1999

Is this British?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1380  Thursday 5 August 1999.

From:           Brian Haylett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 20:01:00 +0100
Subject:        Is this British?

This group has lately carried a lot of speculation on the relationship
of elements in the plays and sonnets to facets of Elizabethan life and
society.  At first, I felt this was part of what the British Press know
as 'the silly season', but the contributions are evidently sincerely
meant. Yet it all seems very alien somehow. Of course Shakespeare writes
from the experience of his own society but actual allusion seems very
limited: such things as Banquo and James I, Mistress Mall, perhaps Dr
Lopez, just possibly Richard II as Elizabeth. The sonnets are obviously
a special case, but even so, speculation in established English
criticism this century has been rare, to say the least. Even A. L. Rowse
was Cornish, for goodness' sake! And before him, you are off to the
Irish Wilde.

So a hypothesis to destroy: the personal contemporary interpretation is
a North American phenomenon. What should we make of it, if true?  Is it
also evident in academic journals?

With miching mallecho,
Brian Haylett
Caister-on-Sea

Staged Reading -- HAMLET

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1379  Thursday 5 August 1999.

From:           Andy White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 18:47:28 -0400
Subject:        Staged Reading -- HAMLET

For those of you in the Washington, D.C. area, I wish to announce that
there will be a staged reading of a modernized version of Hamlet on
Saturday, August 14, at the Rosslyn Spectrum in Arlington, Virginia.
Curtain is 8:00 PM, and the running time of the show should not exceed
2-1/2 hours (for those who need to plan ahead).

Admission is free, but of course donations will be gratefully accepted.

This reading is based on a pair of experimental projects I directed in
the Midwest, while I was a student at the University of Illinois.  The
projects were inspired by a conversation I had with a Russian actress,
who made me realize that in non-English speaking countries Shakespeare
is regarded as a contemporary playwright because their scripts are in a
modern, poetic idiom.  It seemed time to explore how Shakespeare would
sound in modern English, but preserving as much of the original text
(it's still in a kind of English, after all) as possible.  To make
Shakespeare our contemporary, and to begin the process of demystifying
the old man, I took it upon myself to bring him kicking and screaming
into the 1990's.

The results are possibly uneven, and I am well aware of Shaw's caveat
that 'if one does one thing in a production of Hamlet that is
ridiculous, one's Hamlet will be regarded as ridiculous' (I'm working
from rough memory here).

It will be the first time I have had a chance to share this work in the
D.C.  area.  A number of my professional colleagues have volunteered to
be in this reading-many of whom will be familiar to audiences who have
been to the Folger, Source, the Washington Shakespeare Company, and
elsewhere.  It is a fun, collaborative effort, and I am grateful for
their help and encouragement.

See you on Saturday the 14th, if you have the time, and by all means
email me if you need directions to the Rosslyn Spectrum.

Andy White
Arlington, Va

Re: Sonnets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1377  Thursday 5 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 09:21:51 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1362 Re: Sonnets

[2]     From:   Frances Barasch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 12:45:28 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1370 Re: Sonnets

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1370 Re: Sonnets

[4]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Aug 1999 08:37:38 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1370 Re: Sonnets

[5]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, August 5, 1999
        Subj:   Re: Sonnets


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 09:21:51 -0400
Subject: 10.1362 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1362 Re: Sonnets

Karen Peterson-Kranz wrote:

>I've always wondered if it not be more productive to look at them
>as possibly directed to a number of different people.

We sometimes forget that the narrative we have come to regard as
unifying the sonnets is largely a matter of inference.  Sonnet 144 tells
us:

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,
Which like  two spirits do suggest me still;
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman colored ill.

This synoptic pause in the action suggests that the narrative we seem to
see unfolding in the currently favored ordering of the sonnets reflects
the author's intention, and that only two personae are addressed
throughout the cycle.  However we are still only looking more or less at
a pile of still photographs which we string together to make a movie by
projecting onto them a unity that is not inherent in the individual
texts.  And, as you suggest, the "man right fair" is identified as a
"spirit," and a spirit may manifest in different people at different
times (not all of them necessarily male).

Michael Skovmand wrote:

>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" ?

