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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: December ::
Othello's Pronouns and Double Time
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0617  Friday, 18 December 2009

[1] From:   John Briggs <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009 22:55:41 +0000
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

[2] From:   Jim Fess <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 12:39:52 +0800
     Subj:   SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

[3] From:   Justin Alexander <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009 23:32:20 -0600
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

[4] From:   John W Kennedy <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 22:29:54 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John Briggs <
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Date:       Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009 22:55:41 +0000
Subject: 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

Steve Roth wrote:

 >Mari Bonomi:
 >
 >"Please correct me if I am mistaken (being merely a retired high school
 >English teacher) but I did not think any of Shakespeare's plays were
 >actually written for a *reader* - the sonnets and poems yes of course,
 >but the plays were so far as I understand written to be performed, not
 >to be read."
 >
 >A widespread misconception that has always struck some of us as misguided.

That it is a misconception (widespread or otherwise) is the contention 
which needs to be demonstrated.

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

Hardly. His was an old-fashioned proposition. He failed to demonstrate 
this precise point: that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be read. 
Shakespeare showed no interest whatsoever in the publication of his 
plays. It is highly likely that Shakespeare shared the contemporary 
prejudice against regarding plays as works of literature. It was Ben 
Jonson who published his plays as literary works -- and was duly mocked 
for his pains. Jonson also carefully revised his plays for publication 
(removing the contributions of his collaborators in the process.) All 
evidence of revision in Shakespeare's plays points to theatrical intentions.

 >I'll also point you unabashedly to my review of the book, which begins:
 >
 >"One of the greater ironies of Shakespeare scholarship over the last
 >century is the ongoing effort by Shakespeare scholars -- most of whom
 >spend dozens of hours a week enjoining, cajoling, and browbeating their
 >students into addressing Shakespeare's plays as literature -- to deny
 >that those plays are literature."

You are missing the point. *We* regard Shakespeare's plays as literature 
-- the question is, did he? There is not a scrap of evidence to support 
that point -- and as Mari Bonomi pointed out, considerable evidence 
against it.

 >And wherein I also contend that:
 >
 >"Shakespeare's ability to write for apprentices and earls, for court and
 >courtyard, for auditors *and* for readers, constitutes an important part
 >of -- and demonstration of -- the skill that has transformed him into
 >'Shakespeare.'"

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

John Briggs

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jim Fess <
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Date:       Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 12:39:52 +0800
Subject: Othello's Pronouns and Double Time
Comment:    SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

1. >Shakespeare's plays . . . written to be performed, not to be read.

Some lines in Shakespeare are so hard that even a reader cannot resolve 
them. If these lines can be proved as well-organized riddles, then 
they're not for the stage.

 >certain readers

Most riddles I've solved are bawdy but witty, absurd in real life but 
logical in wording, and they don't repeat much. Certain readers who 
seemed hard to please by plain jokes appear gradually, but I need to 
prove these riddles do exist first, else I've no base to tell anyone 
anything. (Besides, word has more fun sometimes.)

2. >How could Iago possibly think that Michael Cassio was unacquainted 
with Desdemona at the same time that Cassio was wooing her?

To woo can be one way as Rodorigo in the play -- Iago knew Rodorigo 
wooed Desdemona, but Iago (or I) did not think Rodorigo had been 
acquainted with her.

 >What sort of seduction is he supposed to be postulating here?

One possible way is, Cassio wooed Desdemona by letters and told Iago and 
Othello; later Othello dealt with Cassio (by a promotion) but Iago 
didn't know.

 >She who, exactly? Emilia isn't mentioned anywhere else in the entire 
scene.

She as Iago's wife (I didn't use the name Emilia) is derived from "my 
sheets" as Iago's bed sheets in his house. It's a monologue and recall, 
so the substitution sounds fine. To test this sentence with Emilia, 
Desdemona, Othello, she, and he, only Desdemona fits not well with "my 
sheets."

3. Othello's Versions and Jealousy

My approach is to follow the First Folio and resolve more lines. 
Versions after 1623 contain editor's judgment and amendment. If a script 
is called xxx, the book of Riddles, a reader might have different view 
on word and metaphor.

Jealousy alone can drive the plot;  jealousy and poison are more 
convincing. Poison supports physical state; e.g. "Falls in a Trance." 
"Work on, My Medicine works . . . Epilepsy . . . his second Fit . . . 
Lethargy," these words describe the medicine's effects. Lethargy 
explains the double time issue.

4. >an Ensign is one species of OFFICER

That's something I didn't link but should, a suspicious "my Office" to 
describe sex.

Thanks for all the comments.

Jim

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Justin Alexander <
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Date:       Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009 23:32:20 -0600
Subject: 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

Arnie Perlstein wrote:

 >  IAG: Did Michael Cassio when *he* wooed my Lady, know of
 >your love?
 >..
 >  IAG: I did not think he had been acquainted with her.
 >
 >Iago may or may not have previously realized that Cassio was
 >there all along, playing a very active role as Othello wooed Des
 >(sorta like Don Pedro wooing Hero on behalf of Claudio in MAAN)
 > [...] And so.... in that context, the F1 version "when HE wooed
 >my Lady" is a brilliant pseudo-Freudian slip. It suggests (but in a
 >totally deniable way, if challenged) to Othello that Cassio's
 >interactions with Desdemona were NOT altruistic, but selfish, on
 >his (Cassio's) own behalf.

I understand the nature of the reading of the line in question. 
Unfortunately, like Mr. Fess, I'm afraid you're ignoring the 
all-important context of the second line, which you suggest should be 
understood as:

"I did not think Cassio had been acquainted with Desdemona when he was 
supposedly wooing her for you."

How, exactly, would that work? Could you or Mr. Fess explain the exact 
nature of the scenario in which Cassio is wooing Desdemona (either for 
Othello or himself) without being acquainted with her?

 >Justin, I think you'll agree that twixt Iago's OWN sheets can only
 >refer to some sort of sexual activity
 >occurring in Iago's AND EMILIA'S marital bed.

Read as such I would suggest that the passage just as readily refers to 
Emilia's masturbatory habits. Othello has probably been providing her 
with dirty woodcuts.

Justin Alexander

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John W Kennedy <
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Date:       Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 22:29:54 -0500
Subject: 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0609 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

From:       Bill Blanton <
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 >

 >Regarding Iago's line: _I did not think he had been acquainted with her._
 >
 >Perhaps Jim Fess is correct that the line is a joke, a bawdy one at that.

"...let those that play your clownes speake no more then is set downe 
for them, for there be of them that wil themselues laugh, to set on some 
quantitie of barraine spectators to laugh to, though in the meane time, 
some necessary question of the play be then to be considered, that's 
villanous, and shewes a most pittifull ambition in the foole that vses 
it...."

  --  John W Kennedy

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