2001

Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2334  Friday, 12 October 2001

[1]     From:   Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 07:57:21 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 11:29:24 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 13:38:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2313 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

[4]     From:   Tony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 14:58:04 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 07:57:21 -0700
Subject: 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

>From: Steve Sohmer

>1603. Next?

Okay, so when is your Othello paper coming out? (Some of us couldn't
make Valencia.) Next EMLS?

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 11:29:24 EDT
Subject: 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

What about the incongruous rhyming couplets scene between Brabantio and
the Duke that sounds like a passage in Selimus? Clearly Othello was
co-written by Greene just before he died and was resuscitated by Chettle
(and it's in the FOLIO).

...When remedies are past, the griefs are ended,
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
To mourn a mischief that is past and gone,
Is the next way to draw a new mischief on.
What cannot be preserv'd when fortune takes
Patience her injury a mockery makes.
The robb'd, that smiles, steals something from the thief;
He robs himself, that spends a bootless grief...

etc

Oh the poetry, oh the wisdom of the bard!!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 13:38:21 -0400
Subject: 12.2313 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2313 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

John Briggs:

>The problem of "Othello" is this.  It is widely accepted that the Q text
>derives from Shakespeare's "foul papers".  There is similar agreement
>that the F text derives from an edited "fair copy," presumably by
>Shakespeare himself.

Yes, it is widely accepted, but Paul Werstine challenges these accepted
truths. How can you prove that a printed text is derived from rough
draft (i.e., "foul papers") or a "fair copy"?  The manuscript has been
prepared for the printer, and a compositor or two and a corrector of the
press stand between us and the manuscript from which the script has been
printed. We should also, perhaps, consider Bill Long's work on early
modern "promptbooks."

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 14:58:04 -0400
Subject: 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2324 Re: Date of Composition of _Othello_

The references to verbal "echoes" Shakespeare may have stolen from
himself, either from Hamlet to Othello or vice versa, or in other
comparable situations seem to me to go far into the realm of casual
speculation and poor critical methodology.  We are not talking about two
different authors, one of whom was creative and the other a magpie.
Shakespeare's inner creative vision gave rise to both examples (in every
such case), and HE is the authentic source of each one.  To say that he
copied, echoed, or borrowed from the earliest example of a particular
expression is entirely absurd, especially in light of the problematic
issue that we don't know whether he had written copies of his scripts
lying around to which he could refer.  We can use Occam's razor to
expose the most reasonable treatment of these correspondences:  he found
a later situation that brought to mind and image or phrase of his own
that aptly described an earlier example of a similar situation.  For
those who object that one case is different from its supposed parallel,
the challenge is for them to find the common feature which prompted a
literary genius to come back from the well of his imagination with the
same pitcher, and not to assume that his creativity suddenly escaped him
and left him grasping for old near-solutions.

Tony B

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Stratford Festival Season 2002

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2333  Friday, 12 October 2001

[1]     From:   Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 10:03:10 -0400
        Subj:   Stratford Festival Season 2002

[2]     From:   John Ramsay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 12:48:33 -0400
        Subj:   Stratford Ontario Season


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 10:03:10 -0400
Subject:        Stratford Festival Season 2002

The following news release was issued on the 10th.

Tanya Gough

 Release 36/2001

 SEVENTEEN PRODUCTIONS, INCLUDING SEVEN BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, IN
 STRATFORD'S GOLDEN 50TH SEASON

October 10, 2001... The Stratford Festival of Canada celebrates its 50th
season of theatre in 2002 with a playbill described by Artistic Director
Richard Monette as a "celebration of how artists heal through laughter,
tears and beauty."

At the core of the 2002 playbill are seven plays by William Shakespeare,
including the two plays first mounted at Stratford in its first year,
1953. "The Stratford Festival began with Shakespeare in 1953" with
productions of the All's Well That Ends Well and Richard III, said Mr.
Monette. The Festival Theatre stage "was conceived by our first Artistic
Director, Tyrone Guthrie, and realized by designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch,
for playing Shakespeare. Although they went back to Elizabethan staging
for inspiration, our Stratford stage liberated Shakespeare and changed
forever the way we do theatre."

