2006

The Big Question

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0572  Monday, 19 June 2006

[1] 	From: 	Aaron Azlant <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Friday, 16 Jun 2006 13:56:41 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0568 The Big Question

[2] 	From: 	JD Markel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Friday, 16 Jun 2006 18:10:19 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0568 The Big Question

[3] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Sunday, 18 Jun 2006 23:22:20 +0000
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0568 The Big Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Aaron Azlant <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 16 Jun 2006 13:56:41 -0700
Subject: 17.0568 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0568 The Big Question

Dear all,

Just a quick note: John makes a great point about the complexity of 
Shakespeare's thought and I can't really add much about he concept of 
'judicial murder', but I do think that the underlying issue may have 
less to do with any consistent position held by the play than with the 
manner in which the play's many positions are presented to its audience.

One of the things that WS seems to develop over time is a way of getting 
his audience to quietly accept contrary ideas simultaneously, so that, 
for instance, we accept Shylock both as villain of /The Merchant of 
Venice/ and as its victim, depending on who is in the scene and how it 
is framed. This might also explain why we accept "and if you wrong us, 
shall we not revenge?" as a logical conclusion to his "hath not a Jew 
eyes" speech, which should really be gearing up rhetorically to make its 
case for mercy.

A great essay on this is Norman Rabkin's chapter on the play in 
_Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning_; similar phenomena occur in 
/Julius Caesar/, /Hamlet/ and a bunch of the other plays as well.

--Aaron

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		JD Markel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 16 Jun 2006 18:10:19 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0568 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0568 The Big Question

D Bloom writes:

"I have no desire to make this discussion a personal matter."

But you have done so and I find your opinions interesting.  Thanks.

S L Kasten writes:

"Portia fimbriata"

--Googled it.  That is one scary-looking creature. I don't think our 
Portia's "supposed beauty" is that bad...

M Dahl writes:

"Another central point is that Shylock wishes Antonio "out of Venice" 
because Antonio has relieved others from 'from [Shylock's] forfeitures'."

--And brings down the rate of usance.  It's one of the motives 
profferred by the script but not often argued a central motive.  Worth 
considering.  Shakespeare's own usurer father might have instilled in 
Will such hate for types like Antonio.  Or the hate may have grown from 
Will's own usury side-business.  I think the audience had other reasons 
to hate Antonio, but another day..

Gilles wrote elsewhere:  "If the reader realizes, or if the spectator 
can be made to realize, that the Duke and Portia hope that Shylock will, 
in spite of his refusal, finally show mercy because his own religion 
requires him to do so, if Portia's "we do pray for mercy" is common to 
Jews and Christians- it is clear that Shylock is above all an evil and 
merciless usurer and that he behaves as he does not because he is a Jew, 
a true representative of the "nation" he belongs to, but because he is 
void of both religious and humane feelings....'

The idea Shakespeare intended to show a "bad Jew" not living up to 
Jewish law is ridiculous.  The play's best punchline is "These be the 
Christian husbands!"  It could be the title of the play. There is no 
"This be the Jewish usurer!"  The play is in large part a satire of 
putative Christians not living up to Christian ideals and values. 
Shining a light on cultural or religious hypocrisy that breaks the 
expectations of the culture or religion of audience the play is written 
for is not unusual fare for comedy.  Insofar the play is normatively 
didactic it concerns proper Christian conduct not Jewish, but I don't 
expect people would pay for what they already get in church.  The 
incantations that the character Shylock is evil, merciless, monstrous, 
[add favorite invective here], are Gratiano-like without the ironic 
context Bassanio's warning and humiliating riposte.  I think the idea 
"bad Jew" line originated in a book by Martin Yaffe, though it was a 
more complex issue for him.

Shakespeare did add a kosher twist to the commedia ploy of the 
invitation that gets the widower out of the house so his daughter can be 
stolen therefrom.  Shy. first rejects Bassanio's oral offer to dine 
together thinking there would be dining on pork.  Later he gets a 
written invitation to the feast and accepts it, the possibility of 
social acceptance overcoming his intuition he shouldn't go.  Next 
Jessica loots and flies the coop.   Just punishment for going to a feast 
where pork will be eaten?  Something to think about, but I think the 
pork angle is merely an embellishment to the flaw of accepting the 
invitation.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Sunday, 18 Jun 2006 23:22:20 +0000
Subject: 17.0568 The Big Question
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0568 The Big Question

Once more unto the breach!

Don Bloom explains:

 >I use "judicial murder" to refer to the use (or misuse) of the law
 >to cause the death of another person without any justification on
 >grounds of self-defense or other need.

While sympathizing with its emotive thrust, I nonetheless find the 
explanation as confusing and circular as the phrase itself.

