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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Regarding "Waste of Shame"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0485  Monday, 22 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 17 May 2006 12:39:19 -0400
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[2] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 17 May 2006 15:23:22 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[3] 	From: 	Elliott Stone <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 17 May 2006 19:26:01 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[4] 	From: 	Elliott Stone <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 17 May 2006 19:26:01 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[5] 	From: 	Sandra Sparks <
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 	Date: 	Thursday, 18 May 2006 23:13:34 -0400
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[6] 	From: 	Dan Decker <
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 	Date: 	Sunday, 21 May 2006 23:54:48 EDT
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 17 May 2006 12:39:19 -0400
Subject: 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Ms Sparks writes of Shakespeare's Sonnets, "He has laid his emotions flat 
out on page for the entire world to read"

This troubles me; do we have any direct (as opposed to speculative) 
evidence that the Sonnets are either deliberately or accidentally 
autobiographical?

I think we step into dangerous territory when we make the assumption that 
the narrative voice *is* the author's voice, barring direct statement from 
the author that it is so.

We do not assume that every first person novel is really the author 
speaking to us; indeed, those of us who have taught literature spend great 
amounts of energy helping our students understand the difference between 
character and author.

How then can we assume that the speaker of the Sonnets is the writer 
thereof?

Certainly it's more engaging to imagine that it's Shakespeare who's 
pouring out his heart to us.  We do not, however, so far as I have read, 
have any proof that it is, and given his skills in characterization in his 
plays, there is an equally good possibility that Shakespeare has crafted a 
fictional persona whose angst appears in the Sonnets.

None of the above is to criticize Ms Sparks for crafting a fictional 
character modeled after Shakespeare for her play-creating a backstory for 
him in the process.

Mari Bonomi

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 17 May 2006 15:23:22 -0400
Subject: 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Bruce Young responds to my Socratic question of whether there is a 
principled distinction between a wild biographical speculation about a 
real person and filling in the backstory of a fictional character by 
saying:

>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

Of course this is so; but I prefer not to speculate in advance of the 
evidence.  That is a capital mistake as Sherlock said repeatedly.  As a 
lawyer, I am trained to derive conclusions from the evidence, not to make 
them up and hope that the evidence will come along.  -- Well, now that I 
think of it ....

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Elliott Stone <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 17 May 2006 19:26:01 -0400
Subject: 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

David Evett asks,"What has happened to the work that he was paid for?" I 
would like to suggest that Ben Jonson burned up all that couldn't get pass 
the Censors in a very convenient fire in his fireplace!

BEST,
Elliott H. Stone

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Elliott Stone <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 17 May 2006 19:26:01 -0400
Subject: 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Sam Schoenbaum made what most critics consider a definitive argument that 
the Sonnets were published by Thorpe without the author's permission. 
Professor Foster took up the opposite position in his book on "The Elegy 
By W.S.". It was critical for his views since the "Elegy" was published by 
Thorpe after the Sonnets and he could not very well argue that Shakespeare 
would allow his poem to be published by a man who had earlier published 
his work without permission.

Schoenbaum's analysis appears to still reign in this controversy and new 
back stories giving theories about the author's intentions in the Sonnets 
should overcome this basic critical point.

Best,
Elliott H. Stone

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sandra Sparks <
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Date: 		Thursday, 18 May 2006 23:13:34 -0400
Subject: 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0460 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

To Bruce Young:

>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."

Definitely. I am finding in my latest reading, however, that sometimes the 
biographical speculation can feel (yes, back to feelings again) as if it 
is following a decent direction. At the moment I am reading Peter 
Ackroyd's "Shakespeare The Biography." The speculation is reasonable, far 
more logical than some of the things I have read recently, and the book is 
very well laid out. He is not trying to go in a new direction: he is 
making biographical speculation that is agreed upon by a great many 
researchers seem more accessible and understandable for people who are not 
scholars. On top of all that, he is making it truly interesting.

I have been most puzzled by people who speculate about WS's life or the 
origin of the works by going in a direction that is totally against the 
tide of evidence. Some are very determined to do so. Why do it? What is 
the compulsion?  It fascinates me.

To David Evett:

>I want to address Sandra Sparks' reductive idea of early modern
>artistic patronage as any simple quid pro quo arrangement."

Since I am writing an e-mail and don't want to overburden Hardy, I thought 
I should be brief and to the point. If that is reductive, so be it. As an 
artist who still occasionally has patrons: I know it is not as simple as 
that. Nevertheless, if you support an artist, financially, it would follow 
that you want the artist's work. The poor people who have my things around 
them assure me they like it when I give nice quid pro quo, and I am happy 
to do so; I hope the same could be said for WS and his patrons.

Second of David's comments I'd like to address:

>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."

Show me where I suggested that, and I'll show you the concrete evidence 
that the 17 sonnets were written for Southampton.  ;)

There are reasons for publishing other than money, and at the time, WS 
showed by his real estate investments and his partnership in the company 
that he knew where the money was - and it wasn't in publishing the 
sonnets. If you measure the material of the sonnets against the usual 
material of the times, this publication may have been a very risky thing 
for him to do. Why do it? Telling the world that you are in love with 
another man hasn't stopped being controversial yet.  Add to that a 
suggestion of a menage a trois and you are well into shock value. A reader 
called the sonnets "wretched infidel stuff." Many people may have felt 
that way. Why did WS take that chance? Certainly not for money, and I 
never thought so. It was an act that could have amounted to professional 
suicide. It's a measure of  the regard in which he was held by supporters 
of all kinds that it didn't.

Sandra

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Dan Decker <
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Date: 		Sunday, 21 May 2006 23:54:48 EDT
Subject: 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0432 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

My only problem with Emilia Lanier as the dark lady is that she was not 
black, as the poems say the dark lady was. There were many black people in 
London and in Will's plays. He knew what the word meant.

My only problem with the homosexual-theme idea is that there are no 
homosexual references in any of the sonnets save one. Quite the opposite, 
actually. (Will was not shy about sexual references; refer to the dark 
lady sonnets.)

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