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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: Sonnets and Homosexuality
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0757  Thursday, 13 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Joe Shea <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 04:53:49 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755 Sonnets and Homosexuality

[2]     From:   Louis Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 07:33:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

[3]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 08:02:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

[4]     From:   Marilyn Bonomi <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 10:23:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

[5]     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 08:30:43 CST6CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

[6]     From:   Paul Sheppard <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 22:26:39 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

[7]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Aug 1998 17:18:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Shea <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 04:53:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 9.0755 Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755 Sonnets and Homosexuality

Has anyone ever thought that "makest waste on niggarding" and other
comments directed at the supposed youth could have been directed at
Shakespeare himself and be a polite reference to masturbation?  In
Sonnet I, especially, that seems almost self-evident to me.  It is
especially instructive, I think, that the sonnets about dousing love's
ember in the last sonnets reflect-particularly in the fact that they are
for the first time in all the sonnets, repetitive and thus by
psychological extension masturbatory-Shakespeare's movement from a sort
of self-loathing to a fatal (poetically) stalemate between his deepest
sexual needs and his inability to satisfy them with the person whom he
cursed in "I thought thee fair, and thought thee bright/Who was as dark
as hell, as black as night."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 07:33:38 -0500
Subject: 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

Does it matter?  Are the sonnets any less or more effective, artful,
person to person, for that determination?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 08:02:46 -0500
Subject: 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

See Pequigney, Joseph. Such is My Love: A Study of Shakespeare's
Sonnets. 1985.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn Bonomi <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 10:23:43 -0400
Subject: 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

WAS Shakespeare gay?  Given the propensity of GLBT people to migrate
into theatre as a career b/c of the opportunity to create and perform
within masks and disguises, the mere presence of homoerotic elements
doesn't offer much of a proof.  He could understand gay w/o being gay.

However, Sonnet 20 is pretty damned obviously a love note to a fellow
male, with its references to "the master-mistress of my passions" and
the closing couplet.  (I've written a paper using this poem as my
thesis, essentially, and demonstrating a strong homoerotic and
homosocial thread running through the plays.)

Here are two big questions, however:
1.      Is the order of the Sonnets Shakespeare's order or an editor's order?
Do they trace a love affair with a youth or do they merely describe
moments that someone other than the poet has shaped into a story?
2.      Whether or not there is a sequence, are the Sonnets personal
revelations or works of creative fiction, if you will, where the poet is
exploring potentialities and emotional possibilities in the way a novel
might?  I have a gay friend who has written incredibly moving
straight-love poems as well as equally moving gay-love poems, both about
imagined rather than real experiences.

Marilyn A. Bonomi

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 08:30:43 CST6CDT
Subject: 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

Oh, Carl, I think you're asking for it! My short and simple response,
based almost entirely on reading, memorizing, and teaching the sonnets,
is that it is quite possible that Shakespeare had an extremely intense,
real-life, homoerotic relationship with someone, and it may have
included a physical relationship. If you learn to speak the sonnets,
their passion is astonishing and they feel very personal. But I'm sure
many others will disagree.

Chris Gordon, who just learned #135

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Sheppard <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 22:26:39 EDT
Subject: 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

The Sonnets are, plain and simple, the pinnacle of poetry in the English
language. They achieve, within a most precise and demanding form,  a
sublime originality.

As for Shakespeare's sexual preferences, I would rather eschew the
pathetic fallacy than worry too much about that.  Whoever the speaker of
these poems is, the love he describes defies conventions or the lack
thereof.  Sonnet 40 seems especially apt.

Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.
Then if for my love, thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blam'd, if thou thyself deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty;
And yet, love knows, it is a greater grief
To bear love's wrong, than hate's known injury.
    Lascivious grace, in whom all ill wells shows,
    Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.

What sort of love is he talking about here? Or rather, what sorts?  And
which of these is what the speaker really holds dear?

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Aug 1998 17:18:28 -0400
Subject: 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0755  Sonnets and Homosexuality

If Carl absolutely can't bear to think of Will as AC/DC, there might be
an arguable wiggle in the master-mistress sonnet. 14 feminine endings?
There's a major private joke there, we just have no idea what the joke
is-but it makes me feel queasy about taking anything it says or hints
for true.

However, other language throughout the plays shows a very thorough
knowledge of the puns of buggery-but then, he also knew a lot about
hawking and a bunch of other odd assorted stuff. Intimate personal
knowledge or really good research? Will we ever know?
 

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