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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: January ::
Re: Shakespeare and Research
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0164  Thursday, 30 January 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 08:14:46 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0149 Re: Shakespeare and Research 2

[2]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 16:11:29 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0149 Re: Shakespeare and Research 2

[3]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 17:17:43 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare and Research


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 08:14:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0149 Re: Shakespeare and Research 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0149 Re: Shakespeare and Research 2

James Conlan writes, "To the argument that no evidence has yet been
recovered proving that Shakespeare did in fact travel abroad, I might
point out that Baldwin, Chambers, Wilson and Schoenbaum all concede that
there is no evidence that William Shakespeare studied at Stratford.  The
marriage license issued 27 November 1582 is the earliest evidence of
Shakespeare's residence in England after his baptism in 1564.  At this
stage of the collection of the evidence, theories about Shakespeare's
education are based wholly on logical inference.  Allowing that
Shakespeare studied abroad makes sense in relation to the nature of his
works, the custom of gentlemen, his family's religious allegiances, and
his family's financial transactions about the time he should have been
completing his grammar school program.  That said, I recognize logical
inference is not proof: the evidence I have here assembled is intended
chiefly to encourage further archival study of a possibility that, to my
knowledge, has never been entertained.  While I would not be surprised
if some day, in an archive in Venice, Rome, Verona or Messina, a receipt
recording a transaction between William or John Shakespeare and a local
merchant turned up, dated sometime between 1577 and 1582, I anticipate
that other ancillary questions will need to be answered should such
evidence be recovered."

Thank you, James Conlan, for your well researched and well expressed
post, of which I only quote the final paragraph.  You precisely
illustrate the point of the thread, Shakespeare and Research, and that
is that the scholarship in this field of endeavor is ongoing and hardly
written in cement.  Personally, I am more convinced than ever that the
tip of the iceberg known as Shakespeare and Research marks an area of
Shakespeare scholarship so vast, it will sink many anti-Stratfordian
ships attempting to ram the English bard.  Bravo, again, for your
detailed scholarship, particularly as to time and place, as well as your
pointing the direction to further research on the subject.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 16:11:29 -0500
Subject: 14.0149 Re: Shakespeare and Research 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0149 Re: Shakespeare and Research 2

James Conlan writes,

>After pronouncing that Shakespeare must have attended an English grammar
>school because of the content of his plays (and, to prove it, citing
>Shakespeare's satire on pedantry in _Love's Labour's Lost_, a play set
>in Navarre), Baldwin fails to explain how Shakespeare acquired his
>education in 1) the Italian necessary to read Cinthio's _Hecattomithi_,
>2) the sort of French necessary to write _Henry V_, 3) the nautical
>language necessary to write _The Tempest_'s opening scene, 4) specific
>geographical details about Verona, Messina, and Venice, and 5) the
>operation of the law.

I'll let others explain the many different ways Shakespeare may have
learned all these amazing things without necessarily having travelled or
gone beyond grammar school.  I have a question: what is known about the
education and knowledge of Shakespeare's fellow actors, particularly of
foreign countries and languages?  After all, drama is a collaborative
art.

--Bob G.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 17:17:43 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare and Research 2

While not presuming to challenge James Conlan theory of Shakespeare's
foreign education, I must question one of his fundamental assertions:

"...how Shakespeare acquired his education in 1) the Italian necessary
to read Cinthio's _Hecattomithi_, 2) the sort of French necessary to
write _Henry V_, 3) the nautical language necessary to write _The
Tempest_'s opening scene, 4) specific geographical details about Verona,
Messina, and Venice, and 5) the operation of the law."

Of the first and last point I cannot comment.  However "...the sort of
French necessary to write _Henry V_"...  It has been proposed, I forget
by whom, that Shakespeare did not write (at least by himself) the
'French' scenes in Henry V.   Both scenes appear to have been shoehorned
into the play.  The English Lesson (Act  3, Scene 4) introduces two new
characters while including none of the established ones and has no
relationship to the plot.  The courtship scene (Act V, scene 2, 102-145)
which is only marginally related to the plot, is set up by the awkward
device whereby the extraneous characters leave to conduct some business,
then reappears at precisely the right moment.

Furthermore, the 'French' scenes violate the play's convention.
Everyone but Katherine and Alice speak perfect English.  Even when the
French are among themselves, with no Englishmen present, they speak
English.  Katherine and Alice seem to be the only ones who know French!

My hypothesis is that the English lesson scene came out of the French
Huguenot community, whose members would have experience the same shock
that Katherine does upon finding English words that sounded similar to
rude French ones.  Shakespeare had links to this community through his
publisher and fellow Stradfordite Richard Field, whose wife was a
Huguenot, and through the Mountjoy's, with whom he lodged for a time.
My guess is this was a dirty joke going around which got worked into a
kind of skit.  Someone, perhaps Shakespeare, perhaps someone else,
polished this into a scene.  Then, for good measure, the 'courtship'
scene was added.  Shakespeare, with his knowledge of Latin and a little
assistance, might easily have pulled this off.

"...the nautical language necessary to write _The Tempest_'s opening
scene..." Well, London was the major port of an important seafaring
nation.  One suspects he could have picked up enough nautical language
at the docks of the Thames to fill several such scenes.

"...specific geographical details about Verona, Messina, and Venice..."
How did someone with his superior powers of observation miss the
geographical detail that Verona was not a port, or anywhere near the
sea, as he has it in Two Gentlemen.  In fact, there are so many
inaccuracies in the Canon regarding Italian geography to make it
doubtful that he ever saw much, if any, of that country.

My point is not to dispute Mr. Conlan's theory.  A foreign education
(though probably not in Italy) is not out of the question.  But making
assumptions on Shakespeare's background and education based upon the
content of his works can lead to mischief.   (The Anti-Stratfordian
theories being only the most obvious and annoying examples.)  Authors
beg, borrow and steal from many different sources.  First hand
experience, accounts of friends or from books, overheard conversations,
even the lines an actor learns for the parts he/she plays can add to
their 'knowledge'.

Philip Tomposki

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