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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
Re: Holinshed Anecdote
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1947  Tuesday, 17 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Oct 2000 12:18:36 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Oct 2000 13:28:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Oct 2000 12:57:40 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Oct 2000 06:02:52 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

[5]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Oct 2000 08:22:41 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Oct 2000 12:18:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

Sean Lawrence tells us,

'I see Lady Glendower as a sort of trophy between men, rendered
voiceless in all but song.'

Voiceless? What on earth can this mean?  The lady has a perfectly good
voice. She speaks with it, four times.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Oct 2000 13:28:09 -0400
Subject: 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

Sean Lawrence writes:

> I see Lady Glendower [Mortimer's wife, I assume] as a kind
>of trophy between men, rendered voiceless in all but song.

She may be a trophy wife, but she isn't totally voiceless.  See
3.1.185-208 (Oxford edition) where she recurrently speaks in Welsh.  Did
Shakespeare know the Welsh language?  If he did write the Welsh
speeches, they were not printed.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Oct 2000 12:57:40 -0500
Subject: 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

As to mutilation of the dead, I think we should get some factual
clarification as to whether this was historically a common practice by
the Welsh (so-called). Surely some historians (and/or anthropologists)
have expert knowledge of this area of Welsh cultural history and could
tell us whether it was likely or not. If it had happened frequently in
the past and was an integral element of the culture, we can assume that
the event very likely happened. If it was totally without precedent,
then we can conclude that it is probably an example of anti-Welsh
propaganda.

I believe that mutilation of this sort has been a fairly common practice
throughout human history. (Didn't something like that happen to Custer
and his men after their defeat at Little Big Horn?) Whether it had some
ritual significance, or occurred to spite the dead, or annoy the living,
we would need to get some anthropologists to tell us.

It is not (to me anyway) a major factor in my approach to "1 Henry IV,"
but since it has been brought up I would like to know what the chances
are that the event occurred as described. I have always assumed that it
was true, but am more than willing to correct myself if it seems likely
to have been made up. Does anyone out there know a historian and/or
anthropologist with expert information on the subject?

don bloom

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Oct 2000 06:02:52 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

Sorry Sean, I do not agree with your example for repressed rage. The
"If" is the most important word of the vivid sentence that you quoted.
Because the answer must be 'and what if you are not a dog? Shall we
still be wary of your fangs?' We soon see how the fangs are shown in the
court scene. Pure spectacle: the feeble waving of a knife before the
duke (and everyone else) to egg him on, so that the masquerade can be
concluded and Shylock leave to die in contentment.

May I use this bit for my home page?

Florence Amit

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Oct 2000 08:22:41 EDT
Subject: 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1941 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

Just a quick thought re truth / fiction /mythos discussion. Seems to me
that it is very difficult -short of another independent historical
reference (or several such illusive documents) to call the occasion in
Holinshed concerning the nasty welsh women 'true' or 'false' to the
facts since the story (at present) forms part of a wider narrative of
war which has become rather a kind of myth than an individualised event.
Now while I agree whole heartedly with Sean's note that the story of gas
chambers and soap must be considered a factual narrative (we have
thousands of independent documents, films etc for its foundation) we
must be cautious with truth claims which reach back into distant fifth
hand (and more) perhaps politically motivated, mythic-historical
pronouncements such as that recorded in Holinshed.

Let us take a more neutral example: Prcopius records in the Secret
History the state of politics and insular back biting /politically
motivated dischord which proceeded and lead to the great (Nica) riots
between the circus factions in Constantinople around 493. At one stage,
the account is written as if the narrator was actually at the meeting of
the Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodora (each acc. to Procopius,
supporting a different colour faction) and the city council as the
rioters began to torch the city outside (eventually burning down the old
Santa Sophia). Now, among the several historical dubities of this
account is the unlikelyhood of Procopius (not much more than clerk when
not Historian) being at the great council meeting and in sight and
hearing of the Emperor. Moreover other later writers have downplayed the
level of objectivity Procopius's account represents because of his own
personal /political disenfranchisement with the ruling order and
particularly with that of the Empress's faction. The author of the
Secret History indeed goes out of his way to point out the Empress's
seedier (and otherwise mythical) origins as prostitute and 'party girl'.
Now all of this may not seem particularly important except fot the next
stage of historical sourcing - namely that it is Procopius's account of
the riots of Byzantium and the political disorder between Empress,
Emperor, and the public factions which is the main source used by many
modern historians as a factual eye-witness account of those troublous
times. Apart from the fact that we do not even know when exactly
Procopius lived, or where he was during the riots (if there at all) the
reliance on his account has lead directly to many of the false (or at
least highly dubious) mythic narratives of Byzantium - his account been
heavily (if not singularly) drawn on by great historical mythologisers
such as J.B.Bury (without a footnote to be seen).

The point? If there's only one source - err on the side of distrust -
particularly if the source story begins to state things as true which
the author himself could not (or is not likely to) have seen himself. As
previous Shaksperians have witnessed the story of 'ball-sowing' etc is
one of mythic proportion and appears to have multiple (perhaps
indiscriminate) application to different historical loci - rather as the
Empress /whore figure of Procopius ( witness close relation between
female power and the disturbing sexuality of females of wider myth .e.g.
Huntress Diana; or in Shakespeare - Queen Margaret etc).

One final example: in the sixteenth century play 'Alarum for London'
the Spanish archetypal violence - rape/ murder etc is perhaps true to
the conduct of war in general and perhaps the historical siege of
Antwerpe in particular and yet the play itself is not of course
concerned to accurately represent the facts of the actual siege nor
portray the Spanish / English proponents as they were but instead to
demonstrate to the English audience the dangers of complacency on the
home front. Thus though (like the Shakespeare history plays) the text is
based upon the loose facts of an historical event / events, in this case
the Siege of Antwerpe (gleaned probably from the equally politically
motivated pamphlet of Gascoigne called the 'Spoil of Antwerp'), we must
of course realise that the actual representations of violence enacted in
the text are generalised mythic types applied to a particularised
historic event and not as such to be seen as founded or native to that
historic locus.  When this is admitted the ostensive facts of the
particular historic 'event' may be reviewed in a clearer light.

Yours,
Marcus
 

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