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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1010  Thursday, 26 May 2005

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 May 2005 08:45:16 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]

[2]     From:   Jim Carroll <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 May 2005 14:16:36 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]

[3]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 May 2005 15:26:43 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 May 2005 08:45:16 -0500
Subject: 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]

Edmund Taft and I seem to be talking about different things altogether,
so that he thinks I misunderstand him, just as much as I think he
misunderstands me.

For example, he considers petulance what I wrote as sarcasm, and assumes
that I felt backed into a corner when what bothered me was the feeling
of fighting thin air.

However, I will make this effort to clarify what I said. (My God, I am
getting into one those tedious
You-Said-No-I-Didn't-What-I-Said-Was-No-You-Didn't arguments? I suppose so.)

I didn't say that Erasmus had no effect on English humanism. What I
said, or attempted to say, was that Erasmus's theory of benevolent
kingship (as I took Ed's point to be) had no effect on Renaissance
kings. I could, of course, be wrong, and would be interested in a
well-supported study showing that, in the Renaissance, kings were a
kinder, gentler, more self-sacrificing breed. But my reading of 15-17th
century monarchs is that they were just as cruel, brutal, violent, and
unjust as their predecessors.

I may have misread Ed on the matter of friendship in the Middle Ages,
but it certainly seemed to me that he was saying that a radical shift in
favor of it had taken place in the Renaissance. In England this shift
was observable in the influence of Spenser on later writers. Doubting
this (since it went against my accumulated knowledge of the Middle Ages)
I asked for evidence (1) that friendship was significantly less
important in the Middle Ages (collectively) than in the Renaissance
(collectively), and (2) that this change was signaled in England by a
widespread difference in literature after FQ 4.

I still want to see it. Honestly, and with a sincere desire to learn
something new, not simply as a way of harassing Ed.

That Hamlet's friendship with Horatio is one of the play's supreme
excellences I don't dispute. I just don't think it offers evidence about
the role of friendship in the Middle Ages.
All I cared about here was a generalization about the MA that didn't
square with my current impression of that period. If that impression is
wrong then I very much wish to correct it. That's all.

Cheers,
don

PS: Of course any kind of generalizing about epochs is open to
nit-picking attack. I quite realize that and am trying to avoid it.
After all, what's a generalist to do?

PPS: Was it Blake who said, "To generalize is to be an idiot"? It
remains one of my all-time favorite self-referential statements.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jim Carroll <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 May 2005 14:16:36 -0400
Subject: 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]

Edmund Taft <
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 >wrote

 >But Don conveniently ignores the heart of the matter: the way Hamlet
 >in the
 >first part of the play exhibits an expanded notion of friendship that
 >crosses traditional boundaries of rank and class. That would hold true
 >even if there was not a new, humanistic emphasis on the virtues of
 >cultivating friendship.

It's not clear to me in what specific way there is anything new in
Hamlet's relationships with his friends. My reading of history gave me
the impression that kings have always had friendships with others far
below their class, for example Henry II and Thomas Becket, who was the
son of a merchant.

Jim Carroll

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 May 2005 15:26:43 -0500
Subject: 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0995 About Hamlet [Was Dating Hamlet]

With your collective indulgence let me try this a different way.

Although the comparative judgments about the Renaissance and Middle Ages
that have been offered do not square with what I have learned in the
past about those periods, I don't know that they are wrong. I simply
don't know on what grounds they're made.

In order to compare the ideals of the two periods we have to *state* the
ideals. Ed Taft made an important contribution by citing Erasmus for the
Renaissance ideal. If we had similar statement concerning the Medieval
ideal we could then evaluate them-provided, of course, we had a clearly
stated set of values in place that would make the judgment valid. Ideal
R, Ideal M, and our own ideal taken as absolute.

(Thus also with friendship.)

There are, of course, several collateral matters. One is whether the
ideals stated are actually representative. Another (already mentioned)
is whether the superior ideal actually produced superior kings (or
friendships).

Third, anticipating Terence Hawkes, there is the question of whether the
Middle Ages and Renaissance are themselves sufficiently precise concepts
to warrant the discussion the first place, or whether it is simply so
much tossing of barnyard Frisbees.

I am tame, sir. Pronounce.

don

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