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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: June ::
The Genius of Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1038  Wednesday, 1 June 2005

[1]     From:   Bruce Richman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 May 2005 10:01:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare

[2]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 May 2005 18:01:23 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare

[3]     From:   David Basch <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 May 2005 23:43:20 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Richman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 May 2005 10:01:35 -0500
Subject: 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare

Once again, I very strongly object to Professor Weiss's ad hominen
assaults upon those with whom he disagrees, and particularly his
employment of psychiatric diagnostic terminology in which he is
professionally untrained. On several occasions, Weiss has stated or
implied that both Florence Amit and David Basch display symptoms of
grave psychiatric disorders (they do not), his diagnostic criteria
comprised solely of his distaste for their ideas.  Weiss's reference to
Nashe's visions of cyphers is within the proper bounds of the present
discussion; his suggestion ("Who me? I didn't say that!") that Mr. Basch
is psychotic (aimed earlier at Ms. Amit), is an offense to Psychiatry
and an offense to literary scholarship, ultimately revealing more about
Weiss than it does about his targets. I am deeply, deeply offended by
this sort of foolishness, and the mean spirit it bespeaks. I suggest
that future such communications, by Weiss or others who find their
amusement in personal viciousness, be denied distribution on this list.

Very truly yours,
Bruce W. Richman
Dept. of Psychiatry
University of Missouri School of Medicine

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 May 2005 18:01:23 +0100
Subject: 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:           Re: SHK 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare

Peter Farey wrote: The Friedmans (p.95) give an example of a 1499
acrostic which uses the first letter of each section, however, giving
(in Latin) the message "Brother Francis Collonna passionately loves Polia".

The acrostic in the "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" does indeed read POLIAM
FRATER FRANCISCVS COLVMNA PERAMAVIT, but the precise meaning and the
precise identity of Francesco Colonna elude us.

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Basch <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 May 2005 23:43:20 -0400
Subject: The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        SHK 16.1030 The Genius of Shakespeare

Peter Farey gives an informed analysis of the use of hidden messages in
literary texts, though his account leaves out some factors.

The use of configurations ("rebuses"?) that spell or approximate names
or words, which have been shown to be applied to Shakespeare's name in
Sonnet 148, was not my own idea. Credit for making me aware of such
devices must go to the late Professor Leslie Hotson of Yale who argued
for the appearance of these in the Sonnets on behalf of William
Hatcliffe who he believed was the friend of the Sonnets. Hotson had
noted through the spelling of Hatcliffe's cousins' names that Hatcliffe
was actually pronounced without the "c" as Hatliffe. With that
pronunciation, Hotson was able to show 43 instances of the embedment of
this name in the Sonnets through contiguous forms such as "tHAT LIVE"
and through divided forms such as "HATh ... LIFE" and "tHAT ... LEAVEs,"
with parts sometimes spread over two lines.

Hotson also produced an Elizabethan document of a speech of the time
that incorporated almost a dozen or more well known names in the manner
of its wordplay that Peter Farey mentions for Raleigh ("raw-lie"). This
indicated a well trod device for displaying names that could only be
recognized by insider friends.

Peter Farey is undoubtedly correct in cautioning that spurious
appearances of what look like words or names in such modes will be
confused for the real thing. But I think the appearances I have pointed
out in Sonnet 148 pass Farey's test of validity by being reinforced by
their repetitions and context. For example, the four letter sequence
W-I-L-L that appears at equal letter skips appears twice in this sonnet
along with the "accidents" of a four letter acrostic that reads "I WIL"
and the appearance of an approximation of the poet's surname in a
divided configuration with its parts abreast of one another. What is
more, numerous versions of his name "Will" appear. So when the
appearance of "sha-c spy" in the same sonnet is presented, a version
that is like two of the poet's autographs as "shakspe," this is not
something isolated and meaningless but something that has a context that
ought to help give it credibility.

I would argue that these instances pass Peter Farey's tests for
significance since these are not unclear representations and they do
provide information to the reader, telling that the poet has made use of
such devices in the Sonnets. I would ask how many of such related
elements is it possible to find clustered in a mere 14 line sonnet
before one recognizes that these as the outcome of deliberate contrivance?

