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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Assorted Responses to Past Postings
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0456  Monday, 15 March 1999.

 [1]    From:   Melissa D. Aaron <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Mar 1999 09:58:02 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0436 Re: Double Negatives

[2]     From:   Eric Luhrs <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Mar 1999 11:07:16 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: several messages

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Mar 1999 13:20:51 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Firsts

[4]     From:   Maijan H. Al-Ruwaili <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 Mar 1999 03:10:38 +0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0447 Re: Iago

[5]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Sunday, 14 Mar 1999 17:09:13 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0447 Re: Marriage Age

[6]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Sun, 14 Mar 1999 00:41:21 -0600
        Subj:   seven deadlies

[7]     From:   Werner Bronnimann <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 Mar 1999 12:40:55 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0440 You and Thou

[8]     From:   Mariann T. Woodward <
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        Date:   Sunday, 14 Mar 1999 14:40:00 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER, DVD and DIVX


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Mar 1999 09:58:02 -0500
Subject: 10.0436 Re: Double Negatives
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0436 Re: Double Negatives

>In one of those strange kind of sortes Virgilianae I came across this
>from Sidney's Astrophil and Stella of the sixteenth century:
>
> LXIII
>
>     O grammer-rules, O now your vertues show;
>     So children still reade you with awfull eyes,
>     As my young doue may, in your precepts wise,
>     Her graunt to me by her owne vertue know:
>     For late, with heart most hie, with eyes most lowe,
>     I crau'd the thing which euer she denies;
>     Shee, lightning loue, displaying Venus skies,
>     Least once should not be heard, twise said, No, no.
>     Sing then, my Muse, now Io Pfn sing;
>     Heau'ns enuy not at my high triumphing,
>     But grammers force with sweete successe confirme:
>     For grammer says, (O this, deare Stella , say,)
>     For grammer sayes, (to grammer who sayes nay?)
>     That in one speech two negatiues affirme!

You'll notice also in the Fourth song, Stella's refrain is "No, no, no,
no, my Deare, let be."  By these grammatical rules, she is really saying
"Yes, yes" (and I here must acknowledge my former teacher Andrew Weiner
for pointing this out to me.)

Melissa D. Aaron
University of Michigan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric Luhrs <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Mar 1999 11:07:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: several messages

>From:           Terence Hawkes <
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>What's wrong with 'Shakespeare in Love' is that it rests on and fosters
>two deeply corrupting presuppositions: that writers write most
>powerfully about what they personally 'feel', and that art's primary
>concern is to express the 'personality' of the artist.
>
>From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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>Even the most cursory study of the lives of great artists should show
>that the best art does indeed arise from what Terrence Hawkes calls
>these "deeply corrupting presuppostions," namely that great art arises
>from personal experience, and that artists write (paint, compose,
>choreograph) with most credibility and passion when they are dealing
>with personal issues.

This reminds me of T.S. Eliot's thoughts in "Tradition and the
Individual Talent" where he says: "Poetry is not the turning loose of
emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of
personality, but an escape from personality."

>From:           Gabriel Egan <
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>>Science, IF read right, has much to tell us. One of the
>>things it insists upon is that you can't get something from nothing
>
>In a vacuum a proton/anti-proton pair will spontaneously appear and move
>away from one another.  While the total energy will remain nil (since
>they cancel each other out) you certainly can get two somethings from
>nothing.

Gabriel Egon's comment reminded me of another passage from the same
Eliot essay (sorry for such a long quote):

        "I, therefore, invite you to consider, as a suggestive analogy,
        the action which takes place when a bit of finely filiated
        platinum is introduced into a chamber containing oxygen and
        sulphur dioxide. . . .  When the two gases previously mentioned
        are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form
        sulphurous acid.  This combination takes place only if the
        platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains
        no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently
        unaffected; had remained inert, neutral, and unchanged.  The
mind
        of the poet is the shred of platinum.  It may partly or
        exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but,
        the more perfect the artist, the more completely
        separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which
        creates, the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute
the
        passions which are its material. . . .  The poet's mind is in
fact
        a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings,
        phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles
which
        can unite to form a new compound are present together."

I tend to agree with what (I think) Terence Hawkes means, and also with
T.S. Eliot.  Even though one's experiences do shape their perception,
the best art is separate from the creator's emotion and personality .

