2009

Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0627  Sunday, 27 December 2009

[1] From:   Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Friday, 18 Dec 2009 11:14:30 -0600 (CST)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0614 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

[2] From:   Conrad Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Saturday, 19 Dec 2009 18:44:45 -0800
     Subj:   Re: Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 18 Dec 2009 11:14:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 20.0614 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0614 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

I for one would suggest you get an up-to-date edition of Shakespeare.

Tom Reedy

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Conrad Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Saturday, 19 Dec 2009 18:44:45 -0800
Subject:    Re: Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

 >Queen Elizabeth wanted to see Falstaff in love. If this rumor
 >is true, then his death must not fail her-a sex reassignment
 >surgery cut by Mistress Quickly (whose flourishing words
converge on writing, e.g. sheets, flowers, pen, table, feet, etc.).

Hamlet's riddles, Iago's homosexual lust, and now Falstaff 
transgendered... All more harmless pursuits than bombing Afghanistan, 
true. But it does imply, as one mentioned, that Shakespeare didn't write 
these plays. It's hard to conceive a playwright working as hard as that 
guy did salting his work with embroidery that not only goes over the 
head of his audience but takes 400 years for anyone to fathom.

My main question, though, is whether these interpretations make these 
passages, or the plays, more interesting or less interesting. Mostly, 
they seem like someone tap dancing across the stage during Beethoven's 
Ninth - cool idea, but I just think I'd rather hear the symphony.

The one major interpretive issue, the Iago lust thing, has been around a 
long time, but what's the point of it?  Shakespeare's villains don't 
hide their motives from us: they detail them with stunning clarity. 
Iago, true, is problematic in that he seems to have so many he can't 
decide among them, and so one might argue that none of his stated 
motives is the true one. But personally I find it a lot more interesting 
to see him caught in his own confusions than to hang a sign around his 
neck labeled True Motive. It diminishes him. That's my take, anyway. YMMV.

But I must ask, and my apologies if this sounds insulting: is this a 
put-on?  If so, please, Jim, Fess up. If so, it's a clever one. I recall 
in grad school, a prof (who was a renowned parodist) gave us a newly 
discovered Shaw play, which we in the seminar spent the better part of 
an hour discussing before someone noticed the title of the academic 
journal in which it'd supposedly been published:  Peristalsis.

Since then, I approach these discussions with caution.

Peace & joy-
Conrad

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Shakespeare's Literary "Intentions"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0626  Sunday, 27 December 2009

From:       Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 18 Dec 2009 11:09:29 -0800
Subject:    Shakespeare's Literary "Intentions"

John Briggs:

     >Lukas Erne put the silver spike to it quite decidedly a couple of 
years
     >back:

     >... Shakespeare showed no interest whatsoever in the publication 
of his plays. ...

This assertion seems to be the primary argument for the non-literary 
position. Absence of evidence. Such absence can be convincing, of 
course. But in an field where absence of evidence is more the rule than 
the exception, it becomes far less so. (i.e., We have no evidence that 
Shakespeare of Stratford had a library!)

 >All evidence of revision in Shakespeare's plays points to theatrical 
intentions.

With apologies to the new bibliographers and their descendants, the 
"evidence" of revision is so variously construed (by equally 
well-"considered" scholars) as to be utterly inconclusive. (Look in 
particular at William Long's work on the handful of extant playhouse 
manuscripts, and many of the bibliographers' surmises start to look far 
less convincing.)

     >*We* regard Shakespeare's plays as literature  --  the question 
is, did he?

This we can say with complete certainty: Shakespeare knew that his plays 
were being read, and that they were being read by his best customers 
(the inns-of-court men, courtiers, aristocrats, and nobles who could 
afford 1. the good seats, and 2. to buy books): denizens of the 
galleries at the Globe, the stage seats at the Blackfriars, and the 
performances at court. (As Erne points out, prior to 1603, every one of 
his plays that was not somehow constrained -- by a competing/preceding 
stationer's registration or the like -- was in fact published, generally 
within a year or two of staging.)

This does not of course definitively prove who Shakespeare was thinking 
of when he composed. Each can draw his/her own conclusions from it. But 
we know what he knew when he was writing.

Erne offers a whole raft of other evidence that you gloss over.

     >There is not a scrap of evidence to support that point

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who's an ardent 
anti-Stratfordian. A rough re-creation:

"There's not a scrap of evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the 
plays."

"Well, we have 29 extant editions of Shakespeare's plays (not counting 
poems and etc.) that were published during his lifetime with his name on 
them as author."

"Yeah, but even establishment scholars think some of those weren't 
written by Shakespeare."

