2009

Four Riddles in Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0587  Wednesday, 9 December 2009

[1] From:   Mike Sirofchuck <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 7 Dec 2009 14:22:27 -0900
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

[2] From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 07 Dec 2009 18:36:51 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

[3] From:   Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 7 Dec 2009 18:37:06 -0500
     Subj:   RE: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

[4] From:   Arnie Perlstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 07 Dec 2009 18:46:45 -0500
     Subj:   Four Riddles in Hamlet

[5] From:   Donald Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 2009 12:58:14 -0600
     Subj:   RE: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Mike Sirofchuck <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 7 Dec 2009 14:22:27 -0900
Subject: 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

As to "hawk from a handsaw"

James Lipton has an explanation in his fascinating book, An Exaltation 
of Larks:

"Herein lies a clue to one of Hamlet's more mysterious utterances: "I am 
but mad north-northwest; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from 
a handsaw." By Shakespeare's time, the common tongue that had turned 
Route du Roi into "Rotten Row" had corrupted the insulting "He doesn't 
know a hawk from a heronshaw (heron)" to "He doesn't know a hawk from a 
handsaw" - a mark of churlish ignorance of the language of hunting. 
Since herons fly with the wind, a southerly wind makes them easy to 
distinguish by putting the hunter's back to the sun; hence Hamlet's 
cryptic hint to his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that 
his madness is feigned."  (quoted in Lipton's memoir, Inside Inside, 
page 164-5)

It's the best explanation I've read -- elegant in its simplicity.

Mike Sirofchuck
Adjunct English Instructor
UAA Kodiak College
Kodiak, AK

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 07 Dec 2009 18:36:51 -0500
Subject: 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

Good grief!  Is this necessary?

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 7 Dec 2009 18:37:06 -0500
Subject: 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    RE: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

The "hawk" Hamlet is referring to is, I believe, a dungfork. The gloss 
in my paperback Hamlet says a "southerly" wind is unhealthy. So he's 
basically saying, "When an ill wind blows, I can smell shit."

"Hawk" is one of Will's wicked tells. For instance, in Merry Wives III 3 
it's a warning of a fecal reference coming:

     * Page. Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me, we'll mock
       him. I do invite you to-morrow morning to my house
       to breakfast: after, we'll a-birding together; I
       have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be so?

     * Ford. Any thing. 1620

     * Sir Hugh Evans. If there is one, I shall make two in the company.

     * Doctor Caius. If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Arnie Perlstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 07 Dec 2009 18:46:45 -0500
Subject:    Four Riddles in Hamlet

Jim,

I particularly like your "excavations" in the Camel, Weasel, Whale 
riddle, and have one comment to add, in response to the following from you:

"Methinks ... Weasel: Hamlet lacks W and S to spell Weasel; Methinks 
supplies the S, and the W is backed by M in next line.


Do you not see certain rather famous authorial initials hiding in your 
sentence? Which sorta fits with the idea that the Shakespearean 
character who perhaps came closest to a self-portrait was none other 
than that great shape shifter, the Prince of Elsinore himself!

As Mr. Knightley might have said, "Well done, Jim!"

ARNIE

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Donald Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 8 Dec 2009 12:58:14 -0600
Subject: 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    RE: SHK 20.0585 Four Riddles in Hamlet

My understanding is that Fox (perhaps Hyde's Fox), Cloud, Camel, Weasel, 
and Whale were famous Elizabethan race horses. The joke involved, 
however, is debated. Was Weasel, that the playwright recommends backing, 
actually pathetically slow? Or was he used in a notorious doping 
scandal? The historical record is uncertain.


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Tarlton, Kempe, and Great Households

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0586  Wednesday, 9 December 2009

From:       David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 8 Dec 2009 00:15:28 -0600
Subject: 20.0584 Tarlton, Kempe, and Great Households
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0584 Tarlton, Kempe, and Great Households

Matthew Gibson wrote:

 >I am interested in any resources which might shed light on the lives
 >of Tarlton and Kempe, with particular reference to their clowning at
 >Household occasions such as feasts and other celebrations. Information
 >on other clowns of the period would also be most  helpful, particularly
 >if it points to aristocratic patronage.


My article "Richard Tarlton and the Haberdashers" (Notes & Queries 53 
(2006), 440-42) has a bunch of new documentary evidence about Richard 
Tarlton, including the previously-unknown fact that Sir Christopher 
Hatton was one of his patrons. My article on Tarlton's colleague  Robert 
Wilson in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography  summarizes 
Wilson's playing and clowning career, including his work  for the Earl 
of Leicester in the Low Countries in 1586.

Dave Kathman
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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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.

Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0586  Monday, 30 November 2009

From:       John W Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 19 Nov 2009 18:21:40 -0500
Subject: 20.0575 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0575 Othello's Pronouns and Double Time

 From Jim Fess <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 >IAG: Did Michael Cassio when *he* wooed my Lady, know of your love?

...

 >IAG: I did not think he had been acquainted with her.


Self-evident absurdity.


 >Iago suspected Othello slept with his wife and said:
 >[1623 Folio] I hate the Moor,
 >And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
 >*She ha's* done my Office.
 >
 >This can be translated as: I hate the feeling of being abandoned,
 >and my wild thought tells me that my wife has done my work in
 >bed with Othello. (I should be the one in bed with him, not my
 >wife.)  Iago never said he hated Othello but only hated the Moor,
 >a wild open land.


Please tell me this is a joke.

