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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: May ::
Touchstone and the Gods
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1078  Tuesday, 18 May 2004

[1]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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 >
        Date:   Monday, 17 May 2004 14:15:48 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1069 Touchstone and the Gods

[2]     From:   Chris Whatmore <
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 >
        Date:   Tue, 18 May 2004 13:18:26 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1062 Touchstone and the Gods


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Monday, 17 May 2004 14:15:48 +0100
Subject: 15.1069 Touchstone and the Gods
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1069 Touchstone and the Gods

Don Bloom writes...

 >I was wondering if this indicated that the play as received in the Folio
 >text is in a sense two versions, part of it a censored version, part
 >not. Perhaps the censored version was changed back to an uncensored
 >state, but those lines were (for some reason) not changed.
 >
 >Thus my query: does anyone know of a comment on this (not very
 >important) oddity?

In the book 'Theatre and Religion' (Manchester University Press, 2003)
there is an interesting chapter on 'As You Like It' by Carol Enos.
Carol proposes that the play pictures life in exile as an idyllic
antithesis to the dangerous life at court, and that WS was influenced by
the experiences of Catholic exiles known to him who sheltered at Douai
College in Flanders, near the forest of Ardennes.

If this is true, it may be that the first version of the play was deemed
too "applicable to the times" and WS was forced to make a
non-contemporary rewrite.  In which case this might explain the
references to both 'God' and 'the gods'.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Whatmore <
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 >
Date:           Tue, 18 May 2004 13:18:26 +0100
Subject: 15.1062 Touchstone and the Gods
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1062 Touchstone and the Gods

Don Bloom writes:

 >Granted the censorship of plays to avoid blasphemous use of "God," I
 >understand fully why Touchstone and Audrey would refer repeatedly to
 >"the gods" as making her poetical, honest, foul, sluttish, or whatever,
 >rather than to God making her so. But why then does Touchstone refer
 >directly to God when talking to Corin?

If I have not misunderstood Andrew Gurr's 'The Shakespearean Stage
1574-1642', it was not until 1606 that the Act to Restrain Abuses of
Players made it an offence to 'jestingly or prophanely speake or use the
holy name of God or of Jesus Christ, or of the Holy Ghoste or of the
Trinitie...' Given a generally agreed date for As You Like It of
1599-1600, would this not mean that WS was free to use 'God' or 'gods'
more or less as he chose?

Of course, this doesn't make the question of WHY he chose one or the
other any less interesting; quite the opposite in fact, since the
decision would presumably have been an artistic rather than a legal one.
In this context, it might also be worth considering the God/gods issue
in Much Ado, written not long before AYLI. In the earlier play,
according to my concordance, 'God' is invoked on almost 70 occasions
(easily the most in any comedy and not far off the record for the entire
canon), while the 'gods' are mentioned only once.

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