Mr. Monette said that the Festival in its 50th season should celebrate
its accomplishments, "even at a time when the world is not in a mood for
celebration, after the terrorist attacks of September 11. But as Winston
Churchill said during the Second World War, if we do not maintain the
arts, then what are we fighting for?"

In times of trouble, people turn to music and words, said Mr. Monette,
and Shakespeare's words have a particular power to heal and help us
understand the human condition. "At the theatre, those words are made
flesh. We celebrate the actors who make this happen, and the audiences
who come to the theatre to share together their laughter and tears."

Opening the season on May 27 will be All's Well That Ends Well, a
Shakespearean romantic comedy directed by Mr. Monette, who describes the
play "as a romance, a fairy tale." This is the fifth time in 50 years
the Festival has produced All's Well, which was one of the plays chosen
by Guthrie to launch the Stratford Festival in 1953.

All's Well was written in 1603, the same year a painting of a young man
named as Shakespeare was created by John Sanderson. His descendants
brought the portrait to Canada, where this year its current owner has
revealed it to the world. While scholars cannot definitively determine
if the portrait is, indeed, of Shakespeare, Mr. Monette and Executive
Director Antoni Cimolino have secured reproduction rights of the image
for the Festival's 2002 season to celebrate "Shakespeare in the new
world," says Mr. Cimolino. As Sanderson's family is thought to have
brought this portrait of Shakespeare to Canada, "so the Stratford
Festival of Canada has brought Shakespeare's plays to our new world."

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's timeless romantic tragedy of two young
star-cross'd lovers, also will be presented at the Festival Theatre,
opening May 31 and directed by Miles Potter. Rounding out the
Shakespeare presentations at the Festival Theatre is the previously
announced production of Shakespeare's King Lear, directed by Jonathan
Miller and set to open August 24.

The Festival also will complete its cycle of Shakespearean history plays
that started with Richard II in 1999 and continued in 2001 with Henry
IV, Part 1, Falstaff (Henry IV, Part 2) and Henry V. In 2002, the three
plays written about Henry VI's reign will be presented in two parts at
the Festival's Tom Patterson Theatre as Henry VI: Revenge in France and
Henry VI: Revolt in England. These two productions, opening June 1, will
both be directed by Leon Rubin. The saga of the Wars of the Roses
continues with Shakespeare's Richard III: Reign of Terror, which will
open at the Avon Theatre July 13. Tyrone Guthrie directed Richard III to
open the Stratford Festival on July 13, 1953; in 2002, Martha Henry will
direct this golden season production.

The final Shakespeare play is actually a late-career collaboration
between Shakespeare and John Fletcher. The Two Noble Kinsmen, to be
presented at the Tom Patterson Theatre and directed by Conservatory
Principal David Latham, will feature graduates of the Festival's
Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training, now in its fourth year. The
Festival has never before mounted a full production of this
Shakespearean play, which will open July 12.

The Festival will present two musicals this year: My Fair Lady by Alan
Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe at the Festival Theatre, directed by Mr.
Monette; and The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill at
the Avon Theatre, directed by Festival alumnus Stephen Ouimette, who
makes his directorial debut at Stratford with this production. My Fair
Lady, which will open May 28, features such well-known songs as "The
Rain in Spain," "I Could Have Danced All Night," "Get Me to the Church
on Time" and "On the Street Where You Live." The Threepenny Opera, a
witty and satirical jazz musical about the thieves-and-beggars world of
Mack the Knife, will officially open the newly refurbished Avon Theatre
on May 29.

The final play at the Avon Theatre will be The Scarlet Pimpernel by
Beverley Cross, adapted from the novel by Baroness Orczy. This
swashbuckling adventure of concealed identities and heroic rescues set
in the time of the French Revolution, a wonderful Family Experience show
for all ages, was first written for the Chichester Festival Theatre in
England. Directed by Dennis Garnhum, it opens May 30.

The Festival will also open its fourth theatre space, the Studio
Theatre, on July 13, 2002, with two new Canadian one-act plays. "The
commitment to new play development and Canadian plays remain strong,
although given recent events in the world and the change in economic
conditions, we've had to reposition our playbill for the Studio Theatre
in its first year to  ensure its long-term viability," Mr Monette says.

