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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Question on Measure for Measure
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1722  Tuesday, 14 September 2004

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 09:19:16 -0400
        Subj:   Question on Measure for Measure

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 15:43:34 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 16:22:43 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

[4]     From:   Tom Krause <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 23:50:04 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 09:19:16 -0400
Subject:        Question on Measure for Measure

I guess Thomas Larque has to have an enemy. Having trained most of his
guns on Krause recently, now he's aiming them at me. I won't bite. All
I'll add is (1) Mallin's book seems far more persuasive to me than to
Larque and some others; and (2) if Larque is going to broadcast my vita
as a way of humiliating me, at least he ought to get it right. He didn't.

Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 15:43:34 +0100
Subject: 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

With my World Shakespeare Bibliography restored, I have looked at a
number of other reviews of Mallin's "Inscribing the Time", which Ed Taft
wishes to use as evidence that Shakespeare's plays contained allegories,
in order to try to support Tom Krause's claims.

Of the total of seven reviews of Mallin's book that I have now read
(including the "Early Modern Literary Studies" and "Shakespeare
Quarterly" reviews summarised in my last post), five are openly hostile
to Mallin's claims, and only two are even vaguely positive (and it is
notable that these are the least impressive reviews, failing to analyse
Mallin's text in any detail, and in the case of the "Sixteenth Century
Journal" merely providing a synopsis of Mallin's own views and adding a
summarising opinion in a sentence).

The positive reviews were as follows:

[Sixteenth Century Journal, Eric Stirling - Positive review, but
provides no analysis, merely a synopsis of Mallin's argument]
Eric S. Mallin's book contains excellent, creative, and
thought-provoking arguments.  His style is clear, and he supports his
arguments well. 'Inscribing the Time' will prove an excellent source on
these three plays for years to come.

[Renaissance Quarterly, A. Robin Bowers]
While he is tempted to push his cultural and historical allegory to its
extremes, he sometimes attempts to recognize the fragility of the
exercise ... the arguments are appealing if prolix.  Most chapters show
a stylistic brilliance rather than lucidity; however, the last chapter
on 'Twelfth Night' reveals a less scintillating mode closer in its older
historical attachments to the subjects' dissertational origins.
'Inscribing the Time' is rewarding for its fresh insights into the
creational environments of the plays and the complexity of
intra-cultural forces at work on the Elizabethan playwright.

***

... and the three additional negative reviews, which I have quoted in
more detail because they offer more opinion, summarise their arguments
in the following major passages:

[Studies in English Literature, James Shapiro]
It would be disingenuous for me to say that I can't do justice to his
topical readings, for the truth is that I find the foundations upon
which they rest so shaky that all we are really left with is a dazzling
intellectual display--but little purchase on the relationship between
drama and history at the end of Elizabeth's reign. Most disappointing is
the fact that Mallin's notion of what constitutes history rarely goes
much beyond the lives of the rich and famous (Elizabeth, James, Essex,
and aristocrats in their immediate circles). His obsession with the
court is typical of much of the New Historicism as it was of the old.
Reflecting upon some of the connections Mallin draws between events of
the 1570s and 1580s and the plots of Shakespeare's plays, I found myself
wondering just how many theatergoers in 1601 could have recalled details
of Elizabeth's courtship or Darnley's death from before they were born.
I also wonder what the thousands of farmers who had to abandon their
crops at harvest-time in August 1599 to protect England against a feared
Spanish invasion would make of Mallin's claim that "invasion was a
metaphoric threat to the inviolate Virgin Queen and her realm" (p. 25).
Even the brief foray into issues of religious difference in Twelfth
Night barely scratches the surface of contemporary religious concerns
and fails to attend to changing notions of Puritan and Anglican
identity. The gap between Mallin's sophisticated handling of literary
texts and his reductive vision of what constitutes Elizabethan social,
political, military, religious, and cultural histories could not be much
greater.

[Journal of Gender Studies, Andy Stott]
While Mallin makes a valuable point concerning the way in which history
becomes narrativized, he seems to avoid questioning the way in which
historical texts containing this information are read themselves. I
cannot help thinking that, in relation to the nature of this absence at
least, New Historicism owes a great debt to the Structural Anthropology
of the 1950's and 1960's. As they fashion their subjects, both the
anthropologist and the historicist (new or otherwise), read significance
into everything that he or she sees, attempting to reveal the ultimate
cultural structure in which each isolated signification finds its
rightful resting-place. This is a fantasy of coherence where the
supposed objectivity of the social scientist remains unquestioned, his
or her distance from the subject (whether it be spatial or temporal) and
tactic of defamiliarization is simply enough to allow the true nature of
the structure to show itself. I can't imagine such an unreflective
practice happening in anthropology today (if indeed it ever really did
in the reductive terms that I have characterized it), but in New
Historicism this legacy appears to live on. Gone are Levi-Strauss'
Nambikwara, replaced by Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night,
Shakespeare's native informants revealing the total structure of
Jacobean culture to the distant, objective critic.

