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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: November ::
Canterbury Oration REDUX REDUX REDUX
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0661  Tuesday, 18 November 2008

From:        Harvey Roy Greenberg <
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Date:        Thursday, 20 Nov 2008 16:08:30 EST
Subject:     Canterbury Oration REDUX REDUX REDUX

I haven't written in these pages for awhile.

I am a psychoanalyst/journalist/film.media.popular culture scholar, with 
occasional -- very occasional ventures into Shakespeare (Review of the last 
filmed MERCHANT OF VENICE; first part of an essay on Hamlet's pirates).

For several years, I have been working on several versions of a restaging of the 
long and prolix oration by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Henry V, Sc. 2. 
(often much aided by several posts from this group)

Piece rejected by several Shakespearean scholarly journals to date, and I am 
reworking yet again. I believe journal readers were correct in recommending that 
the piece should be sent to a journal of  dramatury/performance. Many 
corrections were very well-taken. However, there have been there have been 
several cavils with which I would cavil. In this vein, I would appreciate any 
thoughts or clarification regarding the following issues.

1. In citing Canterbury's elaborate defense of Henry's lineal right to the 
French throne, I refer to "the virulent dynastic conflicts which had plagued 
English sovereigns over the preceding two centuries". I did not spell these out, 
but am I or am I not correct that the War of the Roses stemmed from arguments 
over succession?

2. The oration is often given to comic effect. I object to such readings, and 
postulate that Shakespeare, based on the Chronicles, believed the original 
speech was performed seriously, soberly, and intended his poetic version to be 
heard just so by his audience. Is the assumption reasonable, or questionable, 
indeed highly questionable?

3. I theorized that audience members, while not greatly pleasured by the speech 
(although I believe many were) would have their patriotism particularly roused 
out in connection with the relatively recent defeat of the Babbington 
conspiracy, and also by remembrance of the Spanish Armada's downfall a decade 
earlier. Some readers wondered if the groundlings would much remember the Armada.

I realize the speculative nature of my surmises, and do write to be proven 
'right', rather to get some sense of the scholarly thinking about these issues. 
  Email.

Thanks in advance,
  Harvey Roy Greenberg MD
(private mailings to 
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  welcomed).

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