2008

Derry Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0194  Monday, 31 March 2008

From:		Maurizio Calbi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Monday, 31 Mar 2008 23:33:58 +0200
Subject: 19.0183 Derry Hamlet
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0183 Derry Hamlet

It's not quite a review, but Mark Thornton Burnett discusses it in a 
chapter of a volume he and Ramona Wray edited, _Screening Shakespeare in 
the Twenty-First Century_  (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 
2006):31-52.

Maurizio Calbi
Dip. di Studi Linguistici e Letterari
Universita degli Studi di Salerno

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Shakespeare's Style

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0193  Friday, 28 March 2008

From:		Ward Elliott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Friday, 14 Mar 2008 12:58:16 -0700
Subject: 19.0176 Shakespeare's Style
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0176 Shakespeare's Style

Elliott Stone [SHK 19.0176] notes our skepticism of the handy assumption 
that co-authors neatly divide their contributions by act and scene and 
wonders how it might affect attributions of Titus Andronicus. Great 
question! The short answer, not surprisingly, is that, in some cases, it 
makes it harder to make clear ascriptions scene by scene, but maybe 
easier to make sense of scenes with ambiguous or conflicting indicators.

We've been working for more than two years at applying our new-optics 
methods to co-authored Shakespeare plays, typically analyzing passages 
of about 1,500 words, which should be long enough to get our expected 
accuracy in distinguishing single-authored texts to 95% or better. 
We're still working on these and have only published some of our 
results. Our current results on Titus are broadly consistent with the 
old-optics consensus, magisterially described by Sir Brian Vickers in 
Chapter 3 of his Shakespeare, Co-Author (2002):  of the play's 13 
blocks, all nine of the old-optics "Shakespeare" blocks are what we 
cautiously call "Shakespeare could-be's," fitting more or less snugly 
into our Shakespeare test profiles. Our results support the consensus on 
these. Two of the old-optics "Peele" blocks, 1.01.1-257, and 4.01, look 
like "Shakespeare couldn't-be's" by our tests, again supporting the 
consensus. In other words, we are 85% in agreement with the old-optics 
consensus.

But two of the consensus "Peele" blocks - 1.01.258-end and 2.01-.02 -- 
look like Shakespeare could-be's on our regular tests, and still look to 
us like Shakespeare could-be's even after trying a few more new-optics 
tests. For these, it's not so clear that the old consensus is right. 
Some combination of further new-optics testing on our part and separate 
old-optics testing of the suspect blocks might help clear this up. We do 
get about 5% false positives from known non-Shakespeare blocks of this 
size, and most of the old-optics results have been studied and presented 
for all the "Peele" and "Shakespeare" blocks in aggregates, not just the 
two blocks in question. Focusing on them separately might help. But it's 
also entirely possible that further testing will not unmuddy the waters 
on these two blocks and leave conflicting evidence as to who could have 
written them. If so, it could be taken as an indicator that either 
old-optics or  new-optics tests still need further work-or that the 
muddied picture lies not so much in the optics as in the authorship 
itself. What might be a great mystery if you assumed that co-authorship, 
which can easily be found in whole plays, could never be found in 
subsections of plays, would be much less mysterious if you did not make 
such an assumption.

Yours,
Ward Elliott

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The Best Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0191  Friday, 28 March 2008

[1] 	From:	John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 18:59:43 -0400
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0173 The Best Hamlet

[2] 	From:	Harvey Roy Greenberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Friday, 14 Mar 2008 13:40:27 EDT
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0173  The Best Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 18:59:43 -0400
Subject: 19.0173 The Best Hamlet
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0173 The Best Hamlet

I should say that the best Hamlet I ever saw was by Eric Booth at the NJ 
Shakespeare Festival, in 1978, directed by Paul Barry, with the play 
performed in rep. with a twin production of "Rosencrantz and 
Guildenstern are Dead." Energetic, youthful (he had just attained the 
canonical age of 30), intelligent, yet casual, tense, and yet relaxed, 
with a free give-and-take attitude toward the audience in the 
soliloquies. (And for those who do not know Mr. Booth, he has the family 
looks.)

