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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: Cordelia and the Fool
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1796  Saturday, 23 October 1999.

[1]     From:   Carl Fortunato <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Oct 1999 13:17:14 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1789 Re: Cordelia and the Fool

[2]     From:   Lucia Anna Setari <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Oct 1999 11:54:09 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1789 Re: Cordelia and the Fool

[3]     From:   Syd Kasten <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Oct 1999 15:21:26 +0200 (IST)
        Subj:   Cordelia and the Fool SHK 10.1775


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Oct 1999 13:17:14 EDT
Subject: 10.1789 Re: Cordelia and the Fool
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1789 Re: Cordelia and the Fool

>Given the constraints of the company, and the ease with which Cordelia
>and the Fool can be doubled (neither being on stage at the same time),
>wouldn't this be most likely what would have been done in the original
>production?
>
>Robin Hamilton

It has been speculated that that was the case and that Robert Armin
played both parts.  Under that idea, the Fool's closing line: "And I'll
to bed at noon," would be delivered apologetically, for the necessity of
leaving the play early (it WOULD explains the Fool's abrupt departure),
and it would add great irony to Lear's "And my poor fool is hang'd!"  It
also adds some humor to the mention that the Fool has much pined since
Cordelia's departure.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lucia Anna Setari <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Oct 1999 11:54:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 10.1789 Re: Cordelia and the Fool
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1789 Re: Cordelia and the Fool

At this regard, I think that the following comment of Giorgio Strehler
may be interesting ("Il Re lear di Shakespeare", Verona, 1973):

"If we admit that the boy-actor was the same in Shakespeare's time, what
could happen on stage?  (...)Should the audience 'recognize' Cordelia in
the Fool and in the ending vice versa? Probably they recognized only
'something', some timbres of voice, some 'inalienable' peculiarity and
nothing more... But they must have recognized a mysterious, impalpable
'link'."

Kind regards
Lucia Anna S.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Syd Kasten <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Oct 1999 15:21:26 +0200 (IST)
Subject: the Fool SHK 10.1775
Comment:        Cordelia and the Fool SHK 10.1775

Lucia Anna Setari's comments:

>In the King Lear directed by Giorgio Strehler  in Milano (1972 or 73, I
>don't remember exactly) the actress (Ottavia Piccolo) plaied both
>Cordelia and the Fool.
>
>"And my poor fool is hang'd!"
>
>It was exciting and moving.
>

imply that she was there.

I wonder if she remembers how the director succeeded in keeping the
audience from concluding that the Fool was Cordelia in disguise, come
back to Britain to protect her father from her wicked sisters.  Or did
her excitement derive from an alternative (and to my mind, more moving)
reading of the play?

Some two and a half years ago there was a lively discussion on the list
addressing the issue of the Fool's and Cordelia's identity, argued
especially cogently by Robert Marks.  I have appended the following
sample; the SHAKSPER Search facility will reveal more of an enjoyable
debate.

