2007

Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0836  Friday, 21 December 2007

[1] 	From:	Lynn Brenner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 16:47:57 EST
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0833 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

[2] 	From:	Scott Shepherd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Friday, 21 Dec 2007 03:50:14 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0833 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Lynn Brenner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 16:47:57 EST
Subject: 18.0833 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0833 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

 >Where does Hamlet first show awareness or suspicion about the privacy of
 >his conversation with Ophelia? What does "Ha ha!" mean? What does "Are
 >you honest?" mean? (Do you think Ophelia correctly interprets this as in
 >inquiry into her chastity?) If you agree that this line shows Hamlet's
 >awakened suspicion, then what awakened it? What happened just before
 >this line that might have inspired Hamlet's interjection and question?

I've always thought that Hamlet's interjection and question are prompted 
by a piece of staging. The stage directions in the plays are all 
implicit rather than spelled out, and in this scene it seems obvious:

Claudius and Polonius are hiding behind a convenient upstage screen. 
When Ophelia tenders her gifts -- 'There, my  lord.' - Polonius peeps 
out for a split second to see what she's handing Hamlet. (What could be 
more like him?)

Hamlet (turning away from Ophelia) detects the motion out of the corner 
of his eye. That's all he'd need to know he's been set up, and make him 
turn back to Ophelia with "Ha, ha! are you honest?"

In other words, that line is meant quite literally.

I also think "nunnery" is meant literally. Obviously, Hamlet knows its 
double meaning; but isn't it far likelier that he's telling this 
obedient little pawn in her father's game to go to a nunnery-a more 
appropriate place for a girl of her simple, obedient nature than the big 
bad world-than that he's packing her off to a whore house?

Even then, he sounds angrier at himself (and at Polonius) than at her. 
("Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am 
myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things... 
...We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a 
nunnery." )

I imagine him then turning to leave. Pausing, looking again at the 
upstage screen, and unable to resist giving her one more chance to level 
with him, adding abruptly, "Where's your father?"

It's her flat-out lie-"At home, my lord."-that really enrages and sets 
him off against her. That leads us into "God hath given you one face, 
and you make yourselves another, etc" and then the double meaning of 
'nunnery' rises to inform his words beautifully.

(My, that man could write!)
Lynn Brenner

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Scott Shepherd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Friday, 21 Dec 2007 03:50:14 -0500
Subject: 18.0833 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0833 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

That Hamlet means chastity when he says "Are you honest?" is clear from 
his immediate follow-up: "your honesty should admit no discourse to your 
beauty." (This comes before Ophelia does any "interpreting.")

The offense that we are finding Ophelia guilty of here-consenting to be 
observed with him in the hopes of helping him-is not even on Hamlet's 
radar of injustice. When he catches his mother committing the very same 
offense three scenes later, he doesn't berate her for it.  This is not 
what he is referring to when he challenges Ophelia's honesty.

Hamlet's tirade is against the very assertion of proper conduct in 
women. The returning of the gifts, and the cooling of relations that 
proceeded it, is after all an assertion of chastity, indeed contains  in 
it a rather insulting accusation that *he* has behaved improperly 
toward her honor. This (awakening of course the outrage at his  mother) 
is what prompts Hamlet's explosion.

We should notice also that the explosion starts *before* "ha, ha!":  you 
can hear it rumbling already in "No not I, I never gave you aught."

There are several possible meanings for "ha, ha!" "Aha, I've found you 
out!" is not the commonest. I think "ha" usually expresses contempt or 
surprise at what has just occurred. I tend to read it as a response to 
the indignity of having his rejected love-gifts pushed into his hand.

As for the real question at the heart of the matter: When does Hamlet 
first show awareness or suspicion about the privacy of his conversation 
with Ophelia?, the answer is, he doesn't.

The idea that Hamlet knows about the eavesdroppers is a satisfying 
invention, it pleases us by giving Hamlet the upper hand, it turns 
"where's your father?" and "all but one shall live" into nifty zingers, 
and it makes us more comfortable with Hamlet's behavior toward Ophelia 
by allowing us to blame the victim a little bit.