  Eric Luhrs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Mar 1999 13:20:51 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare's Firsts

To say, as Peter Hadorn does, that R&J was the first depiction of
romantic love may be too limiting.  It seems to have been the first
melodrama.  Can someone think of another?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Maijan H. Al-Ruwaili <
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Date:           Saturday, 13 Mar 1999 03:10:38 +0300
Subject: 10.0447 Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0447 Re: Iago

>Sean Lawrence (Re: SHK 10.0435 Re: Iago) wrote:
>
>The whole question of Shakespeare's military world calls for more study.  But in
>any case, Cassio's eventual failure at wielding actual command doesn't mean that
>he didn't seem a logical choice at the time of his appointment.  Nor does it
>mean that he got the job for being Othello's postman.

Only in terms of favoritism can Cassio be a logical choice. Iago's
statement to Montano about Cassio being "a soldier fit to stand by
Caesar/ and give direction" emphasizes his bookishness and its
seriousness is immediately undermined by the fact that Montano, who
served with Othello, does not know him. The brawl scene not only
confirms Iago's assessment but also receives enough weight to be staged.
The incident, in theatrical terms, has enough weight on the stage not
only to convince the audience, show Othello's firm fulfillment of his
duty, but to undermine Cassio's soldiership. Othello tells us that
Cassio has been the lovers' "postman," to use your term. In Renaissance
terms, Cassio has fulfilled the function of the marriage mediator. All
this dramatize Desdemona's attempts to influence Othello to reinstate
him. Her statement in III,iv, 84-86 becomes poignant: "-A man that all
his time/ Hath founded his good fortunes on your love,/ Shared dangers
with you." Thus Cassio owes his soldiership-good fortunes-to Othello's
love. The dangers, since he is bookish and Arithmetician, would seem to
be those incurred by being a postman. Had Cassio been found, he would
probably have lost his social status. His theoric skill explains his
show of ignorance of the elopement and of Othello's marriage (I,ii, 52).
The play has no evidence of his previous participation in army
campaigns. Even Desdemona provides no reason other than Othello's
preferment and love:  Othello "loves [Cassio]" and "needs no other
suitor  but his [Othello's] likings." Such statements only confirm
Iago's frustration with the curse of the service.

Desdemona's recalling Cassio's love to Othello brings to mind a series
of similar events. Iago, for example, says "I'll have our Michael Cassio
on the hip..." for a good reason: "Make the Moor thank me, love and
reward me" just as Othello loved Cassio and rewarded him (Iago proved
right). Othello in fact falls for it: "I greet thy [Iago's] love,/ Not
with vain thanks, but with acceptance bounteous." That is exactly what
Cassio has earlier feared: "being absent any my place supplied/ My
general will forget my love and service." Iago succeeds; in III,iii, 475
Othello states "Now thou [Iago] art my lieutenant" for the very reason
that motivated Othello's first choice of Cassio over Iago. One should
bear in mind that Othello did not offer Iago the lieutenancy until Iago
promised to "serve" Othello's cause: Kill Cassio. The whole tragedy is
summed up in Emilia's:
"I'll be hanged if some eternal villain/ Some busy and insinuating
rogue/ Some cogging, cozening slave to get some OFFICE/ Have not devised
this slander."(IV,ii, 130-33).

>I can't find a reference to seizing his property until almost the last line of
>the play, by which point it's justified on the grounds that Othello is dead.
>The Riverside footnotes "Gratiano keep the house" by defining "keep" as "remain
>in," presumably to guard the evidence and keep off sight-seers until the bodies
>can be disposed of.  So I'm not even sure that Othello owns the place, or has
>any sort of investment in Cyprus.

Gratiano inherits whatever is Othello's and Desdemona's because
Brabantio is dead.  Therefore the lines run: "Gratiano, keep the house/
And seize upon the fortune of the Moor,/ For they succeed on you." While
these lines emphasize the hunt for profit, they also provide a form of
restoration. As for guarding against sight-seers, there are others who
could do that. It would not look right for Gratiano to do so. To the
Governor, for example, the custody of Iago is relegated.  Again, the
point is perhaps how everybody is interested in profiting. The play
itself opens with the purse of Roderigo and closes with Gratiano owning
the fortunes of the Moor (presumably after he had already inherited
Brabantio's).  Othello does not have an investment in Cyprus; but he
must have certain fortunes (spoils of the war).

>If Iago is correct in claiming that "he goes into Mauritania and taketh away
>with him the fair Desdemona" (4.2.224-225), then he can continue his military
>career and marriage unabated by his transfer.

The statement is made to Roderigo to motivate him to get rid of Cassio
so that the Moor "be lingered here" further. For me, the statement
serves Iago's purposes and is used to push Roderigo to take desperate
action.

>I think it's too strong to say that it doesn't "make him [Othello] any
>different".

That is true. But he does not seem that innocent either.

