2003

Re: Shakespeare Usurpe

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0155  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

[Editor's Note: This thread has reached its useful end. Please continue
any further discussion privately. Hardy]

[1]     From:   C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 09:58:36 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0143 Re: Shakespeare Usurped

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:29:17 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0124 Re: Shakespeare Usurped


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 09:58:36 -0500
Subject: 14.0143 Re: Shakespeare Usurped
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0143 Re: Shakespeare Usurped

>I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the preceding.  For me, an
>epic is a story in verse or some modern equivalent thereof
>that is told
>by a single person; a play is a story in verse or prose that is acted
>out by more than one person.  Period.
>
>As for Rowling, Tolkein and Shakespeare, I like them all.  Again:
>period.
>
>--Bob G.

I'm afraid I have to disagree emphatically with the above, at least as
regards plays.  Many plays have only one actor; I've directed two such
-- Vincent and St. Nicholas.

cdf

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:29:17 -0600
Subject: 14.0124 Re: Shakespeare Usurped
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0124 Re: Shakespeare Usurped

Marcus Dahl  writes:

>Surely the face of the 'good' or 'evil'
>in these filmic Tolkein characters is a blank and meaningless assertion?

Can we-if it is necessary to refer to Tolkien's work in this list- refer
to the books and not the movies? The latter are wonderfully exciting and
have marvelous special effects but they have less to do with the books
than the Lambs' Tales have to do with the WS's plays.

(Yes, they lack a quality of "interiority" commonly found (and expected)
in 20th century literature. Deliberately so. That was not what he was
after.  Not surprisingly, this lack is also found in Medieval, 17th and
18th C literature.)

Cheers,
don

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Re: Small Change

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0154  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

From:           John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 09:32:51 -0500
Subject: 14.0141 Re: Small Change
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0141 Re: Small Change

Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

>Of course, a "modern" sixpence has a portrait too, but a teston was (am
>I right?) the first coin to have such.

Not in the least.  Coins bearing a portrait, especially of the monarch,
were the norm in the West from ancient times.

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A Note from the Editor

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0152  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Subject:        A Note from the Editor

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

It has taken me more time than I normally allot to format and edit the
thirty submissions I received for today's digests. Allow me a moment to
repeat a few suggestions that will make my job easier:

1. Please count to ten before hitting the reply key,

2. Please quote only what is necessary for your response to be put in
the proper context,

3. Please try to select only one or two threads to respond to in any one
day, and

4. Please try to keep your responses as brief and to the point as
possible. Occasional long posts are perfectly acceptable, but the ideal
is to limit your submissions to one screen.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Hardy

P.S.: No one should infer that I am singling out any member or
submission that I have posted previous to this note or after it. I am
merely taking the opportunity to make some points of a general nature
that I have intended to make for some time.

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Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0153  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

[1]     From:   Todd Pettigrew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 10:07:42 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

[2]     From:   John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 09:55:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

[3]     From:   Holger Schott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 12:37:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

[4]     From:   Ted Dykstra <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:36:38 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Pettigrew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 10:07:42 -0400
Subject: 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

On the matter of a possible sexual relationship between Hermia and
Helena, certainly, one is struck by the intimacy of the friendship
between the two. Helena's speech in 3.2 reads, in part,

        Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
        To bait me with this foul derision?
        Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
        The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,
        When we have chid the hasty-footed time
        For parting us,--O, is it all forgot?
        All school-days' friendship, childhood innocence?
        We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
        Have with our needles created both one flower,
        Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
        Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
        As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,
        Had been incorporate. So we grow together,
        Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
        But yet an union in partition;
        Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
        So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
        Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
        Due but to one and crowned with one crest.
        And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
        To join with men in scorning your poor friend?

If we are to look for suggestions of a sexual relationship, we might
point to the physical closeness of the two ("sitting on one cushion")
the suggestion of physical and spiritual union (bodies and minds
becoming "incorporate") and the very Donne-like suggestion that like
lovers who seem to be apart, they can never truly be separated ("two
seeming bodies, but one heart").

Notice further, that "one heart" is rarely used by Shakespeare but when
it is, it is often an expression of romantic/sexual love. Lysander uses
it twice in MND, and so does Viola in 12th Night when she makes a veiled
but passionate protest of her love for Orsino: "By innocence I swear,
and by my youth/ I have one heart, one bosom and one truth".

