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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: May ::
New Shakespeare 'Works
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0340  Tuesday, 15 May 2007

[1] 	From: 	Tony Burton <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 8 May 2007 14:10:06 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0309 New Shakespeare 'Works'

[2] 	From: 	William Proctor Williams <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 08 May 2007 15:08:30 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

[3] 	From: 	Sean King <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 8 May 2007 16:59:02 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

[4] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 9 May 2007 01:28:24 -0500
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

[5] 	From: 	Tom Reedy <
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 	Date: 	Saturday, 12 May 2007 22:56:04 -0500
 	Subj: 	Re: Re: SHK 18.0309 New Shakespeare 'Works'

[6] 	From: 	Robert Projansky <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 15 May 2007 00:20:32 -0700
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Tony Burton <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 8 May 2007 14:10:06 -0400
Subject: 18.0309 New Shakespeare 'Works'
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0309 New Shakespeare 'Works'

For anyone not bored silly with the recent pollax/pole-axe thread to which 
I am a guilty accessory, let me point out that the new Bates RSC "Hamlet" 
gives "He smote the steeld pole-axe on the ice."  With explanatory 
footnote.

That should settle things once and for all.  The texts got it wrong.

Tony

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Proctor Williams <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 08 May 2007 15:08:30 -0400
Subject: 18.0330 00
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

Sean King says, replying to William Proctor Williams,

>An edition which tries "to reconstruct the text as it entered the
>printshop." is not doing much which is different from what textual
>criticism has been doing for over 100 years.

Their point is that they're not conflating-"the text" here is the First 
Folio, and they're editing *that*.

And that was just my point.  They are not concerned, or say they are not 
concerned, with the source of setting copy, underlying matters of 
transmission (for example, from 1594 to 1623 through 3 variant quartos in 
the case of Titus) or any of that sort of stuff, but are only setting 
forth what actually got printed in F1.  That looks like exiting the print 
shop rather than entering it to me, as I said in the full text of my 
posting.

William Proctor Williams

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sean King <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 8 May 2007 16:59:02 -0400
Subject: 18.0330 00
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

Replying to Tad Davis

[...]

>what the words "the sledded" mean

[...]

This edition winds up with "the steeled pole-axe" -- Bate tells us his 
thinking in the "Case."

A poster was having problems accessing some of the RSC material -- this 
should be a direct link to the above document:

http://www.rscshakespeare.co.uk/pdfs/Case_for_Folio.pdf

...perhaps any broken links are a US/UK thing? (I believe Modern Library 
is maintaining a site parallel to that of the British publisher... at any 
rate the banner at the top of the blog at this address

http://palgrave.typepad.com/rsc/

leads to www.rscshakespeare.co.uk and everything seems to work fine from 
there...)

S.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 9 May 2007 01:28:24 -0500
Subject: 18.0330 00
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

Replying to Tad Davis.

>Explaining what the words "the sledded" mean in this context is a
>problem; but not as big a problem as explaining how the experience
>of  the stalking ghost reminds Horatio of a battle. ...

It's not such a problem, if one goes back to Q2 and observes the exact 
spelling "sleaded," and takes it seriously.  Elizabethan days were earlier 
in the Great Vowel Shift, and "sleaded" was pronounced 'slay-dead' if 
dragged out just a tad.  Drawl Elizabethan "sleaded" and you get 
"slay-dead."

The "sleaded pollax" is the slay-dead 'head' axe.

But that's not to be taken literally; it's the wordplay, for King Hamlet's 
behavior.  The Danish King Hamlet swung his Danish battle axe like an 
executioner swinging a slay-dead 'head' axe.  The implication is that 
there were some Polish fellow's necks in the way at the time.  When King 
Hamlet swung his slay-dead 'head' axe, his enemies were dying, "Polacks" 
in this case.

Horatio doesn't necessarily mean he was there.  He's probably referring to 
a painting, in commemoration of the Danish victory.   Some Elizabethan era 
paintings are so well done they're virtually photographic, notably the 
Holbein portraits of Henry VIII.  In a painting the King will have his 
beaver up, even if in a battle he did not.  Artistic license.

The reason why the Ghost reminds Horatio of a battle is because the Ghost 
is wearing armor.  That's so obvious I'm surprised it needs mention.  The 
men expressly talk about the tense military situation, which might lead to 
war.  The Ghost appears in armor.  It's hardly any mystery why Horatio 
thinks of a battle.  And Horatio thinks of an icy battle since it's so 
cold at night, as Hamlet and Horatio later mention.  The idea of an icy 
battle follows directly from what's expressly stated in the dialogue.