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Harvey Roy Greenberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Friday, 14 Mar 2008 13:40:27 EDT
Subject: 19.0173  The Best Hamlet
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0173  The Best Hamlet

The best Hamlet I have seen, over 50 years of Hamlets plus, was the-I 
believe RSC-production in London about 1977, Jacobi as Hamlet, later, I 
also believe, transferred to TV. One could palpably feel Jacobi "think" 
the words as we was speaking them, not too clear here, but what I am 
trying to get at is a sense of the immediacy which comes from trying to 
piece something out, in Hamlet, the great things, death, courage, so 
forth. The supporting cast was admirable, and I wept, not frequent for 
me, at the known conclusion.

Intriguing to see Jacobi play Claudius, and IMHO, play him so well, in 
the Branagh production. Especially admired the convoluted rhetoric of 
the opening speech.

Harvey Roy Greenberg MD

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Solid Flesh Once More

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0192  Friday, 28 March 2008

[1] 	From:	Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 21:48:49 -0700
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0162 Solid Flesh Once More

[2] 	From:	David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Friday, 14 Mar 2008 02:41:02 -0400
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0175 Solid Flesh Once More


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 21:48:49 -0700
Subject: 19.0162 Solid Flesh Once More
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0162 Solid Flesh Once More

David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 >The thought which doesn't compute with anyone on this list,
 >apparently, is that "too too solid flesh" refers to Hamlet's youth.

I *love* this thought. I had never thought of it, and it adds yet more 
valences of meaning to the line. (David, you have read my screed on 
Hamlet's youth, right? http://princehamlet.com/chapter_1.html) Just 
because nobody has responded to the subject doesn't mean it doesn't compute.

Likewise William Godshalk's bit on a hilarious sexual reading. ("a dew" 
= emission, "solid flesh" = a youthfully erect member, "melt, thaw" = 
what happens to said solid flesh following said emission.) It's well 
down the scale of "yeah that's gotta be right," but it's damned funny 
and I'm adding it to my locker.

Do either of these prove that "solid" is the "correct" reading? No. But 
they both add  valid-to-at-least-amusingly-enjoyable additional 
meanings, contributing to the density and layers of meaning that have 
been steadily accreting to this line for centuries.

On that note, I should point out that hamletworks' Commentary Note for 
this line runs to 10,000 words, approximately 28 pages.. (Which I have 
not read--recently.)

http://www.leoyan.com/global-language.com/ENFOLDED/output4.php?file=HWORKS0300/HW-313cn.xml

 >I wouldn't even seriously suggest that I was the first to
 >see the reference to youth. In the vast corpus of criticism
 >I'm sure someone has noticed that, here or there. But
 >where? That is the question.

Not that it matters a great deal to me (I'm just happy to relish and 
render my own somewhat-educated judgment on what you've provided), but I 
would be curious to know about any of your predecessors on this point.

 >I see no reason to think that "a dew" should be amended
 >to "adieu", which though consonant, in a way, with the
 >meaning of the sentence, itself does not really make sense.

I wouldn't dream of making that choice as a text editor. (Actors need 
not choose in this case, unless they choose to "explain" the word[s] via 
some action.) But I love having the variant meaning/reading as part of 
the complex for the line that exists in my mind.

 >Steve Roth takes the politically and deconstructionally
 >correct position that words can mean anything and everything,

Oh please. Come on, David. My position is merely that words and strings 
of words can have multiple meanings. Hardly controversial. I'm betting 
that I have at least as little truck with the greater body of postmodern 
"theory" as you do.

 >to say that in a particular case a word means one thing and
 >not another is mean-spirited, narrow-minded, bigoted, etc.

Oh please again. Not at all. The "one thing and not another" decision is 
an often unfortunate necessity that an editor (and to a lesser extent a 
actor or director) faces. One has no choice but to remove some of the 
readings and their associated meanings, in choosing one. Just a fact, no 
value judgment.

 >If when I hear "solid" I also hear an echo of "salad",
 >for example,

Ha! I love that. Trying to work up a joke based on it...

 >that doesn't mean Shakespeare intended that echo,

In a huge number of cases we have no way of knowing with any degree of 
certainty what Shakespeare intended. (On what level of consciousness did 
he "intend" any of the more allusive readings/meanings?) Based on the 
multiple texts and variants, and the many plausible meanings arising 
from same, it seems to me that he intended many things--complementary, 
contradictory, and downright mischievous.

It actually amuses me greatly to think that Shakespeare "intended" to 
leave behind the multiple, conflicting texts, and the innumerable 
un-"fix"able cruxes that result.

