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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Regarding "Waste of Shame"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0460  Wednesday, 17 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Bruce Young <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 11 May 2006 13:02:46 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0442 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[2] 	From: 	David Evett <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 11 May 2006 19:56:41 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0413 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[3] 	From: 	Sandra Sparks <
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	Date: 	Friday, 12 May 2006 06:13:43 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0442 Regarding "Waste of Shame"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bruce Young <
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Date: 		Thursday, 11 May 2006 13:02:46 -0600
Subject: 17.0442 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0442 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Larry Weiss asks if there is "a principled distinction between the 
following biographical speculation and filling out a fictional 
character's backstory?" and then quotes from Sandra Sparks:

  >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 the similarity between this and an invented backstory, but one 
distinction is the following: the biographical speculation could 
presumably be confirmed or contradicted by evidence yet to be 
discovered--for instance, evidence indicating that Lanier definitely was 
or was not the "Dark Lady," or additional evidence about Shakespeare's 
relationship with her, or evidence that the sonnets were or were not as 
autobiographical as some would like to believe.

Until that evidence is found, though, I'd say the biographical 
speculation is even more suspect than many backstories.  We know (that 
is, we can infer from the evidence) a good deal more about the 
personalities and motives of many of Shakespeare's characters than we 
know about his.

Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Evett <
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Date: 		Thursday, 11 May 2006 19:56:41 -0400
Subject: 17.0413 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0413 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

"How were they returned to him, and why would he wait to publish in 
1609? This leads to a third question: if WS had the patronage of 
Southampton, the Pembrokes, or possibly any other nobleman, he wasn't 
paid good money to sit around. What has happened to the other work he 
was paid for? He couldn't publish what was not legally his. What might 
have happened to the work? Does anyone have any ideas?"

Setting aside the fact that we do not know for certain that anybody 
other than the noble and royal figures whose sponsorship of the various 
acting companies with which Shakespeare was affiliated acted as his 
patron, I want to address Sandra Sparks' reductive idea of early modern 
artistic patronage as any simple quid pro quo arrangement. The forms of 
patronage ranged from simple social way- paving, in which one person of 
influence might call the artist to the attention of another, to 
something close to full support--a regular quarterly or annual stipend 
sufficient to live on. Support might take the form of cash gifts, of 
jobs, more or less demanding in themselves  (e.g. Spenser's as secretary 
to Bishop Morton or Marvell's as tutor  to Anne Fairfax), or, very 
rarely, of pieces of income-producing  property. No evidence whatsoever 
survives to indicate (a) that Southampton or Herbert were in fact 
Shakespeare's patrons or (b) if they were, which of the many forms of 
patronage they offered.

Artists were, indeed, engaged to produce particular works, and it is 
conceivable--has, indeed, been speculated--that somebody commissioned 
Shakespeare to write some sonnets encouraging the young Southampton to 
marry and procreate. No incontrovertible evidence substantiates this 
hypothesis, however. It has long been speculated, of course, that 
Shakespeare dedicated *The Rape of Lucrece* and *"Venus and Adonis* in 
hopes of winning the earl's patronage at a time when the closing of the 
theaters cut off the writer's usual sources of income.  Whether any 
forth came is unknown. Certainly

Similar complications attend the question of the "ownership" of 
manuscripts and of their publication. What we call copyright was an 
evolving and contested issue in Shakespeare's time--determining it for 
something whose provenance is as uncertain as the sonnets is probably 
impossible. Hundreds of encomiastic poems, like the first 17 sonnets, 
addressed by writers to men and women of influence and repute, were 
published in the early modern period. MS copies of many of them may well 
have been sent first to their subjects, in the hope, perhaps even the 
expectation, of patronage. Clearly, however, their authors retained 
copies, which were then given to printers to print and booksellers to 
sell. The books themselves, indeed, made money mainly for their 
publishers; in many cases, some of this presumably came back to the 
author as lump sum or (much less likely) percentage; if, as Sparks 
suggests, there may have been cases where the person celebrated also got 
a cut, I do not know of them, and it seems to me highly unlikely that 
there were many if any.

David Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sandra Sparks <
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Date: 		Friday, 12 May 2006 06:13:43 -0400
Subject: 17.0442 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0442 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

To Larry:

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

Because I am surmising on his feelings? Ah. Thought about that. Because 
of my background, and also because of the particular work I am doing 
regarding WS at this time (a play), I tend to be far more subjective and 
into the feelings behind his work rather than looking at objective 
evidence of his work. That is one of the reasons why I don't post here 
often.  Yes; I am working on backstory. Is there a principled 
distinction? I suppose not. But if one doesn't venture into this area of 
speculation, a play can turn out to be as dry as plain toast, and I 
don't want that. His emotions drove the energy of his work; if I do not 
dare tread too far into the area of presenting possible emotional 
reasons, I could end up with a work with all the soggy punch of "Waste 
of Shame."

To Jeffrey:

I wrote too quickly and not clearly. Sorry. I was referring to the fact 
he never called her a lady within the sonnets, though he did address WH 
as a lord.

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

Could you see it if you were a woman who finds a very unflattering 
portrait of herself printed, bound, and placed out for general sale? I 
know; I'm speculating again, but I am speculating from the experience of 
a poet and lyricist who has placed real feelings and situations into my 
own work, only to have the subject recognize it, no matter how disguised 
it might be. What most see as literature, a subject could see as 
exposure. The reaction to this exposure is not always pretty. I have 
scars (joking).

 >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.

Why not both?

WS bluntly states in 144 that he has two loves, one man, one woman, and 
throughout most of the sonnets addressed to the young man reveals that 
he loves him more than anyone, ever, even though this woman dug deep 
into the flesh of his dual nature. He has laid his emotions flat out on 
page for the entire world to read. What is it about the emotional 
content that is so difficult to sort out? It is really what is behind 
his emotional content, or what is in the emotional content of the readers?

I know, Larry, I've come back full circle, and am speculating again!

Have a good weekend,
Sandra Sparks

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