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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Question on Measure for Measure
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1732  Monday, 15 September 2004

[1]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 13:20:57 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 09:26:00 -0400
        Subj:   Question on Measure for Measure

[3]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 09:58:28 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

[4]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 17:33:59 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

[5]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 21:13:32 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

[6]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 11:33:53 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

[7]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Sep 2004 14:34:53 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

[8]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Sep 2004 15:06:20 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 13:20:57 +0000
Subject: 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

Count me as another appreciator of Eric Mallin's _Inscribing the Time._
I think his situation of "Hamlet" and "Troilus and Cressida" in the
context of the failed Essex rebellion is quite persuasive.

--Hugh Grady

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 09:26:00 -0400
Subject:        Question on Measure for Measure

Tom Krause writes:

"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?"

Tom's fine response to his critics is exemplified in this short quote,
and I have no doubt that the emotion ("heart-felt") behind it is real.
When I studied under Kenneth Muir, he was editor of Shakespeare Survey -
a far more prestigious journal than SRASP (as Thomas Larque would be
sure to emphasize), and he talked with me one day about exactly this
issue. He said that there is no way of ascertaining the absolute truth
about a Shakespeare text. He also said that he routinely published
pieces that he personally disagreed with, as long as they were well and
fully argued, well documented, and persuasive (at least to an imagined
audience if not to Muir himself). Most important, they should offer
something new about Shakespeare that would make his readers think.

I have always tried to follow Muir's advice, first as editor of SRASP
(1990-1996), and afterwards as a member of the Editorial Board. To my
mind, Tom's essay meets the tests that Muir set forth. After all, even
if Krause is wrong, publishing his piece will give scholars with more
resources and insights than I (like Tony Dawson) the opportunity to
demonstrate why it is wrong. Nothing I've read so far on this list has
done so, but maybe it will happen. On the other hand, maybe it won't. If
Tom's essay is of the caliber of those in the 30s and 40s which
"allegorized" Shakespeare, then it's a damn good essay, even if it's
controversial and happens not to be Larque's cup of tea. (But what is
Larque's cup of tea? And how would any essay meet his standards for
absolute proof and absolute truth?)

Finally, one question: instead of researching other people's views of
Mallin's work, why doesn't Larque read the damn book and make up his OWN
mind about how good or bad it is?

But if he needs help, he should read my own review of Mallin in
Shakespeare Newsletter.

Mallin has his flaws, but to my mind, he's terrific overall - and I
don't give a rat's a-- if that's a "minority" position. I stand behind
it 100%.

Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 09:58:28 -0400
Subject: 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

Mr. Krause writes: "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 confess that I have not read *all* the lengthy posts on this thread
with complete attention, but I have read the majority of them. I have
great respect for Professor Taft.  I have long admired most of Mr.
Larque's postings.  Mr. (or Dr. or professor... Forgive me if I have
misstated your credentials; it is not deliberate) Krause I have too
little SHAKSPER knowledge of to have formed an opinion.  However...

As I read and re-read the above statement what comes to me from it is this:

I <Krause>conclude that Shakespeare knew of Mariana's views because my
interpretation of the Spinola, moated grange and debasement allegory in
the play proves it.  They prove it because I interpret them to prove it.

That to me seems like circular reasoning in a classic form. It's not
"circumstantial" -- it's imposed from the outside and then cited as proof.

I am troubled, not only by Mr. Krause's torturing Shakespeare's plays
into a form of his own devising, but others' efforts as well.  Why must
scholars reach beyond the text to impose obscure interpretations that
may speak volumes to contemporary economists or historians (debasement
theory), psychologists (Hamlet's diagnosis), socialists (_The Tempest_
as pro or anti colonial screed), etc.?

It can be fun to do!  I've made the argument in a graduate paper that
Sonnet 20 is clearly homosocial if not homosexual.  I tend to believe
it, but I also think I was abusing the sonnet's lyricism, language,
beauty and even "meaning" (if one can fairly use such a word for a poem)
in order to make my case.  One does what one must <wry grin>.

