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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
More Shakespeare Code ...
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1470  Tuesday, 6 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	Jack Heller <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Sep 2005 11:56:10 -0500 (EST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1452 More Shakespeare Code ...

[2] 	From: 	Kathy Dent <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Sep 2005 18:43:46 +0100
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

[3] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Sep 2005 19:42:17 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

[4] 	From: 	V. K. Inman <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Sep 2005 15:55:35 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

[5] 	From: 	Robert Projansky <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 6 Sep 2005 02:27:08 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

[6] 	From: 	Tom Krause <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 6 Sep 2005 06:30:22 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Sep 2005 11:56:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 16.1452 More Shakespeare Code ...
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1452 More Shakespeare Code ...

Back when I was a religious teenager, we were supposed to find hidden 
messages of "Worship Satan" and "Smoke Marijuana" if we were to play our 
Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones lps backwards. When I tried it, 
everything sounded like "wiskreccorshrip."

I've read Claire Asquith's essay on Love's Labours Lost, a mass of 
mind-twisting non-sequiturs reading the play as an allegory of Catholic 
dissent and Oxford University, with one character, Moth?, identified as 
John Donne. The essay struck me as inspired madness, with an emphasis on 
the latter term. Not a thing about the essay makes me want to read a 
book of this stuff.

Jack Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Kathy Dent <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Sep 2005 18:43:46 +0100
Subject: 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

 >I heard the author interviewed on R4 with Stanley Wells

If this broadcast was within the last seven days, can you please name 
it, as it is likely to be available for anyone who wants to hear it via 
the BBC website.

Kathy Dent

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Sep 2005 19:42:17 +0100
Subject: 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

Steve Sohmer writes ...

 >He was remarkably tolerant. Then again, so was the religious
 >settlement contrived by Elizabeth, Nicholas Bacon, and
 >Mathew Parker in 1559.

So remarkably tolerant that for each and every day of his working life 
in London, WS had to walk under the butchered body parts of his 
co-religionists affixed to the gates to the City.

England was a hellish police state during Elizabeth's reign.  That much 
Claire Asquith has got right.

Peter Bridgman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		V. K. Inman <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Sep 2005 15:55:35 -0400
Subject: 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

Jan Pick writes

 >It always amazes me that some scholars seem to think the Elizabethans
 >were too stupid to spot all these hidden codes!

You are absolutely right!  And whether or not there were real hidden 
codes, prominent Elizabethans such as Elizabeth herself believed there 
was a hidden code in Richard II.  Elizabeth is reported as saying, "I'm 
Richard the II!" But alas our bard and friends were able to deny and 
talk their way out of trouble.

This is the crux of it and the reason why any codes theory will never be 
proven.  Shakespeare could only put a catholic message in his plays if 
the message were so thin that he could deny it should he be hauled 
before the magistrate.  This means that the best case for seeing codes 
will always suffer from this same deniability.

I remember not just Ozzy, but also "Puff the Magic Dragon."  Debates on 
hidden messages are unavoidable and unfortunately also unprovable.  If 
scholars today raise the question of hidden messages, is it not possible 
that people of Shakespeare's day also asked themselves are there hidden 
messages?  Yes, of course they did.

V. K. Inman

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Robert Projansky <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 6 Sep 2005 02:27:08 -0700
Subject: 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

I have read a Commonweal piece by Clare Asquith in which she lays out 
her thesis, but I haven't read her book. In that article she seemed to 
get a lot of exemplar beads impressively onto her string, but she didn't 
explain why in the world Shakespeare or anyone else would write such 
very dangerous stuff into plays. If, arguendo, Shakespeare was just such 
a recusant, what was his purpose? You cannot remake the world with 
plays, and WS obviously knew that. Indeed, obscuring or encoding 
subversive matter in a dramatic text would itself certainly be taken as 
evidence of its treasonous intent. Furthermore, treason was obviously 
something subject to the whim of the very powerful, and sometimes a mere 
wrong reading of the political tea leaves could lead you right to the 
scaffold. WS would have to have been a Catholic maniac to have taken 
such chances. And imagine how King James might take the news of an actor 
under his patronage scribbling little treasons into those charming plays.

On the other hand, what about this?

Knock, knock. Who's there in th' other Deuils Name? Faith here's an 
Equivocator, that could sweare in both the Scales against eyther Scale, 
who committed Treason enough for Gods sake, yet could not equiuocate to 
Heauen: oh come in, Equivocator.

I understand the Porter's cruel joke to be about the pathetic Father 
Garnet, a Jesuit who had recently been hung, drawn, and quartered for 
his confession-gained knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot and who had 
maintained that false statements under oath were permissible if they 
were necessary to protect the old religion. If Shakespeare were a secret 
recusant would he retail such effective mockery of a martyr priest? And 
in the mouth of so gross a character? Were the secret Catholics in the 
audience to understand this mock to be included to put the secret police 
off the scent?

What does Clare Asquith say about this?

Pax vobiscum,
Bob Projansky

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Tom Krause <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 6 Sep 2005 06:30:22 -0400
Subject: 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1460 More Shakespeare Code ...

A cute example of how easy it is to do what Clare Asquith has done was 
provided by Thomas Larque in the most recent Measure for Measure thread, 
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/1715.html.  Larque's 
"fake-allegory" of the Catholic theme in Measure for Measure is far more 
detailed and "convincing" than Asquith's treatment of that play, 
although it should be admitted that Larque thought that he was making an 
entirely different point.

n.b.  If you are new to the thread and Larque's comments give you an 
unfavorable impression of my work, I invite you to read the entire 
thread, or-better yet-my article (published version available by return 
e-mail).

Tom Krause

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