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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
Re: Fops
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1877  Thursday, 5 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 10:58:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 12:49:25 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

[3]     From:   W.  L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Oct 2000 13:25:38 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

[4]     From:   Michael Yawney <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 14:21:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

[5]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 16:44:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 10:58:01 EDT
Subject: 11.1869 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

Edmund gives us perhaps a clue to the use of the word, when he asserts
that men begotten of lust and desire are, in their genes, superior:

        "Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
           More composition, and fierce quality,
            Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed
               Go to th' creating a whole tribe of fops,
                Got 'tween asleep and wake?"

Harry Hill
Montreal

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 12:49:25 EDT
Subject: 11.1869 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

I am interested to know how one would distinguish (given the previous
distinctions made on this list) say, 'a fop' from a wit/ braggadochio/
upstart/gentleman's aid...etc.

e.g. Is Pistol a 'fop' for he is certainly effeminate (in fighting
character) but can swear with the devil? Nashe's description of the
'coistral clerks' in the Unfortunate Traveller seems rather appropriate
(though different to Brannagh's dirty smelly braggart Pistol in HV) to
me...

' they outfaced the greatest and most magnaminous servitors in their
sincere and finigraphical clean shirts and cuffs. A louse that was any
gentleman's companion, they thought scorn of. Their nail bitten beards
must in a devil's name be dewed every day with rose water...their shoes
shined as bright as a slike-stone [polish stone]'. etc

These braggarts are also of course distinguished by their rather lacking
'experience of pusillanimity'.

I like to think of Nashe chiding Shakespeare for his (foppish?) vanity
and (more directly) his coat of arms (non sanz droit) in the tale of the
Prodigal Young Master (Pierce Penniless) who after being saved from a
storm after vowing 'never to eat haberdine more whilst I live' cries :

" 'Not without mustard, good Lord, Not without mustard' as though it had
been the greatest torment in the world to eat haberdine without
mustard."

Yours, (no goose-quill in hand)
Marcus.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.  L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 04 Oct 2000 13:25:38 -0400
Subject: 11.1869 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

Regarding Henri III, one of my francophone friends asserts rather
forcefully that he, Henri, was a homosexual.  Of course, my friend's
assertion cannot be verified, but my point is that some scholars believe
Henri and his fops were gay.

Ed Taft wishes us to

>consider Hotspur's account of the "popingay" in
>1H4.1.3.29ff.  Hotspur seems to be ridiculing him for his over-refined
>manners, but in reality, it is the popingay's lack of masculinity (as
>defined by Hotspur) that is the issue.  Hotspur emphasizes the
>popingay's use of "lady terms" and says he talks "so like a
>waiting-gentlewoman" that it made young Percy mad.

I think Hotspur's popinjay is Sir Walter Blunt/Blount.  After Hotspur
gives his derogatory description, Blunt, not King Henry, responds: "The
circumstances considered, good my lord,/Whate'er Lord Harry Percy then
had said/To such a person, and in such a place,/At such a time, with all
the rest retold,/May reasonably die, and never rise/To do him wrong or
any way impeach/What then he said, so he unsay it now" (Oxford ed.
1.3.69-750. And in the first scene, it is Blunt who brings the news from
the north (1.1.62-75). From the evidence of the script, Blunt does not
seem at all a popinjay, and Hotspur seems to be using a ploy that we are
familiar with, i.e., Blunt is gay, so we can't trust him or his
judjment.  Cf.  Bolingbroke's charge against Bushy and Green in Richard
II, 3.1.11-15.

Jonson's epicene fops in Epicoene certainly appear homosexual -- or
possibly bisexual.  Bruce Smith in Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's
England notes that Jonson and other satirists single out "sodomy as an
explicit target for attack" (161).

The question of sexual markers is part of a question: are cultures
continuous, or are they disrupted by radical discontinuities?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Yawney <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 14:21:47 -0500
Subject: 11.1869 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

>>I'm wondering whether Absolon, from Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale", would
>>qualify, being overdressed and "somdeel squaymous" (3337-3338).
>
>I wonder if Aegisthus, in the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus, is a
>distant progenitor of the effeminate fop.  He's certainly referred to in
>those terms several times by the Chorus in the first play, and again by
>Orestes in the second. There's no suggestion that he's gay, and the
>relationship with Clytemnestra would appear to rule that out anyway. The
>wonderful Peter Hall production of the mid '80s gave him a kind of
>prissy BBC voice which didn't particularly suit his strong and decisive
>actions at the end of the first play, but that contradiction is inherent
>in the text whichever way it's played.

This is slightly off, but relevant to the discussion of gender and
sexuality markers.

In ancient Greece, the effeminacy of Aegisthus would be seen as making
him want to stay home with women. In their view like attracted like, so
that hypermasculinity would indicate what today we would call a
homosexual bent, while less masculine types would be drawn to women.

So much in Greek culture goes against our assumptions that it provides a
check against how much of what we believe is a result of what we are
taught by the culture and not the innate nature of things.

Especially when looking at issues of gender and sexuality, we tend to
think that all societies held the beliefs we do, which may or may not be
true.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 16:44:13 -0400
Subject: 11.1869 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1869 Re: Fops

In addition to Absolom of the Miller's Tale, there is the Pardoner,
whose description I have always thought contained some veiled references
(in addition to the explicit comments about his high voice, and seeming
like a 'gelding or a mare' and how soft and smooth his hair hung about
his shoulders, and that he rode all of the new jet without a cap) to his
homosexuality.  Chaucer says that the Somoner 'bare to him a stiff
burden' (meaning a musical accompaniment of some kind) as the Pardoner
sang 'come hither love to me.'  There was, says Chaucer, 'never trump of
half so great a sound.'  I take this to mean that anyone could see what
was really going on between them, but maybe I'm reading more into it
than I should.

Clifford
 

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