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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Solid Flesh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0090  Monday, 11 February 2008

[1] 	From:	John Robinson <
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	Date:	Sunday, 10 Feb 2008 15:37:18 EST
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

[2] 	From:	David Bishop <
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	Date:	Sunday, 10 Feb 2008 15:42:53 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

[3] 	From:	Paul E. Doniger <
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	Date:	Sunday, 10 Feb 2008 15:55:29 -0800 (PST)
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

[4] 	From:	Alan Pierpoint <
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	Date:	Monday, 11 Feb 2008 10:37:49 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		John Robinson <
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Date:		Sunday, 10 Feb 2008 15:37:18 EST
Subject: 19.0078 Solid Flesh
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

 >What is the property of the flesh that Hamlet would like to melt? The
 >Folio says 'solid', the second quarto says 'sallied', and many editors
 >emend to 'sullied.'  Does Shakespeare's use of 'solid' in other passage
 >help with settling this crux?

The metaphor of "melt and resolve itself into a dew" (I don't have the 
quote in front of me so forgive if it's not worded correct, the sense is 
correct) refers to purification.

You purify that which is sullied or soiled not that which is 
"solid"--think sins of the flesh.

Regards,
John Robinson

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		David Bishop <
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Date:		Sunday, 10 Feb 2008 15:42:53 -0500
Subject: 19.0078 Solid Flesh
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

I think the property of the flesh Hamlet would like to melt is youth, 
and its associated strength. In other words, he's too far from death, 
and the Everlasting forbids him to cut his miserably long life short.

The antithesis between solidity and melting seems to me, with the above 
consideration of youth, to make the right reading all but certainly 
"solid." The simplicity of this reading also contributes to its 
plausibility. How the mistake made it into the quarto I don't know, but 
I believe it's a mistake, unfortunately followed even by Jenkins--his 
own worst mistake, if you ask me.

Finally, another reason it isn't "sallied" or "sullied" is that at this 
point Hamlet still thinks of himself, more or less, as morally pure: "I 
know not seems." You could say he feels tainted by his mother's "sin" in 
marrying Claudius, or, supposedly, faking her grief, or by the general 
sinfulness of humanity, but I think his rage at sin has yet to expand to 
include himself. "Sullied" overstates the case. Either it's too general, 
including Hamlet in sinful humanity, to carry the needed intensity, or 
too unexplained, since we don't yet understand why Hamlet personally 
would be sullied. His sense of inadequacy, or weakness, as distinct from 
sinfulness, is tied to his youth, and to his subordinate position, which 
forces him to hold his tongue. The point is that he wants out of this 
sinful world. The problem is he's got such a long way to go before he 
can expect to escape in the natural way.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:		Sunday, 10 Feb 2008 15:55:29 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 19.0078 Solid Flesh
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

According to the concordance on the Open Source Shakespeare website 
(which is based on the Globe Edition), there are no (other?) instances 
of the word 'sallied' in Shakespeare. Sullied, on the other hand, is 
used twice elsewhere-only once as an adjective (Sonnet #197). 'Solid' 
seems the most logical choice to me, too.

In a similar vein, I wonder what others on this list think of "Who, o 
who had seen the inobled [enobled?] queen," as it appears in the First 
Folio (2.2.502), versus "who, ah woe ... mobled queen" and the other 
variant editings. Frankly, I have always thought the First Folio more 
interesting and probably more accurate. Couldn't Hamlet's question, "The 
mobled queen?" be a reaction to what he thought the player said, rather 
than to what he actually said?

Paul E. Doniger

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Alan Pierpoint <
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Date:		Monday, 11 Feb 2008 10:37:49 -0500
Subject: 19.0078 Solid Flesh
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0078 Solid Flesh

Here's hoping that the list can resolve the solid-sullied matter as 
Martin Mueller suggests. In the meantime, I'll continue to have my high 
school seniors cross out "sullied" and write "solid" in their copies of 
the Folger Hamlet.

Alan Pierpoint
Southwestern Academy

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