But is this invention necessary? Does it even improve our understanding 
of the scene?

Doesn't it rather alleviate the need to understand it, by explaining it 
in terms of the *plot*, in terms of hero-vs-villain?

Doesn't it in fact invalidate a crucial encounter between Hamlet and 
Ophelia, turning it into a clever show put on for the benefit of the men 
behind the curtain? Doesn't it make us deaf to the real content of 
Hamlet's speeches, because we are listening only for brilliant hidden 
thrusts at the eavesdroppers, of which disappointingly in all that text 
it turns out there are only two?

I propose that we cast off this old crutch and try again to understand 
Hamlet's encounter with Ophelia on its own terms.

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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Books to Buy

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0835  Friday, 21 December 2007

[1] 	From:	R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 15:18:22 -0600
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0831 Books to Buy

[2] 	From:	Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 21:24:42 -0800
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0831 Books to Buy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 15:18:22 -0600
Subject: 18.0831 Books to Buy
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0831 Books to Buy

Schoenbaum's Biography and SHAKESPEARE'S LIVES

Taylor's Reinventing Shakespeare

Russ MacDonald's Bedford Companion

Vickers's Appropriating Shakespeare

Chamber's if you can get a copy in budget

All of Gurr

-- All the best, R.A. Cantrell

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 21:24:42 -0800
Subject: 18.0831 Books to Buy
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0831 Books to Buy

Bill Godshalk wrote

 >Some rare and used book dealers are asking $35
 >for a paperback copy of A. C. Bradley's Shakespearean
 >Tragedy, a "must" for school children.

Wow! I picked up a Bradley last year at a $1 rack outside a bookstore. 
The sometime owner made a few underlinings in the first few pages, but 
it's otherwise pristine. Well, a tad yellow but the cover and binding 
are intact. If the school would like to have it, I'd be glad to send it.

Makes me wonder, do you suppose there would ever be an audience or 
market for a show something like Antiques Roadshow or Cash in the Attic, 
only for books?

A hallowed and gracious time to all,
Nancy Charlton

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0833  Thursday, 20 December 2007

From:		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Wednesday, 19 Dec 2007 17:18:13 -0500
Subject: 18.0827 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0827 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

For those who quibble with my solution to the question -- we don't know 
enough about Ophelia yet; Polonius doesn't rhyme (he does actually -- 
"Neither a borrower ..."); other characters are also sententious; etc -- 
I ask:  If not here, where? If not this, then what?

Where does Hamlet first show awareness or suspicion about the privacy of 
his conversation with Ophelia? What does "Ha ha!" mean? What does "Are 
you honest?" mean? (Do you think Ophelia correctly interprets this as in 
inquiry into her chastity?) If you agree that this line shows Hamlet's 
awakened suspicion, then what awakened it? What happened just before 
this line that might have inspired Hamlet's interjection and question?

Haven't you ever seen a modern mystery melodrama in which a character 
speaks in an unaccustomed fashion and the detective immediately picks up 
that something is out of order?

In any case, if I am wrong, what is right?

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Comment: SHK 18.0834

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0834  Friday, 21 December 2007

From:		Chris Jacobs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Friday, 21 Dec 2007 08:38:01 +0800
Subject:	Titus and the Gods

Whilst going through the initial stages of preparing to direct a 
production of Titus Andronicus for the first time of asking, it struck 
me that there exists within the text a greater than usual number, almost 
amounting to a plethora, of allusions to the ancient  Gods of Greece and 
Rome.

Whilst such allusions occur within a great number of the Bard's plays, I 
have not noticed such a preponderance as exists in TA.

I wonder what might account for this... if indeed there is any truth in 
my observation, since I must admit to not having specifically searched 
for 'quantities' of such allusions elsewhere.

So, before undertaking the task of revisiting the entire canon in order 
to discover the relevant facts, perhaps others may have some material 
information or opinion on the subject.