Don goes on to plead: "I have no desire to make this discussion a 
personal matter." But earlier we hear:

 >I have and had no intention of slandering you [Joe Egert] "of justifying
 >murder," which I presume you would never do.

Another straw man? Rest assured, Don. I took no personal umbrage from 
your remarks, but thanks for your generous presumption of my innocence. 
I merely tried to elicit the ocular proof from Don substantiating his 
earlier charge against unidentified List members, alas in vain. A single 
quote would have sufficed. Instead, Don has now adjusted his position to 
"trying to establish" what he apparently had already established earlier 
in his mind. Progress, of a sort.

Marcus Dahl  accurately reports Monsarat's central thesis in his 
"Shylock and Mercy"  that "Shylock is a bad Jew" of murderous 
unrelenting will in repudiation of both Jewish and Christian 
exhortations to mercy. His conclusion? "Shylock is above all an evil and 
merciless usurer [who] behaves as he does not because he is a Jew [...] 
but because he is void of both religious and humane feelings..." After 
all, "Shylock's first love is money."

But Marcus, was the Iewe always so unrelenting, or only after being 
abandoned and fleeced of his ducats by his own now gilded daughter, a 
second Golden Fleece for one more golddigger? Clearly Jessica has 
forebodings of inevitable desertion by her newly bought Christian 
spouse, just as she has deserted her father in kind.

Was Shylock always so evil and merciless? Does he not behave as he does 
precisely because he is irrevocably a Jew to Gentile eyes, a stranger in 
a strange land, Ed Taft's outsider, the alien within, the quintessential 
Other, against whom the Gentiles proudly and relentlessly define themselves?

Is Shylock, as depicted, truly void of human feelings, this man never" 
bid for love" by his Gentile compatriots? the man who amid his rage and 
tears would never surrender his Leah's ring for a wilderness of monkeys?

Is Shylock's first love truly money? Restricted to a life of usury by 
law, even that life undercut by Antonio's loud generosity, is not the 
prop that sustains his house and livelihood under threat? Could Shylock 
be the man at trial who will not surrender his bond for any Christian 
bribe, no "not for Venice"?

If the Forum will indulge one last personal note, my folks, may they 
rest in peace, were Jewish immigrants to America, escaping the war-torn 
European Hell of the Forties--a future SHAKSPERian bouncing in their 
arms. My father's first wife and two young daughters were murdered while 
he was away fighting on the Russian front. My mother's aged father and 
baby sister were murdered while she survived hiding in the woods with 
partisans. As a youngster growing up in Freedom's Land, I once asked my 
father: What are Gentiles like? His full reply, oozing with bemused 
contempt: "They swap their wives." From then on to this day, each time I 
hear Shylock's "These be the Christian husbands", I hear my father and 
ask myself: How does Shakespeare know? How does he know? Remarkable!

Joe Egert

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Roast or Roost?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0571  Monday, 19 June 2006

From: 		Stephanie Kydd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 16 Jun 2006 17:13:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0558 Roast or Roost?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0558 Roast or Roost?

 >This quote doesn't prove that the word in question is "roast".  The
 >sentence would make just as much (and the same) sense if the word were
 >"roost".

This "rule the roast" vs. "rule the roost" question is perplexing, so 
I've rooted around a bit more.

Evidence is circumstantial, but in five of six occurrences where "rost" 
appears in F1, it is clearly "roast" in the cooking/meat sense:

(1) 2Henry6 (p.m3) - "the new made Duke that rules the rost"

(2) 1Henry4 (p.e5) - "that stuft Cloakebagge of Guts, that rosted 
Manning Tree Oxe with the Pudding in his Belly"

(3) 2Henry4 (p.g5v) -"his Face is Lucifers Privy-Kitchin, where hee doth 
nothing but rost Mault-Wormes"

(4) Taming of the Shrew (p.t3v) -  "And better 'twere that both of us 
did fast, Since of our selves, our selves are chollericke, Then feede it 
with such over-rosted flesh"

(5) Macbeth (p.mm3) - "Come in Taylor, here you may rost your Goose"

(6) Antony and Cleopatra (p.xx4) - "Eight Wilde-Boares rosted whole at a 
breakfast"

"Roast" likewise appears six times in F1 (again in the cooking/meat 
sense); "roost" does not occur at all.

A quick search of LION yields twenty-two Renaissance era hits for "rule 
the rost" or "rule the roste".  Likewise, there are four for "rule the 
roast". Most have no useful context, but three reference the kitchen, 
"dyet", or meat:

(1) "Microcosmus", Thomas Nabbes:"I am my Ladies Cooke, and King of the 
Kitchin: where I rule the roast".