Of course, the problem with reading for sexual suggestiveness in general
is that it is subtle and highly dependent on context. In our own time
the word "come" has a sexual meaning but that does not mean everyone in
a modern play who says "come here" or "I'll come when I'm good and
ready" is making a vulgar pun.  Likewise in Shakespeare, I am wary of
positing sexual double-meanings without clear contextual clues.

Regards,
t.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 09:55:22 -0500
Subject: 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

Ed Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

>I find the suggestion that Hermia and Helena were lesbian lovers a bit
>of a stretch. It is hard for me to see how it's justified by anything in
>the text, Frankie Rubinstein not withstanding. Are you persuaded? All
>comments welcome.

Well, in my opposite-of-Jane-Austen way, I've never been with women when
they were alone, and one hears stories about schoolgirls and so on, but,
on the whole, my response to Rubenstein's line of argument can best be
epitomized in the words:  "Oh bazz-fazz!"

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 12:37:56 -0500
Subject: 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

Ed Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

>I find the suggestion that Hermia and Helena were lesbian lovers a bit
>of a stretch. It is hard for me to see how it's justified by anything in
>the text, Frankie Rubinstein not withstanding. Are you persuaded? All
>comments welcome.

I have no idea if H&H "were" "lesbian" lovers. For that matter, I don't
know if Egeus is "really" Hermia's father. It's hardly sound scholarship
to invent/construct backstories like that.

I do, however, think that Shakespeare puts language into Helena's mouth
that has clear sexual connotations, and that the passage Rubinstein
analyzes (not exactly in the most elegant fashion, to be sure) is part
of a larger theme in the play that is more fully explored in the
relationship between Titania and Oberon. The withdrawal of women from
men, the dependence of men on women for procreation, and the mocking
tone in which Titania speaks of male attempts to compensate for this
basic absence of biological creative power (as in 2.1, when she recounts
the story of the fairy child's mother, "big-bellied" imitating the
full-blown sails of merchant ships by "sail[ing] upon the land"). This
male anxiety-the anxiety caused by a fundamental lack-seems to me to be
figured in Helena's lines in 3.2 -- two women whose close relationship
turns them into "two lovely berries moulded on one stem": need I say
more?

Best,
Holger

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ted Dykstra <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:36:38 EST
Subject: 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0146 Lesbian Lovers in MND

Ed Kranz writes:

>I find the suggestion that Hermia and Helena were lesbian lovers a bit
>of a stretch. It is hard for me to see how it's justified by anything in
>the text, Frankie Rubinstein not withstanding. Are you persuaded? All
>comments welcome.

Not the least bit.

Ted Dykstra

PS: My sentence above could mean something else too - for example: that
not even the smallest creature enjoyed biting during sex or that
creatures bigger than the smallest one did - but it doesn't. It just
means that I'm not the least bit persuaded. Or perhaps that I'm gay.
Hmmm...

_______________________________________________________________
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Re: Shylock Redux

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0151  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 08:40:54 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:59:36 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 18:16:45 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redu

[4]     From:   Jacob Goldberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:45:57 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0109 Re: Shylock Redux

[5]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:51:35 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redu

[6]     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 21:35:27 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 08:40:54 -0800
Subject: 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

Mr. Kennedy corrects me with his usual helpful attitude:

>The Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Galileo.

Fine, I should not have written Spanish.

This fails to address the actual point of my comment, which was that
there was likely to be anxiety in Shakespeare's time about forced
conversations due to the inquisition and the religious rules in
England.  I would like to know more about this problem.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:59:36 -0000
Subject: 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

>The Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Galileo.

Galileo was interrogated at Rome.

The trouble is, EVERYONE expects the Spanish Inquisition.

martin

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 18:16:45 -0000
Subject: 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0139 Re: Shylock Redux

John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes regarding Mike Jensen's
post,

>>The phase of the Spanish Inquisition that put Galileo on
>>trial was instituted in 1542.
>
>The Spanish Inquisition had nothing to do with Galileo.

