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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
A Thought for St. David's Day
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0728  Friday, 19 March 2004

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 13:06:36 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 15.0723 A Thought for St. David's Day

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 23:19:01 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0723 A Thought for St. David's Day


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 13:06:36 -0500
Subject: A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        SHK 15.0723 A Thought for St. David's Day

Bill Godshalk asks

 >If the observer (reader or spectator) is unaware of this stereotyping
 >discourse, then how can the observer make the association of Welsh
 >disruptiveness with Oldcastle?

Well no, Bill, an 'unaware' observer couldn't.  Thank you for that
incisive observation. However, the argument is that most early modern
observers were not unaware of such a discourse. They experienced it in
terms of the inherited presuppositions of the English-speaking world
which they unreflectingly inhabited.  Take this notion of 'Welshness'
into account and the play starts to say something different. Of course,
you have to listen to it.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 23:19:01 -0000
Subject: 15.0723 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0723 A Thought for St. David's Day

 >And there is little solid evidence that Shakespeare ever called Falstaff
 >Oldcastle.

Little evidence but fairly conclusive.  In 1625 librarian Richard James
wrote:  "the person with which he [Shakespeare] undertook to play a
buffoon was not Falstaff, but Sir John Oldcastle, and that offence being
worthily taken by personages descended from his title [William Brooke,
the Lord Chamberlain]... the poet was put to make an ignorant shift of
abusing Sir John Fastolf (sic)"

In 1599 the Master of the Revels, Edmund Tilney, wrote that he had
"received divers brave letters from the last Lord Chamberlain when he
and I were at odds".  We might ask why William Brooke had been sending
aggressive letters to the official theatre censor.

Then there is internal evidence from the plays.  This is from Henry IV,
Part 1:

FALSTAFF:  By the Lord, thou sayest true, lad. And is not my
hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?
PRINCE HENRY :  As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle.

And this if from the epilogue to Henry IV, Part 2:

"Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless a be killed already with your hard
opinions, for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man".

There is a printer's error in the Quarto. One speech headings was
printed with the abbreviation 'Old' instead of 'Fal'.

Finally, Shakespeare gives a foolish cuckold the name Brooke in the
Merry Wives of Windsor.  His last word on the affair?

Peter Bridgman

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