But the more I read and especially *see* Shakespeare's plays, the more
certain I am that, regardless of Shakespeare's personal spirituality
and/or religious beliefs, regardless of whatever political bent he may
have had, his plays are about *people* and their natures-- in all our
grand sprawling glorious goodness and evil -- and not about someone's
(never Shakespeare's!) personal hobby horses-- be it monetary policy,
Catholicism/Protestantism, "the" spiritual message, or whatever else a
given scholar or commentator is hawking this month.

If this makes me anti-academic, Hardy may feel free to strike me from
this List... But I deeply believe such tortured analysis goes leagues
beyond what Shakespeare himself intended, even on a subconscious level.

Oh, and Mr. Larque...  Your little game of counter-allegory-crafting was
masterly and simply proves my point as well as yours.

Mari Bonomi

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 17:33:59 +0100
Subject: 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

 >I'll add is (1) Mallin's book seems far more persuasive to me than to
 >Larque and some others

This hardly turns it into unquestionable evidence that you can use to
support the validity of Krause's allegory theory, as you attempted to
do.  I have already pointed out that even if Mallin was entirely correct
(which I for one do not believe that he is) then it would not help
Krause's argument in any way, and Krause would still have to argue the
validity of his own theory point by point.  A similar argument to yours
would be to state that since some scholars think that Shakespeare is
making a reference to Queen Elizabeth when he describes the "Imperial
votress" who is missed by cupid's dart in "Midsummer Night's Dream" (a
much more convincing and popular theory than anything that Mallin has to
say) every single character that somebody thinks is based on a real
Elizabethan or Jacobean person really must be. The very first people to
benefit from such an argument (in both my hypothetical case, and in the
argument that you are presenting) would be the Oxfordians, who would
therefore have been proved right when they said that Hamlet was an
allegory about Edward de Vere, with de Vere as Hamlet, Burghley as
Polonius, Anne Cecil as Ophelia, Horace Vere as Horatio, Queen Elizabeth
I as Gertrude, and so on.  Unless you are really desperate to declare
your support for the Oxfordian theories, you should quickly drop your
false argument that because one person suggests some allegories exist in
Shakespeare (although his views are mostly regarded as ridiculous) every
other allegory theory must also be considered correct.  Your claims are
logically worthless.

 >(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.

If you are humiliated by an accurate account of your publication record
in the MLA Bibliography, then I feel rather sorry for you.  The only
possible mistake that I might have made is in counting two papers that
you published in the Iowa State Journal as non-refereed, when in fact
the Iowa State Journal does seem to have been a refereed journal.  My
mistake was due to the fact that the MLA seems not to print complete
details of journals that have ceased publication, and therefore did not
label the journal as "Peer-reviewed".  Your total count in the MLA
Bibliography, therefore, is eight articles, only five of them
peer-reviewed - and you are still obviously less prominent and
experienced as a scholar than Anthony Dawson who has many more
publications listed in the MLA, and even manages to have published more
than you if we try to match up your level of experience with his
(twenty-one years after receiving a Doctorate).

If you insist upon the latter sort of direct comparison, however, you
might remember that you would also have to compare your achievements
with mine at the academic level that I am at now.  The MLA Bibliography
records no records for either of us, at this stage in our academic
careers, but the World Shakespeare Bibliography currently already lists
9 scholarly journal publications for me before I have even become a
Doctoral student (mostly theatre reviews), and I still have some time to
go, while you apparently had published nothing at that stage in your career.

As for your complaint that the MLA Bibliography does not list all of
your publications (I assume that this is your complaint?), I might point
out that it equally excludes many publications by other people, such as
Anthony Dawson, so it is still possible to compare your achievements
with theirs using the MLA database, since it adjusts both your
publication records in the same way.  The World Shakespeare Bibliography
omits more than half my scholarly publications for that matter (anyone
who wants to see my full list of publications should visit
http://shakespearean.org.uk/tlarque1.htm).

