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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Authorial Intention
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0700  Wednesday, 17 October 2007

[1] 	From:	Kenneth Chan <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 17 Oct 2007 11:19:09 +0800
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0693 Authorial Intention

[2] 	From:	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 17 Oct 2007 11:54:37 +0100
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0693 Authorial Intention


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Kenneth Chan <
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Date:		Wednesday, 17 Oct 2007 11:19:09 +0800
Subject: 18.0693 Authorial Intention
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0693 Authorial Intention

Anthony Burton writes:

 >"Could these multiple examples of thematic coherence be accidental,
 >or the result of ongoing collaboration and amendment? I don't think
 >so, but I'll allow that an imaginative writer might make a case for it.
 >Until that happens and probably long after, I will continue to accept
 >the idea of "authorial meaning," in the sense described above as an
 >indispensable concept and an essential foundation for disciplined
 >literary criticism."

I agree with Anthony Burton that thematic coherence is very marked in 
Shakespeare's plays. Significantly, certain themes echo almost endlessly 
in only one (or only some) of Shakespeare's plays but not in his other 
plays. In other words, different recurring themes are found in different 
plays. This suggests authorial intention, or at the very least, 
authorial meaning.

Kenneth Chan

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Peter Bridgman <
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Date:		Wednesday, 17 Oct 2007 11:54:37 +0100
Subject: 18.0693 Authorial Intention
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0693 Authorial Intention

Anthony Burton writes of Hamlet ...

 >The play is full of images of predators and aggressors defeated by
 >their own devices: enginers hoist with their own petar, woodcocks
 >caught in their own springes, mouse-catchers caught in their own
 >mousetraps, archers having their own arrows blown back at them,
 >canoneers whose canons explode with fatal results, and of course
 >a villain who dies by drinking the poison and being stabbed by the
 >sharpened and envenomed sword point he intended for another.
 >Elizabethans would have reveled in the idea of the biter bit and
 >trapper trapped; readers of Alciati's emblem book would have
 >recognized the same pattern and moral in the emblem of
 >"True Justice" ...

The "biter bit" and "trapper trapped" form of poetic justice is of 
course found throughout the Divine Comedy. I believe Dante coined the 
word "contrapasso" for this idea.

One assumes WS had no access to Dante's works (except via Chaucer's 
snippets), so it is very interesting that WS hit on the contrapasso idea 
for a play that (like the Comedy) gives us a vision of Purgatory.

Peter Bridgman

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