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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Malvolio's Socks
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1302  Thursday, 31 May 2001

From:           Stevie Gamble <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:08:30 EDT
Subject: 12.1278 Malvolio's Socks
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1278 Malvolio's Socks

>Professor Katherine Duncan-Jones in her very readable "Ungentle
>Shakespeare" links Malvolio's cross-gartering to Shakespeare's coat of
>arms and remarks on the Order of the Garter and the fashion of the time.
>The linkage is highly persuasive and plausible. I recall an association
>with a dispute over the monopoly on yellow dye involving a deceased
>physician to Elizabeth, his widow, the over-use of the colour, and the
>Queen's abhorrence of its pervasiveness in ruffles and collars. This
>also seemed plausible and persuasive. Have I eaten of the insane root or
>does anyone recollect the details of the case?

By coincidence I am currently following discussion of the use of saffron
in the 16th century on another mailing list, where I was somewhat
puzzled by the apparent contradiction between the cost of an extremely
expensive dyestuff and the frequency with which it was described: the
state of play from people far more knowledgeable than myself on such
matters is that

>there's
>good evidence that the term 'saffron' generally was the term by
>which the English observers referred to the color of the Irish shirt, not
>the dye used, or at least that most Gaels (Irish and Scots) used weld for
>the yellow color instead.

I just thought we might like to add this to the pot regarding the
origins and significance of Malvolio's cross-dressing...

Best Wishes,
Stevie Gamble

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