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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Living Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1966  Tuesday, 29 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 	Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 20:36:46 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1946 Living Characters

[2] 	From: 	John Briggs <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 29 Nov 2005 00:30:14 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1955 Living Characters

[3] 	From: 	David Bishop <
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	Date: 	Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 19:45:57 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1955 Living Characters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 20:36:46 +0000
Subject: 16.1946 Living Characters
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1946 Living Characters

Stu Manger's assault on "extravagant innovation", if reinforced, would 
inevitably discourage imaginative exegesis of Myriad Man's living art. 
It would give heart to all surface crawlers dreaming to limit and 
constrict rather than expand and stretch the bounds of "legitimate" 
discourse.

Fine word "legitimate"! Let the Forum partake of Edmund's vigor and 
ingenuity. We need more upstart crows, not fewer. No more caged Ariels.

Let the eagle soar!

Joe Egert

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 29 Nov 2005 00:30:14 -0000
Subject: 16.1955 Living Characters
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1955 Living Characters

Peter Bridgman wrote:

 >It may be just a coincidence but Susanna and Judith are both names not
 >found in Protestant Bibles.  Daniel 13 and the book of Judith were
 >among the books the reformers threw out.

Well, no.  The Apocryphal books were included in Protestant Bibles until 
the nineteenth century - as a separate section, of course.  See Article 
6 of the Articles of Religion (1562), which you can easily find in your 
copy of the Book of Common Prayer.  (Both Susanna and Judith are named 
in that Article!) You should not confuse sixteenth-century Protestants 
with modern Fundamentalists (some of whom produce editions of the 
Septuagint without the Apocrypha - "which were ridiculous".)

Biblical names from the Old Testament become common during Elizabeth's 
reign - thanks to people reading those Protestant Bibles, of course. 
Other names such as Susanna and Judith had become popular earlier in the 
century - they are names familiar from the Mystery Plays, funnily enough.

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Bishop <
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Date: 		Sunday, 27 Nov 2005 19:45:57 -0500
Subject: 16.1955 Living Characters
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1955 Living Characters

Much has been said that I agree with, but part of the problem is that 
it's all so general I think any reasonable person would also agree. On a 
general level, for example, while David Frankel is right about different 
levels of awareness, I'm not sure his jargon terms are all that helpful. 
We can hear a speech and have the more or less simultaneous reactions of 
weeping, admiring the writing, and admiring the acting and directing. 
Yes, but it's in talking about particular cases that the rubber meets 
the road. Reasonable generalizations quickly tend toward the 
platitudinous, even though in this case it's worth responding to the 
unreasonable generalization that has elicited them.

John Knapp at least touches on the specific. While I also am impatient 
with the interpretive tradition of Ernest Jones, et. al., some of what 
John Knapp says, almost in passing, as if everyone agrees, strikes me as 
inaccurate. He refers to Shakespeare's "intuitive feel for how, for
example, two brothers might display levels of sibling rivalry, and how
one persuaded his immature son into continuing the family battles." I'm 
not sure the anachronistic term "sibling rivalry" fits here--which isn't 
to say that it might not, sometimes. The ambition to be king doesn't 
require brotherhood. The fact that Claudius is King Hamlet's brother 
intensifies the foulness of the murder, but what's sibling rivalry got 
to do with it? We don't know enough about their past to say, and though 
we might assume some such rivalry in a real family, these are characters 
whose past, in the play, doesn't stretch back that far. So this would be 
an example of going beyond what's justified by the play.

As for how one brother "persuaded his immature son into continuing the 
family battles", this begs a great many questions. Laertes, in some ways 
a mirror of Hamlet, needs no such persuasion because he believes it's a 
son's duty to revenge his father's death. As I've said elsewhere, I 
think the play's focus shifts, by the end, away from revenge toward 
justice. This is only one example of the kind of unjustified assumptions 
about the play, made even by established professional specialists, which 
could use some critical examination.

Again, I wish those who take a phrase like "Hamlet feels" or "Hamlet 
believes" as evidence of amateurism would try giving us an example--even 
in 500 words or less--of an important insight into the play by a critic 
whom they respect.

On a related topic, several people have given excellent answers to John 
Reed's contention that Gertrude murdered Ophelia. That's the kind of 
thread I hope Hardy will quickly cut short.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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