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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: Hedge; B and F; Allegory;
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0641  Thursday, 8 April 1999.

[1]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 12:28:00 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0608 Re: Limes; Hedge-Priest; Martext

[2]     From:   Jill Holslin <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 11:30:38 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0617, editions of Beaumont & Fletcher

[3]     From:   Gavin H Witt <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Apr 99 16:51:30 CDT
        Subj:   Re: Allegory

[4]     From:   Moira Russell <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 22:13:37 -0700
        Subj:   A Hawk is Really a Handsaw


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 12:28:00 -0400
Subject: 10.0608 Re: Limes; Hedge-Priest; Martext
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0608 Re: Limes; Hedge-Priest; Martext

Robert Burke SJ wants us to gloss "hedge-priest" by looking at Brian
Friel's splendid Translations, "where you find a hedge-schoolmaster.
Since the English government forbade the Irish to be educated, those who
wished to be had to attend illegal schools, frequently run by
ex-priests, who had been educated in France, then left the priesthood."
But Friel's account of early C19 Anglo-Irish relations runs counter to
the clear implications of the term in Shakespeare: Friel's teacher is a
truly educated man, who has his barefoot but not actually backward Irish
students construing Homer and talking about Plato with verve and point,
not a semi-literate parson ordained so as to provide baptisms,
marriages, and burials to people in districts too poor and/or remote to
support the services of a fully-trained clergyman working out of an
active parish church, or too poor to pay the tithes and fees expected by
such clergy.

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jill Holslin <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 11:30:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 10.0617, editions of Beaumont & Fletcher
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0617, editions of Beaumont & Fletcher

Dear Shakespeareans,

I have also recently been searching for new Beaumont & Fletcher
editions, and haven't found anything out there.   The book exhibits at
last weekend's Shakespeare Assn. Conference led me mostly to new
paperback editions of Shakespeare, and more Shakespeare, with nice new
cover art, and old (but valuable) introductions.   Routledge has a
series called the "Globe Quartos," and they appear to be offering some
of the non-canonical plays.  And Anthony Parr recently edited a volume
called _Three Renaissance Travel Plays_ (St. Martin's Press, late
1990s), but alas, the volume is only available in expensive hardback.
You might consult Anthony Parr about the possibilities of putting out
editions of non-canonical plays.

I gather that Boston University AND the Folger Theatre are both
producing Knight of the Burning Pestle this spring, so there's hope in
that.

Cheers,
Jill Holslin, Dept. of  Literature
University of California, San Diego

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gavin H Witt <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Apr 99 16:51:30 CDT
Subject:        Re: Allegory

Regarding the recent posting

>In Twelfth Night, Viola says that she will pose as a eunuch and be a
>messenger from Orsino to Olivia's court.  My question is this: Does
>Olivia see Viola/Caesario as a eunuch, or just as a handsome young boy?
>If the former is so, why does Olivia fall for him/her so quickly.
>What's the attraction?  It obviously can't be sexual.

I think that this discrepancy is one of the reasons that some think
Shakespeare changed the plot of the play while writing.  You will also
note that Olivia says (in the same speech) that she "can sing, and speak
to him in many sorts of music," but when Orsino requests a song of her
later (II.iv), Curio says, "He is not here, so please you that should
sing it...".....

Stephen Orgel's recent, and quite marvelous, Impersonations considers
issues of Viola's choice of Cesario/eunuch as a disguise, many of them
seemingly overlooked in critical or theatrical approaches to the play
until now.  This is a work that has come up fairly often of late in
regard to postings on a number of subjects, but it seems worth pointing
to again (he pairs his consideration of Viola/Cesario with one of
Rosalind/Ganymede).  Hope this sheds some light on Olivia's perception
of Viola, and an audience's reception of her perception.  As with the
recent thread about when/how Feste knows or doesn't that Viola is no
"boy", the recent film of 12Night explores Orsino's reactions to the
androgynous boy serving him so lovingly...

