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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Redheads
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0570  Friday, 31 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		Bob Lapides <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 10:59:54 EDT
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

[2] 	From: 		Robin Hamilton <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 16:23:12 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

[3] 	From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 16:00:37 +0000
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

[4] 	From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 18:29:07 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

[5] 	From: 		Stephanie Kydd <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 12:00:35 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 		SHK 18.0565 Redheads


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bob Lapides <
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Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 10:59:54 EDT
Subject: 18.0565 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

In reply to Nicole Coonradt: I know that Dickens, especially as a young 
man, saw every play he could. That was what he did most evenings. But I 
don't know which plays of that period had Jewish characters. (This is a 
very good question that possibly no one has tried to answer so far.)

I also know that among Dickens's early sketches (later collected in 
"Sketches by Boz") there is one describing unpleasant Jews with red 
hair.   It's also widely believed that Fagin was based on a real person, 
Ikey  Solomons, who had red hair. Jews in Georgian England were heavily 
involved in fencing stolen property and money-lending, and Dickens 
didn't like them as a group -- until 1860, late in his life, when he 
sold a house to a Jewish couple who surprised him with their decency.

Despite his personal bias, it does seem he based Fagin on stage 
conventions as well as on actual life.  Like Shakespeare, Dickens had 
the ability to absorb and retain almost everything he read and saw and 
then to let his imagination play with whatever he had stored away in his 
brain.

Bob Lapides
nyc

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Robin Hamilton <
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Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 16:23:12 +0100
Subject: 18.0565 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

From: David Basch <
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 >

 >16:12 ... Now [David] was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful
 >countenance, and goodly to look to. ...
 >
 >In case there is any doubt, the word "ruddy" in verse 12
 >means red.

Well, no, not quite -- the primary meaning given by the OED is *reddish 
-- not quite the same as the redness of hair.

1. a. Of the face, complexion, etc.: Naturally suffused with a fresh or 
healthy redness.

While the above passage could just barely be taken to apply to David's 
hair -- OED 2.a. In general use: Red or reddish -- there seems no reason 
to reject the obvious sense of  "ruddy faced", since "ruddy" is followed 
almost immediately by the word "countenance".

David may or may not have been red haired, but the passage above reveals 
nothing one way or the other with regard to this.

Robin Hamilton

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 16:00:37 +0000
Subject: 18.0565 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

RE David Basch's post on the use of "ruddy" in Samuel I.  Since when 
does "ruddy" mean red hair?  Ruddy, as far as I can tell, as common 
usage would dictate, is about one's complexion, and while a ginger could 
have a ruddy complexion, it's not a given or a necessity; non-gingers 
could have ruddy complexions as well.  Definitions indicate ruddy to 
mean more of a fresh, healthy glow to the skin-- like one coming in out 
of the cold.  Seems we see it often used in conjunction with this. 
Given that the young shepherd is called in from tending his flocks and 
the language following the use of ruddy is, in the very same sentence, 
about his "countenance" I'm not sure that assuming "ruddy" synonymous 
with "redhead" is at all safe here.  The MED links it to complexion as 
well and says nothing about red hair.

RE Larry Weiss' post "I find it interesting that no one has yet observed 
that Jesus is usually pictured as having red hair."  Would you be able 
to include some links to such images for us-- curious to see them.

Thanks,
Nicole Coonradt
University of Denver
Denver, CO  USA

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 18:29:07 +0100
Subject: 18.0565 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0565 Redheads

David Basch, quoting 1 Samuel 16:12, writes ...

 >In case there is any doubt, the word "ruddy" in verse 12 means red.

Yes, but the Hebrew word (admoniy) may mean ruddy-cheeked or red-haired, 
and the context here would surely suggest ruddy-cheeked.  The only 
reference to red hair in the Bible (Esau) thus remains a pejorative one.

Nicole Coonradt writes of ...

 >... the English Puritans who practiced usury and were actually called 
"Christian Jews".

My understanding was that Puritans were called this because of their 
strict (or "precise", e.g. Angelo in Measure for Measure) reading of 
scripture.

 >Despite their having been driven from the country in 1290 by
 >Edward I, there were, in fact, Jews in England.

Indeed.  WS lived for four years (1592-96) in the parish of St Helen's 
Bishopsgate.  Just outside the city walls at the top of Bishopsgate was 
a Sephardic Jewish quarter centred around Houndsditch (London's oldest 
synagogue still stands nearby).  WS would undoubtedly have met these 
shopkeepers and their families.

Furthermore, if the Dark Lady of the Sonnets was in fact Emilia Lanier 
(nee Bassano), as suggested by A.L. Rowse, then WS was more intimately 
linked to London's Jewish community.  Like Shylock, the Bassanos were 
Venetian Jews. I quote from Michael Wood's book (my source for the above 
as well) ...

"At least two of her [Emilia's] uncles also married Jewesses, and 
although they conformed as Catholics in Venice and Protestants in 
London, they retained a consciousness of their Jewishness. (This would 
not have been a bar at court - the queen herself had a Jewish 
lady-in-waiting.)  The Bassanio's forebears worked in silk: their coat 
of arms was a mulberry tree - morus in Latin, which also means 'Moor'."

... red hair (as with several of the Tudors/Stuarts) does show up more 
frequently in the British Isles than in some other places, but, 
interestingly, the current largest population is in the US where it is 
estimated between 2-6% of the total population.  Globally it is around 
1% today.  Wish we could know what it was in Early Modern times.

There's no reason to think it was any different from today.  Scotland 
has the highest percentage of red-haired people in the world (13%), 
closely followed by Ireland (10%).  The incidence is lower in England 
and Wales.  It may be significant to our discussion that when James I 
came to the throne in 1603 he brought down a lot of Scots with him.  The 
Scottish hangers-on at court were largely hated by Londoners.

In contrast, consider the preference of depicting the Madonna and Child 
as more fair than dark-- and often blond-- from the Middle Ages to the 
Renaissance.  The problem?  They were Jewish!  It is not often that they 
are depicted ethnically-correct as having dark skin, hair and eyes, 
which was likely the case.

I think you'll find that Italian artists painted the Madonna and Child 
as Italians, German artists painted them as Germans, Spanish as 
Spaniards, Greek as Greeks, etc.  In other words, there was no conscious 
effort on the part of artists to er, de-hebraicise (is there such a 
word?) the Holy Family.

Peter Bridgman

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Stephanie Kydd <
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Date: 		Thursday, 30 Aug 2007 12:00:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Redheads
Comment: 	SHK 18.0565 Redheads

Apparently, Englishmen have associated red hair with an evil temperament 
for a very long time.  The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions has almost 
a full page of quotations under 'RED HAIR unlucky'.  The earliest of 
these is from the c. 1200 'Proverbs of Alfred': 'The rede mon he is a 
quet [wicked man]; for he wole the thin uvil red [will give thee evil 
counsel]'. Interestingly, no quotation specifically linking red hair 
with either Judas or Judaism appears until 1853, and that only cites 
'tradition' as its source: 'N & Q Ist ser. VII 616. In every part of 
England I have visited, there appears to be a deep-rooted prejudice... 
agains people with red hair... Tradition... assigns to Absalom's hair a 
reddish tinge; and Judas... is ever painted with locks  of the same 
unhappy colour'.

   - Stephie Kydd

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