2001

Re: Undergrad Shakespeare Conference CFP

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2129  Friday, 7 September 2001

From:           Eric A. Weil <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 10:01:18 EDT
Subject: 12.2104 Re: Undergrad Shakespeare Conference CFP
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2104 Re: Undergrad Shakespeare Conference CFP

I am director of the Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities, held at
Shaw University in Raleigh, NC (USA) each spring.  Most of our
conferences have included a couple of papers on Shakespeare, but we are
open to discussions of nearly any topic in literary and historical
studies.  It's a one-day conference; the 2001 conference was our largest
to date, at 17 presentations.  I will be getting a CFP together later
this fall as soon as I clear a date with my powers-that-be.  Some list
members will know that Shaw U is a historically-black institution; this
is an equal-opportunity conference.  Anyone who wants more information
should feel free to email me using This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Eric A. Weil
Dept. of Humanities
Shaw University

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Re: American Stage Tour

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2128  Friday, 7 September 2001

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 09:27:46 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2120 Re: American Stage Tour

[2]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 21:36:25 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2120 Re: American Stage Tour


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 09:27:46 EDT
Subject: 12.2120 Re: American Stage Tour
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2120 Re: American Stage Tour

One last flicker before this dies; just wanted to point out to whoever
implied that North America was USA plus Canada, that Mexico is also
firmly established as a North American country.

- Vick

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 21:36:25 -0500
Subject: 12.2120 Re: American Stage Tour
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2120 Re: American Stage Tour

> Not wishing to extend this rather slight discussion unreasonably, but
> readers might want to know that some (perhaps many) Latin Americans have
> started to refer to us ("Americans") as "Estadunideros." That is, United
> States-ers.

I prefer extending this less than slight discussion to repeating it.
>
> I suppose the question is whether we would smell as sweet with that
> name.

Some questions are; who diverted the discussion to this inane prattle,
and why.  The question would be, in microcosm, why this discussion group
tolerates that behavior, and why in the broader sense the academy
accepts it.  This seems, ah...oddly ignorant.

All the best,
R. A. Cantrell

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Re: Globe Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2126  Friday, 7 September 2001

[1]     From:   Laura Blankenship <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 07:54:40 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

[2]     From:   Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 08:34:27 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

[3]     From:   Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 14:19:34 +0000
        Subj:   Cheap seats just clap.

[4]     From:   Dan Smith <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 16:34:15 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

[5]     From:   Dan Smith <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 7 Sep 2001 00:12:00 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Blankenship <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 07:54:40 -0500
Subject: 12.2117 Globe Lear
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

>My  two questions are:
>
>what was that  pole and wheel for?

According to Julian Glover, it was a wheel of fortune.  I like the
torture wheel idea better.  Either way, I don't think it was used to
good effect.

>and did anyone else find the sandbox in which Lear's chair was placed
>completely distracting for the Cordelia/Lear  rediscovery? it was OK for
>dividing the kingdom but by the late scenes in the play was a liability
>I thought.

My theory is that it represented the shambles of the kingdom as a result
of Lear's treatment of Cordelia.  I didn't like the waking scene done on
it at all.  I just didn't think it was powerful enough to evoke my
sympathy.  Admittedly, it is a difficult scene to pull off without
lapsing into sentimentality, but I still think the production I saw
didn't play well.

Laura Blankenship

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 08:34:27 -0500
Subject: 12.2117 Globe Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

Mary Jane Miller wrote,

" I don't remember the [audience ]vote [for Goneril or Regan] the day I
was there but the  Fool stole a beer from the groundlings and the
knights playing football through the crowd included them in play... and
did anyone else find the sandbox in which Lear's chair was placed
completely distracting for the Cordelia/Lear  rediscovery? it was OK for
dividing the kingdom but by the late scenes in the play was a liability
I thought....[W]e admired the actor playing King Lear for stripping off
his clothes and doing most of act III in a loincloth when it was very
cold and damp. It didn't seem too literal, just effective."

