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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: March ::
Solid Flesh Once More
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0151  Friday, 7 March 2008

[1] 	From:	Cheryl Newton <
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	Date:	Friday, 29 Feb 2008 16:16:49 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0136 Solid Flesh Once More

[2] 	From:	Steve Roth <
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	Date:	Thursday, 6 Mar 2008 09:03:22 -0800
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0131 Solid Flesh Once More


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Cheryl Newton <
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Date:		Friday, 29 Feb 2008 16:16:49 -0500
Subject: 19.0136 Solid Flesh Once More
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0136 Solid Flesh Once More

David Bishop <
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 > writes,

[ . . . ] but since this thought apparently doesn't compute with anyone 
on this list, I must tentatively conclude, with pleasant surprise, that 
I am the only critic who has ever thought of it..

Almost, almost! I suggested that the word is 'solid,' and that  the 
closing is not 'to a dew' but 'to adieu' ( to farewell/death.) Another 
Lady Scholar here suggested the same thing.

Cheryl

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Steve Roth <
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 >
Date:		Thursday, 6 Mar 2008 09:03:22 -0800
Subject: 19.0131 Solid Flesh Once More
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0131 Solid Flesh Once More

What a stunningly good post. Thanks, Martin, for contributing to our 
understand of the "dense network of Shakespeare's usage."

This emblematic debate reveals:

1. The either/or difficulty that an editor (for stage or [but especially 
for] page) faces in having to select a single variant. (Something that a 
reader/auditor/ponderer need not do.)

2. The often rather pointless either/or debates that (we) scholars 
engage in.

3. The fact that Hamlet exists in innumerable fixed versions for stage 
and page, but that its ultimate expression exists only in the mind of a 
reader/auditor/ponderer capable of perceiving, (nearly?) simultaneously, 
multiple and multivalent intertwined meanings.

4. The fact--happily now more widely accepted since Lukas Erne re-opened 
the door for interpretations that allow for a reader rather than 
auditors only--that reading, re-reading, researching, analyzing, and 
pondering Shakespeare's plays reveals depths and complexities of meaning 
unavailable to (even a multiple) auditor. (Which itself suggests that 
Shakespeare had both auditors and readers in mind while composing.)

So:

Q: Is Hamlet's flesh sullied, sallied, or solid?

A: Yes.

But "and," not "or."

Special thanks to Martin for bringing the military meaning of 
sally/sallied firmly into the field for this line. It adds a whole ream 
of cross-correlations, echoing across the play.

See, for instance, the vector from this military connotation to Hamlet's 
comment on Fortinbras' Polish adventure, and that passage's association 
between military sallies and sullied flesh:

Two thousand soules, & twenty thousand duckets
Will not debate the question of this straw,
This is th'Imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breakes, and showes no cause without
Why the man dies.

Which echoes back to Hamlet's bit on how Denmark's "atchieuements, 
though perform'd at height" are sullied by Claudius's "heauy headed 
reueale east and west." A "dram of eale," "some viscious mole of nature 
in" "particular men," sullies "all the noble substance" of a man, or of 
a warlike state.

I would add associations with the word "sallet," as in seasoning. (With 
some connotations with rotten meat, since seasonings were used to both 
prevent and disguise same.)

cf Hamlet approvingly remembering the comment by his fellow auditor of 
Dido ("whose judgement[s] in such matters cried in the top of mine"), 
who was himself so approving of Dido and its playwright. The play, said 
this worthy critic, was not sullied with condescensions to "the 
general." It had "no sallets in the lines to make the matter savory." 
(Could "sallets" also hint at military sallies, fights and bombast 
played to the pit? Perhaps...)

Likewise (thank god!) Hamlet's highbrow co-critic found "no matter in 
the phrase that might indite the author of affect[at]ion."

<g>

Steve

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