We can of course conclude that he could not possibly have intended a 
given variant or meaning, based on any number of arguments--notably 
nonesensicalness (See: "salad"), lack of of evidence, or a great many 
types of contradictory evidence.

 >nor that it adds to my understanding of the play,

Ah now *there's* the ticket. That's what I care about.

 >or to the greatness of the play.

It's greatness arises, in my mind, from the very density (complex 
coherence or coherent complexity) that is generated by multiple, 
interrelated, tightly interwoven readings and meanings: the tapestry, 
which only can only be perceived in all its majesty in the mind. And the 
more you know about it--the more readings and reasoned interpretations 
you've internalized--the denser, more beautiful, and "greater" the 
mental tapestry.

 >The more weight is given to this amorphous nimbus
 >of suggestibility the more trouble the work will have
 >moving forward, to tell a story,

It's true that all that complexity can/does/often will get in the way of 
a successful stage production (or first reading, for that matter), which 
relies more on story and action. But for me that just speaks to 
Shakespeare's genius-his ability to write for both the stage and the 
page. (And the mind.)

 >I would certainly agree that Shakespeare packs in
 >suggestions that may be inaudible on the stage.

That's good to know. "Packs" is right. Seems obvious, though.

 >To follow the program would seem to dissolve the
 >possibility of meaning anything in particular.

This is like arguing that a country with strong social support systems 
is the same as the Soviet Union. (An argument you hear distressingly 
often on this side of the pond, along with altogether too many other 
black-and-white arguments [literal and figurative]...) Have I said "Oh 
please" yet?

 >echoes which are intentional, meaningful and significant,
 >in different ways, and those that are not, which requires
 >critical insight, and argument.

My point is only that the argument should often be about *degree* of 
belief (in Ulysses' sense?), as opposed to either/or belief. When I'm 
holding this complex in my head, how much weight do I give to "solid" 
(lots) and how much to "salad"? (Just enough for a quick grin-but it's 
there now, and I'm keeping it!)

 >The idea that it's meaningless, and mean, in general, to
 >argue about what's correct and what isn't--though in particular
 >cases that may be true--is often used, I think, to evade the
 >point of particular arguments, as for example that Hamlet
 >would not use "sullied" at this stage in the play.

Your "youth" argument for "solid" simply doesn't convince me to deny all 
validity to "sullied." "I know not seems" does not, to me, (even begin 
to) prove Hamlet's unalloyed belief in his own purity. I might opt for 
your choice when editing (depending on many factors), but since I'm not 
editing, there's no need to shred and discard a whole section of the 
tapestry.

Oh, and in my previous post, I had meant to laud and praise this 
previous of yours:

 >In editing Shakespeare, my rule of thumb is to produce
 >the best Shakespeare possible, which I tend to believe
 >coincides with the real Shakespeare. Removing all appeal
 >to meaning and quality in the interest of "objectivity" will
 >accelerate the decline of the humanities,

If "best" means the Shakespeare which best puts across its density, 
complexity, and coherence (and humor!), we agree. I also believe that 
constitutes the most "authentic" Shakespeare--the Shakespeare that 
Shakespeare, IMHO, most "intended."

Claiming "objectivity" on the sallied/solid question, and using it to 
discard part of that intention's complex result, will undoubtedly 
accelerate not only the decline of the humanities, but in fact the 
disintegration of all civilized life on earth.

Oh and thanks to Hardy for his arduous if pleasant labors. Enjoyable 
reading, thanks.

Steve

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Friday, 14 Mar 2008 02:41:02 -0400
Subject: 19.0175 Solid Flesh Once More
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0175 Solid Flesh Once More

I appreciate Carol Barton's agreement on the limits of polysemy. 
However, I think what Hamlet's old stock relishes implies some sense of 
being sullied, as does the dram of eale (evil?) and perhaps the 
suspicion of cowardice and/or bestiality.

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Untouchable Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0190  Friday, 28 March 2008

[1] 	From:	Nicole Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 18:12:04 +0000
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0174 Untouchable Shakespeare

[2] 	From:	Robert Projansky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date:	Sunday, 16 Mar 2008 23:54:58 -0700
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0139 Untouchable Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Nicole Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 18:12:04 +0000
Subject: 19.0174 Untouchable Shakespeare
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0174 Untouchable Shakespeare

Aaron makes an excellent point about WS working with "the artifact of 
the genre"-- what I called a kind of trope. If he knows this tradition 
exists and is accepted among his audience, it becomes the safe cover for 
a different message. (See current posts at "Now Available"-- by the 
titles, one might not know they are related threads.)

