2001

New Issue: Early Modern Culture

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0785  Thursday, 5 April 2001

From:           David Siar <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Apr 2001 03:49:59 +0000
Subject:        New Issue: Early Modern Culture

Dear SHAKSPEReans:

Issue Number Two of _Early Modern Culture: An Electronic Seminar_ is now
online at:

http://eserver.org/emc

Here is the list of articles that we're featuring:

Richard Halpern: "Shakespeare's Perfume" (on the relationship between
the sublime and sublimation in the sonnets)

Jeffrey Masten: Response

#
Margreta de Grazia: "Hamlet's Thoughts and Antics"

Juliet Fleming: Response

#
Alan Sinfield: "Selective Quotation" (a rebuttal to criticism of
Sinfield's work by Richard Levin and Graham Bradshaw)

David Siar: Response

#
Barbara Sebek: "Good Turns and the Art of Merchandizing: Conceptualizing
Exchange in Early Modern England"

Scott Cutler Shershow: Response

The editors also invite you respond to these essays and/or responses in
our "electric seminar" section, where we will print your comments as we
receive them.

Best wishes,
David Siar and Crystal Bartolovich

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Gielgud Auction - Motley Designs?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0784  Thursday, 5 April 2001

From:           Andrew W. White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 23:23:45 -0400
Subject:        Gielgud Auction - Motley Designs?

In today's (Wednesday's) New York Times, Mel Gussow has an article
describing the auction of many of John Gielgud's personal effects.
Aside from wishing I were there, I am hoping someone can find out what
has happened to a number of designs by the design team Motley, that were
a part of Gielgud's private collection.

Motley, in case there are some on this list who don't know, is the
collective name for three women (Margaret and Sophie Harris, and
Elizabeth Montgomery) who were Gielgud's design team during much of his
early career as a director.  Their collaborations included the "Hamlet
of the Century" in 1934, _Richard of Bordeaux_, as well as a famous
season of classical repertory at the Queen's Theater, 1937-1938.

When Motley's shop was bombed during WW-II, only one costume piece
survived -- Gielgud's costume for _Bordeaux_, which I think is still on
display at the Theater Museum in London.  Most of what remains of
Motley's designs are now housed at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, and I had the pleasure of using them for research
several years ago -- and later in London had the far greater pleasure of
visiting with Margaret Harris, the surviving Motley.  A number of key
designs -- in particular for Gielgud's characters -- are not a part of
the Motley Collection, and I presume Gielgud himself had kept a number
of them.

Any information on whether any Motley designs were auctioned, and
(auctioned or not) whether there is any possibility of their being
donated to the Theater Museum, the Mander & Mitchenson Collection (where
a lot of earlier Gielgud memorabilia are kept), or the University of
Illinois would be greatly appreciated.  My study of the Queen's Season
in particular would be greatly enhanced by the chance to view Motley's
work for Gielgud, however much of it remained in his hands.

Thanks in advance for any word,

Andy White (MA, Theatre History, U of I, and currently:)
University of Maryland, College Park

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Re: Filmic Lears

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0782  Thursday, 5 April 2001

[1]     From:   John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Apr 2001 15:22:19 -0600
        Subj:   A Thousand Acres on Film

[2]     From:   David Linton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 17:46:58 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0760 Re: Lear Flicks

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 19:22:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Great or not so great Lears


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Apr 2001 15:22:19 -0600
Subject:        A Thousand Acres on Film

To Bob Haas and others:

