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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Nigh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2582  Monday, 12 November 2001

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 11 Nov 2001 21:05:00 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

[2]     From:   Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Saturday, 10 Nov 2001 08:26:08 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

[3]     From:   Laura Blankenship <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 Nov 2001 16:52:26 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

[4]     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 Nov 2001 15:51:26 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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Date:           Friday, 9 Nov 2001 15:51:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

Antonio's may be one of those open-ended silences of which Shakespeare
is so fond in his comic endings.  It is left for actors, directors,
audiences, and readers to speculate, and theatrical interpretations are
myriad.  One attractive possibility is for Olivia's "most wonderful" to
be
the expression of joy and reverence called forth by a miracle.  There
are two of these wondrous creatures; each believes the other to have
been resurrected, and one of them is mine.  Antonio, not paired at
play's end, has lost Sebastian to Olivia in the very moment of finding
him.  Like his
namesake in Merchant of Venice, he is alone--and perhaps exits, at
play's end, in a different direction than the other characters.  I like
to think of him as returning to the sea.  David Richman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Blankenship <
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Date:           Friday, 9 Nov 2001 16:52:26 -0500
Subject: 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

>How is this dealt with in productions of the play?

The production I saw at Stratford this past summer had Olivia seem truly
thrilled to have two exact copies of a lover.  They played it for laughs
mostly, but implied, with a couple of intense kisses between Olivia and
Viola, that Olivia had rediscovered her sexuality and was directing her
passion fairly indiscriminately.  I kind of liked this playing up of
homoeroticism between the women.  Modern audiences laugh at such things
now, but I suspect Shakespeare's audience would have squirmed a little
more.  I had previously always taken the line to be an expression of
revelation--almost on a religious level--with the idea that only God can
accomplish such amazing things as creating twins.

Laura Blankenship

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Saturday, 10 Nov 2001 08:26:08 +0800
Subject: 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

The best reading of that line I've seen was by Sarah Berger at the RSC
back in the early '80s: wide-eyed, salacious glee; the look and tone of
someone who'd just doubled her pleasure.

Arthur Lindley

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 11 Nov 2001 21:05:00 -0500
Subject: 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2576 "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

Jessica Stevenson asks:

>When Twelfth Night's cast discovers that Sebastian is a twin (5.1.192)
>Antonio reacts with suspicion to the double appearance of his beloved
>(205-209) but Olivia exclaims only "most wonderful!" (210).  What is
>expressed in Olivia's remark?

In the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival production (Oct. 11-Nov. 4,
2001), her exclamation expressed lustful glee: double the pleasure,
double the fun.  A less sexy, more sedate Olivia might simply mean "it's
a wonder."

Yours, Bill Godshalk

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