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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby et al.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2461  Friday, 26 October 2001

[1]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Oct 2001 21:51:12 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.2441 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Oct 2001 14:01:09 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2441 Re: Sir Toby et al.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Oct 2001 21:51:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        SHK 12.2441 Re: Sir Toby et al.

Larry Weiss mentions:

> I have always assumed that Feste's name derives from the same Latin root
> that gives us Festival.  But an errant thought has recently occurred to
> me that it might be an ironic play on the German word "feste," meaning
> "mighty."

Florio mentions also that the name may have been invented by Shakespeare
from the Italian word, festeggiante, which he says means "feasting, ...
of good entertainment." It certainly seems to fit. The verb,
festeggiare, means to entertain or to celebrate. The Italian variant for
'Festival' is 'festa'.

Paul E. Doniger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Oct 2001 14:01:09 +0100
Subject: 12.2441 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2441 Re: Sir Toby et al.

Thomases Larque and Bishop are not convinced that _Twelfe Night_ might
mean midnight instead of Twelfth Night. As Larque's list of examples
shows, "twelf[e]" could mean 12th. But it could also mean 12, as in the
following work's title:

Douglas, Gawin, 1474?-1522: Heyr begynnys the proloug of Virgyll prynce
of Latyn poetis in hys twelf bukis of Eneados compilit and translatit
furth of Latyn in our Scottis langage by ane right nobill and
wirschipfull clerk Master Gawyn Dowglas provest of Sanct Gylys Kyrk in
Edinburgh and person of Lyntoun in Louthiane quhilk eftyr was bischop of
Dunkeld. [from Virgil's Aeneid (1950-1964)]

(This is taken from Chadwyck-Healey's LION database)

Objections that early printings consistently distinguish "twelue" (= 12)
from "twelf[e]" (= 12th) are weak. Compositors were not obliged to set
what they saw but rather what they thought it meant. The presence of
untheatrical Latin divisions ("Actus Secundus, Scaena Prima") indicate
that F's underlying copy was a scribal literary transcript, giving a
second layer of mediation. An eyewitness account shortly after
performance has an independent evidential value. In this I don't go
quite as far as Terry Hawkes who suggested at the London Shakespeare
Seminar on 15 October that we should read Forman's eyewitness account of
The Winter's Tale as a form of adaptation ("Forman's Shakespeare"), but
one can see his point. An educated man recording an early performance
began to write "mid" and then changed to "Twelfe night" as the play's
title.

That "twelve-night" meaning "midnight" was not a contemporary usage is
also a weak objection. Noon means midday and midnight, and from "12
noon" a poetical mind might invent "12 night". A pun on "12th night"
then becomes available--alas I'm conceding ground here--and if the poet
becomes sick of explaining the joke then, "what you will".

Gabriel Egan

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