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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Sonnet 89
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1600  Thursday, 26 August 2004

[1]     From:   Martin Green <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 10:18:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1580 Sonnet 89

[2]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 08:36:03 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1590 Sonnet 89

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 20:19:59 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1590 Sonnet 89


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Green <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 10:18:11 -0400
Subject: 15.1580 Sonnet 89
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1580 Sonnet 89

Frank Whigham asks, "what's the historical evidence for Renaissance
condom use?"

I think there's verbal evidence, inferable from one of Shakespeare's
puns.  In Trolius and Cressida, Hector says to Menelaus   "Your quondam
wife sweares still by Venus Glove." (4,5,177)  In Elizabethan times, qu
before a vowel was often pronounced as a k (see quondam in OED), and the
line, puzzling on its face,  is clever and acerb if the pun is
understood.   Shakespeare's father was, among other things,  a glover,
and this, I think, sheds  light on  the target of Robert Greene's attack
upon  "Gentlemen of his Quondam acquaintance who spend their wits in
making plays," where  the conjunction of the  words spend (ejaculate)
and wits (penes) clearly points to the obvious sexually related meaning
for quondam.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 08:36:03 -0700
Subject: 15.1590 Sonnet 89
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1590 Sonnet 89

 >I'm curious. Is there any contemporary evidence that WS's sonnets were
 >seen as autobiographical, between the time they first appeared and the
 >time he died?

Just a thought spurred by this posting, would not Meres comment that the
sonnets were being read amongst his private friends indicate that they
were of a personal nature?

Colin Cox

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 20:19:59 +0100
Subject: 15.1590 Sonnet 89
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1590 Sonnet 89

Stephen Rose asks ...

 >I'm curious. Is there any contemporary evidence that WS's sonnets were
 >seen as autobiographical, between the time they first appeared and the
 >time he died?

Their publication in 1609 seems to have been met with total silence.  It
didn't help WS that 1609 was a plague year with 100 deaths a week in
London. But there were no reprints of the Sonnets in WS' lifetime,
whereas some late plays went into numerous editions.

The silence may well have been due to shock.  To quote Katherine Duncan
Jones  ...

"Despite Sidney Lee's bold claim that 'Hundreds of sonneteers had
celebrated ... the charms of young men', there is actually only one
other Elizabethan sonnet sequence with a young male addressee, Richard
Barnfield's mini-sequence of 20 'sonnets' included in his Cynthia
(1595).   ...   In making a young man's beauty and worth his central
focus, Shakespeare may be seen as overturning the conventions of more
than two hundred years of 'Petrarchanism', broadly interpreted".

Peter Bridgman

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