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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
Re: Holinshed Anecdote
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1955  Friday, 20 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:17:25 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Holinshed Anecdote

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 14:08:50 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

[3]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:42:54 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:17:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Holinshed Anecdote

Just a few, quick observations about some recent comments on this
thread:

1. Holinshed's practice, as F. J. Levy pointed out long ago, was to
include all accounts and then let the reader decide which, if any, were
true.  Shakespeare may be following the same policy in 1H4.

2. Mortimer is a man in love who dotes on Glendower's daughter. It is
POSSIBLE to see such doting as a sign of "effeminacy," but surely it is
also possible to note his happiness and joy and to conclude that he has
made a damn good bargain, and, for him, "the world is well lost."

3. Why must the Welsh song strike terror into the hearts of the English
audience?  Just because most of them would not understand it?  Doesn't
that enhance its mystery and beauty?  The play literally stops, almost
like an intermission, while the song is sung.  Surely the song is a kind
of entertainment and meant to please!

4.  In fact, I think there is more purchase in interpreting the song as
a counterpoint to the world of shrewd, political calculation that
otherwise dominates the play.  As such, the lady's song points out what
is MISSING from the world of politics: beauty, joy, and the mystery of
words delivered not out of calculation, but from the heart.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 14:08:50 -0400
Subject: Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

Sean Lawrence writes,

'If possessing a voice indicates, metonymically, meaning things, then
Lady Mortimer has no voice to the audience, and makes only an aesthetic
appeal.'

The scene takes place (we assume) in Wales. Glendower and Lady Mortimer
are Welsh. They speak to each other on their native soil and in their
native language. If anyone is 'voiceless', or denied the capacity for
'meaning things' in this context, it is the hapless, unmanned Mortimer.
As a result, Lady Mortimer's appeal immediately becomes less aesthetic
than political.  When she utters, the callow presumption that English is
the sole language of Britain is incisively probed and exposed, and her
words shed thereafter their own intensely ironic light on the whole
steamrollering  colonialist English project. Their meaning lies in our
incomprehension of them. Our ignorance is that to which they refer.
Henry's brash dismissal of the French language at the end of Henry V
echoes the same design. These plays are to a large extent precisely
about the ways in which one culture overwhelms others. Obduracy in such
matters ill befits one who boasts Eskimo ancestry.

Terence Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:42:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

To John Drakakis:

I do not like sarcasm. Is it possible to doubt me without it?

You are missing the clues that indicate that Shylock is a dying man. Not
a few Jews played with time and the inquisition in this way. Shylock
leaves the courtroom hastily, saying that he is "sick". But how can he
be "content"? It is not only on account of the favorable ruling, for his
true desire, but surely because he knew that he would be dead before the
advent of the baptismal font. Going back: his imagery with Tubal are the
dreams of himself as a corpse. (So also the Aeson story of Jessica -
implying that the father is to renewed by the miracle of a new birth.
This ties in with the "monkey" traded for Leah's matriarchal ring which
causes him great emotion. With Tubal's help he has Antonio incarcerated,
Why? Because he dare not have the court proceedings delayed, it may be
too late for his day in court where he hopes that by losing his
ridiculous bond, he may hopefully secure an inheritance for his kin.
(Ordinarily a Jew's out of ghetto property would be confiscated by the
state bureaucracy.) This results in the Pantalone uniform for Antonio
resembling the devil appearance of Shylock, from another theatrical
tradition. "Who is the merchant and who the Jew".

Why indeed would a member of a persecuted minority expose himself in
such a dangerous fashion, without comfort even of his servant if it was
not time for confiscation and his need urgent?

As I have mentioned before, Shylock's name among all the other
connotations is most clearly 'Shai', a present and 'lach', to you (fem.
sing). Yessica's name mentions Iska, a bond, often associated with a
dowry.

Florence Amit
 

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