"Well yeah... (Unscrupulous publishers were capitalizing on his famous 
name.)"

"See!? There's not a *scrap* of evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford 
wrote the plays."

 >You have a gift (nay, a genius) for the non sequitur  :-)

I take that as a compliment. <g>

Steve

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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Good Marriages in Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0624  Sunday, 27 December 2009

From:       Lynn Brenner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 18 Dec 2009 12:57:04 EST
Subject:    Good Marriages in Shakespeare

The Macbeths are often described as having the best marriage in the 
plays. Has anyone ever nominated Claudius and Gertrude as runners-up?

It always surprises me how much academic commentary about the latter 
couple takes Hamlet's view of them, as if he were an objective witness! 
(Would Gertrude have described her first marriage in the idyllic terms 
her son does? I doubt it.)

Directors take Hamlet's view surprisingly often, too. The Jude Law 
production gives us a Gertrude who turns a cold shoulder to Claudius 
after the closet scene, indeed shrinks away from his touch. But there's 
nothing in the play to justify that -- nothing to suggest that she has 
accepted Hamlet's view of her marriage. (Naturally, he has cleft her 
heart in twain by saying what he does; he hates her husband, he doesn't 
understand her situation, he's so harsh and unforgiving... Isn't there 
some relief in her 'alas, he's mad' after Hamlet sees the Ghost in her 
room?)

Claudius certainly makes it clear how much he loves her, in scenes with 
her and with Laertes, as well as in soliloquy. He killed his brother to 
get her as well as to get the crown; and no matter how he's provoked, 
he's unfailingly polite to her son out of consideration for her 
feelings. As for Gertrude, would she have agreed to what she knew was an 
'o'er hasty marriage'  if she weren't also in love with him?

One of the many brilliant touches in the closet scene is Hamlet's 
outraged cry that 'at your age, the blood is tame, and waits upon the 
judgment.'  This is exactly what children think about their parents, 
just what a son would say to a mother -- but is there anyone in the 
audience over the age of forty who hasn't smiled at its naivete?

Hamlet can only explain Gertrude's behavior as frailty bordering on 
idiocy. Granted, she's not a very bright or strong woman. Still, to 
anyone more rational on this subject than Hamlet, passionate love is the 
obvious explanation.

The only couple I recall playing this are Julie Christie and Derek 
Jacobi in the Branagh film. Their Claudius and Gertrude were clearly in 
love. They didn't hit you in the eye with it -- nothing like the vulgar 
couple in the Nicole Williamson production, who were necking in public, 
having (foolishly, in my opinion) been directed to carry out Hamlet's 
fantasies. Their subtle performances nevertheless let us see the gap 
between Hamlet's perception of their relationship, and their own. Surely 
that's more interesting, and more what the playwright intended.

Lynn Brenner

_______________________________________________________________
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 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0625  Sunday, 27 December 2009

From:       Brian Bixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 22 Dec 2009 10:24:49 -0500
Subject:    Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions

1. Were Shakespeare's plays performed during his lifetime by troupes 
other than those - the Chamberlain's Men, the King's Men - with which he 
was associated?

2. (a) Of the 36 plays in the First Folio, half had pre-existing 
Quartos, half were derived from manuscripts, foul papers, prompt books. 
Do some/most/all of those Quartos, ms., etc., i.e., some early written 
version of the plays, still exist? If so, where are they?

(b) When were Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen added to the canon, and 
on the basis of what - quartos, manuscripts?

3. (a) Is there any general theory, i.e., a theory that stretches across 
the plays, to explain the shifts from verse to prose, from prose to verse?

(b) Are there ways in which this theory can be applied to The Winter's 
Tale where all of Autolycus's speech (I think) and much of the 
Shepherds', is unversified?

4. When did a director, distinct from a member of the cast, become a 
regular contributor to theatrical performances?

If these questions are too trivial for the list, perhaps someone would 
be kind enough to reply to me directly

Brian Bixley

_______________________________________________________________
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 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Was Shakespeare a member of a guild?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0623  Sunday, 27 December 2009

From:       William Sutton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 21 Dec 2009 13:25:58 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:    Was Shakespeare a member of a guild?

Hi All,

We know that actors in Elizabethan time had to be a member of a guild, 
as acting was not an accepted profession. Therefore, the question: to 
which guild did Shakespeare belong?

And of course this begs the question has anyone ever looked for his 
membership of a guild? Or was he exempted as a writer of plays and 
poems? Assuming that is that writers didn't need to be members of a guild.

Curiously yours,
William S.
http://blog.iloveshakespeare.com

_______________________________________________________________
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 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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