Six one-act plays - five of them new works by Canadian authors - will be
presented at the theatre, as well as a new full-length play, The Swanne,
Part 1: The Death of Cupid by Montreal director and dramaturge Peter
Hinton. This play, set in the childhood time of Queen Victoria, is
described by Mr. Monette as an edgy, challenging work written in verse
for a cast of 21. It will premi


Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2331  Friday, 12 October 2001

[1]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, October 12, 2001
        Subj:   Apology

[2]     From:   Aubrey Chan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 16:39:20 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 13:23:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

[4]     From:   Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 16:28:14 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

[5]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 20:33:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, October 12, 2001
Subject:        Apology

Let me apologize to Yacov Kenigsberg for not attributing to him his
excellent post of yesterday, which follows:

Although I did not recognize the melody to the song Jessica sang at the
end of MOV, but I did recognize the words. They were from "Eishet Chayil
(Woman of Valor)," which is traditionally sung by Jewish men at the
beginning of the friday night Sabbath meal in honor of their wives.

The words to "Eishet Chayil" are verses 10-31 of Proverbs 31 (the last
22 verses of the book). The verse Jessica sang was verse 12: "Gemalatu
tov, v'loh rah, col y'may chayehah (she repays his good, and not bad,
all the days of her life)" (my rough translation and even rougher
transliteration).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Aubrey Chan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 16:39:20 +0000
Subject: 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

> Chris Stroffolino asked
> Does anybody know when this will be on TV in the bay
>area.....

Merchant was on KQED on Monday 08Oct2001 and KTEH on Tuesday 09Oct2001.
I guess you missed it.

Aubrey Chan
San Francisco

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 13:23:55 -0400
Subject: 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

Philip Tomaski wrote:

>  It seems strange to me that no
> one thinks of the 'alien' law until after Shylock has renounced his
> contract.  In fact, the implication is that the law has no bearing on
> the contract at all.  This flies in the face of my admittedly limited
> understanding of the law.  Killing an innocent person, whether done by
> an 'alien' or not, is pretty much universally a criminal offense.  It
> does not become legitimized simply by virtue of a contract.  I can't
> imagine this was not true in Venice at any point in its history.  Does
> anyone know if there is any basis for this, or is it simply one of those
> plot devices that does not bear 'thinking too precisely on the event'?

The important legal point to remember is that this is a fairy tale.   I
do not believe that English common law or equity would ever have granted
specific performance of a pound of flesh forfeiture, whether or not it
was prohibited by an alien law.  There were statutes aplenty forbidding
murder; but apart from that, a forfeiture which would result in the
death of defaulting party (other than by slow starvation in debtor's
prison, of course) would have been contrary to the common law.  (As an
aside, there is a question as to whether Shylock was seeking legal or
equitable redress.  Hew was asking for specific performance of his
contract, and today most courts regard that as equitable relief, but
from an historical standpoint that is in error as the law courts
traditionally granted specific performance as a legal remedy.)

An interesting point that I have never seen mooted is why Shylock did
not simply take his forfeiture without legal process.  There is no
indication that the bond required a foreclosure proceeding.  Since
Shylock could simply "fee ... an officer" to arrest Antonio, he might
have been able to take the pound of flesh by self-help.  In any
prosecution for murder, Shylock would have set up the defense of the
contract -- volente non fit iniuria.  Of course, the poor draftsmanship
on which Portia relied would presumably have defeated the defense.

Of course, if WS was intending to depict legal proceedings of any sort,
he had English process in mind, not Venetian.  But I doubt that Venetian
law of the Renaissance would have been any different on this point,
unless, of course, it received the ancient Roman legis actio per manus
iniectionem, which did not depend on a contract -- it was a statutory
procedure (legis actio) deriving from the Twelve Tables under which
creditors had the right to tear their debtors to pieces.  Interestingly,
the Roman statute anticipated Portia's argument, as it specifically
provided that if any creditor took more or less than his fair share it
was not a wrong.  It is probable that the creditors usually preferred
the alternative remedy of selling the debtor into slavery to realize the
debt.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 16:28:14 -0500
Subject: 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

Philip Tomposki writes,

"It seems extremely cavalier of Portia to risk Antonio's life without a
clear foolproof plan.  In the PBS version Portia (Derbhle Crotty) seemed
to have assumed that her (and her money's) powers of persuasion would
carry the day.  When she realizes the depth of Shylock's hatred and
resolve, she appears to be in shock, thinking her bit of sport had
doomed her husband's friend.  This makes for high drama (Trevor Nunn was
clearly not aiming for comedy) but puts it Portia in a very bad light,
and I doubt it's what WS had in mind."

