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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Hawks and Handsaws
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1383  Wednesday, 6 June 2001

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 10:00:13 -0500
        Subj:   Hawks and Handsaws

[2]     From:   Pete Wilson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 08:56:55 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws

[3]     From:   Ward Elliott <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 11:53:30 -0700
        Subj:   Hawks and Handsaws

[4]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 21:16:38 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws

[5]     From:   Pat Dolan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 19:08:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 10:00:13 -0500
Subject:        Hawks and Handsaws

This topic is getting old, but I'd like to make an observation before
it's done. We seem all to agree upon the meaning of handsaw and have
some question about hawk.  In some distant future when we no longer know
trees, and no longer know wood, and perhaps don't even remember the idea
of parting physical matter by the act known as cutting, handsaw will
enjoy the same problematic that hawk provides now. Names are in the
moment.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pete Wilson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 08:56:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws

Abigail Quart <
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 > wrote:

> But when Shakespeare uses a word with multiple meanings, he
> doesn't select one and toss the rest, he pretty much uses
> all of them. So I'm sure he meant Hamlet can tell a bird
> from a hand tool.

Abigail could I ask you please to tell me what makes you sure.  It seems
to me much more natural and intuitive that Hamlet be contrasting two
tools rather than a bird and a tool.

Regards, Pete Wilson  (
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 )

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ward Elliott <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 11:53:30 -0700
Subject:        Hawks and Handsaws

I have alerted Michael Jeneid to the current Hawks and Handsaws
controversy. He is, as far as I know, the leading authority in the world
on Shakespeare and birds, and, hence, someone whose thoughts on Hawks
and
Handsaws should be of great interest. I urged him to contact you
directly
and am forwarding to you his initial reaction, by way of introduction.

Yours, Ward Elliott

Dear Elliot, thanks for your enquiry. Mr. Maynard Mack was both
astonished and delighted when he heard my explanation of the line. "Very
impressive," were his actual words.// The heron is not too big for the
peregrine, I have watched a female peregrine kill a fully adult grey
heron. The European bird is of course smaller, somewhat, than the great
blue of N. America. (Take note that King Frederick of Sicily trained his
ger-falcons to kill an even bigger bird:Grus grus, the common crane.)//
Anyway, why not invite me to the discussion since I really do know
exactly what Shakespeare was imparting with that amusing and draconian
line. Now There's a double whammy for you. Incidently I have answered
this question in Chaucer's Checklist, my book on all of Geoffrey's
ornithology. Hernshaw is a contraction of Middle English heronsewe,
which is specifically a young heron considered suitable for the table.
Ghengis Kahn had it on his menu!//Cheers Jeneid.//

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 21:16:38 +0100
Subject: 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws

> "Sometime a cigar is just a cigar.  (Sigmund Freud)..."

Was that Sigmund Freud-- or was it Groucho Marx? Marx and Freud are so
easily confounded nowadays.

> That would be true if the plays were written by the subtext-free Oxford.
> But when Shakespeare uses a word with multiple meanings, he doesn't
> select one and toss the rest, he pretty much uses all of them. So I'm
> sure he meant Hamlet can tell a bird from a hand tool. And those who are
> content to go no farther or deeper will lead happy lives.

What makes Oxford "subtext-free"?

John W. Smith (who, as we all know, wrote most of the texts which we
nowadays attribute to Shakespeare) never wanted to use words with
multiple meanings. They would not have come across the stage if the wind
came from the east.

Those who wanted to go farther or deeper would have had to call for a
break to think and ponder before Polonius entered the stage, unless
there was a curtain after these remarkable words. (Actually it was J. W.
Smith's idea to have a curtain after every line in this particular
play...)

MM

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 19:08:10 -0500
Subject: 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1370 Re: Hawks and Handsaws

> "Sometime a cigar is just a cigar.  (Sigmund Freud)..."

Freud died of cancer of the mouth and throat did he not? Sometimes a
cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes it's a drug of abuse. And sometimes
it's an instrument of someone's death. The word "just" is a dangerous
thing.

Cheers
Pat

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