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Literary Incantations Only in Non-Tonal Languages?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0587  Monday, 30 November 2009

From:       Conrad Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 00:32:08 -0500
Subject:    Re: Literary Incantations Only in Non-Tonal Languages?

 >Subject: SHK 20.0560

  --  Ina Centaur <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>wrote:

 >. . . when
 >Shakespeare is translated into another language, especially a tonal
 >language like Mandarin Chinese, much of the magic "sound" of the Bard's
 >words is lost. When casting a spell, a Chinese shaman typically doesn't
 >utter an incantation, but uses body motion or the cauldron, and
 >sometimes calligraphy. So, rather than worrying about what's lost in
 >translation, I'm wondering if spoken incantations (in literature, at
 >least) arise only in non-tonal languages.


Well, I'm living in Cambodia, and rap is popular here. Not so much as in 
the States.

That doesn't address your question, since Khmer is a non-tonal language. 
(It looks to me like it's in the process of going tonal, but that's my 
opinion as a non-linguist.)

However, if you Google "Thai rap", you'll find that rap is also big in 
Thailand. And Thai *is* a tonal language.

In my opinion, the analogy you're really looking for is a "voice roll," 
which is a way of speaking in rhythm used by ministers and politicians. 
I don't know if they do anything like that in non-tonal languages, but 
it should be researchable.

Conrad

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Four Riddles in Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0585  Monday, 30 November 2009

From:       Jim Fess <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Saturday, 21 Nov 2009 18:47:26 +0800
Subject:    Four Riddles in Hamlet

1. Hide Fox, and all after

Claudius sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Polonius' body. By a 
riddle, Hamlet told them: "The king has a human body, but he deserves 
not the body. The king is nothing but a fox with the human skin, and 
everyone follows him."

ROS: My Lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the 
King.
HAM: The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.
The King, is a thing  --
GUI: A thing, my Lord?
HAM: Of nothing: bring me to him, hide Fox, and all after.

a thing: contrary to the human body as a hint.

hide Fox: a fox with the human skin.


2. Camel, Weasel, Whale

Before Hamlet agreed to meet Gertrude, he riddled with Polonius about 
cloud's shapes, Camel, Weasel, and Whale, to tell Polonius that they 
could not fool him. The three names share some common letters in HAMLET, 
hinted by how close they can spell it, _almost_, _indeed_, _methinks_, 
and _very like_. Hamlet was saying: "When you admit that I'm as the 
intangible cloud, durable camel, sly weasel, and great whale, then I 
will come to my mother."

POL: My Lord; the Queen would speak with you, and presently.
HAM: Do you see that Cloud? that's almost in shape like a Camel.
POL: By the Miss, and it's like a Camel indeed.
HAM: Methinks it is like a Weasel.
POL: It is backed like a Weasel.
HAM: Or like a Whale?
POL: Very like a Whale.
HAM: Then will I come to my Mother, by and by: They fool me to the
top of my bent. I will come by and by.
POL: I will say so. [Exit]
HAM: By and by, is easily said. Leave me, Friends.

Cloud ... almost: Hamlet can almost spell Camel except C (amel in 
hAMLEt); the missing C is compensated by the Cloud.

By the Miss ... indeed: By the missing C, Hamlet indeed spells Camel.

Methinks ... Weasel: Hamlet lacks W and S to spell Weasel; Methinks 
supplies the S, and the W is backed by M in next line.

backed: a backed M provides the missing W. (Camel's back shapes an M.)

Very like: Hamlet can spell Whale with the M from the backed W.

Then will I come to my Mother: with above animal features, Hamlet can 
come to the trap.

By and by: Hamlet was bent to different shapes as cloud, and would come 
over it by and by.


3. A little more than kin, and less than kind

Claudius challenged Hamlet by calling him cousin, a word related to 
cozen in the end of 16th century, and threatened him with a name riddle, 
Claudius as Cloud-dears, one who darkens his dear ones.

CLA: But now my Cousin Hamlet, and my Son?
HAM: A little more than kin, and less than kind.
CLA: How is it that the Clouds still hang on you?
HAM: Not so my Lord, I am too much in the Sun.

my Son?: With question mark (in the original print), Claudius was 
testing Hamlet, "My son, can you figure out my name's sound?"

A little more than kin: _dears_ are little closer than the kin.

less than kind: to _cloud_, to darken, is unkind.

Clouds still hang on you: to hint the answer cloud; clouds puns for 
claws that hang on Hamlet. Claudius knew that Hamlet figured out his 
name riddle.

Sun: a pun for sound, probing. "I am too much in the probing (of your 
crime) in the sun (public)."


4. I know a Hawk from a Handsaw

Claudius sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to test Hamlet's madness. 
Hamlet told them: "I am but furious with a firm goal to discover my 
uncle's crime. When the support is from the opposite direction, I know a 
fierce man from his handsaw, not to help but kill."

HAM: You are welcome: but my Uncle Father, and Aunt Mother are deceived.
GUI: In what, my dear Lord?
HAM: I am but mad North, North-West: when the Wind is Southerly, I
know a Hawk from a Handsaw."

North: indicating the North Star, a firm target.

North-west: a new passage, North-west Passage; at the end of 16th 
century people believed that there existed a new water channel connected 
the Atlantic and Pacific. (OED north-west, C.2. 1600)

Hawk: a fierce man. (OED hawk, n.1, 3. 1548)

Handsaw: a tool for dissecting, also handy for a cruel kill.

wind: a support or press.

Southerly: against the north, opposite.


All comments are welcome. Thank you.

Jim

_______________________________________________________________
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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