[The sense of all that has gone before in Portia's conduct at the trial
is her earnest desire to bring Shylock around to mercy and common sense
(twice to ten times the debt?) out of his own conscience.  In the PBS
production, she is almost successful in this, as  Shylock has early
shown his distaste for the task he is to perform and even at the very
point of cutting,  weeps and backs away from the gruesome task of taking
his pound of flesh.  But when he pulls himself together in his hate and
moves forward quickly and finally to cut, even against his own better
feeling, it is clear that every hope for self-correction in Shylock  has
been exhausted and Portia's next step must be taken to save Antonio's
life.  Granting her intentions, I don't believe that this puts Portia in
any but the best possible light.  As for Shakespeare's intentions, those
are whatever any good director and actor, faithful to the argument of
the play, makes them.  (And they appear to be so delightfully ambiguous
in this play as to warrant several possible interpretations.)]

"A more logical approach (not that logic necessarily is the best
approach in the theater) is to have Portia string Shylock along,
preparing a trap for him.  When it become undeniably clear that he does
intend to murder Antonio, Portia stops him, with a rather casual 'Tarry
a little' before presenting her 'jot of blood' ploy.  When he finally
abandons his suit, she springs the 'alien' on him.  This works better in
a comic setting, with Portia calmly making her pronouncements, thereby
signifying she has something up her sleeve.  The audience can then enjoy
the tribulation of Antonio and his friends and Shylock's triumph,
knowing that the situation will soon be reversed, all the while
wondering what the clever gal has planned."

[Although there is a possible consistency in this, inasmuch as Portia
will later test her husband's fidelity by insisting on the gift of the
ring, the much greater seriousness of the attempted evocation of mercy
in Shylock does not suggest anything comic.  At the end of the trial,
the treatment of Shylock (above all else, requiring him to become a
Christian!) is so fraught with ugliness on the "Christian" side, one is
reminded of the overpowering nastiness of Orozco's satirical painting,
"Sisters of Charity." This play has no happy ending as is attested by
the conventional treatment of Jessica as sharply feeling her desertion
of her father. (And did she really trade for a monkey the ring her
mother gave her father ?!)]

"Alternately, Portia could intend to spring her trap, but becoming
increasingly sympathetic to Shylock as she becomes aware of the
legitimacy of his grievances.  In this case, her pleas for mercy are not
to save Antonio, but to save Shylock from himself.  Again, she waits for
the last minute to stop Shylock to be sure of his intentions."

[Yes!  This is so much of the very heart of the argument of the play -
the same "heart" that leads Antonio to pledge his life for Bassanio,
then, later, to Portia, his soul for him - it is irrestible as an
interpretation of Portia's intentions relative to Shylock. ]

"This is probably not what WS was thinking, but might work better with
the more serious interpretations a post-Holocaust MOV seems to demand.
(In fact, I thought I detected hints of this in Goodman's and Crotty's
performance.)"

[Ideally, post- or pre- Holocaust should have nothing to do with this,
our eternal struggle with the need to forgive, which "blesseth him that
gives and him that takes."]

" I have a question of my own to present.  It seems strange to me that
no one thinks of the 'alien' law until after Shylock has renounced his
contract.  In fact, the implication is that the law has no bearing on
the contract at all.  This flies in the face of my admittedly limited
understanding of the law.  Killing an innocent person, whether done by
an 'alien' or not, is pretty much universally a criminal offense.  It
does not become legitimized simply by virtue of a contract.  I can't
imagine this was not true in Venice at any point in its history.  Does
anyone know if there is any basis for this, or is it simply one of those
plot devices that does not bear 'thinking too precisely on the event'?"