(2) "Gwydonius", Robert Greene: "But like craftie Calipsos they thinke 
by these unequall matches to rule the roste after their owne dyet"

(3) "Blurt master-constable", Anonymous:
"La.
...a wife wise, no matter: apt wit; no matter: complaining, no matter: 
kept under, no great matter: but to rule the roast, is the matter.

3 Lady.
That ruling of the roast goes with me.

4 Lady.
And me.

3 Lady.
And me, Ile have a cut of that roast."

"Rule the roost" does not appear until Thomas Craddock's eighteenth 
century "Maryland Eclogues", where, it should be noted, it rhymes with 
"lost": "And must a Stranger--- Parson rule the roost, / And Glean the 
Harvest I so stupid lost?"

For what it's worth, my money's still on "roast".

- Stephie Kydd

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Faustus Titlepage Question

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0569  Monday, 19 June 2006

From: 		Tom Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 19 Jun 2006 18:00:13 +1200
Subject: 	Faustus Titlepage Question

I'm preparing a lecture on Doctor Faustus. Could someone please tell me 
what the object in the top right hand corner of the B-text titlepage is? 
The one next to the books. Is it a patten? A picture?  Surely not a 
compass? I seem to recall reading an explanation somewhere, perhaps by 
Stephen Orgel, but I'm damned, as it were, if I can place it now.

Thanks for any help,
Tom

_______________________________________________________________
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
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Shakespeare Reading -- Where?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0570  Monday, 19 June 2006

From: 		William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Saturday, 17 Jun 2006 16:10:27 -0400
Subject: 	Shakespeare Reading -- Where?

At the end of the 1661 printing of Webster and Rowley's A Cure for a 
Cuckold, printed by Thomas Johnson, and published by Francis Kirkman, is 
the following paragraph:

If any Gentleman please to repair to my House aforesaid [the route to 
Kirkman's shop is given in detail on the title page], they may be 
furnished with all manner of English, or French Histories, Romances, or 
Poetry; which are to be sold, or read for reasonable Considerations.

I was immediately struck by "or read for reasonable Considerations." 
Kirkman's shop may have had a reading room, or Kirkman may have lent out 
books as well as sold them.

I have recurrently wondered where Shakespeare got his books. I assume 
that Shakespeare did not purchase all the books that he apparently read. 
Did Richard Field help him in one way and another? Did Southampton 
invite Shakespeare to use his library? Now I'm wondering if sixteenth 
and seventeenth century publishers (before 1661) allowed gentlemen to 
read in their shops for reasonable considerations. Was Shakespeare an 
omnivorous reader in the bookshops of London?

Bill

_______________________________________________________________
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
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The Big Question

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0568  Friday, 16 June 2006

[1] 	From: 	John Crowley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Thursday, 15 Jun 2006 16:24:35 -0400
	Subj: 	Big Question

[2] 	From: 	William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Thursday, 15 Jun 2006 20:07:20 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0566 The Big Question

[3] 	From: 	Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Friday, 16 Jun 2006 02:22:56 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0566 The Big Question

[4] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 	Friday, 16 Jun 2006 11:45:43 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0566 The Big Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 15 Jun 2006 16:24:35 -0400
Subject: 	Big Question

Don writes:

 >PS. For example, why does my morality allow me to condemn Shylock and
 >justify Hamlet? Is it because I like the latter and detest the former
 >(and is thus logically invalid)? Or is it because there is a crucial
 >difference in what they try to do?

I think in both instances some part of the difficulty arises from 
Shakespeare's complexity of thought and speech brought to bear on older 
romance material, creating ambiguities that we break our heads and 
delight our ears over when we regard the works as consciously produced 
artistic wholes.  It's a little like similar fruitful ambiguities 
arising in the Gospels, arising from the synthetic or accumulative 
nature of the texts being viewed as perfect (even divinely guided) 
wholes.  Shylock is a comic villain/Jew, and a criminal, and a monster, 
and deserves everything he gets, in the standard telling of a tale like 
this; it's just that Shakespeare never leaves such things alone, but 
creates as he goes, deepening and expanding.  David Lodge has some 
thoughts of interest on this in his book Consciousness and the Novel, 
about how a work of fiction is created as it is made, rather than being 
the executing of a scheme already in existence.  Hamlet's an even better 
example of ambiguities arising from a complex character created as 
Shakespeare thinks (the first modern man, as Bloom says, overhearing 
himself create himself) intermixed into a standard revenge tragedy in 
which we would only be appalled by his acts even if within our society 
we had to approve them.  Don's moral queries remain, but they can't be 
solved *in Shakespeare* because they are the insoluble products of a 
mixed process, and their insolubility is their attraction.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 15 Jun 2006 20:07:20 -0400
Subject: 17.0566 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0566 The Big Question

 >"A broader view of the play strongly suggests that its real focus is
 >insiders vs. outsiders, with the added insight that, for outsiders, the
 >game is always rigged: the dominant culture will find a way to 'win.'"

