean Stage.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard U P, 1952. More recently Christopher Hill makes
the point that those who go to madhouses in the 17th century may seek to
hear those who are divinely (or demonically) possessed because the
visitors seek enlightment not a good laugh: Christopher Hill. The World
Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution. N.Y.:
Penguin. 1978 Finally the best history that I know of remains Edward
Geoffrey O'Donoghue. The Story of Bethlehem Hospital from Its Foundation
in 1247. London: Unwin, 1912

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alison Horton <
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Date:           Saturday, 12 Sep 1998 09:00:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

Roy

It is historical fact that it was a pretty popular pastime to give the
keeper of Bethlehem Hospital (I forget his official title) some money
and take a stroll through the place gawking, giggling, and guffawing at
the antics of the insane chained to the walls. According to Russell
Fraser ("Shakespeare's Later years"), in the 1590s Shakespeare lived in
Bishopsgate where Bedlam was. I believe Shakespeare moved back to this
district later and about the time he was writing Lear. If you want to
find the spot now, go to the pub at the Liverpoole Street station in
London. The area was bombed pretty heavily in WW2 but you will find part
of the Bethlehem church still there. If you go to the Bishopsgate
library (directly across from the tube) and enquire, you will be handed
a very old A to Zed in which you can look up the addresses in the 1570
Plan of London map while the entire staff scours the library looking for
passages (they don't just hand you a book, it's usually opened to the
page and they'll point to the appropriate paragraph) that could possibly
help.

I've read the horrid accounts of people taking the tour but I'm sorry I
can't remember in which book.

Alison Horton

P.S. I wouldn't spend too much time looking at the map Fraser provides.
It seems to be of Aldersgate and not Bishopsgate. If you do want to see
the section for Bishopsgate, with Bethlehem Hospital fairly clearly
marked, I can xerox it and mail it to you.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H. R. Greenberg <
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Date:           Saturday, 12 Sep 1998 22:46:21 EDT
Subject: 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0831  New Thread: Observations of Bedlam

I cannot give you chapter and verse, but the hospital did exist and for
a small amount of change you could see the lunatics. I do not know if
Shakespeare himself could have visited Bedlam, or if the arrangement
above existed at his time-it certainly existed later.

The usual theories of madness would be related I believe to humoral
imbalance from a medical point of view  and witchcraft sorcery or
possession from a theological point of view  in this context there was
nonetheless some reasonably subtle observation at least from a
phenomenological point of view malingering was recognized as such i do
believe   im sure that anyone well versed in the history of
psychiatry-as i unfortunatley am not-can help you try calling or the
webpage of the American Psychiatric Association- they usually have a
list of experts on one subject or another.

You can also write to my friend Dr Benjamin Sadock at NYU-Bellevue
Medical Center in NYC. He edits the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry
and might know a reliable source.

Best  hrg md endit
 

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