True, it was the Inquisition, plain and simple.  There's a rather nice
Monty Python sketch on this:

"I take it all back. The earth is the centre of the universe, not the
sun. I mean it's obvious isn't it-just look up in the sky and you see
the sun moving across, circling us. I don't know what I was thinking of.
It's all that Copernicus guy's fault. He made me do it. He led me astray
with his fancy De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium talk. It was in
Latin, so my guards were down. Who expects heresy in Latin? I mean just
look at him. Does he look like a heretic to you? It's him you should be
after, not me. Okay I know he's dead this past century but dammit I'm
dead too and that hasn't stopped you!"

http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/paulfitz/spanish/gal.html

For the entire Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch:

"In the early years of the 16th century, to combat the rising tide of
religious unorthodoxy, the Pope gave Cardinal Ximinez of Spain leave to
move without let or hindrance throughout the land, in a reign of
violence, terror and torture that makes a smashing film. This was the
Spanish Inquisition..."

http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/paulfitz/spanish/script.html

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jacob Goldberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:45:57 EST
Subject: 14.0109 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0109 Re: Shylock Redux

  Por.        Tarry, Jew:
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be prov'd against an alien  352
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half  356
Comes to the privy coffer of the state;
And the offender's life lies in the mercy
Of the duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st;  360
For it appears by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly and directly too
Thou hast contriv'd against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd  364
The danger formerly by me rehears'd.
Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke.

Portia was indeed very tricky with Venetian law.  The law, she says,
hath yet another hold on you.  What was the first hold?  The contract
between Shylock and Antonio was legal under Venetian law.  Portia
acknowledged that before the Duke.  No one suggested that this was the
first time in Venetian history that such a contract had been made.
Portia conceded that Shylock had the law on his side and pleaded with
Shylock, therefore, to exercise mercy.

It is obvious that the law had no hold on Shylock for entering into the
contract or for insisting on its enforcement.  When Portia then injected
the (implied) prohibition against shedding a drop of blood in the
process of cutting out the pound of flesh (as has been said many times,
this is like giving someone the right to walk on your land but imposing
a penalty for leaving footprints), Shylock canceled the contract.

Venetian law had no hold on Shylock - yet.

Now comes Portia with "another hold" on Shylock (actually the first and
only "hold").  The contract for the pound of flesh, which she had just
found to be legal, is now proof that Shylock, an alien, has attempted to
murder a Venetian citizen, which is illegal.  And so, Down therefore and
beg mercy of the Duke.

Tricky, tricky, very tricky.

I have a question.  May we assume that, if Shylock had been a citizen in
Venice, instead of an alien in Venice, there would not have been a
charge of attempted murder grounded on a legal contract legally entered
into by two willing parties?

Was Shakespeare mocking the Venetian - Christian legal system?

Back again to my lurking status.

Shalom,
Jacob Goldberg

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 13:51:35 -0600
Subject: 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux

I will have one more thing to say on this matter, but it has to wait
until I have time to do it right. In the meantime I have to be content
with a couple of brief comments.

1. If your morality makes A spitting on B equal to B murdering A, you
are welcome to it.

2. Despite the recurrent use of the word Jew by various characters,
there is no evidence that anyone in the play is seriously anti-Semitic.
They detest Shylock because he is a usurer (and a mean SOB).

3. I stand by my original question: where is this right to be
"different"? Who in Shakespeare's time has codified it for us? Is it not
just a projection backward of a dearly held ideal of our time? Whether
we should have such a right, provided it could be defined, does not
enter in. What "rights" did the Elizabethans think were fundamental and
inalienable? Was "different" among them?

Cheers.
don

PS: I am seriously interested in Point 3, not as a matter of attempting
to triumph over an adversary, but as a matter of learning more. My
knowledge of Elizabethan law (or constitutional philosophy) is woeful,
but someone out there probably does know and could tell us. d.a.b.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 21:35:27 -0000
Subject: 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0128 Re: Shylock Redux

Sean Lawrence writes,

>Surely Shylock's claim about being robbed of his
>house is a metaphor, explaining how his money
>supports his life.

Indeed, but the particular image used was, I think, inspired by the
removal of the Theatre from off Giles Allen's land, which the company
was considering at the time. An adjacent barn was shored up against the
Theatre and with the prop taken away the barn and, its residents'
businesses, might collapse.

My "Shylock's unpropped house and the Theatre in Shoreditch" forthcoming
in N&Q 2003 is about this.

Gabriel Egan

_______________________________________________________________
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
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