Isn't there a very sensible, general rule in theater that anything that
distracts from the character and makes us conscious of the actor - or
audience - is at least a dangerous idea, since its effect is
uncontrollable by the actor or director?  Interesting, too, that in the
"Lear" production, reported her by Ms. Miller, there are perhaps two
different kinds of audience "participation": 1) in the case of the
knights playing football through the audience, the suggestion is that
the audience, too, shares responsibility for the action presented;  in
which case might they not, with perfect justification, run onto the
stage and give the characters - including Lear and Cordelia - a good
slap or two for their tragic silliness?  2) The Lear actor stripping is
different, isn't it?  The audience is not responsible but merely
distracted, and now considers the plight of the actor instead of that of
Lear -  and how is this different from the audience's painful awareness
of an actor's inadequate and therefore embarrassing performance?

I don't know quite what to think of this phenomena of audience
"participation" and breaking the veil of illusion on which, finally,
every theatrical presentation must depend. I remember an all-male
production of "As You Like It," wherein a male actor playing a woman for
the purpose of the immediate presentation, plays within that the role of
a man. The audience-mind was set in tumbles as it was irresistibly
tossed back and forth between the man-woman play and the man-man
"play".  In this particular dramatic work, the tossing about seemed a
proper part of the essential argument offered by Shakespeare. But is
that so in theatrical situations such as Ms. Miller reports?

        L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 06 Sep 2001 14:19:34 +0000
Subject:        Cheap seats just clap.

Mz Miller ,picking up some remarks of Mr Weis and adding some of her own
on the London Globe Lear, writes (in extraction)

>the Globe's proclivity to try to make
>to audience an active participant, /...> the Fool stole a beer
>from the groundlings and the knights playing football through the crowd
>included them in play. .../...Hanging the fool in the Within  demonstrate
the problems with the sightlines / ...
>Covering that gorgeous stage with barn board seemed rather wasteful - /...>
>what was that pole and wheel for/.....the sandbox in which Lear's chair was
placedcompletely distracting for the Cordelia/Lear rediscovery?

I respond:

These are all excellent points about the Lear production which raise
general ones about the proclivity of the Globe to "engage" through
"devices" and the focus for this to be the "groundlings". It may be the
case that the structure and ambience of the building are sufficient to
satisfy this objective and that these additions cloy the appetite. But
ultimately the play's the thing. The railway sleepers distracted from
the Globe's jewel box decore but provided an appropriate starkness of
tone which was , in any case, achieved through acting. (The Fool doing
George Formby took a bit of explaining to anyone under 50 by the way!
Conversely, Caliban's constant tete-a-tete with the groundlings in the
recent Tempest offered the prospect of the shade of  Kempe - begging
Armin's pardon - strutting his hour, which took a bit of explaining to
anyone under 350!)

The Globe is so very, very new and trying so many, many different things
that innovation occasionally o'erleaps itself.  As exciting as an early
Beatles concert...and at a fiver similar in cost. How lucky can we be?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 16:34:15 +0100
Subject: 12.2117 Globe Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

>and did anyone else find the sandbox in which Lear's chair was placed
>completely distracting for the Cordelia/Lear  rediscovery? it was OK for
>dividing the kingdom but by the late scenes in the play was a liability
>I thought.

I noted the sandbox for the division of the kingdom and I recollect it
underneath Lear as the storm engulfed him.  However, I missed the
sandbox totally at this point.  I assume that you saw it in Act V Sc.iii
"Come, let's away to prison; We two alone will sing like birds
i'th'cage."  I do warm to the image of the sandbox generally however,
and if it was present during this scene I can see some logic to it being
there.  I find the symbolism apt of a kingdom of sand that the next tide
will wash away.  When the storm comes and the water lands in the sandpit
it prefigures the dissolution of the kingdom that  Lear's lack of wisdom
is about to cause.  Sand also absorbs whatever is poured onto it, rain,
tears, blood and hence seems like a metaphor for the apparent futility
of suffering. As for ActV Sc.iii (if that is where it was) he is saying,
"we can live like this" but he is trying to build a house on sand like
the biblical allegory.  The other king that comes to mind with his
throne on the sand was Canute, who found he could not command the tide.
I have heard it said that Canute did this to indicate the limits of his
power to his courtiers and illustrate the gulf between the power of a
human king and the absolute power to command the sea (and perhaps love
too) - this sounds like the matter of Lear to me, the wisdom (or its
lack) to know the limits of temporal power.

> However we enjoyed the production as a whole and admired the actor
> playing King Lear for stripping off his clothes

Absolutely, hats off to the man in the loincloth - though myself, I'd
rather not part with too much else on a cold and rainy day.

