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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: October ::
Anagrams
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0538  Wednesday, 28 October 2009

[1] From:   Eric Johnson-DeBaufre <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009 12:42:42 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams

[2] From:   David Schalkwyk <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009 13:26:29 -0400
     Subj:   RE: SHK 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams

[3] From:   Steve Sohmer <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009 21:04:14 EDT
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Eric Johnson-DeBaufre <
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Date:       Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009 12:42:42 -0400
Subject: 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams

In answer to Tony's question, I think this thought (or something like 
it) has occurred to just about everyone who has taught the play. That 
said, I think the substance of Tony's point is a good one and that this 
reading is enriched (and somewhat ironized) if one considers -- as my 
friend Peter Smith has argued -- that Shakespeare did in fact have a 
meaning for MOAI in mind, namely Harrington's "The Metamorphosis of Ajax."

For those who are interested, see Peter J. Smith, "M.O.A.I. 'What Should 
That Alphabetical Position Portend?' an Answer to the Metamorphic 
Malvolio," Renaissance Quarterly 51 (1998): 1199-1224.

Cheers,
Eric Johnson-DeBaufre

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       David Schalkwyk <
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Date:       Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009 13:26:29 -0400
Subject: 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams
Comment:    RE: SHK 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams

Despite the danger of invoking Hardy's censorious mouse, I'd like to 
follow Tony Burton's excellent posting by observing that the main thrust 
of Shakespeare's send-up is surely Malvolio's move when he finds that 
the letters don't quite spell what he wants them to say: "M.O.A.I. This 
simulation is not as the former, and yet to crush this a little, it 
would bow to me..." (2.5.143). The key to Shakespeare's insight is 
Malvolio's overwhelming desire to project himself into the text or 
transform the text into his image: "If I could make that resemble 
something in me" (123). As others have observed on this topic, the hunt 
for anagrams involves a great deal of "making", "crushing" and "bowing".

David S

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Steve Sohmer <
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Date:       Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009 21:04:14 EDT
Subject: 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0524 Wriothesley Anagrams

Dear Friends,

I think Hardy is quite correct to ban messages regarding coding. 
However, it might be prudent to allow further considerations anagrams, 
which were a popular wordplay in Elizabeth's court. So it is not 
surprising that they appear in Shakespeare's plays which have particular 
relevance to the Queen.

Let me cite some examples from, say, "Twelfth Night." In 2.3 Andrew is 
recalling a night of binge drinking when he says to Feste, "In sooth, 
thou wast in very gracious fooling last night, when thou spok'st of 
Pigrogromitus, of the Vapians passing the equinoctial of Queubus. 'Twas 
very good, in faith."

If we bear in mind that Andrew is a simpleton trying to remember 
unfamiliar names that he heard while he was drunk, we can decode this 
crux and discover the drinkers were discussing the Gregorian calendar 
reform.

First, the M in Pigrogromitus is either a dipso's garbled memory or a 
typesetter's misprint. The M should be an N, and the name should be 
PIGROGRONITUS ... which is an anagram for PONT. GRIGORIUS, the pope who 
reformed the calendar in 1582..

Andrew's mysterious VAPIANS are a simple transposition of the P and V in 
PAVIANS -- scholars of the university at PAVIA, the Oxford of Italy, 
where mathematicians toiled over Gregory's reform.

THE EQUINOCTAL OF QUEUBUS is a pied reference to the (Vernal) 
Equinoctial which was fixed on 21 March at the Council of Nicaea, whose 
most illustrious attendee was Bishop EUSEBIUS.

What Andrew is trying to say is, "when thou spok'st of Pont. Grigorious, 
of the Pavians passing (ratifying) the (Vernal) Equinoctial of Eusebius."

This is Shakespeare's jibe at the great flaw in Pope Gregory's calendar. 
Because, as you'll remember, in 1582 Gregory corrected the calendar by 
removing ten days. Which returned the calendar NOT to the way it was 
when Jesus was born ... but to the way it was when Bishop Eusebius and 
the church fathers settled the date of the Vernal Equinox on 21 March. 
Toby and Andrew don't understand the illogic of the Gregorian reform any 
better than most Elizabethans. But Queen Elizabeth did, as did many of 
her courtiers - and they would have found this line hilarious.

One more instance from "Twelfth Night." In 1.5 Feste jokes, "What says 
Quinapalus: `Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit."- QUINAPALUS is an 
obvious anagram of AQUINAS and (SAINT) PAUL, who was a great advocate of 
being a fool (for Christ).

I'm all for limiting specious speculation. But don't sell the bard's wit 
(and wordplay) short.

Hope this helps.
Steve

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