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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: January ::
Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0034  Friday, 15 January 2010

[1] From:   Hannibal Hamlin <
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     Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 15:19:51 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

[2] From:   Richard Regan <
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     Date:   Friday, 15 Jan 2010 00:58:15 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

[3] From:   Tom Reedy <
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     Date:   Friday, 15 Jan 2010 10:31:18 -0600 (CST)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Hannibal Hamlin <
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Date:       Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 15:19:51 -0500
Subject: 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom
Comment:    Re: SHK 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

I'm not going to weigh in on matters of printing, typesetting, likely 
errors and such, mainly because I'm not in a position to, but from what 
might be called an interpretive perspective -- assuming that the meaning 
or significance of the various possibilities is relevant to discussing 
which is more likely (perhaps a large assumption) -- surely the "babbled 
of green fields" makes much more sense than any of the other options? 
I'm coming at this from my work on Shakespeare's biblical allusions. I'm 
guessing (I haven't counted) Falstaff alludes, self-consciously, to the 
Bible more than any other character, especially since he appears in 
three separate plays. Biblical allusion is part of his regular mode of 
discourse, though of course his allusions are usually parodic, 
subversive, or sly. For Falstaff to die, then, with Psalm 23 on his 
tongue seems perfect. It might not mark a death-bed conversion, exactly 
(something a la Rochester), but at least a more genuine recourse to the 
Bible than has been his wont. Anyway, it works extremely well for me, 
but I suppose that's dodgy argument from an editorial perspective. 
Better a nonsensical reading, bibliographically justified, than the 
reverse? Hmm.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Richard Regan <
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Date:       Friday, 15 Jan 2010 00:58:15 -0500
Subject: 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom
Comment:    Re: SHK 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

J.A.S. McPeek argued that Falstaff babbled of "[Sir Richard] Grenville" 
who defeated a Spanish fleet at Flores in the Azores ("play with 
flowers").  Falstaff's "fingers' ends" count the "two or three and 
fifty" men he says he encountered at Gadshill. Braggart to the end.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Tom Reedy <
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Date:       Friday, 15 Jan 2010 10:31:18 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom
Comment:    Re: SHK 21.0030 Falstaff in Arthur's Bosom

Duncan Salkeld wrote:

 >There are problems with Theobald's long-accepted solution, "and a'babled
 >of green fields". The Folio compositor capitalized the first letter of
 >'Table', which does not suggest casual setting, and a final 'd' has to
 >be conjured out of thin air. Theobald's emendation is ingenious but it's
 >also inventive.

Duncan Salkeld's point about the capitalized first letter is a good one, 
although it seems to me that the compositor capitalized most nouns, but 
the final 'd' was conjured from the terminal English secretary 'e', so 
the word in MS would have been spelled "babld." Giles Dawson gives 
several such examples of the terminal secretary 'e' being identical to 
the commonest 'd' in Shakespeare's 'Sir Thomas More' scene (Shakespeare 
Survey 42, 123-24).

The Hostess's reply to Falstaff's babbling, "How now Sir Iohn (quoth I) 
what man?" has always caused me to suspect that somehow there's a Robert 
Greene reference in the phrase.

Tom Reedy

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