2002

Re: More about "Julius Caesar"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2121  Wednesday, 23 October 2002

From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 18:25:25 -0400
Subject: 13.2110 Re: More about "Julius Caesar"
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2110 Re: More about "Julius Caesar"

>The effect on the audience is one dimension; the consistency of the
>argument (that well might - and should - manipulate the audience) is
>another - unless we are to conceive of the audience itself as a
>character in the play and a factor in the argument of it (But is that
>what Mr. Stetner intends us to understand?).

In response to L.S.:

Many would argue (though not I) with the proposition that a play is "is"
an argument however sophisticated and that characters are merely ideas
employed in it. But at the least, the conflict that makes any drama
necessarily implies an argument. If JC is an argument, I would
paraphrase it as one that historical actions are utterly empty of moral
value until it is assigned to them by writers whose representations
achieve canonicity.

JC was written after the long project of creating a historical narrative
for his contemporaries in the tetralogies. Throughout the history plays
are numerous episodes in which the moral ambiguity of historical actions
are struggled with often by presenting the official doctrinaire account
of the event, while introducing problematizing details that prevent the
audience from resting secure with it. In JC the absolutely arbitrary
moral aspect of history becomes the central argument (something that
could perhaps only be acceptable by removing the scene to long ago and
far away).

In JC Brutus and Antony are writers offering competing versions of the
event with diametrically opposed moral verdicts. Shakespeare chose this
historical context because his culture had not accepted a single view
either applauding the assassination as a heroic attempt to liberate Rome
from tyranny or an ignominious sacrilegious regicide. He also chose it
because this question goes to the heart of contemporary conflicts over
divine right. And finally because this particular ambiguous event turned
the entire course of European history.

Presenting a Caesar who was unambiguously noble and beneficial to the
order of the state (favoring Antony's version) would amount to an
endorsement of the doctrine of the divine justification of monarchical
absolutism. Showing him unambiguously base (favoring Brutus's) would
support the principle of sic semper tyrannus: the right of a people to
overthrow tyrants. Shakespeare was clearly capable of doing either with
his characters. That he declined to do so for Caesar might be construed
as an artistic failure if not for the devices with which the play
actively subverts either verdict. Caesar's petulance in the Senate is
one such. Antony's aside after his apparently spontaneous outburst of
sincere grief: "Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,/Take thou
what course thou wilt!" is another.

Shakespeare's verdict is that Antony's version only emerges victorious
because of wise Brutus's magnanimous but foolish decision to let him go
second and to leave him alone with the audience to make his case. This
is the motivation for presenting the preceding argument between Brutus
and Cassius and supports the contention that Shakespeare meant to
prevent his audience from succumbing with the Roman mob to Antony's
(really his own) eloquence.

Ultimately, the play answers the question whether the deed was noble or
base that historical deeds are neither noble nor base beyond what
rhetoric succeeds in convincing us.

I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're making here, but the
audience is certainly a character in any play. But Shakespeare makes a
point of dragging the audience onto the stage. What else is the
Mousetrap about or the numerous other plays within Shakespeare's plays?
What else is Christopher Sly about?

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenixandturtle.net

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Great Britons

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2120  Wednesday, 23 October 2002

From:           Takashi Kozuka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 20:47:36 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Great Britons

Dear SHAKSPERians

SHAKSPERians may wish to take a moment to visit BBC's 'Great Britons'
webpage

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/greatbritons/

and vote for Shakespeare! (Click 'Vote!' on the page and follow the
instruction.)

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2118  Wednesday, 23 October 2002

[1]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 17:41:26 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2107 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 10:48:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2113 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 17:41:26 +0100
Subject: 13.2107 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2107 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

"Sometimes the tip of an iceberg needs to be followed below the
surface.  Sometimes the tip is only a tip, without an iceberg, only
something you step on quickly as you run past", writes David Bishop. "To
tell the difference takes critical judgment, which, as the record of New
Historicism so richly demonstrates, historical erudition does not
necessarily impart."