Analyzing the sonnets feels to me like trying to hack a path through a
swamp.  The more I clear out of the way, the more tangled the underbrush
becomes.  If we take the plot and characters treated in the sonnets at
face value then sonnet 20 is clearly addressed to an effeminate male
only.  But the synopsis of sonnet 144 suggests that fair youth and dark
lady are not flesh and blood people (or people only) whose identities
have eluded centuries of scholarship, but that moral principles are
being treated.

Spenser tells us explicitly that his sonnets are addressed to three
Elizabeths: wife, mother and queen, which places him in the tradition of
Dante praising Beatrice and Petrarch, Laura.  Such multilayering is part
of the sonnet tradition: Samuel Daniel's Delia, if she is a real woman,
is also a thinly veiled anagram of the Platonic Ideal.  Drayton's Idea
is veiled even more thinly.  Given his own ephemerization of his
characters in sonnet 144, why shouldn't the fair youth be equally
capable of connoting more than just a fair youth?

Sonnet 20 is written to a "master-mistress," and I would suggest that
that title can describe a female monarch as aptly (and more acceptably)
as an effeminate male patron.  The master-mistress might be placed in a
three part hierarchy after the mode of Spenser by recourse to the
Platonic hermaphrodite who sits somewhere above Queen Elizabeth on the
Great Chain of Being.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
C.W. Post College
www.columbia.edu/~fs10/cds.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frances Barasch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 12:45:28 EDT
Subject: 10.1370 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1370 Re: Sonnets

William Sutton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> asks: " Hello, is it not true that
this is the first recorded use of 'prick' in a sexual sense"?

 No, it's not.  Try Chaucer's Reeve's Tale (ll. 4231 in Fisher's
edition):

  "Withinne a while this John the clerk up leep,
    And on this goode wyf he leith on soore.
    So myrie a fit ne hadde she nat ful yoore;
    He priketh harde and depe as he were mad."

Of course, the above is a verb rather than noun, but close enough I
think.

The above, btw, does not rule out even earlier uses ???.

Cheers, Frances Barasch

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999
Subject: 10.1370 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1370 Re: Sonnets

>A quick look at the other sonnets on marriage doesn't reveal
>any others
>so obviously addressed to a man as these, but the fact that the
>first 17
>sonnets pretty clearly form a series and that the themes and
>attitudes
>(and often phrasing) in 3, 7, 9, and 13 are echoed in many of
>the others
>suggests to me that they're all addressed to the same person.
>
> Bruce Young

How about the Virgin Reader (rather than Virgin Queen) approach to
sonnets 1-20 (which, regardless of an overall coherence to all 156, do
form a neat group)?

After ploughing through 1-17, your actual 1609 Jacobean reader gets to
18, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" and thinks, Oh, lord, at
last a straightforward heterosexual love poem.

Continuing with 19 ("Devouring time, blunt thou the lion's paws"), he's
quite happy till he gets to the discomforting ""Him" in line 11.

Sonnet 20's Unfortunate Appendage hammers (if I may be permitted the
locution) the point home.

Whereupon, he closes the volume and retires with an acute case of sexual
misidentity to re-read the Amoretti (no doubt wondering how Spenser's
future wife would react when she discovered that those sonnets were
really addressed to Queen Elizabeth).

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Aug 1999 08:37:38 +1000
Subject: 10.1370 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1370 Re: Sonnets

Bruce Young writes:

>I'm not dismissing the possibility that the Sonnets may be addressed to
>or allude to a variety of persons (if indeed they are autobiographical
>at all), but I'm surprised no one has mentioned that Sonnet 20 is not
>the only one clearly referring to a male friend.

Well, yes, of course.

By "the Sonnets" it is unclear whether all of the group published in
1609 as "Shakspear's Sonnets," just the "young man" group, or the subset
of the latter, 1-17, the "procreation" group is the object of reference.

