2001

Re: Arden Editions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1837  Monday, 23 July 2001

From:           David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 20:02:44 +0100
Subject: 12.1821 Re: Arden Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1821 Re: Arden Editions

> The Arden Shakespeare is widely acknowledged as the pre-eminent
> Shakespeare series, valued by scholars, students, actors and playgoers
> alike for its readable and reliable texts, its full annotation and its
> richly informative introductions.

Well he would say that, wouldn't he! I imagine the general
editors/publishers of the Oxford, New Cambridge and other editions might
just want to question the absoluteness of the claim advanced here.

As has been said before on this list, there are better and worse Ardens
(2 and 3) just as there are better and worse examples in the other
series.

But since I am parti pris in this, I shall say no more.

David Lindley

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Re: Cressida

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1836  Monday, 23 July 2001

From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 10:07:25 -0700
Subject: 12.1822 Re: Cressida
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1822 Re: Cressida

I still disagree with Harry Teplitz on a couple of particulars.  Let's
begin with my comment to Harry.

> > The show very clearly takes the view that Cressida
> > really is a whore. This is made explicit by the staged
> > parallels of Helen's gown in the beginning and Cressida's > at the end.
>
>I didn't see that.  First of all, I'm not even sure the show took the
>position that *Helen* is a whore.  Helen is shown to be very sensual,
>yes, but does that make her a whore?

Harry has unintentionally put me in a difficult position.  I don't want
to call anybody a whore, ever.  When dealing with this play, the word is
the common currency, so I feel I must use the language even if I don't
believe in it.

Helen, in this production, is SUCH A WHORE!

>As far as I recall she is seen in
>a monogamous relationship with Paris.  Menelaes never gets our sympathy
>and those who know the story are reminded that Helen's attachment to
>Paris is sanctioned by a Goddess.  In fact, the production very clearly
>tells us that Helen is not committing a great crime since the opening
>image is used to underscore the scathing sarcasm of "Helen with Paris
>sleeps -- and that's the quarrel!".

We will not agree on this, since we experienced it differently, though
possibly the production evolved between the night I attended and the day
you saw it.

The prologue was Thersites.  I found a characteristic edge of disgust in
his description of Helen and Paris, and indeed they acted out in dumb
show what he described as he described it.  That is how it came across
to me.  If you didn't hear the disgust, I don't know what to say.  It is
common amongst scholars to question whether or not Thersites is right
about everything he says.  These days most doubt him.  But did OSF's
production doubt him?  It seemed to treat him as one of Shakespeare's
fools, the one reliable source of truth.  If this is indeed how Albers's
production portrayed Thersites, then Helen's whoredom is beyond
question, and the gimmick with her train an important clue.  I did not
notice anything in the production to undermine Thersites as a
spokesperson of truth.  You don't have to agree with my understanding of
Alber's Thersites, but one's view of Helen must flow from it.

>As far as Cressida goes, I don't see where she is
>staged as a whore.  It is fairly clear that she is willing (though not
>eager) to abandon
>Troilus for Diomedes.  After the harrowing arrival at the Greek camp, we
>can't blame her for choosing a protector.

I don't, but I think the production does blame her, even while it
understands the decision.  Poor broken hearted Troilus, betrayed by
popular Cressida, is what came across most strongly to me.  It is mostly
in the parallels of their trains in their twin dumb shows, and the lack
of support everywhere for Cressida's point of view, and all the sympathy
for Troilus's point of view.  I don't agree with the way you interpret
this, so again I don't know what else to say.

I think the *whorish* parallel between Helen and Cressida was very
clear.  It certainly wasn't an accident, so we are both right that the
production views them similarly.  Now if we could just get together on
how it views them, and whether or not it is correct.

>The parallel between Helen
>and Cressida is that they both find a way to live with (even enjoy)
>their captivity.

I don't think Cressida did, not the night I saw it.  She was never happy
with Diomedes, though relieved to have a protector.  Contrast this with
Helen constantly reveling in the arms of Paris.  Relived and Reveled.
Not the same.

I think the view of the production is that Cressida has to embrace being
a
whore, where it comes naturally to Helen.  But both embrace it in their
own
way, so Cressida ends up just like Helen.

My reading of the play is that Cressida does not embrace it.  She
accepts Diomedes protection, but she struggles against him as best she
can, and the price of her compromise is great.  This was kind of in
OSF's production, but not in the staging and all that encompasses.  I
only saw it in the portrayal of Cressida by Tyler Layton, who I thought
played with the text, but against the production, and in all the ways it
did not question Troilus's point of view.

I don't have much patience with the still too common notion that
Cressida has lose morals.  My interpretation is that the play is about
how everyone behaves badly during war, and that there is no honor for
anyone.

Or is that two ways of saying the same thing?

Of all the people forced to morally compromise, Cressida is the one who
struggles the most against this (unless you count Thersites as
struggling against it), and even she loses in the end.  My point about
this production, and we seemed to focus on different things, Harry, is
that Taylor Leighton struggled against it far more than the other actors
or the director did.