To suggest that literature can somehow stand outside the milieu of its
construction would be perverse, but the attempt to reconstruct the
context of a particular moment in history seems to ignore what seems to
me to be a far more important methodological question concerning the
problem of context itself. This is a gripe that I have with New
Historicism in general, and not with Mallin's book alone. It seems to me
that the attempt to marry text and context by reading one in the light
of the other remains under-theorized by its practitioners. New
Historicism's attempts to define a moment of 'pure' history by textual
means will always be impossible due to the nature of the text which, by
virtue of its very readability, is always the multi-faceted subject of
interpretability (anyone who needs proof of this need only look at the
amount of books there are on Shakespeare, for example). For someone who
mobilizes the metaphor of contagion so well, it seems odd that Mallin
chooses not to examine the different hermeneutic directions that a text
will be pulling in beyond its specific historical locations. By nailing
specific meanings to specific moments, unaware that is the contemporary
act of contextualization that creates them as such, it seems to me that
if anyone is 'inscribing the time' here it is Mallin and not our old
friend Shakespeare.

[Modern Philology, John Watkins]
In developing these parallels between 'Hamlet' and Stuart family
romance, Mallin offers virtuousic readings of the play's relationship to
history. But here and elsewhere, his focus on high politics rather than
social or economic history raises unanswered questions about the court's
relationship - both real and imagined - to Shakespeare's company and to
the London audience.  Mallin never explains why someone in Shakespeare's
social and professional situation would rework Stuart family trauma.
His metaphor of history as contagion infecting the play begs such
questions by treating historical inscription as inevitable.  A critic
more attuned to social history might have accounted for the coincidences
that Mallin finds between Hamlet's and James's personal experience by
appealing to a master code ordering early modern family structures.  By
scripting the lives not only of Shakespearean characters but of Stuart
royalty and commoners alike, such a master code would explain why
Hamlet's relationship with Claudius mirrored not only that between James
and Bothwell but also those between less exalted sons and stepfathers
sitting in Shakespeare's audience ...

... Mallin's final chapter on 'Twelfth Night' exhibits the strengths and
weaknesses of the book's methodology.  A fine close reader, Mallin
demolishes the oversimplified view of Malvolio as a Puritan by detailing
how Maria and other characters in the play impose that identity on him.
Cross-gartered in yellow stockings, a colour that Elizabeth detested for
its Spanish associations, Malvolio becomes a veritable
"Puritano-papismus" embodying the two religious extremes radicalized by
the Anglican establishment in validation of its own media via.  The
chapter's less persuasive sections argue that the Viola-Olivia-Orsino
courtship inscribes the Duke of Anjou's failed courtship of Elizabeth.
Contemporary rumour held that Elizabeth, like Olivia, preferred the
go-between Simier to the nobleman himself.  But "the play's
reverberations are never perfectly consonant with the past" (p.214):
whereas sectarian politics finally impeded Elizabeth's French marriage,
neither the Puritano-papismus Malvolio nor anyone else can prevent
Olivia's union with Sebastian ...

'Inscribing the Time' is a provocative, highly original treatment of
three Shakespearean plays.  But in order to situate them more
persuasively in an early modern cultural environment, Mallin would need
to expand his range of historical investigation.  His focus on crown and
court ignores the larger world inhabited by Shakespeare, his company,
and his audience ... even in arguing that Hamlet embodies not only James
I, but also Essex, the Bothwells, and other courtiers, Mallin still
subscribes to an earlier generation's reduction of all Renaissance
cultural productions to commentary on the ruling elite.

***

It can be seen, therefore, that Ed Taft's absolute belief in Mallin's
thesis is unquestionably a minority position (Ed Taft's own review of
the book can be seen in "Shakespeare Newsletter", but I do not have
access to the text immediately, and he can hardly act as support for his
own viewpoint in any case).  Most of the academic reviews of Mallin's
book considered it a seriously flawed piece of work.  On this basis it
can hardly be used as an authority to validate the even more dubious and
largely unrelated theories of Tom Krause.

Thomas Larque.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 16:22:43 +0100
Subject: 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

Bill Arnold writes ...

