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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Regarding "Waste of Shame"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0442  Thursday, 11 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 10 May 2006 12:45:11 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[2] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 10 May 2006 13:41:01 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 10 May 2006 12:45:11 -0400
Subject: 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Yes, of course, copyright law did not exist in its present form.  But 
there were primitive analogues.  The Stationers Register served to 
enable the registrant of a work to "block" a publication of the work (or 
one with the same title) by someone else.  That is very like the 
fundamental exclusive right protected by modern copyright laws.  (See 17 
USC sec 106)  Interestingly, modern copyright law does not protect titles.

By the way, is there a principled distinction between the following 
biographical speculation and filling out a fictional character's backstory?

 >I also feel WS published all the poems for two reasons: exorcism
 >of a long standing pain about his two lovers, and to make Emilia
 >Lanier superbly angry, which she would have deserved.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 10 May 2006 13:41:01 -0500
Subject: 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Replying to Sandra Sparks.

 >There would be private commissions that might
 >seem to be the property of those who commissioned
 >them: eulogies, epitaphs, epigrams, mottos, happy
 >birthday, Lord Johnny...etc, etc. Nobles would expect
 >to get something more solid than just recognition for
 >their money. I doubt WS would have found any of these
 >commissions serious enough to still claim after writing
 >them, but his hand is surely recognizable, if any of
 >these things still exist.

I don't think it can be generalized as to what the nobility wanted for 
their money.  It probably varied, one from another, as with any group of 
people.  The different ones sponsored what they happened to like, for 
whatever reason, or what they thought they should sponsor, on moral 
grounds.  If I recall correctly, most of the sponsored writings of the 
time were religious in nature.

It would be nice if S's hand were that easily recognizable, but it's 
sometimes very difficult to tell, especially in shorter writings, and 
even in longer writings.  One thing to look for is his unique flair for 
personifying abstract concepts.  Gertrude's "guilt" speech in Hamlet is 
a nice example, and there are many more examples in the Sonnets.  But he 
didn't always do that, and there were several writers of that era who 
were quite good with the more usual kind of figurative language.  Also, 
it's clear enough that S was influential, and inspired others to imitate 
him, which some did fairly well, on occasion.  There are several plays 
classed as apocryphal, and It's still an open question how much, if any, 
of them he might have written.  Scholars are still trying to sort out 
exactly what he did write, and probably will be for a long, long time.

 >... (who is amply qualified to be considered the
 >Dark "Lady" - lady being a term WS never used).

Perhaps I don't quite follow your assertion.  In fact, he used the word 
"lady" in his writings some 630 times.  But if you mean he never 
identified the "Dark Lady" as such, I agree.  It's a common assumption 
that there's some real Dark Lady behind certain of the Sonnets. 
Probably there is, but how dark she was, literally, and why he cast her 
as dark, are matters of interpretation.  He often used concepts of 
fairness and darkness in a decidedly figurative way.

 >I also feel WS published all the poems for two reasons:
 >exorcism of a long standing pain about his two lovers,
 >and to make Emilia Lanier superbly angry, which she
 >would have deserved. ...

I see not even a hint of spite involved in the publication.

 >... particularly seeing that he was laying the homosexual
 >love he felt completely out there in a time when puritanism
 >was on the rise.

Maybe, but that too is interpretive.  There's a couple things S did in 
his writing that can be misleading on the point of sexuality.  For one, 
he used the word "love" much more broadly than it's typically used 
today.  He used it to express not only romantic love, but also good 
family feelings and good friendship.  Then, he tended to cast 
sentimental emotion as female.  He used the stereotype that women are 
tender and sentimental, while men are stern and cold.  He obviously knew 
that was nonsense, in reality, but he made poetic and dramatic use of 
the stereotype, and sometimes ironic use of it.  In Hamlet, for example, 
when Ophelia's death is announced, Laertes says he forbids his tears, 
but then he goes ahead and cries, because he can't help it.  He then 
speaks of his tears as womanly.  Lady Macbeth provides another 
well-known example of use of sexual stereotype, when she asks to be 
"unsexed," and so on.  It's difficult to sort out how much of it is 
literal in relation to S, himself.  Is he revealing bisexuality, or is 
he making use of the male-female mix, in terms of stereotype, that 
everyone has to some degree?  He was quite perceptive that persons are a 
mixture of male and female qualities.

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