2004

Comments on Polonius

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1800  Friday, 1 October 2004

[1]     From:   Thomas Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 10:31:23 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1793 Comments on Polonius

[2]     From:   John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 17:10:24 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1793 Comments on Polonius

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 12:47:14 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1793 Comments on Polonius


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 10:31:23 -0400
Subject: 15.1793 Comments on Polonius
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1793 Comments on Polonius

"He is far gone, [far gone]. And truly in my youth I
suffered much extremity for love, very near this."

It's hard for me, even with the best will in the world, to see these
lines as anything but an invitation to the audience to laugh at the
senex and his foolish memories of blown youth. It's just too close to
Justice Shallow and his nostalgia for Jane Nightwork. Polonius in
general performs very badly in this scene for anyone making a case for
his mastery of "the trail of policy".

Tom

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 17:10:24 +0100
Subject: 15.1793 Comments on Polonius
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1793 Comments on Polonius

An curious thing about the part of Polonius is the number of 'in-jokes'.
Peter Bridgman pointed out here (and I hope he gets the credit in the
Arden3 edition) that "'beautified' is a vile phrase" is a clear jibe at
Greene's "upstart crow" slander.  (Would a contemporary audience have
recognised that?  It sounds more like something planted for future
generations of scholars!)  Then there is "I did enact Julius Caesar".
Clearly, the same actor played Caesar - could it have been William
Shakespeare himself (rather than John Heminges)?  Could "played once
i'th' university" and "kill so capital a calf" also be autobiographical?
  Is Shakespeare 'sending himself up' in the role of Polonius?

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 12:47:14 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1793 Comments on Polonius
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1793 Comments on Polonius

L. Swilley writes, "Of shifting identities, yes; a dodderer, no - that
is, if by 'dodderer' you characterize the man as he is so ineptly
presented in Olivier's production. Polonius is the First Minister of
State and, had he been a dodderer, most unlikely to be where he is
politically; certainly he would not be kept on and listened to by the
deep, devious, politically savvy Claudius. When, while instructing
Reynaldo, Polonius says "Where did I leave?" (i.e., "What was I just
saying?"), this is an order (and with a snap of the fingers), not a
request. People in such high places need not depend on their own memory;
others remember for them. Who interprets Polonius as a dodderer must be
prepared to show why a man like Claudius would listen to such a person,
be advised by him."

Whoa!  Is this true and certain?  Certainly, the statement above that
Polonius is "the First Minister of State" is unequivocable for me in my
reading of this statement, and if it be *NOT* interpretation but truth
in certitude, then it addresses my reading of *Hamlet* the play.  So, if
true and certain, then that makes Polonius the minion of Claudius and he
serves at the prerogative of the King and that makes Laertes the son of
"the first Minister of State" and we all know the involvement of all
three gentlemen [said in jest!] and their lies and criminal moves
against the rightful heir to the Danish throne, Prince Hamlet.

What a *NEW* spin this puts on the play, folks!  No wonder Prince Hamlet
stabbed "the first Minister of State" in the arse in the arras!  He
would have been a *spy* in the eyes of Prince Hamlet, what with what he
*KNEW* from the words of the spirit/ghost of his father, Old Hamlet, the
murdered King.

Makes me wonder if anyone has *READ* the words of Polonius carefully to
ascertain if he were in on a conspiracy *before the fact* of the
usurper's deed?  No doubt, he and Laertes are involved conspiratorially
against Prince Hamlet and their own family member, Ophelia!  Given the
above, it be they the conspirators who are *insane* inasmuch as they
overthrew the throne!

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

_______________________________________________________________
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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Modified Procedures

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1799  Friday, 1 October 2004

[1]     From:   Stanley Wells <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 17:52:00 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

[2]     From:   M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 13:13:04 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

[3]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 15:19:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

[4]     From:   Judy Lewis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 01 Oct 2004 08:43:28 +1200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stanley Wells <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 17:52:00 +0100
Subject: 15.1794 Modified Procedures
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

I must disagree profoundly with my friend Terry Hawkes. The comments
about another friend, Simon Russell Beale, were deeply and personally
offensive to an extent that I should imagine would have been libellous
if they had appeared in print. I don't see why they should be regarded
as any more acceptable on the internet.

Stanley Wells

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 13:13:04 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1794 Modified Procedures
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

There is an error creeping into the Weinstein discussion.

He defended his email by suggesting an analogy to sharp-penned critics
and gave some excerpts from reviews for comparison.

Many people who have responded to his email refer to his criticism of
the Macbeth production as a review.

However, a review is always written after seeing a production. Mr.
Weinstein has NOT seen this production, which means his comments are
based on what he anticipates will be the effect.

There is nothing wrong with speculating on hypotheticals, but such
comments should be distinguished from those based on first-hand knowledge.

I myself am not a fan of the actor in question and do not expect this
production to be very good, but I would never call that opinion a
review. It is something very different and I would expect the listener
to give it a different weight from the view of someone who had actually
attended the production.
[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 15:19:30 -0500
Subject: 15.1794 Modified Procedures
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

 >For heaven's sake, enough of this pious hand-wringing. The wit, bite and
 >style of Charles Weinstein's contributions make them far more
 >exhilarating than some of the unctuous oozings that too often clog up
 >this list. If SHAKSPER is to be anything more than a vicar's tea-party,
 >we should certainly not discourage them.

Hear, hear.