 >Well, I think you have proposed what makes clear sense, that writers
 >write from *inside* their times, and you probably could prove your point
 >if you tie it into the words of Jesus which Shakespeare clearly is
 >alluding to.  Have you thought of the title in light of the history you
 >cite?

Thanks, Bill.  The title would seem to have two meanings - one more
obvious and one less.  The more obvious meaning comes from Matthew's
gospel ...

"Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye
shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to
you again".

In the light of these words the play's title clearly refers to Angelo
committing the same crime he condemns in others.  The less obvious
meaning is that 'measure' also means law or enactment.  'Measure for
Measure' could thus mean the replacement of harsh anti-Papist laws with
  laws allowing religious toleration.

Peter Bridgman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Krause <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 23:50:04 -0400
Subject: Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

Before I get started on this response I want to reemphasize for anyone
who has not read my essay that the essay itself fully anticipates and
addresses all of the major substantive criticisms that have been leveled
against it to date.  I mention this only because Mr. Larque (although I
am very grateful for his changed tone in his most recent post) still
occasionally implies that I have attempted to hide something or am
somehow shifting positions.  Please read the essay, or review my
previous posts, before giving any weight to those characterizations.

Mr. Larque has two main arguments:

1) that the argument for a debasement allegory in MFM is bad and
insufficiently supported; and

2)  that the argument should not be published.

I will return to 1) below, but the more important question for the list
is clearly the second: what "standard of proof" should be applied in the
decision to publish an article that purports to break new ground?

In this regard, I would be very interested to hear if others on the list
agree with the position that Mr. Larque takes with respect to the
question of what caused the tragedians to travel in Hamlet.

As close readers will recall, Mr. Larque said on Sept. 8:

"Of course, there is also a "perfectly suitable and well-supported
answer" as to why the players in Hamlet are travelling (the child actors
have become more popular than them)"

and then on Sept. 9:

"Read Krause's essay, and you will find him dishonestly creating things
that (according to Krause) are difficult to understand, purely so that
he can solve them.  Nobody's ever had any problem understanding why the
players in Hamlet have to travel, for instance, it says in the two
reliable texts of the play that it is because child actors have replaced
them in the public's esteem."

I am not trying to use this as an example of Mr. Larque's unfamiliarity
with the different versions of Hamlet (although it does that quite
nicely, in that it reflects his apparent belief that Q1 - which mentions
children -  is a more authoritative text than Q2 - which doesn't).  Nor
am I trying to use it as another example of Mr. Larque's general refusal
to accept anything that departs from some unknown (to anyone but him)
dogma (although it does that as well).  Rather, I'm using the question
of what made the actors travel as an example of one of those open-ended
questions for which the correct answer is as yet unknown, and may be
unknowable. Under those circumstances, what criteria must be met before
an article espousing a particular view is published?

Rosencrantz's line that the actors' "inhibition is due to the late
innovation" is the most direct clue we have as to what has caused the
actors to travel.  The ensuing discussion in F about the child actors
(along with a fleeting reference to children in Q1) leads a minority of
scholars to believe (with Mr. Larque) that it was the rise in popularity
of the child actors.  But this view is rejected by scholars who believe
Q2 to be authoritative, because while the tragedians are traveling as a
result of an innovation in Q2, there is no reference to children.

As a result, the field is more or less wide open for conjectures about
what caused the tragedians to travel.  The essay lists 8 possibilities,
all of which have been suggested in print:

1. "inhibition" refers to a London Privy Council order of June 22, 1600;

2.  inhibition refers to a hypothetical Danish order depriving the
Tragedians of residence;

3.  inhibition refers to the closure of theaters due to the London
plague of 1603;

4.  innovation refers to an unnamed political disturbance;

5.  innovation refers to the Essex rebellion of 1601;

6.  innovation refers to the threatened rebellion of Fortinbras against
Danish dominion;

7.  innovation refers to the accession of James I to the throne in 1603; and

8.  innovation refers to the child actors themselves (the proposal that
Mr. Larque identifies as "suitable" and which causes him to look no
further).

These eight proposals are perhaps not quite mutually exclusive, but are
nearly so.  If any one of them is correct, then seven others are most
likely incorrect.  And yet, scholars have been allowed to publish papers
or books advocating each of these proposals.

Without looking at the specifics of the proposals, one might say that
any one of them has about a one in eight chance of being the right
answer.  Should they all have been refused publication on that basis?