If, however, your real complaint is that I dared to compare your status
and experience to that of other scholars at all, you might remind
yourself that you were trying to announce your own enormous superiority
to me (in the most insulting terms possible) on the basis of your
*assumption*, not judged by any fair test, of my inferior status and
experience.  This being the case it is only reasonable for me to show
that your own level of status and experience is much lower than that of
some of those who are arguing against you.  If you do not think it is
fair of me to mention your own abilities and capabilities as a scholar,
then you should perhaps think more carefully before attempting to pass
judgment and pronounce on mine.  Men who live in glass-houses should not
throw stones.

Thomas Larque.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 21:13:32 +0100
Subject: 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1722 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.

Ed Taft is now apparently accusing me of creating the hostility between
us in these postings.  This is not in fact true.   I had only ever
posted four messages in two threads in response to posts by Ed Taft (as
far as I know) before the discussion between Taft and myself became so
angry that posts were pulled by Hardy and the SHAKSPER board.

In both threads, Ed Taft had started launching insults and personal
attacks against me (without any real justification, as far as I am
concerned) and then having started a disagreement continued to attack me
with much more hostility than was present in my replies to him.   As
Bill Lloyd stated on-list (and as others have commented to me by
personal E-Mail):

"I went back and read through the thread from the beginning and Larque's
initial disagreements with Krause's theories, while pretty complete,
were mildly phrased. The escalation of anger has emanated from Taft's
side; his how-dare-you-disagree attitude has been apparent from the
start. I concede that Larque has now also begun to use angry dismissive
words in his responses".

In fact Taft's abusive use of personal insults began in a much earlier
thread (the only other one in which I have replied to posts by Ed Taft,
as far as I am aware) and once again Ed Taft's personal hostility was
not provoked by any personal attack on him as a person by me, but merely
by the fact that I dared to disagree with him about interpretations of
Shakespeare.

All of the posts between myself and Ed Taft can be seen by clicking on
the links below (which appear in the order in which they are posted).
It should be fairly obvious from reading these posts which of us wished
to make an enemy out of the other.  I would particularly point to my
many conciliatory comments to Taft in the first thread in which I
assured him that I viewed theories such as his as "wonderful and
convincing" as interpretations if not as historical fact "... These are
the things that keep Shakespeare's plays - as well as literary criticism
- fresh and alive in the modern world, and they should be celebrated and
continued" but with the reservation that "they should not - so often -
present themselves as the only, unadulterated, unquestionable (although
completely different from past ideas and assumptions) truth!  Most of
these arguments, however good, give us new ways of looking at the script
- suited to our own times - not truer interpretations of the script's
original historical meaning".  I finished the post trying to be even
more conciliatory: ""Those things (new readings vs. historically
accurate interpretation) are at least equally valuable, and in fact
refitting the plays to have rich and significant meaning to modern
audiences may ultimately be more important to the survival of
Shakespeare's plays through the ages".

Unfortunately Taft was in no mood to accept conciliatory statements from
somebody who dared to disagree with him, and responded with personal
insults.

The first thread was:

"The Murder of Gonzago"
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/0892.html - Thomas Larque post 1.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/0909.html - Ed Taft post 1.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/0921.html - Thomas Larque post 2.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/0930.html - Ed Taft post 2.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/0939.html - Thomas Larque post 3.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/0951.html - Ed Taft post 3.

At this point I was unable to continue answering the thread, as I had
examinations coming up, and had to stop reading SHAKSPER for a while.

Taft rather obviously bore a grudge, since he promptly brought up the
old thread five months later when I appeared in the current "Question on
Measure for Measure" thread, and once again replied to a fairly
innocuous post with immediate personal insults.

"Question on Measure for Measure"
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/1647.html  - Thomas Larque post 1.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/1664.html  - Ed Taft post 1.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/1675.html  - Thomas Larque post 2.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/1693.html  - Ed Taft post 2.

In his last post, Taft accused me of "spewing" "abuse" and "venom".  In
fact my only other reply to Tom Krause before Ed Taft posted contained
nothing more than a couple of dismissive comments, far less insulting
than the comments that Taft had been directing at me for two threads.