 >The real danger is that we'll
 >all end up sounding like Kenneth Chan.

Now that was tacky. We can't go home again, so I'm told.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judy Lewis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 01 Oct 2004 08:43:28 +1200
Subject: 15.1794 Modified Procedures
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1794 Modified Procedures

L Swilley wrote:

 >It is ideal to have a Rudolpho and a Mimi who are
 >19-year-old models right out of Vanity Fair Magazine, but would we not
 >rather have Pavoritti and another celebrated behemoth singing for us,
 >especially since we quickly put aside thoughts about their size and age
 >and are swept away by those grand voices, that beautiful music and that
 >touching story?  The ripped and bulked Brad Pitt may be better
 >physically suited for the role of Achilles, but would we not more
 >eagerly accept a Jeremy Irons, a Ralph Fiennes or - God help us - a John
 >Gielgud in the role?

Well, no.  Film is unforgiving and physical suitability is a major
issue. The role of Achilles demands someone with the physical beauty of
a Brad Pitt; none of the other actors mentioned would be at all
suitable.  Of course it helps if the star can actually act as well as
look beautiful.  I did not see Troy after its bad reviews, but Brad Pitt
can usually acquit himself well, and if he did not do so here, then
maybe the fault lies in the direction or the script (though a great
actor can make even bad dialogue sound good, as Russell Crowe did in
Gladiator.)

Pavarotti may be fine as Rodolpho on CD but, please, not on stage or film!!

A recent local stage production of The Magic Flute was totally spoiled
for me by a leading man who sang well but was short, fat and stodgy; the
effect was risible.  The best Boheme on film is Baz Luhrmann's wonderful
Australian Opera production, with its young and beautiful - and sexy -
leads.

And let us demand the same of Shakespeare productions.  He wrote older
roles for Burbage as he got older.   So let us have Romeo and Juliet
young and beautiful, at least on film.  And so on.

Judy Lewis

_______________________________________________________________
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
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

"Bad" Quartos and Stylometrics

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1797  Friday, 1 October 2004

From:           Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 12:29:55 -0400
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 28 Sep 2004 to 29 Sep 2004 (#2004-174)

I may have asked about this before, but is it possible (and can I
encourage folks to try) to run these various stylometric tests on chunks
of the "bad quarto" texts?  I realize they might have to be modernized
or somehow regularized if your basic work is done on something
relatively polished and regularized like the Riverside edition.

Or would it be possible as a preliminary effort to run chunks of old
spelling "good" texts against old spelling "bad" texts? Or even to see
what happens when an old-spelling text with its early-modern
irregularities gets held up next to its own modern spelling equivalent?

But I must now go and read the already published results.  Darn.

I started out my academic life with three years in Physics and
Engineering.   All those courses collecting data in laboratories gave me
a sense of delight in gathering and analysing "evidence." I corresponded
with Eric Sams a lot, and though we liked each other immensely, we
didn't agree about what constituted evidence.  The stylometers have all
kinds of interesting findings, but it will be interesting to see if the
number-crunchings can chew through the somewhat less orderly raw
material of Quartos and Folios.

Joys of calculating,
Steve Urkowitz (formerly "Urquartowitz")

_______________________________________________________________
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
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Twilight of the Gods

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1798  Friday, 1 October 2004

From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 30 Sep 2004 19:47:16 -0400
Subject:        Twilight of the Gods

The following is from Ian Holm's recently-published autobiography,
Acting My Life (2004).  In it, Holm talks of playing Mutius, son of
Titus Andronicus, in Peter Brook's legendary 1955 production starring
Laurence Olivier:

"[F]or me the most important thing was being able to observe Olivier at
such close quarters.  He gave a performance of full-blown greatness,
somehow achieving an extreme, culminating synthesis of technique and
emotion.  The verse was spoken with idiosyncratic, masterful
perfection,and when he wasn't actually speaking, he created out of his
silences a sense of hushed expectation and sculpted beauty.  It was
spell-binding acting on a grand scale.

The moment that has since stayed with me, and that I felt compelled to
watch from the wings every night, more often than not with tears in my
eyes, was when Marcus asks his brother why he is laughing after a
mountain of misfortune had been heaped on him (loss of all but two sons
in battle, mutilation and rape of his daughter).  Olivier's Titus seemed
to take an age to reply.  He found a place on the stage directly beneath
the most powerful spotlight and looked up straight into it.  His harshly
illuminated and magnified features betrayed resignation and extreme
suffering, and he blinked several times into the intensity of the light
as if about to weep.  Once he had the audience expectant and thrilled,
he began to speak, almost whispering the lines, but whispering them in a
defiantly hoarse manner, each syllable of every word accorded its
fullest expression and weight.  He trusted the text and he trusted the
production, but most of all he believed that he had the authority to
deliver the electrifying response which Marcus's question demanded of him.

Why?  I have not another tear to shed.

Besides, this sorrow is an enemy,
And would usurp upon my watery eyes
And make them blind with tributary tears.

As the speech went on, Olivier wrung out of it every ounce of emotion,
sounding every hard consonant, end-stopping every word. ('Why? I. Have.
NoT. Another. Tear. To. SheD.')  He had the audience, the rest of the
cast and the crew hanging on every wretched syllable.  'That,' I
thought, 'is acting.  And that's what I want to do.' "

--Charles Weinstein

_______________________________________________________________
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
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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