1-17 have fairly consistent internal evidence suggesting that they
probably were intended as some sort of group.  When precisely they were
composed, when/if revised, and under what conditions they were produced
remains less clear.  If one accepts 1-17 as a group, then yes, it
becomes quite obvious that the addressee, either fictional or actual, is
gendered male.  I am choosing my words carefully here; note that
"gendered male" is not the same thing as "physiologically male."
Probably in this case the primary addressee was both gendered and
physiologically male.  However, in considering allusions to other
figures in the sonnets-which might be satiric, epideictic, socially
constructed, or psychologically unconscious- a gendered male addressee
allows the possibility of allusions to physiologically female
individuals.  Elizabeth might be a possibility, not only because her
initial reluctance and ultimate refusal to marry and procreate created
some social anxiety, but also because this very refusal strengthens her
own self-fashioning as a sometimes-male-gendered "Prince."

Forgive me.  I digress.

Yours in the tropics,
Karen Peterson-Kranz
University of Guam

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, August 5, 1999
Subject:        Re: Sonnets

Many of the issues of this discussion of the <I>Sonnets</I> are
addressed in my piece on "The Reception of the Quarto" in the
Renaissance Electronic Texts edition produced by Ian Lancashire and
myself
<http://library.utoronto.ca/www/utel/ret/shakespeare/1609inti.html>.

Of interest, Malone asserted that the first 126 poems were addressed to
a man and then qualified this assertion with "such addresses to men,
however, indelicate, were customary in our author's time, and neither
imported criminality, nor were esteemed indecorous" (20.241). If I
remember correctly, my notes are at home, Malone also glosses "prickt"
in Sonnet 20 as chosen or selected as in

          What? do'{{s}t} thou roare before th'art prickt.
           (<I>2H4</I> TLN: 1714 3.2.178)

          The{s}e many then {{s}h}all die, their names are prickt
            (<I>JC</I> TLN 1854: 4.1.1)

Re: Bears

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1378  Thursday 5 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 13:43:47 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1373 Re: Bears

[2]     From:   David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 19:26:25 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1373 Re: Bears


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 13:43:47 -0400
Subject: 10.1373 Re: Bears
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1373 Re: Bears

>Bear with me on this.
>
>Wasn't Heminges in charge of the dogs at the Bear garden? Did he not
>arrange a private display of dogs against lion in the Tower for James
>and his daughters? Would the Bear gardens only have had mean bears? A
>retired and tamed bear could easily have ambled across the stage at the
>Globe, could it not?

>Snake charmers still exist all over the world. Dancing bears, and all
>that it entails to tame them too, are still exploited in Eastern Europe
>and the Balkans.

OK, that's all very true--*but* I don't think it's especially likely
that a bear that was used as a bear-baiting bear would have been
"tamed"-ursine nature being what it is and having been encouraged for so
many years to be ferocious.  It's my understanding that even tame bears
have to be carefully watched.  They are not at all reliable as to
temper.  As for polar bears-and that's probably what the local London
white bears were, since they came back from a northern
expedition-they're particularly violent (zoological footnote; I
understand that polar bears are actually most closely related to the
grizzly and some say are simply a subspecies.)

This particular argument has been going on nicely since the early 20th
century without a whole lot more hard evidence being added (see Paul
Monkemeyer, W.S. Lawrence, etc.)  For economic reasons, I think the
artificial bear is more likely.  The white bear in Mucedorus has to
remain absolutely still during the tumbling trick, as several of us have
pointed out; it has to have a separate head (actor runs across stage,
removes head, hands it off).  The bears in Oberon could be Henslowe and
Alleyn's two white bears heavily guarded by the Sylvans in the same
masque, but they are probably also faked, since they have to pull a
chariot in time to the music and be next to the Prince of Wales.

If Shakespeare's company had access to a really spiffy white bear
suit-all the productions are from that year-why on earth would they want
to use a real one for WT?  Jean MacIntyre suggested in her work on
costumes that a lot of clever reuse and recycling went on; this seems to
be a prime example.

I've got a whole unpublished article on this with copious footnotes if
anyone is dying to read it.

Melissa D. Aaron
University of Michigan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 19:26:25 -0600
Subject: 10.1373 Re: Bears
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1373 Re: Bears

William Sutton wrote:

>Hello,
>
>Bear with me on this.
>
>Wasn't Heminges in charge of the dogs at the Bear garden? Did he not
>arrange a private display of dogs against lion in the Tower for James
>and his daughters?

