2005

Bassanio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0252  Tuesday, 8 February 2005

[1]     From:   Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 7 Feb 2005 13:01:39 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0243 Bassanio

[2]     From:   John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 7 Feb 2005 13:39:56 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0243 Bassanio

[3]     From:   David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 07 Feb 2005 11:12:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0237 Bassanio

[4]     From:   David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Feb 2005 09:53:32 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0243 Bassanio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2005 13:01:39 -0000
Subject: 16.0243 Bassanio
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0243 Bassanio

Steve Sohmer writes ...

 >And we wonder how Jessica and
 >Lorenzo could have gotten to know one another, given that she lives in
 >the Ghetto.

She doesn't in the play.  As Shakespeare's Venice contains no canals, it
is quite likely he was unaware of the ghetto.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2005 13:39:56 -0000
Subject: 16.0243 Bassanio
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0243 Bassanio

Steve Sohmer's 'commonsense' approach to the play has much to recommend
it, but Bassanio is only a 'problem' if we think of him in post-Romantic
terms. Of course, money is an issue in his pursuit of Portia.  It's an
issue with other male lovers in the Comedies: Petrucchio, Claudio (in
Much Ado).  The trouble with this play is that there is another aspect
to the 'money' question that the Antonio-Shylock plot represents. I
don't want to rule out a homosexual attraction between Bassanio and
Antonio, although the figure of Ansaldo in one of the 'sources' behaves
more in the manner of a father than a 'lover'. There is an issue in the
play concerned with male and female friendship and this is clearly a
fault line that many commentators and theatre directors have tried to
unravel. The question is: how erotic is the relationship between Antonio
and Bassanio? The matter becomes problematical in relation to the
question of 'breeding' i.e. the production of progeny versus the
production of material wealth. There is also the question of Bassanio's
social status.  He is a 'Lord' and Antonio is a 'merchant'; the one is
an aristocrat and the other is bourgeois: Bassanio 'lives off' Antonio,
and he engages in conspicuous consumption without producing the
conditions of his own existence.(See, for example the tension between
Lord Lacey and Sir Thomas Otley in Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday
where the antagonism between the two classes is clear). If we add to
that Antonio's vitriolic hatred of the very figure upon whom he is
forced to rely to finance his own speculative ventures, then we have a
very tangled narrative indeed.

I'm happy with Steve's designation of this as a 'problem' play, and I
think his evaluation of Bassanio isn't too far off the mark, but the
focus on 'character' here seems to me to detract from the more complex
questions that this play opens up and never quite manages to resolve.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 07 Feb 2005 11:12:34 -0500
Subject: 16.0237 Bassanio
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0237 Bassanio

Steve Sohmer misunderstands the action in the Merchant of Venice when he
writes as follows:

      We have to remember that Shylock fully intends to take
      Antonio's life; Jessica overheard her father confide so
      much to Tubal (1641-5).

If you follow the action, Shylock had cemented relations with Bassanio
and Antonio through the loan he gave and was even going to attend a
feast with them. There is no hostility between the sides at that time
and this anger and expressions of revenge only begin after Jessica elopes.

So what about Jessica's testimony about Shylock's plot? It is an example
of false witness by Jessica who wants to ingratiate herself with her new
friends. This is the same Jessica who robs her father and is profligate
with the stolen money.

Similarly, Steve Sohmers misinterprets the meaning of Jessica's "I am
never merry when I hear sweet music." Her husband, Lorenzo, moments
later points out

                 The man that hath no music in himself,
         Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
         Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

This is an apt description of his new wife, Jessica, and is
Shakespeare's way of belatedly spilling the beans on her treasonous
false testimony. This is one of many revelations that the poet gives
about Shylock's enemies in the last scene, which careless scholars often
overlook.

David Basch

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 8 Feb 2005 09:53:32 -0000
Subject: 16.0243 Bassanio
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0243 Bassanio

Two things:

1. Annalisa Castaldo writes:

 >Bassanio is also a problematic character because he
 >is quite clear in Act 1 that he is wooing Portia as a way out
 >of financial difficulties.

This, one suspects, would cause far less problem to a sixteenth century
audience than it does to a modern one. A perfectly sensible economic
motive would not necessarily exclude the possibility of love - the ideal
match satisfied both imperatives.

2.  Steve Sohmer writes:

 >Jessica ends up sorry she married him, e.g. "I am never
 >merrie when I heare sweet musicke," (2481).

This is, I think, a misreading of the line.  In standard musical theory
of the period different kinds of music provoked different kinds of
response.  To be 'merry' when one hears 'sweet' music would be to
respond inappropriately to the hymn for which Lorenzo calls; the
beginning of the scene turns on the nature of music and of response to
it. I'm not convinced that Jessica is here rejecting the music, rather
registering an appropriate sensitivity to its solemnity.