I have seen the film more than once and lectured twice on the book.  The
film, like the book, sees the Lear story from Goneril's
(Ginny's--Lange's p.v.), a curious twist which enables Smiley and later
her scriptwriter to draw into the Lear story in Shk. an incest motif
that would have thrilled Otto Rank.  When I lectured to 10 or 12 members
of a book club in Austin, TX, on the book (before the film was made) the
emphasis was on what is *Lear*-like about the book.  A squabble over
land in Iowa is made to seem archetypally timeless because of the motif
of ancient water under the earth and poison infiltrating the world of
the novel.  This and many other points were brought up and then came the
question period.  The women, aged 40-65, perhaps, pounced immediately on
the opportunity to talk about oppressive fathers.  They were typically
women who had majored in English at the University of Texas in the 1960s
or even earlier and then married and raised children and dropped out of
the intellectual life, which one supposes is the reason for the book
club.  It was breathtaking to feel the intensity with which one woman
after another made an angry indictment of a father who thought he could
control the female children he had made (not sexually, as Larry does in
the book/film, arguing "I made you so I can use your body as I please",
but determining their majors and their choice of college and on and on,
and generally putting them down without any compassion at all for the
daughters' wishes or points of view).  I was bemused and still am.
There was real anger from real suffering on the faces of all the women
(I was the only male in the room, and they did me the honor of saying
what they thought without reference to my presence).  All they really
wanted to talk about was the incest motif and not at all the relation to
*Lear*.  It was quite different when I lectured in much the same way in
the British Studies Seminar a year later.  There the listeners wanted to
talk about whether the incest motif is picked up by Smiley from Greek
Tragedy, and whether the novel should be read as lit crit of *King
Lear*.  The difference between two groups of people, one quondam
academic and the other now active in academe, was strangely compelling.

The book rewards an attentive re-reading with *Lear* near at hand.

Cheers,
John

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Linton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 17:46:58 -0400
Subject: 12.0760 Re: Lear Flicks
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0760 Re: Lear Flicks

Regarding RAN and 1000 ACRES, I think the first is a great film and the
second an interesting adaptation and more LEAR that the former.  Calling
RAN a version of KING LEAR is like calling TITUS good Ovid.  Sure, RAN
appropriates LEAR, but it's pure Kurosawa, not cooked Shakespeare.  To
dwell on its roots is to overlook and dismiss the great Japanese
director's presence.

Jane Smiley's novel is better than the film though such comparisons are
always full of fault.  Yet I believe it's an excellent treatment of
LEAR, one of my favorite adaptations among those which modernize the
language, because of how it changes the angle of perception.  Telling
the story from the vantage point of the daughters provokes us to think
about Lear's strange behavior and the daughters' motivations in fresh
ways.

Similarly, I think Updike's GERTRUDE AND CLAUDIUS is wonderfully
crafted in the way it provides a back story for the characters,
especially Polonius, that invites new speculation about what makes
everyone tick.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 19:22:45 -0400
Subject:        Re: Great or not so great Lears

Stephanie Hughes  writes

>Not that I've seen all that many Lears, but Ran is my favorite,
> more true to the sense of the original than any other I've ever seen.
> Along these lines, does anyone else detest the Ian Holm version,
> recently revisited on PBS television, a sort of low budget (no budget?)
> Star Trek. Truly a tale told by idiots.

I have to confess that I saw the opening only of the Ian Holm _Lear_,
but wasn't able to see the rest (unlike Coleridge, I forget why I was
interrupted). I didn't see enough to form much of an opinion, but was
not too excited about what I did see. I, too, love _Ran_, especially for
Tatsuya Nakadai's intense performance. For other Lears, I have to admit
that Olivier's bold performance from the mid-1980s (with a dream cast,
including Colin Blakeley's superb Kent) has spoiled me. His quiet
intensity when he finally recognizes Cordelia chokes me up completely
(of course, she helps immensely). Many people find him too "technical"
-- a complaint often laid at the master's feet -- but I have no problem
with his approach to acting in general or his performance of Lear in
particular.

Does anyone else remember this BBC video?

Paul E. Doniger
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Re: Nay, very pale

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0783  Thursday, 5 April 2001

From:           Paul E. Doniger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 19:45:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Nay, very pale.
Comment:        SHK 12.0762 Re: Nay, very pale.

Clifford Stetner writes:

> I would like to argue that what is on stage in Hamlet's dialogues with
> Horatio is the ghost of Thomas Kyd ... ( ... who many
> scholars find reason to believe authored an earlier Hamlet/ghost play).
...  > Beginning with this hypothesis, I'm led to infer a close
relationship
> between Shakespeare and Kyd, perhaps apprentice/master, perhaps fellow
> scholars at the school of theater.