-----
Replying to Tony Burton.

>I believe Jeffrey Jordan has gone astray in a portion of his reply
>to Tad Davis that seeks to explain the word "pole-axe."

There is not factually the word "pole-axe" in the original printings. 
None of the original printings shows that word.

Whether an edged military weapon is a beheading tool depends on who's 
swinging it, and how sharp it is.  A kitchen knife is not much of a 
beheading tool, but anything sharp, and heavy enough to be swung with both 
hands by a strong man, well.

The old Danish battle axe bears an interesting resemblance to the 
executioner's axe.  But one big two-hand axe can look much like another, 
and be used much like another.

I do agree there's reference to 'Polacks.'  King Hamlet's slay-dead 'head' 
axe was swung against the sledded Polacks.  The Folio and Q2, between 
them, do pretty well to reveal the intended wordplay.  It's great luck 
that history has preserved both Q2 and F1, and not only in this instance.

>If one wishes to play with the idea that "poll"="head", other
>considerations make it quite difficult to equate "pole-axe" with
>a headsman's axe.

There is factually no word "pole-axe" in the original printings.  It is 
not "play" to learn and use the dictionary definitions of words, nor is it 
"play" to carefully observe one's sources.  It is "play" to do otherwise.

The concept of a headsman's axe is obviously relevant to the events of 
'Hamlet,' as mentioned earlier.  The technicalities of the tool maker's 
art are not relevant.  The suggestion that the word "poll" could somehow 
be restricted to the art of the toolmaker is obviously wrong.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Tom Reedy <
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Date: 		Saturday, 12 May 2007 22:56:04 -0500
Subject: SHK 18.0309 New Shakespeare 'Works'
Comment: 	Re: Re: SHK 18.0309 New Shakespeare 'Works'

Sean King wrote:

>Replying to Jeffrey Jordan <
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>[...]
>
>>... (How could I not love an edition where old Hamlet's "pollax"
>>remains the pole-axe of an impatient king, banged against the ice
>>in frustration?)
>>
>Remains?  The word is not "pole-axe" in any of the original printings,
>Q1, Q2, or F1.  It's identically "pollax" in all three, except
>capitalized in F1.
>>
>The "pole-axe" editorial interpretation was advanced by Alexander Pope
>in 1723,
>
>Well, *Pope* had "Polack" (sing.) -- or so say the Arden2 and the
>Variorum. *Rowe's* supposed to have given us "Pole-axe" (and actually
>would simply have been hyphenating his copytext [F4: Poleaxe] )

Harington, John, Sir, 1560-1612 (trans.) / Ariosto, Ludovico (orig.):
  ORLANDO FVRIOSO [from Orlando Furioso (1607)]

From Sir John Harington's translation of Ludovico Ariosto's *Orlando 
Furioso* (1607):

The Ninth Booke

299         My seruant standing in a secret place,
300         Which I to him did for this purpose show,
301         Affoords him to his sport but little space,
302         And with a Pollax strake him such a blow,
303         That staggring straight, and making little strife,
304         He left his loue, his liuing and his life.

TR

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Robert Projansky <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 15 May 2007 00:20:32 -0700
Subject: 18.0330 00
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0330 00

Tad Davis says:

>Old Hamlet is described as frowning "in an angry parle," not
>fighting a pitched battle on the ice. Are there other cases where
>"parle" means "battle"?

Isn't "angry parle" a metaphor here?

>Explaining what the words "the sledded" mean in this context is a
>problem; but not as big a problem as explaining how the experience
>of  the stalking ghost reminds Horatio of a battle. There are
>problems with either interpretation.

I beg to differ: explaining how something reminds anyone of anything else 
is neither a problem nor an obligation in this context. Like taste, the 
triggers of memory have nothing to do with logic and there is simply no 
accounting for them. If Horatio or any other character says x reminds him 
of y you certainly don't have to understand, explain or justify the 
psychology of that cause and effect to believe that is what he means to 
say. If Horatio says something reminds him of a battle, so be it.

But, that said, isn't Horatio simply saying here that the frown he's just 
seen on the ghost reminds him of the way the dead king frowned  on another 
occasion?

Best to all,
Bob Projansky

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