In each case, the proponent of a particular position has done
essentially what I have done with respect to Measure for Measure - they
have come up with a hypothesis as to Shakespeare's meaning, and then
have gathered all the intrinsic and extrinsic evidence that they can
find that supports that meaning.  They then present it in a paper.  Who
among us (other than Mr. Larque) can say with certainty which of these
eight theories are correct?  How is my "methodology" any different from
those of the scholars who were published on this point?  For that
matter, how is my "methodology" any different than that of any scholar
who proposes a particular interpretation for a particular play, or a
particular line of a play?

Mr. Larque's answers to date are wholly unsatisfactory.  As I have
attempted to explain to him, his contention that a proposed
interpretation of a play must be rejected if it is "unfalsifiable" does
not hold water, since it would result in very little if interpretation
of Shakespeare's plays ever being published.

Equally flawed is his contention that my argument so resembles that of
the Oxfordians that it must be wrong.  While one must certainly beware
of the traps that the Oxfordians have fallen into, that doesn't mean the
method is completely worthless.  Suppose, for example, that (a) the
Oxfordians found ten times as many "coincidences" in Shakespeare's plays
pointing to Oxford as they have, (b) they were able to present truly
compelling evidence that Shakespeare himself was illiterate, and (c) we
didn't have all the contemporaneous references to Shakespeare that
indicate that he did indeed write his plays.  Especially in view of (b),
wouldn't we have to admit that they might be on to something?  But it's
the same methodology, isn't it?

Apart from the debasement allegory, my essay proposes an answer at least
one question that Measure for Measure raises that hasn't been
satisfactorily answered:  it proposes that the great soldier Frederick
refers to Federico/igo de Spinola.  Despite access to powerful search
engines and vast databases, none of my "critics" has proposed anyone
else.  Even if everything else in my proposal turns out to be wrong
(which it won't, because, unfortunately for Mr. Larque, my proposal is
"unfalsifiable"), scholarship has benefited by the Spinola proposal, and
others are free to use him in their proposed interpretations of MFM, as
Mr. Larque so neatly does (and he does it with my "moated grange" =
Lyford Grange as well), albeit facetiously.

In addition, I'm honestly not sure how anybody can disagree with my
proposal that Hamlet's reference to Claudius's "picture in little" MIGHT
have been a double-entendre for coins.  If your answer is "it isn't",
why are you so sure?  How can we ever be "sure" of what was in
Shakespeare's mind?  What's wrong with putting the proposal out there?

Ok.  The above is my heart-felt question for the list.  To summarize,
how is my paper any different from any other proposal advanced to answer
questions for which there are no absolute answers?  How does one decide
which such papers should be published?

As to Mr. Larque's demonstration of a Catholic-Protestant allegory in
MFM and his prediction that I will reject it, he got that right.  If
only he had read my previous posts more carefully, he would have seen
why I would reject it, and it could have saved him the time of working
it all out.  As I explained before, the Oxfordians can come up with a
lot of coincidences even from a single play because they have a large
dataset - Oxford's well-documented life - to map the play to.  Mr.
Larque is able to come up with a plausible sounding religious allegory
for MFM for the same reason - he has the vast dataset relating to the
Catholic-Protestant conflict to pick and choose his representations
from.  As he has indicated, he could probably come up with a similar
allegory for that subject for any of Shakespeare's plays.  If he truly
wants to spend time creating allegories that would defeat my contention
that the debasement allegory in MFM is more than coincidence, the only
way to do so is to demonstrate a similar allegory - i.e. debasement (a
much smaller dataset than the Protestant-Catholic conflict) - in another
of Shakespeare's plays.  Until he does that, he is comparing apples and
oranges.  Mr. Larque's "methodology" of criticism, though entertaining,
has absolutely no probative value.

Lest Mr. Larque argue that I "invited" him to provide this "proof,"
recall that the only time I came close to doing that was when he
proposed that a reference to St. George in Henry VI was a reference to
George Blaurock, and that he could find an Anabaptist theme in Henry VI.
  The Anabaptist "dataset" is so small that I had (and still have)
complete confidence that he would not be able to do so.

John Briggs writes:

"Lyford Grange was indeed moated - although it is not clear (to me, at
least) whether the moat still survived in the 1580s.  It was not,
however, a grange!  It did indeed belong to the Abbey of Abingdon, but
had long been let to a secular tenant - who had presumably constructed
the moat to buttress his dubious status.  Baddesley Clinton is certainly
moated, but that wasn't a grange either!"

As to Lyford Grange, I don't see how anyone can dispute that it's a
moated "grange," given its name (regardless of dictionary definition of
"grange")

As to Baddesley Clinton, I was relying on Mr. Bridgman's representation
that it was a grange.  If it isn't, it's certainly irrelevant to MFM.