I wonder if there has been any recent scholarship about this issue. If
scholars like Harold Bloom and Peter Alexander could both doubt the Kyd
authorship of the _Ur-Hamlet_ (or whatever it was), might we not look
more closely at the assumption (based in part on a somewhat cryptic note
by Nashe)? Is it likely, also, that Shakespeare would have been
connected at all closely with Kyd? Weren't they involved in rival
companies?

I'd love to explore this question more deeply.

Paul E. Doniger

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Re: Black Cleopatra

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0781  Thursday, 5 April 2001

[1]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 11:02:06 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra

[2]     From:   J. B. Lethbridge <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 22:00:28 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Apr 2001 00:12:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 11:02:06 -0700
Subject: 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra

>I hate to be difficult but are we to assume that Marc Antony, not to
>mention his sexually ambivalent foster father, fell insanely in love
>with a dowdy, dumpy intellectual? I don't say it's impossible, but it
>does seem to me unlikely, especially considering the type that the Man
>of Action (like Antony) usually goes for.

Hey, never underestimate the power of a dowdy, dumpy, intellectual
female.

You might ask yourself, what would Antony and Caesar have thought of the
ideal feminine of our own time? Most of the females I know hate it since
it make them look dowdy and dumpy by comparison. (Who can give up eating
entirely or has the time to "define" their arms at a gym?) I saw a
reproduction of a drawing of Cleopatra that was described as authentic
and thought she looked pretty cool, sort of like Maria Callas.

>I remember doing some research on Billy the Kid some years back and
>coming on a very well informed historian who debunked perhaps ninety per
>cent of the killings attributed to him.

As for "the Kid," nobody ever looked so dowdy, dumpy and downright
stupid as the guy in the single photograph we have of him, yet dozens of
women claimed he was their lover, women protected him, lied for him and
went crazy when he died. There's still no answer to the question of
whether the Kid was a bad guy or a good guy. A double reputation still
lives to this day. But what we can be sure of is that no one could
arouse either this kind of adoration or the hatred that is its mirror
opposite unless they had tremendous charisma.

Stephanie Hughes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. B. Lethbridge <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 22:00:28 +0200
Subject: 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra

Don Bloom remarks of Billy the Kid, that

"If the people who knew him considered him such a threat, he probably
was one."

So all the witches in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries really
were witches because the people who knew them thought they were?  I had
a friend once who was falsely accused of a murder. Even after the
culprit was found, people still said, no smoke without fire.  It was
very damaging.  When it comes to live people, I dare say we'd all agree
that such aspersion is foul.

I wonder if a good principle for lit crit would be that what we cannot
argue (or state without argument) about living people we shouldn't argue
about historical or fictional characters.  A remark like this is not
evidence; one would hope that it would not stand up in a court of law --
why should it pass in criticism or history then, when one has more time
to be more careful about evidence?

Aspersion and bald accusation are very common in lit crit (and of course
on this list, where one is more hurried and perhaps plain combative) --
but would such remarks stand up to a libel suit?  If not, should they
stand up in lit crit?

Julian Lethbridge
University of Tuebingen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Apr 2001 00:12:48 -0400
Subject: 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0758 Re: Black Cleopatra

Don Bloom:

> I hate to be difficult but are we to assume that Marc Antony, not to
> mention his sexually ambivalent foster father, fell insanely in love
> with a dowdy, dumpy intellectual? I don't say it's impossible, but it
> does seem to me unlikely, especially considering the type that the Man
> of Action (like Antony) usually goes for.
<snip>
> In Cleopatra's case, something must have made her sensually overpowering
> or she could not have used her sensuality to protect herself and her
> throne.

But what is the historical evidence for this love?  Need the "something"
(in the way she moves?) be anything more than her political power as an
absolute monarch and worshipped goddess (a status desired and soon
achieved by the Roman emperors)?  Power and luxury (and drugs?) almost
kept Odysseus on Circe's island, and Aeneas in Africa.  Why not Julius
and Antony?  Poets have an annoying habit of attributing romantic
motives to what history shows merely to be imperialism.

I agree with Mari Bonomi that Cleo's political acumen seems at least as
credible an endearing quality as her overpowering sensuality.  It just
doesn't make for good poetry.

Clifford
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