Dan Smith

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Sep 2001 00:12:00 +0100
Subject: 12.2117 Globe Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2117 Globe Lear

> and did anyone else find the sandbox in which Lear's chair was placed
> completely distracting for the Cordelia/Lear  rediscovery?

I suppose the most obvious association with a sandbox that completely
passed me by to start with is of children playing in a sandpit. Lear has
returned (possibly due to dementia?) in part to a second childhood so
the sandbox, and his loincloth nappy, could symbolise this in this
production.

Dan Smith

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Re: Times Article

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2127  Friday, 7 September 2001

From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Sep 2001 06:01:45 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.2106 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article

I was tempted yesterday to respond to Louis Swilley's post, but decided
to wait and see what other list members had to say.  I was surprised
that only Richard wrote back.  In part, I write today in the hope that
others will be encouraged to join in this debate.  Surely the points
raised both by Richard Burt and by Louis Swilley are of interest (and/or
concern) to more members than have currently contributed.

Louis wrote:

> Whereas no thinking person can disagree with the
> right and need to study anything whatever, including
> porn and Shakespeare porn, he might well wonder,
> granting the too-brief time allotted undergraduate
> and graduate studies, whether the formal study of
> such a subject should be offered as an option for
> students who would make better use of their time and
> certainly better profit from more traditional
> courses with greater intellectual moment in their
> content.

If the first premise is accepted as true, then there must be large
numbers of NON-thinking people currently in positions of academic
responsibility.  I suspect many on the list who have experiences
teaching in colleges and universities know that there are, in fact, many
people who deny that students have the right to pursue their own
academic/intellectual interests, especially if those interests lead them
away from "marketable" vocational skills.  As just one example, the
former president of one somewhat undistinguished institution where I had
the misfortune to teach said, in an interview published in the local
newspaper last year, that there was no reason for undergraduates to
study literature, history, philosophy, or foreign languages when the
region was in such desperate need of trained accountants, computer
programmers and managers.  (He also asserted that the region needed
public school teachers, whom he somehow expected could be manufactured
by the university without recourse to the liberal arts and sciences.)
While this is admittedly an extreme case, I do not think it is an
entirely isolated one.

My point is that fields like culture studies (in which I include Dr.
Burt's specialty areas of Shakespeare in 'popular' media, including
'pornographic' films) do not threaten the 'traditional' liberal arts and
sciences.  Rather, by those individuals who would transform the
undergraduate experience into vocational training, BOTH culture studies
AND the 'traditional' liberal arts are perceived as 'frivolous',
'self-indulgent' pursuits.  Above all, they are seen as not offering
value-for money to commercial employers, and by extension, are not
activities which will attract significant financial support to
universities from business and industrial interests.  Were the
pornographic film industry to organize themselves and make large
donations to university programs offering serious study of the cultural
implications of pornography, I have no doubt that at least some, if not
all, universities would happily embrace such funds AND the courses at
which the funds were directed.

Louis Swilley continued to ask,

> In any case, before delving into such exotics as Dr.
> Burt offers, shouldn't the wise student have a sound
> grounding in the sciences and arts that establish
> their value and significance?

In my perfect world, yes, certainly.  But not all students are 'wise',
and unfortunately some individuals in charge of curricular decisions are
no better.  The trend is toward moving away from general education
requirements that include even an *introduction* to the 'value and
significance' of the sciences and arts (including literature; including
Shakespeare), not to mention a 'sound grounding' in those areas.
Increasingly the arts and sciences are relegated to the realm of
electives.  There, they are left to compete for the interest of
undergraduates, and if the undergraduates choose a course in, say, web
design over a course in Shakespeare, the course in Shakespeare will
eventually be cancelled.

I think Richard Burt is to be congratulated in his attempts to draw
students into cultural inquiry (those of you who have not yet done so
should check out his course websites to get a better idea of what he is
covering).  Pornography, rather like tabloid journalism, offers a
perspective into the covert interests and desires of contemporary
culture.  If Shakespeare plays a part in these covert interests and
desires, it is worthy of notice and study.

Finally, I would say that if undergraduates have an opportunity to
become better acquainted with Shakespeare through ANY academic avenue,
that is cause for celebration rather than for censure.