David Lindley

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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Shakespear's(?) Titles

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0251  Tuesday, 8 February 2005

[1]     From:   Duncan Salkeld <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 07 Feb 2005 13:58:22 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles

[2]     From:   Holger Schott Syme <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 7 Feb 2005 17:32:47 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Duncan Salkeld <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 07 Feb 2005 13:58:22 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles

I am currently writing a chapter for a book in which I argue, among
several other things, that titles of Shakespeare's plays listed on the
Stationer's Register are likely to be the earliest and the 'closest' to
that bestowed upon it by the author and/or the playing company.  Peter
Blayney's chapter on 'The publication of playbooks' in A New History of
Early English Drama, ed. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan, Columbia
University Press, 1997 points out that a company would usually supply a
transcript of the 'allowed book' to a publisher/printer, and it is
therefore possible that titles may have been tidied up or amended in
that process.   The first thing anyone learns about 'Pyramus and Thisbe'
in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1.2) is 'what the play treats on', that
is, its title.   But of course that title is later tailored to 'A
tedious brief scene' (5.1).  Printers would expand the title as
advertising either in the booksellers or posted up in the streets. I
have often wondered why the Oxford editors - who restored the quarto
titles to plays we know from the Folio as 1, 2 and 3 Henry VI - did not
apply the same principle to 'Merry Wives', the 1602 SR (and Q1) title of
which was 'An excellent & pleasant conceited comedie of Sr Io Faulstof
and the merry Wyves of Windesor' (indicating that this was Falstaff's
own play).

Duncan Salkeld

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott Syme <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2005 17:32:47 -0500
Subject: 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0241 Shakespear's(?) Titles

Roger Schmeeckle asked:

 >Is there any evidence that the titles of Shakespeare's
 >plays are attributable to Shakespeare himself, either as the author or
 >having approved of them? or are they attributable to others (printers,
 >publishers, etc.)? or do we not know?

We have absolutely no evidence either way. (The most one could say is
that the titles of printed plays which correspond to those given in the
Stationers' Register probably reflect the titles the company used; but
it's entirely possible that publishers would enter texts under modified
titles to avoid copyright issues.)

Holger

_______________________________________________________________
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.

"Shakespeare songs and gibberish"?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0249  Tuesday, 8 February 2005

From:           Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 07 Feb 2005 17:09:33 -0800
Subject:        "Shakespeare songs and gibberish"?

New online from UToronto and Internet Archive is _A List of All the
Songs & Passages in Shakspere Which Have Been Set to Music_, comp. by J.
Greenhill, W.A. Harrison, and F.J. Furnivall (London: New Shaksper
Society, 1884): http://www.archive.org/details/songsandpassages00greeuoft

Available for viewing and downloading are a DjVu file of 6.2MB and a
plaintext file of 23.8K. The latter is the output from the scanning/OCR
process. Let's take a look at this file for it is typical of what
happens to text from older books when subject to the latest technology.
I'll talk about the implications below.

Let's look at the first part of the song at the end of Love's Labour's
Lost. First is my transcription from the 1st Quarto of 1598 (apparently
the source of the lyrics in the songbook; the quarto is at the BL:
http://prodigi.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/search.asp --on p.73, sig.
K2r), with "long-s" rendered as "s":

The Song.
When Dasies pied, and Violets blew,
And Cuckow-buds of yellow hew:
And Ladie-smockes all siluer white,
Do paint the Medowes with delight.
The Cuckow then on euerie tree,
Mockes married men, for thus sings he,
Cuckow.
Cuckow, Cuckow: O word of feare,
Vnpleasing to a married eare.

Now here is the quarto text from the _Songs_ book, including long-s and
line numbers, as rendered by OCR (# substitutes for unreadable characters):

The Song.
Spring.
H7zen Da.fles pied, and l #olets blew, 877
And Ladi-fmockes all.filuer white,
#4nd Cuckou'-bu# hts of yeilou, hew,
Do paint the # lIeadou'es with delight, 8So
Tire Cuckou, then, on euerie tree,
# llocks married men ; for thus finges bee : 882
Cuckow !
Cuckow, Cuckow ! O word offeare,
15 pleqfing to a married eare ! 8S.#

I have not mentioned that this song, at book p. 22 (p. 58 of the DjVu
file), appears to come directly after p. xv of the foreword (p. 23 in
DjVu). Yes, the plaintext file omits some 34 pp. of text altogether.

With the Toronto/IA text, you can see that the songbook has been turned
into gibberish. But sometime in the future you will be able to Google on
this title and 15 million other books from Stanford and Michigan and
others from Oxford, Harvard, and NYPL--oh, impressive names, a guarantee
of quality, surely! Your search results will present snippets of found
text, but you *may or may not* have access to either full plaintext (on
which Google builds its database) or page facsimiles. Stanford et al.
may guard the facsimiles, and Google's got to make some money on this.

In short, the less you are able to see, the less likely you will know
how much text has been largely lost to scholarship but how badly mangled
the rest of the text is.

This is not just a future crisis for scholarship; it is here already.
And few are doing anything about it.

No cheers,
Al Magary

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Noble Shylock

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0250  Tuesday, 8 February 2005

From:           Harvey Roy Greenberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2005 08:48:24 EST
Subject:        Noble Shylock

For a brief review of the recent film THE MERCHANT OF VENICE:

When and if possible how did the notion of a politically correct, noble
Shylock emerge?

I knew about the Yiddish productions of the 20s and 30s -- notably as I
recall -- Morris Charnowsky, but I would guess the construction of a
noble Shylock emerged earlier, perhaps much earlier. Any help would be
greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Harvey Roy Greenberg MD

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Printing Conventions for -ed Ending

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0248  Tuesday, 8 February 2005

From:           Julia Griffin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 07 Feb 2005 13:17:06 -0500
Subject:        Printing Conventions for -ed Ending

Does anyone else find very irritating the 3rd Arden eds' policy of
printing the past tense "-ed" in all cases, explaining the pronunciation
each time in a note at the foot of the page?  It means that anyone
reading aloud who is unconfident with metric is likely to falter over
the scansion about half the time.  Why not print "lov'd" if it's so
pronounced, or - even more helpfully - the deeply unfashionable "lov


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