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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Regarding "Waste of Shame"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0487  Tuesday, 23 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Paul E. Doniger <
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 	Date: 	Monday, 22 May 2006 17:14:01 -0700 (PDT)
 	Subj: 	Shakespeare's autobiography (was: "Waste of Shame"

[2] 	From: 	Marvin Bennet Krims <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 23 May 2006 08:44:50 -0400
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0485 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

[3] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, May 23, 2006
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0485 Regarding "Waste of Shame"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Paul E. Doniger <
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Date: 		Monday, 22 May 2006 17:14:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 	Shakespeare's autobiography (was: "Waste of Shame""

Marilyn A. Bonomi has expressed a concern that I have often thought about: 
"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." It has always seemed to me that the whole idea 
of the dark lady and young man characters are fictions that Shakespeare 
created rather than any real people with whom Shakespeare had the kinds of 
relationships expressed in the sonnets.

It seems (has long seemed) to me that the autobiographical assumption is a 
particularly romantic one, inspired by the influences of Goethe, Byron, 
and the rest. The notion of poet as autobiographer does not seem to fit 
the Renaissance so much.

Or am I dead wrong? Is there any real evidence that he was writing a 
personal narrative into the sonnets?

Paul E. Doniger

P.S. It seems to me also that this is a new direction, so I've taken the 
liberty of retiling the thread ... with apologies to Professor Cook.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marvin Bennet Krims <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 23 May 2006 08:44:50 -0400
Subject: 17.0485 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0485 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Ms. Bonomi is of course correct in pointing out there is no clear evidence 
that the Sonnets are autobiographical. But we have no evidence that they 
are not. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. If we dismiss 
autobiographical possibility out of hand, as seems many do, might we be 
closing off inquiry into what Shakespeare's personality might have been 
like?

Marvn Krims

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Subject: 17.0485 Regarding "Waste of Shame"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0485 Regarding "Waste of Shame"

Here we are with yet another chestnut -- the Sonnets: FACT or FICTION -- a 
chestnut that too has been discussed on many occasions on SHAKSPER. In my 
essay, "Reception of the Sonnets," part of the introduction to the 
Renaissance Electronic Texts edition SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS. (Ed. Hardy M. 
Cook and Ian Lancashire. RET Editions 3.1. 1998) 
<http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/ret/shakespeare/1609int2.html>, I 
survey those who argue for each of these positions.

Determining whether the Sonnets are fact or fiction is, however, only the 
start. If one takes them as autobiographical, then there are the matters 
of the identities of the characters and the circumstances and natures of 
their relationships and interactions. If viewed as fictions, we can view 
the Sonnets mini-dramas or as radically metaphoric ciphers or riddles. The 
folly on both sides astonishes.

Once again, as moderator, I have concerns about the nature of threads on 
these topics.

Today, for example, Paul E. Doniger asserts that "The notion of poet as 
autobiographer does not seem to fit the Renaissance so much." Marvin 
Bennet Krims, on the other hand, argues that "If we dismiss 
autobiographical possibility out of hand, as seems many do, might we be 
closing off inquiry into what Shakespeare's personality might have been 
like?" Dr. Krims also notes, "Ms. Bonomi is of course correct in pointing 
out there is no clear evidence that the Sonnets are autobiographical. But 
we have no evidence that they are not. Absence of proof is not proof of 
absence." Yes, but one could also argue for insights into Shakespeare's 
personality from the Sonnets as dramas (if one were so inclined to do such 
things).

So what are we left with? Two perspectives with infinities of 
possibilities for speculation.

And then there is Ockham: Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate 
("Plurality should not be posited without necessity"). The principle of 
simplicity inclines me to disregard autobiographical interpretations; yet 
I also have little regard for radically metaphoric interpretations of the 
Sonnets.

So what is the simplest explanation? Well, for me, that the Sonnets are 
fictional, mini-dramas about the interactions of the poet, the youth, the 
lady, and the rival poet.

My problem is that I don't have the time for infinite speculation, so I 
ask that posts on these matters be thoughtful ones and not simply more 
speculations about this or that.

Hardy

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