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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Shakespeare's Personal Faith
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0488  Wednesday, 16 March 2005

[1]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 19:21:01 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 13:43:03 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 15:32:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[4]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 13:06:23 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[5]     From:   John Perry <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 22:36:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[6]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 18:09:13 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[7]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Mar 2005 00:12:25 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[8]     From:   Douglas Galbi <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Mar 2005 09:19:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare's Personal Faith


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 19:21:01 -0000
Subject: 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Jack Heller writes ...

 >When I see the arguments for Shakespeare's recusant
 >Catholicism, I wonder now why those same arguments could not be used for
 >an early modern Anglican faith. I would like to hear from those who
 >believe Shakespeare to have been a Catholic: Why, specifically, do they
 >not find him to have been an Anglican?

While John and Susanna Shakespeare were definitely recusant Catholics,
there is no evidence that WS was a recusant too.  If he was a practicing
Anglican though, there would surely be some record of his having
attended Anglican services, since everyone over 16 years of age had to
attend an Anglican church at Easter or be fined, like John and Susanna
were.  While there are records of fellow actors like Hemmings and
Condell belonging to London parishes, there are none whatsoever for WS.
  This has led biographers to suggest that he told the London
churchwardens he took Easter communion in Stratford, and the Stratford
churchwardens that he attended church in London.  It has also been
suggested that he deliberately chose to lodge with a family of French
Huguenots because they didn't have to obey the Anglican rules on
sabbath-breaking.  Whatever the truth is, the lack of any evidence is
odd.  Gary Taylor is not alone in suggesting that WS' effacement from
the records looks like a deliberate act.

There is no conclusive evidence from the plays.  WS may quote from the
sermons of Anglican preacher Henry Smith, but this doesn't mean WS went
to St Clement Danes to hear Smith in person.  A collection of Smith's
Homilies was published by WS' schoolmate Richard Field and WS probably
owned a copy.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 13:43:03 -0600
Subject: 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Please ignore the reference to burning in my previous post. While, of
course, certain heresies could get you executed in that hideous fashion,
so could other offenses.

Apologies,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 15:32:22 -0500
Subject: 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Whether it is a native lack of cognitive faculty or a philosemitic
chauvinism so overwhelming as to becloud whatever reasoning ability Mr.
Basch might once have had, I cannot say.  But it must surely be one of
these.  Consider this choice piece of balderbasch:

 >, it is certain
 >that the poet was spiritual. While he recognized the realities of all
 >the barbarities of life, he yet continued to have faith in God. His
 >plays and Sonnets demonstrate this. I think these show that his views
 >are Biblically based since a number of his plays are commentaries on
 >books of the Bible.
 >
 >For example, the play Hamlet is the staging of the Book of Ecclesiastes,

And all along I thought that it followed a chain of predecessor works
from Saxo through Belleforest to the ur-Hamlet. Perhaps there are
notions in Ecclesiastes that coincide with themes in Hamlet, but that
doesn't make the latter a "staging:" of the former. The authors of
scriptural passages incorporated common ideas of the human condition in
their works, but that hardly means that a subsequent secular writer who
uses the same themes has "staged" their works.  Nor does it mean that
the secular author is necessarily "spiritual."

 >In the same way, King Lear is an exploration of the themes of The Book
 >of Job.

Again, Basch takes no note of Holinshed or "Leir."  Perhaps he doesn't
know of any literature beyond the Old Testament and Shakespeare, so we
should add ignorance to cognitive insufficiency in the indictment.

Similar themes can probably be found in Vedic scripture and the Koran,
but since Basch is intent on claiming that Shakespeare was a Jew, and
not a Muslim or Hindu, he doesn't bother to look.  I wish Basch would
have the integrity to make his thesis explicit:  Shakespeare was the
most insightful poet in history.  Since Jews are the most insightful
people, chosen by Jahweh to dominate all else, it must follow that
Shakespeare was a Jew.

Actually, it is clear that WS was a devout pagan.  Who else could
present Jupiter, Apollo and Diana so sympathetically?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 13:06:23 -0800
Subject: 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0472 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Abigail Quart writes:

 >. . . thoughtful Hamlet is from Protestant Wittenburg.
 >95-theses-on-a-church-door Wittenburg. Rash Laertes, however, returns
 >from Catholic Paris. St.-Bartholomew's-Day-Massacre Paris. Shakespeare
 >couldn't have drawn a clearer, more deliberate contrast."