And I hope that no readers think that anyone making such an argument is 
trying to make light of the long history of the suffering of Jews. What 
one should see as parallel to this, instead, is what were the similar 
problems of persecution in Christianity as WS saw it practiced and as it 
affected his England most directly. He saw hypocrisy, which actually 
becomes highlighted when we are forced to see Judaism and Christianity 
in contrast. After Christ, there was supposed to be a new covenant, one 
of love and mercy. Portia's famous speech on mercy seasoning justice is 
a direct message to Elizabeth whose government was anything but merciful.

Best,
Nicole

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Robert Projansky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Sunday, 16 Mar 2008 23:54:58 -0700
Subject: 19.0139 Untouchable Shakespeare
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0139 Untouchable Shakespeare

William Blanton says:

 >It is past time for students of Shakespeare to get their heads out
 >of the gutter of anti-Semitism. The Merchant of Venice is no more
 >anti-Semitic than Huckleberry Finn is racist. Shylock is not the Jew;
 >he is the Devil. How many times does Shakespeare have to say that
 >before we believe him?

Gutter of anti-Semitism? Shakespeare, as usual, doesn't say that or 
anything else for himself. His characters are thoroughly anti-Semitic, 
and although Shakespeare's Venetians, by my quick count, use "devil" at 
or about Shylock about seven times, they call or refer to him as "Jew" 
over sixty times, including "villain Jew" and "dog Jew." And I don't 
think anybody in the play sees any devil in him separate and apart from 
his Jewish identity; if they call him devil, it's only because he is a Jew:

Ant.
I pray you thinke you question with the Iew:
You may as well go stand vpon the beach,
And bid the maine flood baite his vsuall height,
Or euen as well vse question with the Wolfe,
The Ewe bleate for the Lambe:
You may as well forbid the Mountaine Pines
To wagge their high tops, and to make no noise
When they are fretted with the gusts of heauen:
You may as well do any thing most hard,
As seeke to soften that, then which what harder?
His Iewish heart.

And Bellario's letter refers to "the cause in Controuersie, betweene the 
Iew and Anthonio the Merchant." He's not "Shylock the moneylender" or 
even "Shylock the Jew," just "the Jew."

I agree that MOV is not an anti-Semitic play, and the Huckleberry Finn 
analogy is apt in another way, even though Huck is entirely lovable and 
Shylock is a nasty piece of work. There is that immensely moving moment 
when Huck, in lying to save Jim, naively shows us how much better a 
person he is than the society around him whose values he believes he 
should believe in. In MOV, WS gives us a moment of similar powerful and 
moving insight. He piles on the anti-Semitism of Elizabethan England and 
ratchets up Shylock's nastiness, e.g., he never has him show any feeling 
for his lost daughter or even mention her without wailing for his money 
or jewels in the same breath. When Tubal tells him he heard Jessica has 
traded a ring for a monkey Shylock starts to wail again about the loss 
of his jewelry, but then WS uses this momentum to jiu-jitsu his 
audience, suddenly forcing them to see Shylock's humanity

Shy.
Out vpon her, thou torturest me Tuball, it was
my Turkies, I had it of Leah when I was a Batcheler: I
would not haue giuen it for a wildernesse of Monkies

For me that's the most moving line Shakespeare ever wrote, and it comes 
as a total surprise in the play. It must have been as new and different 
an experience as Shakespeare's audience could have had in a theater. 
Shylock's hurt has no bounds. Wilderness suggests the vastness and 
enormity of her betrayal, and the monkey, an almost- human-looking dirty 
little beast, is emblematic of Jessica's "unnatural" and unbearable 
callousness. Shakespeare takes us in just a few words into this nasty 
man's heart of hearts as it is being torn and shows us, even in 
Shylock's merchant's way of expressing  pricelessness, a world of 
feeling-of hurt-we could not have guessed at, a glimpse of the humanity 
hidden deep inside even this  terrible man. Untouchable? I hope the 
Merchant of Venice will play forever.

Best to all,
Bob Projansky

_______________________________________________________________
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 
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