Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
Shakespeare's Personal Faith
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0703  Wednesday, 13 April 2005

[1]     From:   Colin Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 10:32:26 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[2]     From:   Julia Griffin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 14:15:31 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[3]     From:   Bruce MacDonald <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 17:11:05 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

[4]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 06:12:25 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 10:32:26 -0700
Subject: 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

 >Can we really believe that the great poet would invest an alleged young
 >friend with the power to become "the grave where buried love doth live,"
 >to be the one in whom resides the love that was once shared with
 >departed friends, as he does in Sonnet 31?

Yes we can. Let's see how you explain away Sonnet 110. As an actor that
has toured all fifty states of this country, I can personally vouch that
the man who wrote 110 knows exactly what it is to be on the road. And
then of course there is 111 . . . Name a number, he's in every one of 'em!

Colin Cox

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Julia Griffin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 14:15:31 -0400
Subject: 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

I know it's pointless to argue with Dr. Basch on this; but would he
please keep in mind that for some of us the sonnets would evoke negative
feelings if he could prove that they were addressed to God?  Love-poems
addressed to a human being whom the reader does not love are not
coercive of that reader; love-poems addressed to God always have that
overtone, and are, to non-believers, the less appealing for it.

Julia

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce MacDonald <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 17:11:05 -0400
Subject: 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

Once again, David Basch shamelessly allows his personal beliefs and
prejudices to shape his interpretation of the sonnets.  His argument is
so muddled here that it's tough to make contact with it in any
structured way, so I'll just offer a few observations on specific points.

1) Basch clearly considers any hint of homosexuality to be unworthy of
such a great poet.  He tries to smooth over his prejudice by linking it
with what he calls the "masochistic pathology" of an asymmetrical
relationship involving "a spectacularly evolved person who places his
love at the feet of an uncaring partner infinitely less developed in
human terms."  I'm not sure exactly what this means (the rhetoric is a
little thick here), but he seems to dislike the fact that the poet loves
someone who doesn't love him and who Basch considers to be unworthy of
the poet.  But hell, if loving the wrong person is a "masochistic
pathology," I suspect most of us must have suffered from that disease at
one time or another.  Seems like a pretty universal human trait to me.

2) In his horror of homosexuality, Basch totally ignores the fact that
Shakespeare lived in a milieu of sexual ambivalence, where young boys
played women's parts, where cross-dressing was a fact of life, and
where, perhaps, gender roles weren't quite as clearly defined as he
(Basch) would like them to have been.  We don't know (and probably never
will) to what extent sexual ambiguity was part of Shakespeare's
character, but he clearly was not terribly bothered by the ambiguities
that arose from his cross-dressing boys; in fact, he rather seems to
enjoy the multiple ironies that result from boys playing girls playing
boys. This just doesn't strike me as someone who would share Basch's
ponderous and humorless view of human nature.

3) In all his rantings, Basch ignores the fact that (as any reasonably
alert college freshman knows) the speaker in a poem is not the poet.
Helen Vendler carefully makes this distinction and sees the sonnets as a
working out of a little drama (surprise, surprise-who would have thought
that Shakespeare thought dramatically?).  She wisely does not attempt to
use the poems to uncover Shakespeare's "real" beliefs about anything,
least of all any religious feelings.  She recognizes that the "I" of the
sonnets is a character, as much as Lear or Hamlet or Rosalind or anyone
else in the plays is a character.  We'll probably never know the exact
relationship that the "I" has to Shakespeare himself, but it's a sure
bet the two aren't identical.  The corollary to this is that Vendler
places the emphasis where it properly belongs, on the real strengths of
the sonnets: the complexity of their metaphorical structure, the beauty
of their language, the intricacy of the thought patterns.  As I read
these poems, I'm struck not with a poet in love with God, nor even a
poet in love with another man or a dark lady-I'm struck with a poet in
love with language.  To me, beyond any concrete experience that may lie
behind them, beyond any personal beliefs (and way beyond any "encoded"
messages that nobody but Basch has been able to see for the last 400
years), that's what the sonnets are about.

5) Basch says in attempted summary: "The question here boils down to
which view of the poet is the true one, a poet engaged in a sick
relationship or one showing loving fealty to his God?"  This, in a
nutshell, is a beautiful summary of what's wrong with Basch's whole
approach.  It includes a horribly judgmental assessment ("sick
relationship"), and a wholly arrogant  and illogical claim that the
Shakespeare he prefers is the true Shakespeare simply because he prefers
him.  If that isn't a bass-ackwards way of looking at things...

Thanks for allowing me my own rant.

Bruce MacDonald

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 06:12:25 +0100
Subject: 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0691 Shakespeare's Personal Faith

David Basch <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >

 >However I part company with Stuart Manger when it comes to the
 >implications to be drawn from the kind of relationship that the poet has
 >with his allegedly human friend. It is one thing when a relationship is
 >one of deep, mutual love. It is altogether different when the
 >relationship is asymmetrical and involves a spectacularly evolved person
 >who places his love at the feet of an uncaring partner infinitely less
 >developed in human terms.

This sounds suspiciously like the relation between W.H.Auden and Chester
Kallman.

 >Such a relationship smacks of masochistic
 >pathology and bespeaks someone that distorts reality in failing to
 >recognize his own worth, let alone fails to discern the character his
 >partner.

Indeed.  But these things happen.

Robin Hamilton

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail 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.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.