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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0261  Wednesday, 12 February 2003

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 13:19:03 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 14.0245 Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting

[2]     From:   Nancy Charlton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 10:34:48 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0245 Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 13:19:03 -0500
Subject: Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting
Comment:        SHK 14.0245 Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting

Tom Reedy writes,

'with a Shakespearean sentence, you get more than the meaning, you get
elements which suggest other interpretations, even though they don't
register in the conscious mind.'

and adds

'This type of literary technique is not taught at university or picked
up through reading; this is congenital, the hallmark of inborn literary
genius.'

I'd have thought that in fact it's a feature of all uses of language,
not just those employing 'literary technique'. It's certainly not
limited to the cavortings of that seedy old reprobate 'inborn literary
genius.' No utterance or piece of writing can avoid being shadowed by
the ghostly presence of 'meanings' other than those to which it's
overtly committed. Of course, this aspect of language can be exploited
well (James Joyce) or poorly (Dylan Thomas) but Shakespeare, it seems to
me, rarely sets out to exploit it at all. What Stephen Booth draws
attention to is the product of brilliant reading, as much as Bardic
writing.  Mind you, we presentists don't necessarily recognise any
distinction between the two.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nancy Charlton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 10:34:48 -0800
Subject: 14.0245 Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0245 Re: Shakespeare's Handwriting

Much thanks to Tom Reedy for his summary of the article in which is
explicated what

>Stephen Booth calls "ideational static" in the  language of the
>fragment similar to Shakespeare's.

>"Just before the Battle of Agincourt, King Henry prays:

Brought to mind the civil war song: "Just before the battle, Mother/ I
am thinking most of you..."

A considerable paradigm shift!

>When the prayer continues, its topic
>shifts and also does not: 'Not today, O Lord,/O not today, think
>not upon the fault/My father made in compassing the crown' (289-91).

Could this also be an echo, an allusion to a line from the Psalms that
makes its way into various liturgies at several points: "Not unto us, O
Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for
thy truth's sake." ?

If so, might this be taken as a tacit disavowal of guilt for the theft
and stealing--a sin in the eyes of God no matter what good cause it is
committed for. And the more intensely so since the Lancastrian
usurpation was against an anointed king.

>The new topic, Lancastrian guilt, maintains and makes overt the
>shadow topic of the first lines, theft: Henry Bolinbroke's fault was
>stealing the crown" (14-15).

>Booth says that these elements are NOT "elements that once were
>or should henceforth be active elements in one's conscious
>experience of the passages in which they innocently lurk" (11).
>Indeed, he makes no
>claim that Shakespeare put them in consciously.

Why would he have to? They were ideas simply in the air. If I say to
someone that such-and-such an address is on Maryland Avenue or Marvin
Gardens or Park Place, they know exactly what I'm talking about because
nearly all Americans have played Monopoly and so the reference is quite
clear. To call something "Mickey Mouse" is equally well understood, but
I got into trouble once by using "before the Flood" as a metaphor for
"quite some time ago." In 500 years there will be a new pop culture and
the above will require footnotes.

Nancy Charlton

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