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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: October ::
Anagrams
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0547  Thursday, 29 October 2009

[1] From:   John Briggs <
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     Date:   Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 23:18:34 +0000
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0538 Anagrams

[2] From:   Arlynda Boyer <
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     Date:   Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 17:26:28 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0517 Wriothesley Anagrams in the Sonnets?

[3] From:   JD Markel <
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     Date:   Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 17:22:54 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0538 Anagrams


[1] -----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John Briggs <
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Date:       Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 23:18:34 +0000
Subject: 20.0538 Anagrams
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0538 Anagrams

Steve Sohmer wrote:

 >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.

Well, yes and no. What the Council of Nicaea did what fix a formula for 
determining the date of Easter -- the Vernal Equinox had moved to 21 
March independently of them and was to move backwards regardless of the 
their efforts. (They only assumed that the date of the Vernal Equinox 
was fixed.) It was Julius Caesar (remember him?) who had set the 
calendar on its course (although the Roman calendar only really came 
into line with the Julian calendar in 1 BC/1 AD), and whose efforts that 
Pope Gregory was correcting. There was a logic to returning the calendar 
to 325 AD: everyone accepted the Council of Nicaea, and there would be 
paradoxical effects to returning the calendar to 1 BC or 33 AD (the 
latter date -- or something similar -- being more relevant to the date 
of Easter.)

On the wider question of Steve Sohmer's solutions to various nonsense 
words, he may be correct as to their origin but wrong about their 
significance (if any.) If Shakespeare did indeed generate the words in 
this way (taking anagrams of Latin words derived from any text to hand), 
it may just mean that his imagination needed a mechanical technique to 
generate nonsense. This would be surprising, but not impossible: he was 
perhaps using anagrams as a "lorem ipsum" generator.

I have mentioned before my surprise at having invented a "Shakespeare 
Our Contemporary" who was a postmodernist (in postmodernism allusions 
which would have meaning in modernism have not meaning beyond 
themselves.) There may also be no significance to Shakespeare having 
taken characters' names in the play from the liturgical calendar for the 
period from Advent to Lent (an insight of Steve Sohmer's, I believe) or 
from John Florio's Italian dictionary (Keir Elam.)

Keir Elam's not wholly satisfactory Arden 3 edition of "Twelfth Night" 
is unusually sound on the question of anagrams in the play:

"Despite the unenviable fate of the steward, and despite the 
unflattering image of interpretation that the episode presents, the 
fustian riddle has proved an equally fatal attraction to the comedy's 
spectators and commentators, who, affected by a sort of mimetic 
syndrome, are tempted to 'become' Malvolio in the endeavour to 
unscramble the letters. Over the years interpretative speculation on the 
riddle has reached improbable heights of ingenuity."

John Briggs

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Arlynda Boyer <
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Date:       Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 17:26:28 -0400
Subject: 20.0517 Wriothesley Anagrams in the Sonnets?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0517 Wriothesley Anagrams in the Sonnets?

It seems to me that neither writer was attempting to sneak in coding as 
scholarship. On the contrary, they seemed to be asking, "if we are 
intellectually rigorous enough to reject the anti-stratfordians' silly 
word games, are we also intellectually rigorous enough to reject such 
games when the answers affirm traditional scholarship?" Happily, the 
answer turned out to be yes.

I think this incident only proves again the honesty and rigor of this 
listserv.

Best,
Arlynda Boyer

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       JD Markel <
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Date:       Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 17:22:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0538 Anagrams
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0538 Anagrams

Regarding Steve Sohmer's very interesting observations about the 
wordplay at TN 2.3.26-27. It strikes me Phoebus works here for 
"Queubus." Such would not be the first mangling of the name, see 
Bottom's "Phibbus" at MND 1.2.30.

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