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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Touchstone on the Lie
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0305  Tuesday, 23 February 1999.

[1]     From:   M. W. McRae" <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Feb 1999 11:07:13 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie

[2]     From:   Tom Bishop <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Feb 1999 13:51:17 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie

[3]     From:   Ray Lischner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Feb 1999 05:58:46 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M. W. McRae" <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Feb 1999 11:07:13 -0600
Subject: 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie

>In a college production I'm working with, the actor playing Touchstone
>asked a really good question: what's the difference among the lie, the
>lie circumstantial, and the lie direct? A quick survey of notes in
>various edition (including the Variorum) discovered little help. I
>welcome any efforts to explain why saying "you lie" (the fifth degree)
>doesn't lead immediately to a challenge.
>
>And, by the way, our actor is finding Touchstone to be very funny. So
>are the rest of the cast.
>
>Bill Kemp
>(not, as far as I know, related to the actor who quit Shakespeare's
>company to perform a publicity stunt).

You should find Steven Shapin's A Social History of Truth to be
helpful.  The various ways in which a gentleman could lie are one of
Shapin's topics in this fascinating, richly-detailed, and provocative
analysis of the connections between veracity and social status in early
modern Europe.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Feb 1999 13:51:17 -0500
Subject: 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie

Bill Kemp, of all people, asks us, apropos of Touchstone:

>to explain why saying "you lie" (the fifth degree)
>doesn't lead immediately to a challenge.

The fifth degree does not actually involve saying "you lie". It says "If
you were to say x, I would say 'you lie' " (The Countercheck
Quarrelsome).  The Lie Circumstantial, though not explicitly detailed,
presumably involves some similar loophole, perhaps a change of mood ("If
you say, I will") . As Touchstone himself explains, you may avoid even
the Lie Direct, both parties being willing, with an "If".  Romeo's
attempt to evade Tybalt's insults offers one instance of this kind of
avoidance behaviour. Not that it does any good, one of the parties
pointedly not being willin'.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Lischner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Feb 1999 05:58:46 GMT
Subject: 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0299 Touchstone on the Lie

>In a college production I'm working with, the actor playing Touchstone
>asked a really good question: what's the difference among the lie, the
>lie circumstantial, and the lie direct?

Take a look at modern politicians. They are masters of the various
levels of lying. "I never slept with that woman." "I am not a crook."
Look at what they say to each other and how they say it. It's quite
remarkable how closely politicians hew to Touchstone's categories.

Ray Lischner  (http://www.bardware.com)
co-author (with John Doyle) of Shakespeare for Dummies
 

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