> > Achilles speech to his lads, telling
> > them how to kill Hector, was addressed to the audience.
>
>I believe the Myrmidons were standing at the top the aisle ramps.  They
>may have been hard to see, though, which I agree would be a mistake.
>However, my wife understood the scene and had never heard of the
>Myrmidons before.

I am glad to bow to this point, and I'm not passionate enough about the
others to argue.  We experienced it differently, and that's OK.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

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Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1834  Monday, 23 July 2001

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 12:55:19 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1815 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

[2]     From:   Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 20:02:34 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1815 The matter you read, my Lord

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 23:30:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 12:55:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        SHK 12.1815 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

Andrew White writes,

'Excuse me, all, but I am astonished:  both Dr.'s Hawkes and Bradshaw
insist that Claudius, at no time before the "Mousetrap," ever reveals
his guilt to the audience.'

I can't speak for young Bradshaw, but no I don't. My concern is with
'The Mousetrap'. It doesn't work.  In Elsinore, only violence does.
That's part of what 'Hamlet' says: plays make nothing happen.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 20:02:34 +0000
Subject: 12.1815 The matter you read, my Lord
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1815 The matter you read, my Lord

Andy White writes:

>Interpret for me, please, this line, which occurs immediately prior to
>the "nunnery" scene, which in any edition I can think of _precedes_ that
>of the "Mousetrap:"
>
>"How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience,
>The harlots cheeke beautied with plastring art,
>Is not more ougly to the thing that helps it,
>Then is my deede to my most painted word:

>O heavy burthen."

in the case of the king's conscience .

There may be a need to mention Q1 which has some differences in this
area. Textual intricacies in Hamlet are inevitably complex but grist to
the discussion mill should perhaps always contain all the mix available.
It seems to be the extant trend. Whether there is profit in it could be
considered academic.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 23:30:52 -0400
Subject: 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

David Bishop wrote:

> Paul Doniger thinks the ghost is cautioning Hamlet to take revenge
> without losing his mind. To taint his mind would be to lose it. I
> neither understand this nor see the point of it. Why make the ghost in
> any way opposed to revenge on Claudius? As I said, I do think Hamlet
> wants somehow to take revenge without tainting his mind, but I don't
> think the ghost sees anything mind-tainting about killing Claudius.
> Again, I think this comes from reading the lines as if--note, as
> if--there were a period instead of a comma after "mind".

Of course, I don't mean to suggest that the Ghost is opposed to revenge
on Claudius -- that would make no sense. I suggest, as I have indicated
numerous times, that the Ghost is putting conditions on HOW that revenge
should be enacted. He wants to protect his son (Taint not thy mind) his
wife (leave her to heaven), and his country (Let not the bed of Denmark
... ).  These conditions undermine his call for revenge, it is true, but
they do not contradict it. It's not the actual revenge-taking that the
Ghost is commenting on, but the "howsomever" the revenge is pursued.

There is, however, a suggestion here that Shakespeare understood that
his audience was familiar with the revenge tragedy genre. He was setting
up a situation that called for a new kind of revenge hero (unlike
Hieronimo, Titus, Barabas, and the soon to appear Vindice) who attempts
to keep himself pure (and his mind untainted) in his revenge taking.

I hope, at long last, that I have made my point clear to everyone who
might be interested. I feel that I am being quite repetitive.

Paul E. Doniger

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Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1835  Monday, 23 July 2001

[1]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 10:01:05 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1817 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

[2]     From:   Brian Haylett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 21 Jul 2001 15:51:59 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1789 The Tragedy of Claudius

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 22 Jul 2001 08:38:38 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1789 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 10:01:05 -0700
Subject: 12.1817 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1817 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

Brian Haylett wrote:

>Claudius negotiates the
>removal of the threat to Denmark by having Young Fortinbras put in his
>place without bloodshed. That seems to me - a weak-minded liberal -
>admirable in a king.  The fact that he uses intermediaries to accomplish
>it seems fully in accord with diplomatic practice: that is what
>ministers of state are for. <snip>
>
>Let us not
>forget that it is not Claudius's fault that Fortinbras is able to walk
>into the country in the final scene.

I don't think of Claudius as an inefficient ruler, but his handling of
the Fortinbras problem has never struck me as one of his brighter
ideas.  An enemy army attacks your country.  You send notice, and get a
response: "Ooops.  Sorry. Can we attack another country and march
through your country, fully armed, to get there?"  And you say yes.  ???

It seems to me that it *is* Claudius's fault that Fortinbras is able to
walk into the country in the final scene. He gave him explicit
permission to be there.

Melissa D. Aaron

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 21 Jul 2001 15:51:59 +0100
Subject: 12.1789 The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1789 The Tragedy of Claudius

On business omitted in my last answer to John Drakakis.

>The fact is that Claudius is a regicide, and a very efficient one, so I
>think Brian Haylett had better be clear about his sympathies before he
>sentimentalises Claudius.  If he were to argue that Claudius demystifies
>the institution of kingship by proving that there is no such thing as
>the 'divinity that doth hedge the king around/ That treason can but peep
>to what it would / Acts little of his will' (4.5.), then he might have a
>point, but if that is the case then why does Claudius appeal to the very
>ideology that he has demystified?