Karen Peterson

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Re: Winters Tale

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2125  Friday, 7 September 2001

[1]     From:   Stevie Gamble <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 12:53:07 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2107 Re: Winters Tale

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 16:28:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2107 Re: Winters Tale

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 23:20:42 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2119 Re: Winters Tale


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Gamble <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 12:53:07 +0100
Subject: 12.2107 Re: Winters Tale
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2107 Re: Winters Tale

> From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

> Stevie Gamble's explanation of the ways in which pins could be lethal
> (or nearly so) makes me appreciate that the invention of the safety pin
> was indeed a major advance!
>
> More to the point (so to speak), why weren't buttons used in more
> women's clothing during the Renaissance? It appears that Lear's clothes
> have buttons in the final scene of his play (?)
>
> Ed Taft

Indeed, so. Buttons were widely used but were often for purely
decorative purposes, lacking the limited function we are familiar with.
Ruffs, worn by both sexes at the neck and wrist, had to be pinned
because of the need to compress large amounts of material; if you look
again at the portraits you will see that buttons would have been much
too bulky.  Women's skirts were draped and pleated on the body, on top
of petticoats and farthingales, rather than pre-sewn into those shapes;
the obvious analogy would be to the saree or the tunics of the classical
period. Part of the artistry of dress was the skill at creating form
each time the garment was donned, and the multiplicity of items of
clothing-separate sleeves, for example, tied into the armsye- meant that
costume had more possible variations and a fluidity unmatched in
garments adhering to the conventional tailored norms. Hooks were also
used, but pins were vital. The sweet disorder in her dress may have been
bewitching but it was also dangerous; though not, as you say, lethal. At
least, I suppose septicemia may have carried people off, but I don't
know of any examples...

Best wishes,
Stevie Gamble

> From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

> > I think it was Robin Hamilton who pointed out that there is a huge (and
> > in my view unbridgeable) gulf between wit and smut, and Sean Lawrence
> > who noted that whilst the Beavises and Buttheads of the world may be
> > able to find a snigger in everything they see, there is no justification
> > in assuming that we are all, Shakespeare included, Beavises and
> > Buttheads.  This isn't poetic double entendre; this is you finding
> > things to snigger over in the fond delusion that everyone else shares
> > your ignorance of life in western Europe during the Renaissance.

> Right.  And I suppose Autolycus' tumbling in the hay with his "aunts"
> refers to a hayride at the family reunion.  I suppose the ballad he
> sells: "two maids wooing a man" has nothing to do with Mopsa, Dorcas,
> the Clown or him, and so when he tells them it is his profession to
> "bear my part," he can only mean his part of the song.

Professor Ronald Hutton commented on The Winter's Tale, in The Rise and
Fall of Merry England, at p.166, when he noted that playwrights
incorporated folk pastimes in the 'way which had begun to be fashionable
around 1600. The greatest of them all did so in 1611, when Shakespeare
added a rural revel to 'The Winter's Tale.' Not, you will note, an
identification of Autolycus, or anyone else, as representing a fertility
deity, but an identification of a fashion in late Elizabethan early
Jacobean England. Ronald Hutton is the leading authority on this
topic...

> > It was written in the early 17th century, and the items referred to in
> > the lines you quoted as proof that Autolycus should be identified in
> > part as a fertility god, "pins and poking sticks of steel, what maidens
> > lack from head to heel..." were sold in vast quantities across Europe
> > for centuries. Poking sticks were for ruffs, at the throat and wrists,
> > worn by both men and women, and as for pins: much of a maiden's
> > clothing  was held on by pins, every morning, and every time she changed
> > her clothes during the day, from headdresses to ruffs to her skirts,
> > literally from her head to her heel; it was a commonplace which everyone
> > knew: no pins, no clothes. I have yet to encounter a fertility deity
> > interested in putting a maiden's clothing on; it's the other way around.
>
> I'm sure everybody is impressed by your command of ladies' clothing of
> the Elizabethan age (I'm sorry, that should be Jacobean, shouldn't it).

It is a pity that your reading skills are so poor; you should really be
able to distinguish between the words 'men' and 'women', and as for your
grasp of chronology, it should be apparent, even to you, that the
Elizabethan age did not extend for centuries.

