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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
no country for old men?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0163  Monday, 13 March 2006

[1] 	From: 	Paul Hebron <
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	Date: 	Friday, 10 Mar 2006 11:00:51 -0600
	Subj: 	no country for old men.....

[2] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 	Sunday, 12 Mar 2006 19:12:16 +0000
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0093 no country for old men?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Paul Hebron <
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Date: 		Friday, 10 Mar 2006 11:00:51 -0600
Subject: 	no country for old men......

Is it just possible that we're being a little hard on Jacques, in 
relegating his comments on the ages of man to "sophomoric" quibbling?

To paraphrase (badly I fear) Stella Adler, "...an actor lives and dies 
by his choices".  Imagine, if you will, that the actor playing Jacques 
chooses to play the speech not just as the comic aria it can be, but 
rather as an unexpected revelation of Self.  Not as an insipid young man 
carrying only the trappings of insight, but as a world weary traveler 
(as he describes himself to Rosalind).  What if he has always used his 
astonishing control of language and native wit to keep the world, and 
its pain, at bay, to keep the "conversation" on his own terms if you 
will.  What would it be like if in this one speech, that very skill 
turns against him, and almost against his will it reveals the truth 
about his own aging, and the future, as he fears it will be.  Would that 
not be an extraordinarily human response to finding a richer value in 
the text, to making the stronger acting choice?

If that is the case then I would agree wholeheartedly with David Richman 
and the juxtaposition of this moment with the arrival of Old Adam and 
Orlando.  But rather than an Adam seen against the backdrop of a Jacques 
who is merely shallow, defensive, and ill-informed, you would witness 
the old man's courage, loyalty and commitment in counterpoint to a 
Jacques fearful of his own mortality, and the likely ravages of an 
undiscovered future.  And would that not say something considerably more 
interesting about the nature of aging, and old men, to an Elizabethan 
audience, as well as to our own??

With respect,
Paul Hebron

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Sunday, 12 Mar 2006 19:12:16 +0000
Subject: 17.0093 no country for old men?
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0093 no country for old men?

Frank Whigham writes:

 >I'm interested in thinking a bit further about impotent and bedrid
 >old men, if only because of the signal importance of old men in
 >Elizabethan culture generally.

Keith Thomas has a nice piece in PROC. BR. ACAD. v.67, pp.205-237 
(1976), titled AGE AND AUTHORITY IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND. In it he cites 
ECCLESIASTICUS as conventional wisdom of the period: "As long as thou 
livest and has breath in thee, give not thyself over to any. For better 
it is that thy children should seek to thee, than thou shouldest stand 
to their courtesy." He goes on to quote 17th C. witnesses to second 
childhood's fallen value relative to first:

"Mothers and nurses have pleasure in infants, but old people are 
burdensome to all; neither talk nor company is acceptable"

"Less care is commonly taken of aged persons and less kindness showed 
them than to children."

"They that can brook the peevishness and the uncleanliness of their 
children cannot bear it in their parents."

WS: "Age is unnecessary."[?]

Hoary Joe Egert

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