Kindly
Christopher Jacobs
<www.stagesense.com>

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Understudies

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0832  Thursday, 20 December 2007

[1] 	From:	Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Wednesday, 19 Dec 2007 17:11:05 -0000
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0826 Understudies

[2] 	From:	Duncan Salkeld <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 10:23:14 +0000 (GMT)
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0826 Understudies


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Wednesday, 19 Dec 2007 17:11:05 -0000
Subject: 18.0826 Understudies
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0826 Understudies

Abigail Quart wrote:

 >I'm glad that Alan B. Farmer and Zachary Lesser
 >have academically debunked the other assertions
 >of Kiernander and Neill but the above is just a howl.

Farmer and Lesser haven't addressed any of the assertions of Kiernander 
and Neill, so far as I know. I don't mean to be rude but the above 
suggests a reader not really paying attention to the post she's replying 
to, and therefore not really deserving of an answer in turn.

To Bill Godshalk: Your original post ("Get the actors' parts, and have a 
scribe reconstruct the script") didn't sound like you meant 'do it by 
recitation', but I can see that we're not in disagreement. However, the 
conflation of memorial reconstruction with surreptitious activity might 
be a red herring here: Kiernander and Neill are imagining legitimate 
reasons for putting a script together from actors' parts.

John Drakakis writes:

 >As I recall, Blayney has taken apart Farmer and Lesser.

Well, he was allowed to answer them in the same issue they published 
their article, which I think was rather an unfair privilege. (I can't 
see them being allowed to answer him if the tables were turned.) As for 
who 'won' in this exchange, there's room for subjective judgement of 
course. But importantly, Blayney accepts that the percentage of 
playbooks that got reprinted (40% by Farmer and Lesser's methods and 
date span, 33% by Blayney's) was about double that of the percentage of 
sermon books that got reprinted (20% by Farmer an Lesser's count, 17% by 
Blayney's). However, Blayney thinks that such statistics are misleading 
if one neglects to mention that there were many more sermon books than 
playbooks so that in absolute terms the smaller percentage is a larger 
figure.

John Drakakis again:

 >But also, what happens when we think
 >about actors doubling parts?

Since the only extant actor's 'part' is Edward Alleyn's as Orlando 
Furioso, and we don't suppose the lead actor would have doubled, we 
don't have evidence for whether a 'part' covered one character (in which 
case actors playing minor characters would have several such rolls) or 
all the characters played by one actor. The latter would seem to cause 
unhelpful inflexibility in casting, but with only one extant 'part' as 
evidence the matter remains open. (Tiffany Stern would say that extant 
'parts' from related areas such as amateur and academic performance can 
help us infer professional theatre practice, but that's contentious 
within theatre-history studies.)

Gabriel Egan

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Duncan Salkeld <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 20 Dec 2007 10:23:14 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 18.0826 Understudies
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0826 Understudies

Abigail Quart's points about actors' improv, and that 'losing the rhythm 
blows memory', are intriguing in the context of memorial reconstruction. 
I recall reading that Gary Taylor once hired an actor friend to recite 
from memory in a test of the MR hypothesis. I wonder if rhythm played a 
part in that experiment.  Regarding the ever cheery Steve 'Urquartowitz' 
and revision, yes, revision is certainly a factor in the texts of R&J 
and HV, but so too is memory (and in the case of HV dictation too).

Steve makes his point from Hamlet neatly - but two queries in response. 
If I remember aright (aptly), the earliest text has old Fortinbras 
'impudent and bed-rid'. The second has him far more sensibly 'impotent 
and bed-rid'. Even though it's rather fun to do so, can we really 
imagine OF as a Sid James character being cheeky to his nurses? 
Elsewhere, the first imprint has Polonius remark that 'Seneca cannot be 
too heavy, nor Plato too light'. The second corrects 'Plato' to the 
obviously appropriate 'Plautus'. Are we really to think that Shakespeare 
wrote 'Plato' first time around? We don't get anything like this 
absurdity in the R&J texts, so there are qualitative differences among 
the so-called 'bad' imprints.

On Farmer and Lesser v Blayney, I too was surprised that Gabriel implied 
that Farmer and Lesser carried the day. Blayney's reply strikes me as 
nothing less than a systematic demolition of their assumptions and 
reading of the evidence.

Season's greetings to one and all,
Duncan Salkeld

_______________________________________________________________
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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