> Fertility gods are interested in stimulating fertility.  If that
> requires a nice ruffled dress, or a bawdy ballad, so be it (please don't
> lecture me on the absence of ruffled dresses in the first decade of the
> 17th c).

That is nonsense. By that argument anything at all is proof that a
fertility deity is involved, anything can be hauled in as alleged proof.
This isn't reasoned argument, this is fantasy. No rational person would
accept that the guy standing behind the haberdashery counter in the
local department store is to be identified in part as a fertility deity.
Indeed, not even a moron in a hurry...

> > >There were no oracles either, yet there it is.
> >
> > The oracle is clearly identified in the play as the oracle; there is
> > nothing whatsoever in the play to identify Autolycus in the way you
> > assert. I note that you are unwilling to cite any authority whatsoever
> > for your statements, and have not commented on the work of Janet Arnold
> > or Ronald Hutton. If you think that they are wrong then it is usual to
> > explain why you think that they are wrong, not just ignore their
> > existence...
>
> This is an annoying device foisted along with peevish charges of
> ignorance and ineptness.  These are not the only authorities on the
> nature of European pagan religions,

Actually, had you bothered to read the post you would have noted that
Janet Arnold was the pre-eminent scholar of clothing before her untimely
death.  It's Ronald Hutton who is the leading authority on the nature of
European pagan religions...For the benefit of anyone who didn't see the
references, which you have cut, the works in question are: Janet
Arnold's work, and, in particular _Queen  Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlocked_
and _Lost from Her Majesties Back_, and Ronald Hutton's work, and, in
particular, _The Pagan Religions of the British Isles_ , _The Rise and
Fall of Merry England_, and _The Stations of the Sun; A History of the
Ritual Year in Britain_.

>and my plate being full with
> dissertation readings does not amount to ignoring anyone's existence.
> I've read Frazier, Robinson, Gaster, etc. etc.,

I know; it is only too painfully obvious from your posts. Unfortunately,
it is also only too painfully obvious that you have not bothered to
check whether the works of any of the authors you rely on were, and are
still, regarded as accurate scholarship. They are not, and for the most
part, were not.

>and the upshot is that
> there is much more lost than preserved of the nature of pre Christian
> deities.  The Green Knight probably has his origins in a fertility god,
> not to mention Freia and probably even Arthur, while the monoliths and
> standing stones all over England probably hearken back to an ithyphallic
> fertility religion.  Venus and Adonis are evidence that Shakespeare was
> familiar with the nature of pre Christian fertility religions.  The
> fairies of Midsummer Night's Dream spend half their time stimulating
> human intercourse. The Lupercalia at the beginning of Julius Caesar is a
> fertility ritual. And Shakespeare may well have known that Whitsuntide
> and Sheepshearing festivals were held on occasions devoted to pagan
> worship in pre Christian times during which both the above mentioned
> trio and Florizel and Perdita are hotly courting.

No. Unfortunately, at least for the purposes of your paper, no-one who
has bothered to read the scholarly research over the last nine decades
would regard that paragraph as anything other than the ramblings of
someone wholly ignorant of the subject.  For that matter, even Frazer
himself abandoned his most ludicrous fertility arguments re the alleged
status of Christ as an example of an allegedly universal ancient
tradition of a sacred king reigning for a period and then sacrificed for
the good of the realm, in 1915. The 'impression that the whole concern
of ancient paganism was with fertility' (Hutton, The Pagan Religions
p.326) was Frazer's doing, and unfortunately Frazer's lack of scholarly
rigour has been a continuing motif in his followers and supporters. You
are clinging to theories rebutted many decades ago, and since you can't
be bothered to familiarise yourself with the research, you rely on
insulting people who have done.

Stevie Gamble

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 16:28:39 +0100
Subject: 12.2107 Re: Winters Tale
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2107 Re: Winters Tale

I must have missed this last night, being somewhat tired and emotional,
but just to cross the i's and dot the t's

> From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

> The Green Knight probably has his origins in a fertility god,
> not to mention Freia and probably even Arthur,

As the Green Knight actually confronts Arthur at the beginning of the
poem, is Mister Stetner suggesting that GGK is an early example of the
doppelganger theme in Scottish literature?  I suppose the case +could+
be made as the bob-and-wheel in Gawain re-emerges broadcast in various
poems in the Scottish Alliterative Revival. Wherefrom, obviously, it
moves into _Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner_ and from
thence to Jekyll & Hyde.  Via Deacon Brodie.

