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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Fabian vs. Feste
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0605  Wednesday, 14 March 2001

[1]     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 09:32:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0567 Fabian vs. Feste

[2]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 12:31:49 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0598 Re: Fabian vs. Feste

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 20:55:09 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 12.0598 Re: Fabian vs. Feste


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 09:32:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.0567 Fabian vs. Feste
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0567 Fabian vs. Feste

The Feste/Fabian question is one of those that can never be definitively
answered.  One useful possibility is that the Malvolio gulling sequences
need at least one normal figure, a sort of moral center, a comic
counterpart to Horatio in "Hamlet."  Fabian is the only character in
this group who can credibly make the important "Let no quarrel" speech
at play's end.  His presence frees Feste for the Sir Topas
impersonation.

David Richman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 12:31:49 EST
Subject: 12.0598 Re: Fabian vs. Feste
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0598 Re: Fabian vs. Feste

Dear Friends,

In an essay on TN, I suggested that Fabian (and Sebastian) appear as
names in the play because Shakespeare is pointing to a date, 20 January,
the Feast of Fabian and Sebastian. If anyone is dying to know more about
this notion, you can find the essay in "Mystery Play" or drop me an
email and I'll email you a copy.

Steve

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 20:55:09 -0800
Subject: Re: Fabian vs. Feste
Comment:        SHK 12.0598 Re: Fabian vs. Feste

To follow up on Larry Weiss's comment:

>It has been speculated (e.g., by Granville-Barker) that this
>play went through a number of changes of intent as it was composed, such
>as the addition of Fabian when Feste would not serve his function. But
>I wonder if these lines don't presage that the actor playing Viola would
>be the singer in the play and, when he couldn't serve this turn (or
>another actor replaced him), Feste was added to do the singing and was
>given most of Fabian's part to fill out the role.

I believe that Granville-Barker was influenced in this opinion by
Fleay's suggestion (_Shakespeare Manual_, 1876) that the play was
written at two different times. Other critics have used all sorts of
logic either to explain the switch or to reason out why Shakespeare made
the change from Viola to Feste in the song from 2.4. Some have even
suggested that the song ("Come Away Death") was not the original --
sometimes using the lack of an extant Elizabethan version of the music
as evidence. It's all very interesting speculation, but speculation is
all that it is. Proof positive is apparently not available.

Paul E. Doniger
 

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