[This "law" is best considered a construction by Shakespeare for the
play, rather than anything Venice or any other legal body ever
recorded.  That this "law" has been made specifically to deal with
aliens rather than with anyone whatever stresses the hypocrisy of this
"Christian" community in its failure to embrace an outsider as a
brother.  I think it should be played so. ]

          [L. Swilley]

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 20:33:44 -0700
Subject: 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2323 Re: PBS Masterpiece Theatre/Merchant of Venice

Philip Tomposki asks,

>Alternately, Portia could intend to spring her trap, but becoming
>increasingly sympathetic to Shylock as she becomes aware of the
>legitimacy of his grievances.  In this case, her pleas for mercy are not
>to save Antonio, but to save Shylock from himself.  Again, she waits for
>the last minute to stop Shylock to be sure of his intentions.

There's another possibility (IMHO) which you haven't listed:  could she
be keeping Antonio on death's door for as long as possible to gauge her
position within the emerging triangular relationship with Bassanio and
Antonio?  After all, immediately before giving the pound of flesh to
Shylock, she elicited Antonio's speech in which he convinces Bassanio to
favour himself over her:  "You, merchant, have you anything to say?"

The whole procedure is perhaps cruel not only in how it treats Shylock,
stringing him along before pointing out that (surprise, surprise) murder
is illegal, but also in how Antonio is made to wait, like a captive on
death-row, for the sentence.

As to why nobody else notices the obvious, I would suggest that it might
have to do with the way in which everyone's mental outlook in this
fictional Venice is taken up by commercial law.  One would think that
the Duke (at least!) would have recalled the murder statutes, since they
specify his prerogatives, but nobody does, because their city is a
commercial city, ruled by contracts.  Even though her own interpretation
is even more literalist, Portia at least finds away around the bond
where everyone else seems to be in awe of it.

Cheers,
Se


Re: Malvolio, Toby, and LLW

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2332  Friday, 12 October 2001

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 10:24:28 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2329 Re: Sir Toby

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 13:09:10 -0400
        Subj:   Sir Toby?

[3]     From:   Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 19:23:02 +0000
        Subj:   Tearful misanthropy

[4]     From:   John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 12 Oct 2001 11:15:44 +0100
        Subj:   Love's Labours Won

[5]     From:   Bob Grumman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 17:20:27 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2329 Re: Sir Toby


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 10:24:28 -0600
Subject: 12.2329 Re: Sir Toby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2329 Re: Sir Toby

Some thoughts on a possibly sympathetic Malvolio:

It may be true that we (moderns) are more tolerant of folly and more
sympathetic with suffering than Shakespeare and his contemporaries
were.  But maybe we shouldn't congratulate (or condemn) ourselves too
quickly.  The differences between ourselves and our predecessors may not
be quite so stark as we're imagining.

_King Lear_ makes it quite clear that Shakespeare's audiences were
capable of sympathizing with suffering, even on the part of someone who
has been pompous and foolish.  Shylock is a harder case.  Yet while
Shylock is certainly the villain of _The Merchant of Venice_ , the play
also extends a few unmistakable invitations to understand and sympathize
with him.

In any interpretation of _Twelfth Night_ that makes sense, Malvolio is
deeply flawed: self-centered, lacking in self-awareness and in sympathy
for others, and a killjoy besides.  (He's not literally a Puritan,
though, if we're to believe Maria: "The dev'l a puritan that he is, or
anything constantly but a time-pleaser, an affection'd ass," etc.
[2.3.147ff.]).  The trick on Malvolio, at least up till his
imprisonment, provides some of the best fun in all of Shakespeare.

But I don't think the play, considered carefully and as a whole, wants
us simply to enjoy the tormenting of Malvolio and side with his
opponents.  Maria and probably Feste come off mainly sympathetically,
but our response to Toby and Andrew will be mixed.  I find Toby
especially hard to entirely like, partly because Olivia's and Maria's
criticism (even some of Malvolio's) seem justified, and even more
because by the end Toby reveals a side of his character worse than
drunkenness or even than Malvolio's stupidity: Toby's self-centeredness
and lack of sympathy for others are more conscious and deliberate than
Malvolio's, revealing themselves in his manipulation of Andrew (compare
Iago with Roderigo) and in his savagely turning on him at the end ("an
ass-head and a coxcomb and a knave, a thin-fac'd knave, a gull!"
[5.1.206-07]).