Just a thought.  No acknowledgement necessary if you take up this idea.

Robin

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Sep 2001 23:20:42 -0400
Subject: 12.2119 Re: Winters Tale
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2119 Re: Winters Tale

> _The Winter's Tale_ is temporily and geographically decentred (the
> seacoast of Bohemia and he who betrayed the best co-existing in the same
> platform as Jupiter's Oracle).

If I could make the least sense of this, I'd deal with it.  As it is,
given that the statement is a non-seqitur erected on an idiocy, I think
I'll just leave it to make its point for itself.

> The Autolycus joke is that Auto could have wandered in off the streets
> outside the theatre, as Stevie Gamble points out at great length.
> Making him into a Green Man figure or a fertility deity isn't a joke,
> it's a nonsense.

I didn't make him into a green man.  I only suggested that the
Shakespeare was discoursing on the nature of rural seasonal festivals
and that the character of Autolycus given his appearance and many verbal
puns and some of his apparently nonsensical comic dialogue indicate his
role as, in part, I repeat, in part, a kind of visiting deity.  Simon
Forman in his diary does not say he looked like he came in off the
street, but that he looked like "col-pixi," a kind of mischievous
fairy.  Rather than a green man, I see him as a kind of walking maypole,
hung with colored ribbons, which every authority I've read on the
subject acknowledges as originally a phallic symbol indicating the
original function of at least some seasonal festivals as fertility and
mating rituals.

> The Green Knight was being kicked around as a fertility symbol in the
> sixties (which, if my mathematics are accurate, was about forty years
> ago) and the idea was dubious even then.
> [And as an aside, where does Mr Stetner stand on the Gawain poems?  I
> assume Patience and Cleanliness are ruled out, but do we still have
> "Gawain was written by the author of Pearl"?  I ask in all innocence.]

Forty or four hundred, dubious or not, you seem to acknowledge the
origin of the Green Knight (written Greene Gome ie Man) as lying in the
ancient green man tradition.  It may or may not have its origins in the
green Osiris, but given the fact that all pagan religions heavily
emphasized fertility of earth, man and beast, I don't see why this point
should be doubted. There is no question that Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight deals with issues of sexual mores.  And yes, if inclusion in the
manuscript is not sufficient, the textual evidence regarding number of
verses and lines are compelling evidence of a single author.  I wasn't
aware that this had been questioned.  And I am unaware of any reason to
"rule out" Patience and Cleanliness.

> As to those standing henges ... I've been around much of Britain, and I
> still have to meet Obelix carting one around.  Other than StoneHenge.
> Please don't over-generalise.

Sorry, this was a typo for all over Europe, which should be extended to
the Middle East and Balkans as well as north and west Africa.

> > Venus and Adonis are evidence that Shakespeare was
> > familiar with the nature of pre Christian fertility religions.
>
> If I could make the least sense of this, I'd deal with it.  As it is,
> given that the statement is a non-seqitur erected on an idiocy, I think
> I'll just leave it to make its point for itself.

The myth of Venus and Adonis is one of the oldest in Western culture.
The myth is usually interpreted as a fertility myth, as the upshot is
that Adonis must spend winter with Persephone under ground and summer
with Venus making him a symbol of the fertility of the earth.  Robert
Graves claims that his rites were orgiastic and that he is based on the
god Tammuz. The rites of both of both Venus and Adonis throughout
pre-Christian Europe (etc.) were purely fertility religions.
Shakespeare treats the characters as though he knows the story and what
it is about.  It's possible that he was not aware of the mythological
and ritualistic allusions of Ovid's poem.  However, taken together with
my other non sequiturs, it seems to qualify at least as evidence that he
understood them.  Evidence is not proof and was not offered as such.

So far what I've said has been called ignorance, idiocy, hilarity and
ineptness. I don't know how I merited such superlative language. I know
I've never used it myself on this list.  Statements like "I can't make
sense of this so it's idiocy" strike me as merely substituting insulting
language for actual refutation and I'm growing weary of it and of this
discussion.

As civil as I know how to be

Clifford

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