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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Re: Sonnet 20
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0751  Tuesday, 11 April 2000.

[1]     From:   Douglas Chapman <
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        Date:   Monday, 10 Apr 2000 11:50:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0707 Re: Sonnet 20

[2]     From:   Carl Fortunato <
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        Date:   Monday, 10 Apr 2000 12:40:23 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0740 Re: Sonnet 20

[3]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Monday, 10 Apr 2000 15:35:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0740 Re: Sonnet 20


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Chapman <
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Date:           Monday, 10 Apr 2000 11:50:01 EDT
Subject: 11.0707 Re: Sonnet 20
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0707 Re: Sonnet 20

It's a shame that acadababble has changed little from the time I was in
graduate school. I was saved from the trap of angel-pin-head arguments
(whatever the topic). I do understand that in order to keep teaching
jobs, most decent people have to tow a line. But it's a shame when that
line becomes reality for you. Kids in classes inherently understand that
Shak. is about sex and fun and power and joy; it is only precious in the
teacher's minds. Thus all the tittering in 8th grade. Shak. was not, nor
would he have been today, a scholar. He would today be Steven Spielberg;
it's the money, guys.

Eric Hoffer is-was-my hero. A bright, gifted man who did not wish to
waste his life teaching and theorizing in some University or another (I
mean no offense, but teaching and thinking are antithetical
concepts-don't protest too loudly) but was a longshoreman at San
Francisco's docks. My hero. A working philosopher. Always growing from
real life, not some glib academic pamphlet of the year.

It is perhaps too much to hope that scholars may someday grow up. But it
MUST be a hope that scholarSHIP can grow up.

Why contort Shak. for 8th graders and even college age students into
belief that Shak. only approved of het sex (or worse, no sex at all)
when they want to talk about the obvious eroticism of the Shak. sonnets?
All of it is erotic on at least one level.  Some of it is undoubtedly
homo-erotic. But...so? That there are complex multiple levels is a
given-Shak. is great because of these complexities. It is not complex
because it is Shak. Why the blustery denials?

The "proof" that Shakespeare did not approve of-or join in on-what we
would call gay sex is the prick line, dragged up again by many. Did it
ever occur to you all, that starting in Greek times (indeed, much
before) it was a convention that younger men, some we would call boys
(till they shoot 5 of their classmates) would be the passive partner in
homoerotic relationships with older men. Not always, but often. It is
still the case among many present societies and in many individual
present day relationships. Perhaps, Shak. was merely alluding to the
fact that he cared not to service the boy.  The boy was there to service
him. Thus Shak. wasn't interested in his male service equipment, but....

He certainly knew such men and boys. Does any one deny the King James I
catamites? And the intrigue they caused?

The point is, Sonnet 20 (one of many) is erotic. Could it be homoerotic?
Of course. Could it be heteroerotic? Of course. This duality is part of
the greatness of Shak. Is this not what "The Universality of Shak." is
all about?  What's with the denials? "Protecting" Shak. the man, his
times, or more likely an individual's prejudices is not scholarship.

Is it barely possible that no one on this list has read any of the John
Boswell books? Are you aware that the modern, almost exclusively middle
class prejudices are just that? Or do some of you wish to believe that
even Shak.  lived in a society that resembled Newt Gingrich's Georgia?

When we say and say and say that Shak. knew about all of life, we should
mean it. Even the middle school classes get it. Apologizing and
Bowdlerizing does not change facts which are perfectly okay at any rate.
And were certainly not as stigmatized in the Eng. Renaissance as
presently. In fact, some classes rather were expected to behave in
multi-sexual ways.

Shak. personally need not have been any particular sexuality. Perhaps he
was like Handel and was asexual. Perhaps he was a raging queen, or a
randy woman's man. We don't know. That is not the point.

He knew about, and wrote about, everything. That is his greatest
contribution. Even 400 years later. Have many of you forgotten that?
Have you all read far too many papers from the "Eschew Obfuscation"
school of theoretical babble?

I have invited many questions. I know.

All I can say is, remember Eric Hoffer.

DC

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Monday, 10 Apr 2000 12:40:23 EDT
Subject: 11.0740 Re: Sonnet 20
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0740 Re: Sonnet 20

>It reeks of elaborate in-joke. Southhampton, my Aunt Fanny. There isn't
>a shred of evidence to support that snob's fantasy. How about a young
>man of the company who specialized in women's parts?

By "that snob," are you referring to Mr. Rowse.  If so, I agree.  I have
no idea what I think Southhampton, but Rowse's pomposity makes him
almost unreadable.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Monday, 10 Apr 2000 15:35:41 -0500
Subject: 11.0740 Re: Sonnet 20
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0740 Re: Sonnet 20

Abigail Quart writes:

<It reeks of elaborate in-joke. Southhampton, my <Aunt Fanny. There
isn't
<a shred of evidence to support that snob's <fantasy. How about a young
<man of the company who specialized in women's <parts?

<Someone named Edmund, which is the name <being punned in Sonnet 1,
<possibly.

Sorry, not being part of the in-joke, I don't see any evidence to
support a thesis or even understand what you are talking about.  Where
is the reference to Edmund?   In reading the sonnet over, I can  see
what may possibly be homosexual references which certainly do not
advocate that lifestyle:

             Within thine own bud buriest thy content
            And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding.
                Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
                To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.
                               (lines 12-14)

In other words, in being a homosexual (by burying his content in his
penis or "bud" or by not begetting children and replicating his looks),
the young man only wastes his beauty to the ravages of time, an
elaborate play on glutton and "waste."  By being niggard with his
sexuality, he causes time to be the waster and death to become a
"glutton."

Judy Craig
 

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