Mmmm, no, not that I know of.  You might be thinking of Edward Alleyn,
who, along with his step-father-in-law Philip Henslowe, was appointed
Master of the Royal Game of Bears, Bulls, and Mastiff Dogs in 1605, and
who had held an interest in the Bear Garden since 1594.  Heminges, as a
freeman of the Grocers' company, appears to have been in charge of the
concessions at the Globe, and during the reign of James he also served
as a Seacoal Meter for the City of London, a post which was
traditionally filled by Grocers.

>Would the Bear gardens only have had mean bears? A
>retired and tamed bear could easily have ambled across the stage at the
>Globe, could it not?

I don't think the bears could have been too mean, since the whole point
of bear-baiting was to have the dogs maul the bears.  On the other hand,
they couldn't have been too tame, or there would be no "sport" involved.

Dave Kathman
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Why isn't one a number

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1376  Thursday 5 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 08:59:23 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1372 Re: Why isn't one a number

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 09:20:47 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

[3]     From:   Michael Skovmand <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Aug 1999 09:49:04 +0200
        Subj:   Sv: SHK 10.1372 Re: Why isn't one a number


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 08:59:23 EDT
Subject: 10.1372 Re: Why isn't one a number
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1372 Re: Why isn't one a number

> > In Rom 1.2.29, Capulet says:
>  >         Hear all, all see,
>  >         And like her most whose merit most shall be;
>  >         Which on more view of many, mine, being one,
>  >         May stand in number, though in reckoning none.

Aristotle and the (weak) pun, if indeed it is one, aside, Capulet's
meaning is still "take a look around you at all of the young ladies who
are here, talk to them, and choose the one who best appeals to you"
("Hear all, all see, / And like her most whose merit most shall be;").
"My daughter is among the general crowd of young, available women; to
that extent, she is in standing 'one of them,' " -- ("Which on more view
of many, mine, being one, / May stand in number,") "but when you have
checked them all out, you will find that she is by far the most fair"
("though in reckoning none").  I think the other gloss is greatly
confusing the issue, though of course it tangentially supports the idea
that, not being "one of them" (average), Juliet is "not among their
number" in terms of the quality of her charms.

Best,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 09:20:47 -0400
Subject: 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

This complicated conceit refers to the doctrine adapted from Aristotle
by Neoplatonism that the quality of "number," being the quality of
division of the One, does not apply to unity.  As we might say zero is
not a quantity (although mathematicians would argue), before the concept
of "zero" made it to the West from the Arabs, "one" had the same kind of
ambiguous metaphysical status giving rise to the proverb cited in Hero
and Leander 261: "one is no number."

Capulet plays on this doctrine by claiming that Juliet may not seem so
wonderful when seen in a group where she is numbered among many.  Sonnet
136 "Among a number, one is reckon'd none" plays on the reference of
"none." None = nothing special vs. none = no number.  Similarly, sonnet
8's "Thou single wilt prove none." The verb "reckon" in both cases
evokes both counting and appraisal.

Clifford Stetner
C.W. Post College
www.columbia.edu/~fs10/cds.htm

Allan Blackman wrote:

>        Hear all, all see,
>        And like her most whose merit most shall be;
>        Which on more view of many, mine, being one,
>        May stand in number, though in reckoning none.
>

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Aug 1999 09:49:04 +0200
Subject: 10.1372 Re: Why isn't one a number
Comment:        Sv: SHK 10.1372 Re: Why isn't one a number

The discussion on Rom.1.2.32-33, about Juliet "being one/May stand in
number, though in reck'ning none," could be complicated even further, if
we relate this to Measure 2.4.56-57:"Our compelled sins/stand more for
number than for accompt" - i.e. the sins we are forced to do are
registered, but not "taken into account" - to use the relevant metaphor.
In other words, Capulet is playing with or conflating two metaphors
simultaneously: (1)the conventional notion that one is not a number ,
cp. Sonnet 136, and (2) the accountancy metaphor of numbering without
reckoning or taking into account - both of which underscore Capulet's
point that Juliet, although she will be present among the marriageable
girls at the ball, is not herself  on the market yet.

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