I would suggest that telling the difference takes both critical
judgement and a modicum of historical erudition. Without the latter, how
are we to understand the semantics of a play written nearly four hundred
years ago?  William Shakespeare, I would hazard to guess, would have
been astonished to read this as a critical judgement on his work: "A
general set of Christian assumptions--what Catholicism and Protestantism
have in common--plays an important role in the play." He, like every
other Protestant living at the same time as him, would have scratched
his head at this egregious tautology, once he'd gotten over the
downright offence it would have caused him!

Besides, some of us are interested in Elizabethan and Jacobean theology
& eschatology, and it seems churlish to tell us off for treating a
contemporary drama as an historical source for discussion of these
points.

On separate but related issues:

Steve Roth objects that "[Richard] Field uses the anecdote rhetorically"
- a possibility I allowed in my post. He further objects that "His
straying from Protestant orthodoxy here, invoking a Catholic anecdote to
his own ends, could be viewed as hypocritical sophistry in the style of
John Ashcroft." No one would doubt that Field's Fifth Booke contains a
fair amount of "sophistry" (King James himself threw the thing across
the room at him because he thought it relied too much on "cunning" to
make its very valid points: Nathan Field, Some Short Memorials
concerning the Life of that Reverend Divine Doctor Richard Field, ed. J.
Le Neve (London 1717), pp.13-16). However it is just plain wrong to
suggest that this was a "[Roman???] Catholic anecdote" - he gets it from
Pico, as I pointed out (see earlier posts from more accomplished and
experienced scholars than I for where he fits into all this). Finally,
to say that this is "a pretty glancing piece of proof, in any case, that
Protestants embraced the idea of visitations" scandalously
underestimates the standing of Field's treatise in the early Stuart
Church - it was seen as almost the equal of Hooker's Laws, and is still
well-respected among theologians of the English Church today.

Bill Arnold writes, "First: we readers note that Hamlet the protagonist
invokes his 'immortal...soul' and cannot be accused of being in denial
about his personal views about the existence of the Soul and
Immortality".

I'm not certain that this is a response to the same Field reference, but
it looks like it. I can only reiterate that I did not mean to suggest
that his anecdote could be used as a critical tool with which to dissect
Hamlet's (or Shakespeare's) orthodoxy, merely that it demonstrated that
a respected, learned, orthodox English divine could happily invoke the
idea of good spirits walking the earth, at around the same time as
Hamlet was written. I accept that that makes me guilty of the
theological vagueness I have criticized in others (for a lot happened to
the English Church and its doctrines between 1598 and 1610, not least
the Canons of 1604), but I think the point is simple enough to stand.

I think Bill Arnold's post (21.10.02) got closer to the heart of the
matter than anyone else's, by the way.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 10:48:09 -0700
Subject: 13.2113 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2113 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

>Takashi Kozuka:

>I should be grateful if the contributor(s) can (1) itemise/list those
>'tests' one needs to carry out to find out whether a ghost is good or
>evil, and (2) clarify the sources.
>Could the contributor(s) please (3) present specific/concrete external
>evidence/proof to show in what 'particular ways' angels and devils >would act when someone is murdered in an unreasonable manner in the >early modern English context? (David Frydrychowski's suggestion may be >one.)

I would be more than happy to, except that Prosser has already done
exactly that. So instead of summarizing examples and (in my
incompetence) detracting from the value of her work, I refer interested
parties to her. Also to McGee and Frye. More tangentially, to
Greenblatt.

My original citation of these works is at:

http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2002/2074.html

I just summarized some of their conclusions--perhaps incompetently.

Steve
http://princehamlet.com

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Re: John Kerrigan's Intro

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2119  Wednesday, 23 October 2002

From:           Takashi Kozuka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 20:28:34 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Re: John Kerrigan's Intro

John Briggs kindly e-mailed me further information: Kerrigan is probably
referring to K DJ's 1983 article, which he lists on p. 66.

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

MND in Film, Dazzled (1999)

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2117  Wednesday, 23 October 2002

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 Oct 2002 12:11:01 -0400
Subject:        MND in Film, Dazzled (1999)

The film Dazzled (1999) replays the plot of Midsummer Night's Dream, and
a girl appears in a school production of the play.  Details at
http://us.imdb.com/Title?0277663

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.