Does the play invite any sympathy with Malvolio?  Consider the
following:

When she hears of Malvolio's supposed madness, Olivia says, "Let some of
my people have a special care of him.  I would not have him miscarry for
the half of my dowry" (3.4.62-63).  Apparently, for all his faults,
Malvolio is a valued servant.

Audiences may respond with either pain or amusement (or a mixture of
both ) to Malvolio's description in the last scene of what he's been
through.  But Olivia's response shows something other than heartless
enjoyment of another person's suffering:

         Prithee be content.
This practice hath most shrewdly pass'd upon thee;
But when we know the grounds and authors of it,
Thou shalt be both the plaintiff and the judge
Of thine own cause.

Fabian suggests that the trick on Malvolio was at once funny and cruel
and argues that both sides of the quarrel have a case:

How with a sportful malice it was follow'd
May rather pluck on laughter than revenge,
If that the injuries be justly weigh'd
That have on both sides pass'd.

Then Olivia: "Alas, poor fool, how have they baffled thee!"

I think the play ends with a mixture of attitudes: both sympathy and
amusement at Malvolio's plight, a desire for harmony and some degree of
justice and mutual satisfaction (and enlightenment) on both sides of the
quarrel, some continued mocking (by Feste--but he's the only one at the
end who keeps playing that note), and of course the joy and wonder of
the newly united and enlightened lovers and siblings.  The laughter
Feste is hoping for now in place of revenge is not, I think, malicious
and mocking, but a kind of healing, self-aware laughter, of which even
now Malvolio (and probably Toby and Andrew) are unfortunately incapable.

Malvolio may forfeit some of the sympathy we'd like to give him when he
says, "I'll be reveng'd on the whole pack of you."  But Olivia
immediately follows with: "He hath been most notoriously abus'd." And
then Orsino: "Pursue him, and entreat him to a peace."  Their responses
do much to raise them in our opinions--they certainly have a capacity
for generosity that Malvolio lacks.  But of course they weren't locked
up in a dark house either.

In any case, I don't think the play is trying to exalt Malvolio as a
model for our imitation.  But I think it is suggesting that Olivia's and
Orsino's responses to his suffering and anger are appropriate--he has
been badly wronged, and it is right to hope his anger can be mollified.

It's possible to make of Malvolio nothing but an object of scorn and
malicious enjoyment.  But doing so requires ignoring or discounting all
of these indications that another, more complicated response is
possible.

Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 13:09:10 -0400
Subject:        Sir Toby?

After reading Don Bloom's two most recent posts, I came across an old
transcript from the 1870's of an encounter between a student and his
professor that may shed some light on recent critical discussions on
this thread:

Student: (timorously advancing). "Professor Blume, I have a great idea
about _Hamlet_: I think. . . ."

Professor: "You think?  Don't tell me you're making inferences again!
The text, man, the text is the thing."

Student:  "Well, yes, but I've been reading over the play, and I think
that there are parallels between some of the other characters and Hamlet
himself."

Professor:  "What? Impossible."

Student:  "Well, not really. It seems that Fortinbras, Laertes, even
Ophelia are all in some ways parallel to . . . ."

Profesor:  "To Hamlet??  Nonsense!  Does Ophelia have a scene in her
mother's bed chamber? Does Fortinbras? Does Laertes?"

Student: "Well, no, but . . . "

Professor: "Well, there's an end on it!  You are inferring your way into
nonsense, boy!" Stick to the text! Practice philology and morphology;
and for heaven's sake, understand that people back in 1600 don't think
like you - thank God!"

Student: "But if you'd just consider. . . ."

Professor: "Look: let me make it clear: you are wrong-headed and
entirely incorrect. Now stop wasting my time."

[Student walks away, slowly, scratching his head.]

There's more to this fascinating manuscript, but that's enough, perhaps,
for us to understand why Kenneth Muir once remarked that each generation
of Shakespeare scholars literally has to overthrow the previous one. It
would be different, of course, if the senior generation were willing to
listen. Alas, that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 19:23:02 +0000
Subject:        Tearful misanthropy

>From: Don Bloom

 [...]>3. I find, reading over the immensely learned postings on this
list,
>hardly one person in five who seems to have any concept of friendship [...]
>
>
>[...]4. Malvolio becomes a sympathetic figure for the same reason that
>Shylock does -- we are in this era a great deal more sentimental about
>such things than people in Shakespeare's time. And we are a much deal  more
tolerant of folly.[...]

