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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Upstart Crow, etc.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0240  Friday, 12 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Stevie Simkin <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 14:13:17 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0235 Re: Upstart Crow

[2]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 09:15:53 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0235 Re: Upstart Crow

[3]     From:   Pete McCluskey <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 11:29:55 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Groundlings, Upstarts, and the Man in Black


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Simkin <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 14:13:17 +0000
Subject: 10.0235 Re: Upstart Crow
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0235 Re: Upstart Crow

Stephanie Hughes wrote:

>You're right about Kidde/Kyd, if Kyd is indeed the one Nashe was
>referring to. I overstated the case. As for "Merlin's race," I don't get
>it. Anyway, your point is apt.

That would be Marlowe (aka Marley, Morley, Marlin, Merlin, etc.)  Merlin
would have been pronounced as Marlin by the Elizabethans, and Marlin was
a form of his name that was particularly familiar in Cambridge, where
the two men had previously been acquainted.

Before the Groatsworth reference, Greene  had already made an
envy-fueled attack on Tamburlaine in his Perimedes the Blacksmith
(1588).  In Groatsworth, he talks of  "daring God out of heaven with
that atheist Tamburlan, or blaspheming with the mad priest of the sun",
cleverly associating, even identifying, Marlowe's opinions with those of
his character Tamburlaine's: Marlowe and Tamburlaine, he suggests, are
both blasphemers.  Greene actually associates Marlowe not only with
atheism but also accuses him of being in thrall to the philosophy of
Machiavelli, and we all know what people thought of him back then....

Stevie Simkin

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 09:15:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0235 Re: Upstart Crow
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0235 Re: Upstart Crow

Shaking the Scene

I had always assumed, doubtless romantically, that "Shake-scene" carried
with it the sense of ham acting as in the German term "Kulissenreisser"
[lit. "ripper of the wings"]. As one whose very first professional
appearance as the Bailie in "Johnnie Jouk The Gibbet" on tour in Elgin
on a cold Scots evening in 1959 was marred and marked by my knocking
over a fireplace-flat on myself because of an excess of physical
emotion, I liked to think that actor Shakespeare got carried away with
the verbal baroquetry of "Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast"
while his feet shook the trapdoor on which he stood to deliver some of
the best lines he wrote.

I am of course also reminded in this "Shake-scene" word of Sir Donald
Wolfit's tugging on the act-drop during his carefully choreographed
curtain calls. Audiences, despite the grieving of the judicious, have
clearly adored such shaking. One only has to think of Liberace [see
Michael Bristol's brilliant Big Time Shakespeare or-if one dare place
the two artists in the same sentence, Geraldine Page onstage in the
excessive moods which held her listeners, rightly or wrongly,
spellbound.  The very control of, say, Derek Jacobi's Claudius for
Branagh's film is itself scene-shaking in its intensity.

Obviously, I am going in the direction of saying that Performance or
writing that does not shake scenes lacks an ingredient essential to art.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pete McCluskey <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 11:29:55 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Groundlings, Upstarts, and the Man in Black

Concerning the Crow:

Kevin Donovan writes, "In reply to Stephanie Hughes's assertion that
"nobody is ever referred to by name" in satirical pamphlets like
Greene's Groatsworth, how is the transparent disguise of Shakespeare's
name as "Shake-scene" different from Nashe's reference to "the Kidde in
Aesop" in the epistle "To the Gentlemen Students..."?  Or Greene's gibe
at "such mad and scoffing poets that have prophetical spirits as bred of
Merlin's race"?"

Similarly, Nashe disparaged Thomas Deloney by name, calling him "the
Balletting Silke-Weaver" (in "Have With You to Saffron-Walden").
Perhaps more significantly, Greene, writing as Cuthbert Cony-catcher,
attacks his own pamphlets as hack work worthy of Deloney: "Such triuiall
trinkets and threedbare trash, had better seemed T.D. whose braines
beaten to the yarking vp of Ballades..." ("The Defence of Cony-Catching"
[1592]).  Doubtless there are other examples of pamphleteers naming
names as well.

Concerning Groundlings et al.:

If apprentices were not regular play-goers, why did the civic and state
authorities repeatedly mention them as such?  For instance, on 23 June
1592, the Privy Council closed the theatres (specifically mentioning the
Theatre and the Curtain) and banned other "unlawfull or forbidden
pastymes that drawe together the baser sorts of people."  Chambers
argues that the this order was prompted by a disorder caused by
apprentice feltworkers in Southwark, a disorder reportedly beginning at
a playhouse (_Eliza. Stage_ 4:310-11).  Also that year the Lord Mayor of
London wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury that "the youth thearof is
greatly corrupted . .  . [by] wanton & prophane devizes represented on
the stage" (Chambers, Eliza. Stage 4:307).  These and other documents of
control printed by Chambers suggest that apprentices could and did
frequent the playhouses.

Finally, Concerning the Man in Black:

A Johnny Cash web site claims that "June [Carter] got the idea for [the
song] 'Ring of Fire' out of a book of Elizabethan poetry."  Does anyone
recognize this phrase?  (The song was originally entitled "Love's Ring
of Fire.")  Johnny Cash, Nashville Petrarchan!

Pedantically,
Pete McCluskey
 

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