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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Olivia=I, Viola
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2053  Wednesday, 22 October 2003

[1]     From:   Whitt Brantley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 08:08:21 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

[2]     From:   Peter Hyland <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 09:50:18 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

[3]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 11:27:18 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

[4]     From:   Richard Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 14:49:20 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

[5]     From:   Brad Berens <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 16:43:40 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Whitt Brantley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 08:08:21 EDT
Subject: 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

Anagrams!  I shudder at the thought....Hardy, I'm surprised at you for
letting this one slip by.

Be careful Todd, you could be opening up a can of worms. Sure, there are
anagrams in Shakespeare's work.  Many writers employed them then and do
today.  For instance, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE= I AM A WELSH EARL'S PIKE. And
then Todd, there are those in our virtual Elizabethan universe, whom
actually think this means something.

And dedicate years of their lives, yea, even decades...promoting their
theory on free webservers and PBS.

Sincerely,
Whitt Brantley

TEL RANT BY WHIT...
LABER IN THY WIT!
WHY LATIN, BRETT?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hyland <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 09:50:18 -0400
Subject: 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

I remember reading, long enough ago that I can't dredge up the name of
the author, something pointing out that VIOLA is OLIVIA without the "I"
and going on to consider, ingeniously but perhaps speciously,
Shakespeare's account of egoism in the play.

Peter Hyland

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 11:27:18 -0400
Subject: 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

And don't forget Malvolio. If "a" is a feminine ending and "o" is a
masculine one, then Malvolio can be read as Bad Violo or Bad boy Viola.

Isn't it typical of Shakespeare to work his characters and situations
musically as variations on a theme?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 14:49:20 -0700
Subject: 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

Of course Hamlet is an anagram of the original Amleth.  Anagrams were
popular word toys, "hard trifles" Ben Jonson called them, and I suppose
there are others uncovered as yet.  Not an anagram, but as a comment on
the word-gaming of the time, I think that "O rare Ben Jonson" was meant
to be tricked as "Orare Ben Jonson".  Pray for Ben Jonson.  As you say,
Olivia and Viola were perhaps meant to be the two parts of an anagram.
William Drummond, Ben Jonson's friend, wrote a long essay on anagrams,
and his rules would allow for your speculation on the names, such as the
allowance of Cannibal morphing to Caliban, leaving out an "n".  Anagrams
were fairly loose, it wasn't  a science, but the makers often had to do
some artful dodging.  For the liberties to be taken at ease, see Henry
Peacham's "Minerva Britanna", a book with many anagrams, many of them
imperfect but honest to the practice of the day.

Richard Kennedy

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brad Berens <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 16:43:40 -0700
Subject: 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2038 Olivia=I, Viola

For Todd Pettigrew,

While I can't dredge up a citation offhand on the anagram issue, it is
worth pointing out that there was no fixed spelling in Shakespeare's
time.  Famously, he wrote his own name many different ways.  Therefore,
the extra "i" in Olivia when taking it down to Viola is a bother to our
eyes in 2003, but wouldn't, I think, have registered in the same way
back in early modern England.

However, anagrams are, clearly, more of a visual than an auditory
phenomenon, and Twelfth Night, like all plays of that era, is more
auditory than visual.  My preference (not shared by those interested in
things numerological, I admit) is to focus on the aural.

But even without a mathematically precise notion of naming or spelling,
the names are clearly quite similar. This is uncannily appropriate in a
play manifestly concerned, even fussy, about twins and appearance vs.
reality.

Sincerely,
Brad Berens
www.berens.org

P.S. You might enjoy Stephen Booth's chapter on doubling in his "King
Lear, Macbeth, Tragedy and Indefinition."

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