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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Greenblatt Discussion Forum
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0199  Monday, 31 January 2005

[1]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jan 2005 14:32:33 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jan 2005 19:43:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 29 Jan 2005 12:41:51 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

[4]     From:   John-Paul Spiro <
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        Date:   Saturday, 29 Jan 2005 12:51:38 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jan 2005 14:32:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

I sent some of the SHAKSPER posts on Shakespeare's sexuality to
playwright Robert Patrick. He responds:
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Scholars keep boiling the pot
A-war as to whether or not
W. Shakespeare
Was for W.H. queer.
Sonnet XX marks the spot.

Will clearly was tempted to try
What we now refer to as "bi,"
But went into panics
In re the mechanics,
Surrendering same with a sigh.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Cheers, Billy Houck

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jan 2005 19:43:56 -0500
Subject: 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

Mr. Basch raises the intriguing notion that the addressee of the sonnets
was the lord.  Does anyone on the list know who the contemporary Earl of
Warwick was and whether Shakespeare might have had a relationship with him?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Saturday, 29 Jan 2005 12:41:51 -0000
Subject: 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

 >Will inept scholars
 >skirt the inner meaning of the Sonnets and trade the true poet that has
 >created a magnificent work at the highest level of artistry and
 >profundity for a false shadow of one- this a pathetic, self-denigrating
 >man that is a slave to his passions, hopelessly in thrall to the love of
 >a vacuous, self-centered young man? Can it be believed that this is
 >Shakespeare?

I for one much prefer the idea of WS as sad balding gay lover than Bible
Code loony.

Peter Bridgman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John-Paul Spiro <
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Date:           Saturday, 29 Jan 2005 12:51:38 -0500
Subject: 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0185 Greenblatt Discussion Forum

David Basch writes:

 >It is imperative that the true greatness of the Sonnets be assessed
 >rather than writing this work off as nothing more than an artful
 >expose
 >of a poet's troubled psyche, with farfetched sophomoric sexual
 >allusions
 >dredged up as evidence. Even the most sacred of writings cannot
 >withstand a mindset to read in such spurious things. The question is
 >whether scholars will diminish their own professional calling by
 >diminishing the poet as some are proposing to do? Will inept
 >scholars
 >skirt the inner meaning of the Sonnets and trade the true poet that
 >has
 >created a magnificent work at the highest level of artistry and
 >profundity for a false shadow of one-this a pathetic,
 >self-denigrating
 >man that is a slave to his passions, hopelessly in thrall to the
 >love of
 >a vacuous, self-centered young man? Can it be believed that this is
 >Shakespeare? To pass on that erroneous image of a diminished poet to
 >future generations would be a tragic for literature and as the fate
 >for
 >the poet of the ages.

Just because someone makes a case for the identity (or identities) of
the boy of the Sonnets does not mean that the Sonnets are "nothing more
than" a kind of diary or personal expression of frustrated longing.  But
restricting the identity of that boy--even by calling him God--is
restricting the meanings of the poems.  And that diminishes the poet
more than anything else.

Shakespeare may well have had strong, albeit conflicted, feelings for a
vacuous, self-centered young man.  That he managed to write the Sonnets
about this young man only makes Shakespeare all the better.  Are we to
think that he couldn't have written such poems until he found a fitting
subject?  Would "Mona Lisa" be a worse painting if we found out that its
subject was just some stupid girl?  Of course not.  We would marvel at
how Leonardo took a person and made her into something more.

Basch's assumption that the object of the Sonnets is God is interesting,
but it's far more interesting to think that Shakespeare made this boy
up, or based him on someone (or more than one person) not quite
deserving, and yet deified him in some way while also demonstrating his
act of deification through writing.  Shakespeare was not a perfect man
and he almost certainly did not love perfectly.  If he did, he probably
would not have written very much or very well.

Don't kid yourself about the power that scholars have.  If some people
make biographical inferences based on the Sonnets, they're only doing
what the Sonnets tempt them to do.  That's part of the Sonnets' power.

John-Paul Spiro

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