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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Double Time in Othello
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1122  Monday, 14 May 2001

From:           Graham Bradshaw <
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Date:           Saturday, 12 May 2001 13:35:51 +0900
Subject: 12.1102 Re: Double Time in Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1102 Re: Double Time in Othello

For what it's worth, I discussed the "double time" issue at considerable
length in "Misrepresentations", arguing that it's a "bad
nineteenth-century" ingenuity, or myth. I shan't try to summarise that
argument, because it was necessarily lengthy and complicated. Various
things are at issue, including, for example, the question of whether
Bianca is a Cypriot householder, or has followed Cassio to Cyprus from
Venice; and the far more important question of whether Othello and
Desdemona's marriage is consummated on the first (and only) night in
Cyprus, or whether the murder is that marriage's only "consummation".

So far as I know, Harold Bloom is the only critic who agreed with my
"minority" view. Ernst Honigmann doesn't, in his splendid New Arden
edition, but he doesn't explain why he doesn't, and I, for one, have no
idea why he doesn't, since he merely directs the reader to my
discussion, for a "contrary" view--without discussing what is at issue.
That is what I think of as "supermarket" logic. If what is at issue does
matter, so that a "contrary" view also matters enough to be worth a
citation, I'd suppose that the "contrary" view should be discussed and,
if it is wrong, refuted.
But there is no discussion.

So far as I know, again, the only other recent and extended discussion
of the "double time" issue in "Othello" has been that Steve Sohmer
presented at the Valencia Congress. Steve's  way of "resolving" the
issue is very different, since it involves differences between two
calendars. His argument is also too detailed to be summarised into a
pap-bite for those who, when they seem to be listening, are only
thinking about what to say next. And it hasn't yet been published.
However, Steve is in the SHAKSPER group and (as I discovered) is
generous in sharing his findings with anybody who cares to ask.

I don't agree with Steve; he doesn't agree with me. That could be a
stimulus, if what is at issue matters; the Chinese/Japanese character
for "disaster" also means "opportunity"! But necessarily close and
detailed discussions of this sort usually fall on stony ground, in my
experience. That's just not what gets people going, now.So, we are
constantly told that everything is "primarily" or (???) "ultimately"
political, but in cases of this sort, where the evidence in question is
decidedly textual--not, or before it can be,  politicized--many people
just go to sleep.

My own tired, ungenerous view is that Velz and Hughes are merely
chattering about the "double time" issue, as though it had never before
been discussed and (much more carefully) examined. Scientists and
historians couldn't behave like that without being professionally
discredited. Isn't such unscholarly slackness frivolous, and
unprofessional, and more generally indicative of the ways in which
"English" has ceased to be, in any Humboldtian or otherwise serious
sense, a "discipline"?

Cheers to all, from a sad heart in the post-colonial (ha-ha!!--a bitter
joke!) supermarket,

Graham Bradshaw

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