>As I argued in a posting that seems to have helped start this thread,
>inconsistency doesn't imply ill-will.  Neither do all mixed motives imply
>alterior motives.  We needn't say that Othello didn't love Desdemona, or that
>he's only interested in her as land in order to accept that he also sees her as
>land, perhaps even subconsciously.

This is certainly true. Othello does love Desdemona. However, it is not
the love that Othello wants us to believe nor is it that love many
critics have argued for.  It would seem that the social-political
background have shadowed the love theme.  Certain motifs of love (Iago/
Roderigo; Cassio/ Othello; Brabantio/ Othello; Iago/ Othello, etc...)
seem to comment on and anticipate the failure of the main love theme
(Othello/ Desdemona). Lofty as Othello's love wishes to be, it is
materialistically wrapped and presented. Even Desdemona subscribes to
this tendency. In IV,iii, 67-68 Emilia blames Desdemona for shunning
"the whole world" which is "a great price/ For a small vice." At its
place, this statement reminds us of Desdemona's grief over her lost
handkerchief, the token of her love, where she finds nothing other than
the "Portuguese gold coins at the value of three shillings" to emphasize
its importance: "I had rather lose my purse/ Full of crusadoes" (III,
iv, 20).

Best wishes,
Maijan

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Sunday, 14 Mar 1999 17:09:13 -0600
Subject: 10.0447 Re: Marriage Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0447 Re: Marriage Age

Sources for this view of typical late age of marriage in early modern
England, now commonly held among historians so far as I know, can be
found in relevant discussions of marriage in:

1. Ralph Houlbrooke, The English Family, 1450-1700: 63ff.

2. Keith Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680: 68ff.

Frank Whigham

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Sun, 14 Mar 1999 00:41:21 -0600
Subject:        seven deadlies

Marti Markus and Larry Weiss ask about correspondence between the seven
deadly sins and a series of Shn tragedies. And Lisa Hopkins speculates
about Marlowe in these terms. Pleasant to speculate about these things,
but bear in mind that Antony and Cleopatra is not just about lust, but
also about sloth ("the beds in Egypt are soft") and gluttony (8 oxen at
a breakfast).  Sh.  consciously contrived this conjunction as Leeds
Barroll pointed out in "Antony and Pleasure"  JEGP 57 (1958): 708-20
because he altered Plutarch to make it happen.  Gluttony, sloth, and
lechery were a trio of deadly sins called together "pleasure" and
sometimes brought on together in medieval pageantry or theater (See also
Faerie Queene Bk. I? and Dr. Faustus) because all three are sins of the
flesh, not, like pride and envy etc. which are sins of the intellect
and/or will.  I once asked a student in a u.g.  class during discussion
to explain why Shakespeare's audience would expect the three to be
together.  The prize-winning answer came back "Well you eat and drink
too much and that makes you lazy so you go to bed and while you are
there . . ." and his voice faltered as hearty laughter shook the room.
I have sometimes wondered whether the students in that class remembered
later the rationale of the concatenation of the 3 carnal vices or
whether the student's untheological interpretation is what lingers in
the mind . . .  In short, the problem is more complex than the solution
proposed;  Ant. is proof positive that the moral design of a
Shakespearian play is more complex than single vices can account for.

Cheers,
John V.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Werner Bronnimann <
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Date:           Saturday, 13 Mar 1999 12:40:55 +0000
Subject: 10.0440 You and Thou
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0440 You and Thou

>While translating some passages from Shakespeare's plays, I find the
>change of pronoun from "we" to "I" or "you" to "thou," and vice versa,
>significant.  For example, Claudius in his soliloquy that ends 4.3
>switches from first person singular to plural and back in correspondence
>to his awareness of his position as King  or private self.  And in
>"R&J", 2.4.45-91, Mercutio uses "you" and "thou" with Romeo to indicate
>different degrees of fellowship (e.g. "You gave us the counterfeit
>fairly last night," "Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo").  I'd
>be grateful if anyone can direct me to any works done in the area of
>Shakespeare's use of pronouns.
>
>Regards,
>Ching-Hsi Perng

Dear Ching-Hsi,

I hope you do not mind my thouing thee by addressing you with your first
name (in my native language you cannot address anyone with his or her
first name without simultaneously switching the grammatical system to
the distinctly different second person singular.  This explains why it
is easier to be informal in English, and why it is easier to fire Harry
or Sally , who have not come grammatically closer to the boss, than
Hanni or Hans).  In our project of an English-German study edition of
Shakespeare's dramatic works (Englisch-deutsche Studienausgabe der
Dramen Shakespeares) we often consult the following studies on the
switches between you and thou: Wilhelm Franz, Die Sprache Shakespeares,
T

 

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