The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0467 Sunday, 21 May 2006
Date: Wednesday, 17 May 2006 15:20:52 -0700
Subject: Conjuring in Shakespeare's Time
I would like to hear from you if in your reading of Shakespearian-era
literature you have come across any references to "jugling" (spelled
almost exclusively with one g in those days) or "legerdemain" (as
"sleight of hand" or magic was called in those days) and juglers
(including and especially, one named "Hocus Pocus," whose real name
appears to be William Vincent) who performed magic. To my surprise and
delight, thus far the best source of references of this kind from that
era have come from dramatic and related theatrical tracts and books.
For example, Ben Jonson mentions a magician named "Hokus Pokus" in his
play, The Masque of Augeres, first published (I believe) in 1622.
I am not aware of any clear connection between Shakespeare's works and
his mention of jugling performances or of juglers of the day, and wish
to clarify here that I am not really interested in references that
address "real" magicians or magic, be it white or black. For example,
as much as I love The Tempest, it is of little interest in the context
of my research because it concerns itself almost exclusively with real,
or supernatural, magic, the kind performed by Prospero, etc. Nor am I
interested in references to jugglers as we define and think of them
today, or other types of acrobatic performance (called "feats of
activity") in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
So why am I posting this query to all of you if I think Shakespeare has
little to offer in connection with my research? Well, as I have not
made it a point to study Shakespeare's writings in depth, I must concede
that perhaps there is something relevant to offer from his works. In
addition, I suspect that many who study Shakespeare's works also study
the works of his peers, the time period, its social and political
history, etc. In essence, I pose my queries here because I hope that
some of you may have come across the kind of references that I seek
while doing reading and research in your area(s) of interest.
Thank you for reading this and I hope something comes of this query.
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