Ed is totally on target here. The insiders are, generally, the Italians; 
the outsiders, anyone else. In 1.2 Portia and Nerissa get the ball 
rolling with a barrage of ethnic slurs, e.g. the Englishman is a dumb 
show, the German a drunk. Later both Arragon (who has "the wisdom by 
[his] wit to lose") and Morocco are dismissed: "Let all of his 
complexion choose me so" (2.7.79). And in 4.1 Portia puts the most 
visible outsider in his place.

Bill

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 16 Jun 2006 02:22:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0566 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0566 The Big Question

Dear All,

Just a quick note on this one - (slightly lateral but I think relevant 
to the point under discussion here):

On the question of 'mercy', 'justice', 'the law' and 'jewishness' in The 
Merchant of Venice - Professor Gilles Monsarat has recently published 
what I consider to be the most balanced well researched and incisive 
article on the play I have read for a while -  "Shylock and Mercy" in 
'Cahiers Elisabethains, A Biannual Journal of English Renaissance 
Studies', Spring 2005, Number 67.

His central thesis (I reduce alas) is that Shylock is a bad Jew who by 
his unrelenting will to extract the pound of flesh (kill Antonio) 
repudiates the Jewish and Christian exhortation to Mercy and thereby 
brings about his own downfall.

The article and its contents are too long to repeat with sufficient 
depth here but I quote from the concluding paragraph:

'If the reader realizes, or if the spectator can be made to realize, 
that the Duke and Portia hope that Shylock will, in spite of his 
refusal, finally show mercy because his own religion requires him to do 
so, if Portia's "we do pray for mercy" is common to Jews and Christians 
- it is clear that Shylock is above all an evil and merciless usurer and 
that he behaves as he does not because he is a Jew, a true 
representative of the "nation" he belongs to, but because he is void of 
both religious and humane feelings....'

Another central point is that Shylock wishes Antonio "out of Venice" 
because Antonio has relieved others from 'from [Shylock's] forfeitures'. 
Shylock's first love is money.

All best,
Marcus

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 16 Jun 2006 11:45:43 -0500
Subject: 17.0566 The Big Question
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0566 The Big Question

Okay, here we go.

Ed Taft: I had nothing at that moment to say about the game being rigged 
against outsiders, nor whether a knowledge of this fact was available to 
Shakespeare's audience. I was speaking only of the morality involved in 
justifiable (or, rather, unjustifiable) homicide.

In the specific instance, I was trying to establish whether some readers 
of MOV considered Shylock's grievances against Antonio sufficient to 
justify his attempt to have Antonio killed, and if so, how their system 
of morality operated to allow that.

If we are in agreement that what Shylock attempts to do is harmful and 
unjustifiable, and therefore evil, then we can go on to other subjects. 
  If we aren't, then I need to know how the moral system operates that 
disagrees that that judgment. If it is too radically different from my 
own, then discussion is impossible and there's an end to it.

Joe Egert: I use "judicial murder" to refer to the use (or misuse) of 
the law to cause the death of another person without any justification 
on grounds of self-defense or other need.

I have and had no intention of slandering you "of justifying murder," 
which I presume you would never do. But if Shylock is not attempting to 
murder Antonio, what is he doing? How do we define murder that excludes 
this act from condemnation?

Syd Kasten: You write, "With all the interest over the years in 
translating the Bible into the vernacular any intelligent native of 
England up to Shakespeare's time must have asked where the Jews got to. 
  The banishment of the Jews in 1291 must have been common knowledge. 
Donald, understand this if you can: for better or for worse, with 
respect to Jews and the English "spitting" was a euphemism for what 
happened in York at that time, just as "holocaust" is a sanitization of 
what happened to the Jews of Europe between 1933 and 1945."

I'm having trouble keeping track of the relationships of Biblical 
translation, what intelligent Elizabethan Englishmen wondered about, the 
banishment of the Jews, spitting (are you referring roasting on a spit 
as happens to Rebecca's poor father in "Ivanhoe" (if memory serves)?), 
and the use of the word "holocaust" (which is, as far as I know, the 
preferred term of most Jews) to each other. Nor, for that matter, to 
Shakespeare.

I have no desire to make this discussion a personal matter.

As to the injustices, and occasional horrors, of anti-Semitism, I need 
no enlightenment. That it appears in MOV, and is pretty disgusting, I 
freely admit. That it justifies murder, I deny.

Cheers,
don

PS: Isn't the game always rigged against outsiders? Isn't that essential 
to the definition of "outsider"?

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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