Wittenburg will not be created for another five hundred years if you
accept Hamlet as an 11th Century prince. Paris University is also 100
years from being founded. And The Massacre at Paris? Well Marlowe is
surely not within Hamlet's entourage.

 >"Hamlet talks of suicide. Does he seem to be worrying about a guarantee
 >that he will burn in hell because it's a mortal sin? Nope. Talks about
 >not having a clue what's next. Does that sound like a convinced Catholic?"

Hamlet talks of suicide, but Ophelia commits it and puts the
gravediggers in a big tizzy because she is of the Catholic faith and
therefore should not be given 'Christian burial'.

 >"When Hamlet abandons thoughtfulness and acts, disaster ensues. Wasn't
 >Hamlet written just after the whole company was taken in for questioning
 >over the Essex revolt?"

The Essex revolt was carried out to a large extent by the very same men
that would later be executed for treason as part of the Gunpowder Plot
(a very Catholic event). They all were from Stratford or its environs
and Shakespeare seems to have known every one of them. Read Antonio
Fraser's excellent book on the subject.

Apart from Ophelia, is not also the father, the ghost, (aka John
Shakespeare), played, tradition would have us believe, by Will,  stuck
in purgatory? Is this not critical to Hamlet's actions? Does he not,
'not kill' Claudius at the vital moment because Claudius is at prayer
and will escape the fate of his father? All seems pretty Catholic to me.

But in the end, fun and debate aside, 'the play's the thing.'

Colin Cox

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Perry <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 22:36:04 -0500
Subject: 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Please forgive a possibly provocative comment, but I couldn't help being
impressed by the completely unexpected (by me, at least) quality of the
responses to this question and to the "SHK 16.0467 Coriolanus TLN 3119"
thread.  After seeing threads like "SHK 16.0470 There's Magic in the
Web" and "SHK 16.0445 A Claudius Question" degenerate quickly into
mindless speculation, on the one hand, and empty posturing and sneering
on the other, I deeply appreciated the generally thoughtful and
appropriate contributions to these threads.

I hope the community doesn't make me feel foolish before this comment
makes it onto the List.

John Perry

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Mar 2005 18:09:13 -0600
Subject: 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

 >These points do not disprove the idea that the two locales provide a
 >thematic contrast of Protestant-Hamlet versus Catholic-Laertes, but they
 >do suggest that the idea is a good deal shakier AQ claims

Luther's trial pitted him directly against Churchmen affiliated with the
University at Paris.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Mar 2005 00:12:25 -0500
Subject: 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0480 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

It doesn't matter what Laertes was going to Paris for. He was going to
Paris and he returned from PARIS. Hamlet was returned from WITTENBURG.
Do you believe that Shakespeare made careless references? I don't. And
the argument about Never-Never-Land is disingenuous. Shakespeare was
using loaded words with significance to his Elizabethan audience. They
knew what happened in Wittenburg. They knew what happened in Paris.

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Galbi <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Mar 2005 09:19:35 -0500
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Hannibal Hamlin writes:

"While Duffy, Haigh, and others have corrected some of the imbalances of
the whiggish (Protestant) history, they have been accused, with some
justification, of introducing imbalances of their own.  See, for
instance, David Daniell's The Bible in English (2003), which points out
that Duffy virtually ignores the English Bible in his history of
sixteenth-century (and earlier) English religious practice."

Douglas Galbi writes:

Historians will go on. The tensions between religious word, image, and
practice in sixteenth-century England were a key creative source for
Shakespeare's theatre. Surely the flurry of competing English
translations of the Bible in sixteenth-century England are an important
part of that story.  I address that issue in depth in my work, "Sense in
Communication."  See http://www.galbithink.org/sense-s5.htm

What's interesting about this issue is that it's not just history. It's
important for thinking about how persons will use camera phones with
text messaging capabilities. The next Shakespeare?  Perhaps Blast
Theory.  See http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/

Regards,
Douglas Galbi

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