A stiff upper lip replies:

Perhaps you are right....but I don't think you live where I do.

I have hoped for years that perhaps there will be a director who will
suggest that Malvolio speaks his exit line with a sense of enlightened
humour. It would make a change.

Best wishes, Graham Hall

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 12 Oct 2001 11:15:44 +0100
Subject:        Love's Labours Won

The references to Love's Labours Won in the "Sir Toby" thread have
persuaded me to offer my own theory to an uncaring world.

First of all one should point out that there are very few facts, and no
one theory can match all of them. Q1 of LLL says on the title page
"Newly corrected and augmented".  It seems highly probably that there is
a lost edition, probably by a different publisher.  It used to be
thought that this was a "bad" quarto, but opinion is turning towards Q1
being a straight reprint.  In Francis Meres' "Palladis Tamia" (1598) he
lists some of Shakespeare's plays including "his Loue labors lost, his
Loue labors won".  What is thought to be part of a bookseller's
stocklist was discovered, and this concludes:

marchant of vennis
taming of a shrew
knak to know a knave
knak to know an honest man
loves labor lost
loves labor won

The 1590s are becoming a trifle crowded with Shakespeare's plays: there
doesn't really seem to be space for a "lost" one.  Suggestions have been
made in the past that LLW could be an alternative title for either Much
Ado or The Shrew, but these are now discounted.  Could it be an
alternative title for LLL itself?

These are probably all the facts there are.  T.W. Baldwin managed to
write a whole book with these few facts about a totally non-existent
play!  I couldn't swear to have actually read the book: although I do
possess a copy, it is buried beneath a particularly high pile of books,
and so is essentially inaccessible!  It is a slim book, especially by
Baldwin's standards, so I may have absorbed the contents by osmosis!

Anyway, my solution is as follows:  the lost quarto (probably a "bad"
quarto) was entitled "Love's Labours Lost, Love's Labours Won", and this
title was independently mistaken by both Meres and bookseller as being
two works.  I know this is a bit messy, but as I said before, no one
theory fits all the facts!

Thoughts anyone?

John Briggs

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 17:20:27 -0400
Subject: 12.2329 Re: Sir Toby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2329 Re: Sir Toby

> > > I rather think that these marriages take place at the
> > > end of the lost sequel -- Love's Labours Won
> >
> > Well, I don't think there was a true sequel.  It'd be
> > in the First Folio if there were
>
> If F1 were the immutable limit of the Canon, we wouldn't include Per,
> TNK, the Shakespearean passages in Sir Thomas More or any of the
> non-dramatic poems, and we came close to losing T&C.

Right, we wouldn't include some plays that Shakespeare CO-authored
(apparently).  But I never said the First Folio was the "immutable limit
of the Canon, or even--more sensibly--of the dramatic canon; I said that
if there had been a Loves Labours Won, it would have been in it; I say
that because (1) Loves Labours Lost was in it, which suggests a
follow-up play would have been in it, too; (2) Loves Labours Wonne would
have been entirely by Shakespeare so eligible for the First Folio; (3)
it is likely it would have been fairly popular (as LLL seems to have
been) and well-written since it would have been written just as
Shakespeare was coming into his own, so not overlooked for the First
Folio; (4) Meres knew about it, so why wouldn't Heminges and Condell?
(5) Meres left out The Taming of the Shrew, which almost certainly had
been written and performed by 1598 (for stylistic and dramaturgic
reasons).

> > I think Meres's Loves Labours Won was The Taming of the
> > Shrew.
>
> Others have thought so as well, but not many.  In any case, Meres
> is not the sole bit of extrinsic evidence.  A bookseller's
> inventory was discovered c. 1952 which list LLW as a separate
> volume.

I remember reading about that but forget the details.  Was The Taming of
The Shrew listed separately?  If not, then LLW could have been it.

                                              --Bob G.
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S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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DVD of Throne of Blood in UK

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2330  Thursday, 11 October 2001

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Oct 2001 18:57:24 -0400
Subject:        DVD of Throne of Blood in UK

Check
http://www.moviem.co.uk/filmmore.php?index=8684

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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