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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: February ::
Shakespeare's F Words


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0071  Tuesday, 16 February 2010

 

[1]  From:      John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:      February 11, 2010 12:35:35 PM EST

     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

[2]  From:      Christopher Baker < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:      February 11, 2010 1:31:21 PM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 11, 2010 12:35:35 PM EST

Subject: 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

 

It would be even more fascinating to know what contemporary Renaissance readers' responses to the long 's' were. I like Eric Johnson-DeBaufre's suggestion re Donne's 'The Flea', though I wonder whether this might not be an anachronism. Superficial forms of materialism can be misleading, for which the better term is 'presentism'. The Shakespeare song 'Where the bee fucks there fuck I' has long been the stuff of modern schoolboy jokes, but there are occasions where in words ending with double 's' you get a combination of long 's' and modern 's' even though ligatures may have been available to the compositor. If the 'f' word in its modern form was NOT in common currency then its indicating of obscenity might not have occurred so readily to early modern readers as it might to us.

 

Cheers,

John Drakakis

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Christopher Baker < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 11, 2010 1:31:21 PM EST

Subject: 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0066  Shakespeare's F Words

 

I have just finished teaching "Lord of the Flies" and note that when Piggy says he was forbidden to swim because of his asthma, Ralph replies, "Sucks to your ass-mar!" (Perigee Casebook edition, 11). Perhaps "sucks" in this sense is somehow related to the punning long s and that Ralph is too polite to say "fucks," or perhaps Golding himself refrained from going all the way with schoolboy bawdy (though that seems unlikely for an ex-Royal Navy man). The First Folio has Ariel sing "Where the bee sucks, there suck I" with a long s but a sexual innuendo here doesn't seem as appropriate as it does in Donne's "Flea" nor quite right for the rest of the context. The OED reads "fecks" as "fegs" and cites several Tudor-Stuart dramatists, but not Leontes; not surprisingly, it makes no mention of any off-color meaning. David Crystal's Shakespeare Lexicon sticks with "i' faith" for "fecks."

 

Chris Baker 

 

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