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Moira Russell <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 22:13:37 -0700
Subject:        A Hawk is Really a Handsaw

Mr. Clifford Stetner wrote:

>I wish to comment on my original
>reference to the allegory I perceive in The Merchant of Venice.  Its
>most blatant expression is in the three caskets trial....

<snip>

>.... both the three caskets and the ring bond were
>taken from folk tales which Shakespeare either combined himself, or
>found together.

While I am a little uncertain about Mr. Stetner's use of the word
"allegory" as being equivalent, apparently, to "folk tale" (or fable?
myth?  -- perhaps we need to define "allegory" a bit more) I would like
to jump in to add something about the caskets scene.  I have read a
rather large amount of fairy tale collections, from all lands, and the
motif of a choice between three objects-usually bronze, gold, and
silver-is repeated often.  For instance, in one tale about a knight
seeking a priceless sword, he finds the sword but then has to choose the
scabbard-a broken-down leather one, a finely worked silver one, or a
beautiful gold-plated jewel-crusted one.  He chooses the finest
scabbard.  Nasty things happen to him.  The numbers may vary (although
the number three has a potent presence in fairy tales), but the motif of
the broken-down scabbard, or cup, or plate, etc., being the one which
actually has the truest value, has been popular for quite a number of
centuries.  It predates the Reformation by-well, a while.  If it is
indeed allegorical, it may be referring to something other than the
Reformation.

I must at this point insert our rapidly customary culpa that I can't
find my source books-because we have just within the past few weeks
moved cross-country and my library is now packed away and stored in my
parents' garage.

As a nice example of the deep resonance this tiny allegory has, it was
even used in the adventure movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom",
where Indiana Jones must choose the Holy Grail from among a huge
collection of beautiful cups.  He logically deduces that the cup of a
simple carpenter is made of clay, and is the Grail, but if Indiana Jones
had read some fairy stories during his youth he would have known which
cup to go for immediately!  This allegory does have obvious Christian
connotations (the treasure of this world is as dust, the stone the
builders rejected has become the head of the corner, those who were last
shall then be first, rejection of worldly wealth, etc. etc. etc.) but it
is not necessarily limited to just a Christian meaning.

>While one may argue against my explication of the
>allegory underlying this comedy as expressive of the spiritual struggle
>of the English Reformation, the three caskets folk tale is explicitly
>allegorical.  Either Shakespeare includes it for its narrative and
>dramatic value, or he uses it as a vehicle for allegory.

Not to quibble, but couldn't it be used for ~both~?  You seem to be
saying here that it is either/or-a scene is ~either~ dramatic, ~or~ a
vehicle for a meaning where A is really B and whatever narrative
fripperies may exist beside that translation are mere furbelows.  One
can say "Othello" is "really" about jealousy and the disastrous result
of not being able to trust in love, and it's also a rattling good
story;  "Oedipus Rex" is "really" about keeping the old ways of the
gods, and it's one of the most dramatic plays ever written.  While
certain contemporary references may be included, in somewhat coded form,
in plays by authors from Shakespeare to Stoppard, I think it is futile,
and perhaps even dangerous, to reduce them to a kind of crossword puzzle
where, say, the Grocer's mounting the stage during the "Knight of the
Burning Pestle" becomes a metaphor for that author's support of grocer's
unions, or something of the kind.  Authors are born, live, write and die
within a particular limited time, but their stories must eventually
stand on their own as stories, able to be read and enjoyed in any time.

If the allegorical interpretation of valuing something for its inner
worth, not its outer appearance, stands, I personally think this is more
profitable applied to Shylock, who, in his famous appeal ("Hath not a
Jew...." etc.) wants to prove that he has the same interior emotions and
reactions that Gentiles do-his humanity is proved by his inner worth, or
the inner similarity all human beings possess, not external or
conventional appearances.

Moira Russell
Seattle, WA
 

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