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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Welsh etc.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0456  Tuesday, 27 February 2001

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Feb 2001 07:49:45 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Feb 2001 08:11:44 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Feb 2001 13:23:07 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.

[4]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Feb 2001 15:45:40 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.

[5]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Feb 2001 17:38:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Feb 2001 07:49:45 -0600
Subject: 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.

 Terence Hawkes writes:

>I know very little about the Bethlehem Hospital, but I have a research
>student who's working in this area and she knows a great deal. Her work
>suggests that there isn't much hard evidence in the early modern period
>for the practice of visiting the inmates for the purposes of
>entertainment.
>
>The interesting question is why so many scholars want to believe that
>there is.

I don't think it's a matter of wanting to slander our cultural /
linguistic ancestors, but a myth that becomes accepted because it makes
sense logically. We have hard evidence of this custom existing a hundred
to two hundred years later. We note what appear to be improvements in
the treatment of people in several areas (such as prisoners and victims
of capital punishment). We note the entertainment value of the "insane"
in several plays and of the retarded in the "fools" used as jesters. We
apply our Myth of Progress. We conclude that the custom existed in
Elizabethan England.. That it didn't (if your student is correct and it
indeed did not) may possibly be explained by a lack of the easy
accessibility found in the later eras.

I have always assumed that 19th Century liberalism -- to which this
thought, I believe, belongs -- derived largely from certain changes in
sensibility that occurred in the 18th century (the name Rousseau looms
large here, but it was already under way before he wrote), which took a
much more sentimental attitude toward the poor and victimized than had
occurred in the past. I don't find much affection for or pity of the
poor in Shakespeare (quite the reverse), but none in the others of his
time, either.

To lob the ball back into the other side's court: isn't Prince Hal
unique in actually enjoying the company of people from the lower orders?

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Feb 2001 08:11:44 -0800
Subject: 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0443 Re: Welsh etc.

Terence writes:

>I know very little about the Bethlehem Hospital, but I have a research
>student who's working in this area and she knows a great deal. Her work
>suggests that there isn't much hard evidence in the early modern period
>for the practice of visiting the inmates for the purposes of
>entertainment.
>
>The interesting question is why so many scholars want to believe that
>there is.

It is an interesting question, but it seems indicative of a wider
tendency to believe anything perverse if it's projected unto the past.
Hence Freudian readings of sexuality and celibacy in the middle ages,
histories of the inquisition based entirely on the Holy Office's own
padded figures, vastly inflated numbers of witches burned, sociological
arguments to the effect that nobody loved their children, etc.  In fact,
it seems to follow from an almost religious conviction in one of
Terence's favourite themes, that the past is different.

One might, I think, make a comparison between how we treat the early
modern period, and how the early moderns treated Islam or the new world.

Cheers,
Se

 

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