Demistify, deschmistify (is that how they say it? ) I come from an era
before such terms. I would say - by the way, and not because it applies
to 'Hamlet' - that Shakespeare was clearly not very decided about the
divinity hedging a king, and debates the issue in a good many plays.

As I've implied, Claudius's guilt is obviously part of the equation. But
the murder is committed 'before' the play's action begins, whereas
Macbeth's murder of Duncan is committed during the play, complete with
plenty of blood, and compounded by the murder of Banquo. It may be a
great failure in me, but I find it harder to feel pity for Macbeth than
for Claudius. That is not liberal sentimentalism; it is a fact, which
others may or may not share.

I happen to think that our criticism has been too much governed by
notions of pity and terror, which - after all - were pinched from the
Greeks. They may be valid to a play, of course, but we should not try to
make every play fit the formula, Procrustes-style. Macbeth can show me
as much of his troubled soul as he wishes; I still don't feel that he is
me or Everyman.  That doesn't stop the play from being a fine play.
Macbeth is doing no good by living, though, whereas Claudius is: his
death loses the country, Macbeth's saves his. I don't want to overstress
the 'territorial imperative' line, but it's relevant in this contrast.
John tries too hard to categorise me as one-sidedly pro-Claudius. I
think he misses the point in suggesting that there are only two
possibilities in the analysis of this complex character. I'm sure he
does not believe that.

Regards,
Brian Haylett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 22 Jul 2001 08:38:38 -0700
Subject: 12.1789 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1789 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

I'm sure that Brian Haylett is capable of defending himself, and he has,
but the following seems to more or less beg an answer:

>The fact is that Claudius is a regicide, and a very efficient one, so I
>think Brian Haylett had better be clear about his sympathies before he
>sentimentalises Claudius.  If he were to argue that Claudius demystifies
>the institution of kingship by proving that there is no such thing as
>the 'divinity that doth hedge the king around/ That treason can but peep
>to what it would / Acts little of his will' (4.5.), then he might have a
>point, but if that is the case then why does Claudius appeal to the very
>ideology that he has demystified?

Because he's a hypocrite.  Recognizing an ideological construct is not
the same as actually opposing it.  One might also simply want to exploit
it.  In fact, this seems a rather good example of how political
awareness isn't the same thing as ethics.

This sort of reading would tend to rob Claudius of sympathy, but it
doesn't seem incompatible with his being efficient and politically
astute.  Of course, we could just say (with Machiavelli) that the ends
justify the means, though this would imply that Claudius has some sort
of core of idealism that we know very little about.

Cheers,
Se


Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1833  Monday, 23 July 2001

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 12:54:36 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1816 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

[2]     From:   Janie Cheaney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 14:56:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 12:54:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        SHK 12.1816 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

And of course, 'Snow White' is the plausible version of 'Cymbeline'.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janie Cheaney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 14:56:10 -0500
Subject: 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

> [1]     From:   Stuart Manger

> I imagine that Shakespeare's 'boys' had few if any hang-ups at all, such
> that very little preliminary was required. I wonder if there is any
> literature that reveals / documents for us how 'boys' in Shakespeare's
> day were wither selected or trained. Was it all by imitation? Standing
> in the wings, as it were, and observing the masters at work? Surely
> not?  You do not have the time to muck about with training in so
> rampantly commercial an outfit as the Lord Chamberlain's men, would you?
> You would surely use a 'boy' because you had observed / or he had been
> recommended / or he had been sold to you as having something already to
> build on? No training - learn the lines and get on and ride your luck? I
> wonder.

I wonder about this myself, since I write fiction about boy players.
Historical allusions to their training (or anything else about them) are
maddeningly scarce.  Only three apprentices are listed as part of the
Lord Chamberlain's Company in 1599: Samuel Gilburn, Ned [no last name,
might have been Edmund Shakespeare], and Jack Wilson.  In the next
couple of years, Ned and Sam grew out of female roles, and a Samuel
Grosse joined the company.  Common wisdom seems to be that many of these
boys, like Nathan Field, were recruited from the children's companies.
But I doubt that all of them were.  If "Ned," for instance, was the
playwright's brother, simple nepotism may have earned him his place,
though he surely had some talent as well.  I like to think that,
especially after the year of the "theater wars," adult actors regarded
the boys of the children's companies as such smart-alecky twits they'd
prefer to grow their own talent.

Although I have often read [never in a primary source] that each boy was
assigned to a player of the company, who served as tutor,  I can't
fathom how the adult actors had much time for this.  Surely most of the
boys' instruction had to be by observation.  There were probably stock
conventions for playing certain types of roles: ingenue, country dame,
bitch, madwoman, etc.  Easy enough to learn, perhaps, though perfected
only by arduous practice.  Given the hectic schedule of all the London
theater companies, a few bad performances while a boy was learning his
craft could be excused.

But what about kissing on stage?  Where Elizabethan boys so blase they
could do THAT?  I can see Doll Tearsheet delivering flattering busses to
Falstaff behind a fan, but how would Juliet, in full view of a
wisecracking Elizabethan audience, come by the knowledge that Romeo
kisses by the book?

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