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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
Shakespeare's Personal Faith
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0636  Tuesday, 5 April 2005

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Apr 2005 14:11:25 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Apr 2005 21:31:14 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[3]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Saturday, 2 Apr 2005 00:21:32 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[4]     From:   John Perry <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Apr 2005 10:36:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[5]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Sunday, 03 Apr 2005 11:41:34 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0608 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[6]     From:   David Basch <
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        Date:   Sunday, 03 Apr 2005 11:38:56 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Apr 2005 14:11:25 -0600
Subject: 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Norman Hinton quotes Terence Hawkes --

 >the act of writing itself which, far from
 >transparently giving utterance to the writer's innermost state of
 >mind,
 >notoriously imposes its own bending, shaping devices upon it. Whatever
 >authors think, writing also writes. In the case of Shakespeare, this
 >means that whilst it may be profitable at any crucial point to ask what
 >the play is saying, it is both pointless and naive to ask what the Bard
 >is thinking or believing.

And asks,

"Then we must not believe what you write in your notes?"

1) You are not obliged to believe anything (though you can be obliged,
in totalitarian systems, to say you do).

2) What Hawkes (or anyone) writes is simply what he writes; you may
agree or disagree or whatever. What Hawkes *believes* is unavailable-
unless, of course, he writes, "I believe this and that." But then you
are again dealing with what he has written. He may indeed believe it, or
he may be lying (for protection from totalitarian persecution), or he
may be speaking ironically.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Apr 2005 21:31:14 +0100
Subject: 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

John Briggs writes ...

 >I don't think
 >that anyone has mentioned that in "Henry V" Act 4, Scene 8, line 124:
 >
 >"Let there be sung /Non nobis/ and /Te Deum/,"
 >
 >Shakespeare appears to display a greater familiarity with the Book of
 >Common Prayer than with the Vulgate Psalter.  This has the effect -
 >whether intentional or not - of turning King Henry V into an Anglican!

I do not follow John Briggs' reasoning.

The 'Non nobis Domine' is Psalm 115 from St Jerome's Vulgate (completed
405 AD) and is traditionally a song of deliverance.  The 'Te Deum
Laudamus' is a canticle of thanks that dates from the 7th century.  As
both hymns are apt choices for celebrating a military victory, WS
clearly knows something about Latin hymns.

Now what has any of this got to do with the Book of Common Prayer?

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Saturday, 2 Apr 2005 00:21:32 -0500
Subject: 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Ignorant of Christian ritual as I am, I didn't know "Non nobis/ and /Te
Deum/" are Anglican. But I'm not surprised. John Briggs is correct in
guessing that Shakespeare's Henry V, as opposed to the historical king,
was, as I've said before, Anglican.

His conversion occurs in Henry V Act I, Scene 1. And Wicked Will uses
the Catholic clergy to do it. It's downright sneaky.

The Catholic clerics enter speaking in financial rather than religious
imagery:

CANTERBURY
It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
We lose the better half of our possession:
For all the temporal lands which men devout
By testament have given to the church
Would they strip from us; being valued thus:
As much as would maintain, to the king's honour,
Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights,
Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
And, to relief of lazars and weak age,
Of indigent faint souls past corporal toil.
A hundred almshouses right well supplied;
And to the coffers of the king beside,
A thousand pounds by the year: thus runs the bill.

...But then they quickly get to the king:

CANTERBURY
The king is full of grace and fair regard.

ELY
And a true lover of the holy church.

..Nice set up? The real cue is in the next speech. The word in caps is
REFORMATION, a damned odd word in a Catholic bishop's mouth:

CANTERBURY
The courses of his youth promised it not.
The breath no sooner left his father's body,
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seem'd to die too; yea, at that very moment
Consideration, like an angel, came
And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him,
Leaving his body as a paradise,
To envelop and contain celestial spirits.
Never was such a sudden scholar made;
Never came REFORMATION in a flood,
With such a heady currance, scouring faults
Nor never Hydra-headed wilfulness
So soon did lose his seat and all at once
As in this king.

..We've been prepped and cued. Now comes the conversion:

ELY
We are blessed in the change.

CANTERBURY
Hear him but reason in divinity,
And all-admiring with an inward wish
YOU WOULD DESIRE THE KING WERE MADE A PRELATE

..What just happened????? Ely blesses a change and Canterbury describes
the change: "You would desire the king were made a prelate:" which is a
perfect, dead-on description of the English Reformation. Could it be
sweeter? Still not sure? Well, there was a beaut of a difference between
Catholics and Protestants and, just a little further down, here it comes:

ELY
The strawberry grows underneath the nettle
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality:
And so the prince obscured his contemplation
Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt,
Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.

CANTERBURY
It must be so; for MIRACLES ARE CEASED;
And therefore we must needs admit the means
How things are perfected.

"Miracles are ceased." Yep, that's it. Elizabethan Catholics believed we
still have miracles and Protestants didn't. This is now an Anglican
clergy, ready to wage war on Catholic France. Let the play begin!

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Perry <
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Date:           Friday, 01 Apr 2005 10:36:47 -0500
Subject: 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0620 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Michael Egan wrote:

 >But these are hard issues. It would be both useful and interesting if
 >some of the deeper thinkers on this list would share their thoughts
 >about them.

This, too, is a hard issue.  My last post prompted an off-list comment
from a list member that many of the more thoughtful members had been
driven into silence, and even off the list, by all the posturing and
sneering.

I appreciate very much those who endure it and continue to send
thoughtful and knowledgeable comments.

John Perry

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 03 Apr 2005 11:41:34 -0700
Subject: 16.0608 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0608 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

 >In the case of Shakespeare, this
 >means that whilst it may be profitable at any crucial point to ask what
 >the play is saying, it is both pointless and naive to ask what the Bard
 >is thinking or believing.

How pointless and na

 

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