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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: May ::
Touchstone and the Gods
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1048  Wednesday, 12 May 2004

From:           D Bloom <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 11 May 2004 09:53:36 -0500
Subject:        Touchstone and the Gods

Pursuant to a technical (that is, acting) study of Touchstone in AYLI, I
came upon a phenomenon that puzzled me.

In his seductive endeavors with regard to Audrey in 3.3, both of them
make frequent references to "the gods": "I would the Gods hadde 1627:
made thee poeticall . . . Do you wish then that the Gods had made me
poeticall . . . Well, I am not faire, and therefore I pray the 1644:
Gods make me honest." And so on. I assumed that these references to the
gods (rather than to God) were euphemisms, changes in the original
manuscript demanded by the censors to avoid blasphemy.

Likewise, the rather odd phrase near the end of the scene, where T says,
"for heere wee haue no Temple 1659: but the wood, no assembly but
horne-beasts," also makes better sense (to me) by assuming that the
original words were "church" and "congregation."

 >I then, however, bethought me of the beginning of 3.2 where Touchstone
 >makes several references to God and other serious theological matters in
 >his by-play with Corin, as "Wilt thou rest damn'd? God helpe thee
 >shallow 1269: man: God make incision in thee, thou art raw." There are a
 >number of other direct references to God in the play beyond mere
 >greetings like "God buy you" and "Godild you." We may think of
 >Rosalind's "Is he of Gods making?" and "Why God will send more, if the
 >man will bee 1404: thankful:"

Does this indicate that the manuscript from which the First Folio text
was set was actually reflective of two stages of development, one
censored and the other not, and that it was never resolved to one or the
other? If not, why would the one segment be full of "the gods" while
others frankly use "God"?

I would be interested in (a) any informed opinion on this, and/or (b)
reference to some book or article that goes into the question.

Thanks,
don

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