To show that Sonnet 148 is not a fluke in harboring such devices, I
would now introduce Sonnet 73. This sonnet is notable in presenting
configurations that yield Christopher Marlowe's full Latin motto: QVOD
ME NVTRIT, ME DESTRVIT ("what nourishes me, destroys me"). Not only is
this complex Latin motto presented in the sonnet in a recognizable form
through a set of configurations but so is Marlowe's name and the message
of his motto itself as part of the subject of the poem. Here is the
entire sonnet in its original spelling, followed by the portions that
reveal the motto.

                      73
         ___
[1]      |  Hat time of yeeare thou maist in me behold,
[2]      |  When yellow leaues,or none,or few doe hange
[3]     Vpon those boughes which shake against the could,
[4]     Bare rn'wd quiers,where late the sweet birds sang.
[5]     In me thou seest the twi-light of such day,
[6]     As after Sun-set fadeth in the West,
[7]     Which by and by blacke night doth take away,
[8]     Deaths second selfe that seals vp all in rest.
[9]     In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
[10]    That on the ashes of his youth doth lye,
[11]    As the death bed,whereon it must expire,
[12]    Consum'd with that which it was   nurrisht by.
[13]       This thou perceu'st,which makes thy  loue  more strong,
[14]       To loue that well,which thou  must leaue ere long.

Let us see how the poet worked the motto in starting with the first
part, QVOD ME NVTRIT. (These are shown extracted from the sonnet but
with their configurations preserved):

  [4]       n  d q
  [5]       t
  [6]     ter

The letters "q-d" ("quod") are read from right to left on line 4. Next
on line 4, the letter "n" is read down to the "t" followed by the
reading on the very next line from right to left of the letters "ret."
When the word "me" that appears at the opening of line 5 ("In me ...")
is added, we have "q-d me n-t-ret," the first part of the motto. The
second part is read as follows:
       ___
  [1]   |
  [2]   |
  [3]  V    t  se
  [4]     er    d

Here the Latin word "Destrvit" begins to be approximated when it is read
up from the "d" on line 4 to the letters "es" that are read from right
to left on line 3. The remainder of the word picks up from the "t" on
line 3 in an arc that runs down and up to the left to add the letters
"re-V-T." With the recycling of the word "me" on line 5, this yields the
approximation of the second part of the Latin motto as "me
des-t-re-V-T." Incidentally, the Latin "nvtrit" is again approximated on
lines 12 to 14 in the configuration as follows:

  [12]                            nu|r
  [13]                             t|h
  [14]                               t

On top of this, there is Marlowe's name. It as shown capitalized as
"MOR-LO" at the right ends of the final couplet lines of the sonnet as
follows:

  [13]  This thou perceu'st,which makes thy  loue  MORe strong,
        To loue that well, which thou must leaue ere LOng.

In the poem itself, the poet tells his friend that he is like the
glowing embers that "on the ashes of his youth doth lye" that is
"consum'd with that which it was nurrisht by." This is surely an
expression of Marlowe's motto.

If this is not enough to demonstrate that there is in this sonnet the
use of devices, we can find Marlowe's nickname as K-I-T appearing at an
equal letter sequences of three letters in the phrase "blacKe nIghT" on
line 7 and his name as "M-R-L-A-W" at equal letter skips of six letters
in lines 13 and 14, a credible if not perfect rendering of "Marlowe."
This is shown below in a matrix of six letter lines:

      k e s t h y
      l o u e M o    M
      r e s t R o    R
      n g T o L o    L
      u e t h A t    A
      w e l l W h    W
      i c h t h o

There is much more in the sonnet that makes evident that it is
Shakespeare that wrote it and not Marlowe. Not explored in this brief
account is what this sonnet tells about the relationship between the two
poets.

The point of the presentation of devices in Sonnet 73, never before
accounted by Shakespearean scholars, is to demonstrate once again that
such devices were used by Shakespeare and are not to be explained away
as accidents. If we are to fully gain an understanding of the message of
the Sonnets, these devices will have to be considered and not treated as
a series of unrelated and meaningless events of chance.

David Basch

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