Peter Bridgman writes:

"Tom Krause writes as though WS took the FT and the Economist.  Even if
this obscure Spanish book on currency debasement had appeared before
WS's play, the book would not have been on sale in Paul's Yard for WS to
leaf through. Any books written by Jesuits were confiscated by the
authorities and burnt."

Again, one wouldn't have to read FT or the Economist to learn the
one-byte fact that Mariana was against debasement.  And I've proposed
several possible ways that Shakespeare might have learned this that
don't involve leafing through a copy of Mariana's works in St. Paul's Yard.

John Briggs writes:

"Playgoer 1 would appear to be in error - Mariana seems to have had no
connection with the Spanish Inquisition (inquisitors tended to be
Dominicans), although they did plague him in his later years, as they
did anyone who wrote on theology."

Here's a quote from G. Kasten Tallmadge, "Juan de Mariana," in Gerald
Smith, ed., Jesuit Thinkers of the Renaissance (Marquette U.P. 1939), at
159:

"During this time [the 1570s] he was appointed synodal examiner and
counsel for the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition.  His fame waxed
greatly, and by 1580, when he was forty four years old, he was
recognised everywhere as one of the highest authorities in matters of
theology."

John Briggs also writes:

"If Federico was indeed the younger brother, it would, of course, have
been Ambrogio who "pledged his family fortune to Spain" (Playgoer 1)."

Fair enough.  I think Playgoer 1 overstated the case slightly (proving
that even ignorant playgoers would see the allegory!).

Thomas Larque writes:

" . . .although I might point out that Isabella gets married at the end
of the play, and Elizabeth rather obviously never did, nor was James I
ever one of her suitors, if anything he was her honorary son as a result
of being chosen as her heir)."

Are you sure Isabella gets married at the end of the play?  Reread my
posts and you will see that I am not proposing a marriage between
Isabella and James (it's about the succession).

Thomas Larque writes:

"Krause claims that the Duke, as monarch, represents James I. He
suggests that Shakespeare portrayed James as having debased the Scottish
coinage (represented by allowing Angelo to take power) but then gave the
Duke the role that he hoped James would play in England (helping to
rescue the coinage from debasement).  Presumably he is also thinking
about the fact that both James and the Duke were rulers."

I did not suggest a connection between James's debasement of the
Scottish coinage and the Duke's allowing Angelo to take power.  As to
the parallels between James and the Duke, in the essay I simply cited
other scholars who have noticed parallels.  If you think they are all
wrong too, let me know and I'll pass it on.

Thomas Larque writes

"Clearly, therefore, if Krause wishes to make new claims on the basis of
an assumption that some 1599 editions did contain this chapter, then he
needs to produce some evidence of a 1599 edition that did do so.  Since
Soons' claim is evidently dubious, it cannot be used as firm evidence
unless or until it has been confirmed."

Despite your characterization, I am not making "new claims" about Soons
or any 1599 editions.  I mentioned Soons in the essay and in two posts
(this is the first time you've addressed him), each time indicating that
his statement appeared to contradict those of other secondary sources.
As I have said from the beginning, Soons's statement might be right, and
it might be wrong, and it might be based on some other information that
would support earlier publication of Mariana's views.  I do not have the
resources to resolve the conflict, but when the essay is published,
perhaps someone else with the resources and the interest will find the
answer.  That is just one of the many benefits of publishing the piece.

But to throw the question back at you, if I were to confirm that
Mariana's views were published in 1599, would you then allow Ed Taft to
publish the paper?  (And if not, what's the point of looking?)

Thomas Larque also writes:

"Since Krause is trying to give us some reason for believing that it is
even a notional possibility that Shakespeare used Mariana as an
allegorical figure to represent debasement, he cannot use Shakespeare's
use of the name 'Mariana' (rather obviously best known as a
straightforward girl's name) as his only evidence that Juan de Mariana
had created that theory and was already famous for it at that time: this
is circular reasoning and is wholly invalid."

I've explained before that the conclusion that Juan de Mariana's views
were known is not based on circular reasoning, but on circumstantial
evidence.  The evidence includes the Spinola reference, the moated
grange reference, and the fact that Mariana is at the center of a
debasement allegory.  We can infer that this means that Mariana was
intended to represent Juan de Mariana and that Shakespeare thus knew of
Mariana's views.

I recognize that you disagree that the circumstantial evidence proves
the case, but that's an issue of the quantum of the evidence, not a
basis for dismissing the argument as "circular."

Tom Krause

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