Unfortunately, as Taft was posting this particularly vitriolic attack
(once again without any particular provocation), I was finally letting
Taft's long string of patronising and insulting posts get to me, and in
response I blasted at Krause's arguments, but unfairly included a number
of personal attacks on Tom Krause, instead of focussing only on his
arguments.  It was unfair of me to respond to Taft's provocations and
insults by attacking Krause (rather than his arguments or perhaps Taft),
since Krause himself had played no part in Taft's provocation, but I did
afterwards apologise to Tom Krause (and the post of mine that Hardy
stopped was directed at Ed Taft, in reply to his vitriolic personal
insults to me, and was not to Krause).  Ed Taft, by contrast, has not
apologised to me, and apparently still considers himself an innocent
party, despite the fact that most of the accusations that he threw at me
in his most offensive posting could actually have been more properly
applied to Taft himself (who *had* been abusive and insulting,
repeatedly, through two threads - as Bill Lloyd and others have
recognised - and who has also been supporting an academically infeasible
argument).

I think that perhaps Taft should reread his own postings and imagine how
he would react if somebody had sent them to him.  I have little doubt
that it would have been by another display of bad temper and blatant
insults.  The one thing that Taft's replies have seemed repeatedly short
on (especially in the current thread) is detailed academic argument in
support of his views. I might point out that even when I finally lost my
temper, the vast majority of my posts were still based on detailed
academic argument and citation of sources.  Ed Taft does not even have
this to mitigate his behaviour in his own posts.

I have no interest in continuing this argument with Taft, and will only
post in response to him in order to correct any more false statements or
academically poor arguments that he makes.

Thomas Larque.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 11:33:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1722 Question on Measure for Measure

Peter Bridgman quotes me, "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?"

Then Peter writes, "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."

Well, thanks, Peter.  I am now intriqued, because your history and clear
referent in the title to words of Jesus would suggest, by your analysis
and explication, that Shakespeare was at the very least trying to
*invoke* the basic 11th commandment message of Jesus in the New
Testament, "Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you."  I
wonder if you agree?  For if so, it seems to me that this basic
interpretation of Shakespeare the author as it has materialized in *MFM*
might find expression in other plays, and aid interpretation. I am
thinking of *Hamlet*.

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

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Sep 2004 14:34:53 -0500
Subject: 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

Okay, I'm too exhausted by computer troubles to tackle this whole thing,
but Thomas Larque said something that leaves me aghast:

"so Krause is presuming a double-meaning that is unlikely to be there."

This IS Shakespeare's work we're talking about, isn't it? Shakespeare
who regularly used ALL or most of the meanings of words with multiple
meanings?  For Mr. Larque to imply that Shakespeare is a WYSIWYG author
like, shudder, Oxford is, well, I was going to say appalling but it's
really just so sad.

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Sep 2004 15:06:20 -0500
Subject: 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1711 Question on Measure for Measure

Okay, I found a point of agreement with Mr. Larque:

"Since Krause wishes to imagine that Shakespeare's audience watching the
play for the first and only time instantly saw in it the allegorical
model that Krause's supposed Shakespeare wished them to see, it is
inconceivable that these audiences were expected to see multiple
conflicting allegories all at the same time.  Such an experience for
somebody viewing the rapid movement of real theatre is quite simply
impossible"

Yes, and directors wrestle with this all the time. Dramatic logic
doesn't require you to understand any of it. That's the logic of
consequences: if you show a gun in the first act, you have to fire it in
the third (or fifth in Will's case). The forward action of most of the
plays is so sturdy

But Shakespeare also used poetic logic, which is the logic of
association, and that's why people are still being blown away four
hundred years later. Because every time we pick up a script of one of
this man's plays, we find something new.

To read Shakespeare, it helps to look at words geometrically. Meanings
build up and out. If you can think of the normal play as the floorplan
(built up by actors, director, designers), a Shakespeare play in reading
has stories, attics, mezzanines, sub-basements, wings. None of it is
exactly necessary in performance, although it fuels differing
interpretations.

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