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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Sonnets
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1362  Tuesday, 3 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Joe Conlon <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Aug 1999 08:46:24 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1359SHK 10.1362

[2]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Aug 1999 06:49:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets

[3]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Tue, 3 Aug 1999 10:31:40 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets

[4]     From:   Michael Skovmand <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Aug 1999 09:39:49 +0200
        Subj:   Sv: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Conlon <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Aug 1999 08:46:24 -0500
Subject: 10.1359 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets

> I admit that the prick of sonnet 20 is to my purpose nothing.  I can
> only say that you have to dig through an awful lot of sonnets before you
> find one prick.
>
> Clifford

Clifford, I love your pun.  Will would be proud of you. Joe Conlon

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Aug 1999 06:49:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 10.1359 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets

Dana Shilling wrote:

> >Funny kind of flattery
> >
> >Although Queen Elizabeth had a boundless appetite
> for flattery, she did
> >not take kindly to being told to marry and
> procreate-certainly not by an
> >obscure sonnet-wallah.

Is anyone familiar with the theory that the sonnets were written not to
urge Elizabeth to marry but to urge her to allow some of the princesses
of the blood to marry?

Apparently, there was a law which prevented princesses of the blood to
marry without royal consent and Elizabeth was chary of granting this
consent; perhaps, because she feared a divisive and factious dynastic
struggle after her death.  At any rate, there were likely those who saw
these beautiful privileged women barrenly entering into middle age as
poignant matter for the poetic muse.

I hope this does not touch too closely on 'the authorship question'
which Dr. Cook has explicitly excluded as a subject for the forum.

Yours in the work,
Dana

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Tue, 3 Aug 1999 10:31:40 +1000
Subject: 10.1359 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets

>>Karen Peterson-Kranz wrote:
>>
><snip>Arthur Marotti's "'Love is Not
>>Love'... argues that not only Shakespeare, but that a great many of the
>>>Elizabethan sonnet sequences, were in fact directed to Elizabeth.
>
>While he does say:
>
>"In Elizabethan England, a female monarch, whose unmarried state
>preserved her symbolic and real value in both domestic and international
>transactions, specifically encouraged the use of an amorous vocabulary
>by her courtiers to express ambition and its vicissitudes."
>
>and alludes to references to her in the work of Sidney, Spenser and
>others, he refers only briefly to Shakespeare's work and in very general
>terms without specifically locating Elizabeth in any of his sonnets.

A very palpable hit.  Thanks for the clarification-it was sloppy
summarizing on my part.  Apologies to all for a misleading reference.
Yet...I still think there might be a case for Elizabeth as at least a
shadow-recipient of at least some of Shakespeare's sonnets.  As can be
implied by Dana Shilling and Clifford Stetner's exchange on Sonnet 20, I
think perhaps there has been a tendency to look at the Sonnets, perceive
that one poem, or one group of poems, seems to be directed to a certain
type of person, and from there make an inductive leap that a larger
group must be directed to that certain type.  Especially in the "young
man" group, the tone, language, level of formality and the like do
vary.  I've always wondered if it not be more productive to look at them
as possibly directed to a number of different people.

Just a postscript, nodding to the "Shakespeare's Popularity" thread: one
of my students is currently convinced that Sonnet 20 is directed to a
cross-dressing woman, a la Shakespeare in Love.  Someday someone is
going to have to write a monograph on the effect of that film on the
youngest scholarly generation.

Best regards,
Karen Peterson-Kranz
University of Guam

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 Aug 1999 09:39:49 +0200
Subject: 10.1359 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Sv: SHK 10.1359 Re: Sonnets

> >Karen Peterson-Kranz wrote:
> >
> <snip>Arthur Marotti's "'Love is Not
> >Love'... argues that not only Shakespeare, but that a great many of the
> >>Elizabethan sonnet sequences, were in fact directed to Elizabeth.
>
> While he does say:
>
> "In Elizabethan England, a female monarch, whose unmarried state
> preserved her symbolic and real value in both domestic and international
> transactions, specifically encouraged the use of an amorous vocabulary
> by her courtiers to express ambition and its vicissitudes."
>
> and alludes to references to her in the work of Sidney, Spenser and
> others, he refers only briefly to Shakespeare's work and in very general
> terms without specifically locating Elizabeth in any of his sonnets.
>
> Dana Shilling wrote:
>
> >Funny kind of flattery
> >
> >Although Queen Elizabeth had a boundless appetite for flattery, she did
> >not take kindly to being told to marry and procreate-certainly not by an
> >obscure sonnet-wallah. And I can hardly imagine her being grateful for
> >being described as a none-too-bright, two-timing slut, much less a
> >none-too-bright, two-timing slut who is "pricked out for women's
> >pleasure."
>
> If he was an obscure whatchamacallit when he started writing the sonnets
> (pace Karen Peterson-Kranz' reference to Katherine Duncan-Jones' dating)
> he was not by the time he finished.  In any case, the sonnets (1-17) do
> not so much tell anyone to procreate as beseechingly implore them to do
> so.  If the increasing disenchantment with the young man's obtuseness
> (if this is what you refer to) reflects an increasing disenchantment
> with the queen, the poet may not have cared whether or not she took
> kindly to it?
>
> I admit that the prick of sonnet 20 is to my purpose nothing.  I can
> only say that you have to dig through an awful lot of sonnets before you
> find one prick.

How on earth could Sonnet 20 refer to Queen Elizabeth? How could the
effeminate male youth described in the sonnet  refer to a woman, since
[Nature] "pricked thee out for women's pleasure" i.e. furnished you with
male genitalia, the consequence of this being that  Shakespeare/the 1st
person of the sonnet  may love the youth but cannot be practising sex
with him ("Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure" ? On the
contrary, the sonnet has been wide read as evidence of Shakespeare's
homosexuality - absurdly, it seems to me, since it is the sex of the
youth which prohibits Shakespeare from giving his "love" a  "use" i.e. a
sexual form - sex, it will be remembered - in its pre-Foucauldian form,
being defined by what you did rather than by what you "were".

Michael Skovmand
University of Aarhus
Denmark
 

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