Best wishes,
Syd Kasten

>From:           Robert G. Marks <
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>Date:           Wednesday, 09 Apr 1997 23:39:39 -0700
>Subject:        Speech Prefixes in "Lear" Cordelia, the Fool.
>
>I was delighted to read Greg McSweeney's response to my earlier post on
>variations in the Q and F for _Lear_. I particularly liked his
>description of how the Fool drops out of the play "sans glory, sans
>thanks, sans any acknowledgment of the crucial palliation he's provided
>the king's downward spiral."
>
>I liked it because, as I believe that the Fool was really Cordelia in
>disguise, for me these words apply to her, and our failure to
>acknowledge her service to her father. I believe that she was the Fool
>and that the original audience, King James I, would have seen her going
>to heaven, at her death, to receive her Heavenly Father's reward in
>fulfillment of Matthew 6:1-4, which says in part,
>        when thou doest almes, let not thy left hand know,
>        what they right doeth: That thine almes may be in secret:
>        And thy father which seeth in secret, himself shall
>        reward thee openly.
>
>That this principle was highly valued by James I can be seen from this
>excerpt from his _Basilikon Doron_:
>        To conclude then, both this purpose of conscience
>        and the first part of this booke; Keepe God more
>        sparingly in your mouth, but aboundantly in your
>        heart: be precise in effect, but sociall in shew:
>        kythe [make known] more by your deeds then by your
>        words the loue of vertue and hatred of vice: and
>        delight more to be godlie and vertuous in deede
>        then to be thought and called so; expecting more
>        for your praise and reward in heauen then heere:
>        and apply to all your outward actions Christes
>        commaunde, to pray and giue your almes secretly:
>        so shall ye on the one part be inwardly garnished
>        with true Christian humility, not outwardly (with
>        the proud Pharisie) glorying in your godlines:
>        but saying, as Christ commandeth vs all, when we
>        haue done all that we can, Inutiles serui sumus.
>        And on the other part, ye shall eschew outwardly
>        before the world the suspition of filthie proud
>        hypocrisie and deceitfull dissimulation."
>
>The difference between Cordelia's (as Fool) and Kent's service to Lear
>is just that Kent (who like Malvolio is a kind of a Puritanical
>Pharisee) blows his own trumpet while Cordelia says nothing of what she
>intended nor of what she did. She left it to Lear to make known what she
>had done with his "And my poor Fool is hanged....", though, of course,
>she had no way of knowing that he would make it known.
>
>Greg's objection to Cordelia's refusal to go along with her sisters in
>their aged father's little game is not a new objection. But it ignores
>the fact that James I was also very interested in the problem of
>flattery. James wrote to his son that in choosing servants he should be
>careful to choose those who were "speciallie free of that filthy vice of
>Flattery, the pest of all Princes, and wracke of Republickes".
>
>We cannot overlook the attitude of Cordella expressed in the 1605 _Leir_
>"O, how I do abhorre this flattery!" Nor should we turn a blind eye to
>her response to Gonorill's claim "I love my father better then thou
>canst", namely, "Cor. The prayse were great, spoke from anothers mouth:
>But it should seeme your neighbours dwell far off".
>
>Cordelia's repeated "nothing" is a refusal to participate to a greater
>degree even than her sisters in something that was abhorant to herself
>and to King James I. She's no flatterer. She will "love and be silent" -
>love and not say anything about it. Now that is love! She is not just
>refusing to play along with her siblings and father.
>
>I too find 1:4 interesting. The audience knew who Lear was, and who
>Goneril was, but they didn't have a name for the Fool. About the same
>time I think it was Dekker who had a play (the name escapes me at the
>moment) which had a Fool named Shadow. If the members of the public for
>whom, I believe F was designed, had thought of Dekker's Fool when the
>words "Lear's shadow" were spoken by the Fool, then the Fool could have
>been thought of by some, at least for a moment, as thinking about his /
>her own identity.
>
>This focusing on the identity of Lear followed Lear's meeting Goneril's
>accusation, that he is encouraging riots among his followers, with the
>question, "Are you our daughter?" But this followed immediately upon the
>Fool's words about the cuckoo. Lear, of course, is addressing Goneril,
>but the juxtaposition of the speeches could cause members of the
>audience to suspect that the Fool is a daughter - Cordelia.  After the
>bit about the shadow Lear questions Goneril's identity with the words,
>"Your name fair gentlewoman?" But this question, like his earlier one
>"Are you our daughter?" is juxtaposed with a statement by the Fool -
>"Which they [Goneril and Regan] will make an obedient father" in Q, and
>"Lear's shadow" in F. Following Goneril's further protest Lear
>determines to go to Regan with the words, "Yet have I left a daughter."
>Now the audience knows her heart already, both from the sources and Lear
>to this point, and they know Cordelia's intention also from the sources
>and from her earlier claims in this play, and could have seen her here
>in the Fool.
>
>Greg McSweeney wrote of the differences between Q and F arising out of
>transcription of performances. The theory of memorial reconstruction is
>often blamed for the differences.  But I don't believe it necessary to
>postulate this theory. I believe the differences are largely calculated,
>and probably come from Shakespeare's own hand. Consider, for example,
>the following: It is evident from the text that no one else in Lear's
>world came to identify the Fool as having been Cordelia. She received no
>acknowledgment. Cordelia had said at the love test (1.1.224) that she
>would do what she intended doing without speaking about it, "that you
>[Lear] _may_ know" (Q), or "that you [Lear] _make_ known" (F) that her
>reply to Lear in the contest didn't come with the evil connotation that
>he had placed on it. In Q at the end of the "my poor fool" speech, Lear
>can only manage "O,o,o,o,o." He makes the connection himself, he "may"
>know himself, but he does not "make" it known to the people of his world
>nor the audience - King James I and his court no doubt had made the
>identification long before and seen the beauty of Cordelia's service and
>the "Puritanism" of Kent. In F version, the version for the public, if
>any members of the audience had not seen Cordelia in the Fool, they
>would hear Lear "make" it known to them at the end when he says "And my
>poor fool is hanged!....Do you see this? Looke on her? Looke her lips,
>Looke there, looke there". These five short questions and statements
>correspond in number with Q's "O,o,o,o,o". This difference between Q and
>F is not caused by Q's being a "memorial reconstruction" by audience or
>actors, but a deliberate revision, no doubt by Shakespeare himself.
>
>If you would like to read a full treatment of this, send for my book
>_Cordelia, King Lear and His Fool._  Email me for more details or send
>order to:
>
>Bob Marks
 

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