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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Greenblatt Discussion Forum
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0031  Friday, 7 January 2005

[1]     From:   Tom Dale Keever <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Jan 2005 12:15:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0020 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

[2]     From:   Michael Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Jan 2005 08:00:58 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0026 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

[3]     From:   Alan Horn <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Jan 2005 02:56:32 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0026 Greenblatt Discussion Forum


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Dale Keever <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Jan 2005 12:15:56 -0500
Subject: 16.0020 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0020 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

While we are on the subject of Greenblatt and the film version of
"Merchant..." I wonder if any of the TV interviews touched on
Greenblatt's slight involvement with "Shakespeare in Love."  When he
read a chapter in progress of "Will in the World" at Columbia he told us
of his intervention early in the screenwriting process.   He told the
producer that if the film was going to portray Shakespeare "in love" the
object of his affection should be a young man.  Though the suggestion
was not taken up by the final script he did rate a small credit in the
fine print at the end of the film.

Did he mention this on Charlie Rose?  I wouldn't know myself since I
long ago gave up on Rose as an interviewer.  I have heard that in the
final minutes of his interview with Greenblatt he accidentally asked a
question that actually brought the discussion to life for a few moments,
but that for the most part it was a typically pointless snore.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Jan 2005 08:00:58 -1000
Subject: 16.0026 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0026 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

 >Greenblatt's conjecture that Falstaff is patterned after Robert Greene
 >is intriguing.  I wonder if anyone else has arrived at this conclusion.

The conjecture that Falstaff is based on Greene is no more than that.

On the other hand we can find the fat knight's literary origins in the
figure of Sir Robert Tresilian, Richard II's corpulent friend and
counselor in Richard II, Part One. This remains true whether we agree or
not that Shakespeare wrote the anonymous play.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Horn <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 7 Jan 2005 02:56:32 EST
Subject: 16.0026 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0026 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

Larry Weiss asks: "Greenblatt's conjecture that Falstaff is patterned
after Robert Greene is intriguing.  I wonder if anyone else has arrived
at this conclusion."

Here are some comments from Peter Holland's review of the book in NYRB a
few weeks ago, which can be found online at
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17634

New to me... was Greenblatt's idea that Falstaff was in some way a
portrait of Robert Greene, a playwright and pamphleteer that Shakespeare
may well have met when he first started to move in the circles inhabited
by playmakers....

Greenblatt... argues that Shakespeare "performed a miraculous act of
imaginative generosity, utterly unsentimental and, if the truth be told,
not entirely human" when he "conferred upon Greene an incalculable gift,
the gift of transforming him into Falstaff."

This may be one of the nastiest comments ever made about Shakespeare.
Greene died in desperate poverty and his final pamphlet has rude things
to say about many people, Shakespeare included. Like many others,
Shakespeare may well have ignored Greene's needs-and there is no
indication they were ever friends, no reason to think Shakespeare had
any particular cause to help him. There are not even any especially
close parallels between Greene's life and Falstaff, nothing that shows
why Greene should lie behind or within Falstaff's ample girth.  To argue
that Shakespeare changed Greene into Falstaff makes dramatic creation a
belated response but to see it as "an incalculable gift" requires us to
accept that it was somehow to Greene's benefit to be so transformed. But
what does Greene receive by becoming Falstaff? Not immortality, since
people have not recognized the change. More perplexingly it argues that
Shakespeare could not have created Falstaff without Greene, that he
needed Greene, and that this cold act of use is itself the mark of
genius. If this is aesthetic generosity, I fervently hope no one ever
confers it on me.

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