2010

SHAKSPER on Facebook? -- Questions about New Design

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0171  Wednesday, 14 April 2010

From:         Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         Wednesday, April 14, 2010    
Subject:      SHAKSPER on Facebook? -- Questions about New Design

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

On Saturday evening on our way home after seeing the Shakespeare Theatre's _Richard II_, my older daughter Melissa told me that I needed to set up a Facebook account for SHAKSPER. I have been thinking about Melissa's suggestion. 

Then Abigail Quart's previous post, "Twittering Shakespeare????," got me thinking further.

I have been working with a few others on plans for the new web site for SHAKSPER. 

And both Abigail's post and Melissa's suggestion have encouraged me to ask subscribers what features they would be interested in seeing on the newly designed SHAKSPER web site? I shall probably treat responses as private messages to me and not as posts to the list, but I may change my mind after seeing some of the submissions.

Hardy

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S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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Coriolanus Film

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0172  Wednesday, 14 April 2010

From:         Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         April 10, 2010 8:37:34 AM EDT
Subject:      Coriolanus Film

Early images from Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus film, currently in production:

http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=27526

Cheers,
Tanya Gough

_______________________________________________________________
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.

 

Line 12 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0173  Wednesday, 14 April 2010

From:         Felix de Villiers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         April 9, 2010 3:26:51 PM EDT
Subject: Line 12 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18
Comment:      SHK 21.0162 Line 12 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

I fail to understand why this line has been so much murdered with interpretation and hairsplitting discriminations. The line means quite simply what it says.

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st

Charming the idea of growing to time, as in music. See similar passages elsewhere as in Richard II's prison speech. I cannot insult the intelligence of Shakespeare readers who must know the context and how this theme is continually repeated and is confirmed by the final couplet in this sonnet:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see.
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

There is absolutely nothing mysterious in the preposition ' to' in the phrase 'to time.' and if we don't know by now that poets concentrate their language, we should not be reading it at all. Poetry in German is called Dichtung, concentration. Better to read Shakespeare first of all for the pleasure of doing so and then let interpretations dawn on you. Obsessive hairsplitting will get us nowhere.

Yours,
Felix

_______________________________________________________________
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.

 

Leah's Ring

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0174  Wednesday, 14 April 2010

[1]  From:      David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:      April 9, 2010 12:46:47 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0163  Leah's Ring

[2]  From:      Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:      April 10, 2010 3:10:02 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0163  Leah's Ring

[3]  From:      David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:      April 10, 2010 8:01:32 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0163 Leah's Ring

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         April 9, 2010 12:46:47 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0163  Leah's Ring
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0163  Leah's Ring

Needless to say, I disagree with many of David Bishop's points in his recent Leah's Ring commentary. He reads into the Merchant of Venice play his own personal thinking about what the play is about and shows a gross ignorance of Judaism. Let's go over some of his comment.

While he is correct that Shakespeare exposes the seamy side of Christian behavior in the MoV - critic A. M. Moody, for example, agrees and sums up the play by his comment, "Christian values are represented in the play by their absence"-- Bishop falls short in seeing the extent of this shortfall. One glaring example is his making of the thief and slanderer, Jessica, what he calls a "good [meaning virtuous] character."

But, in fact, Jessica robs her father to the applause of her onlooking
Christian friends. "By my hood, a Christian and no Jew," says Gratiano in
witnessing her plunder. If Bishop can't see the message of this, I submit
that Shakespeare, the playwright, can and did since he created the scene
and the dialogue. Clearly, Shakespeare is not impressed by Jessica's
behavior.

Also, for Bishop's information, Jessica did slander her father when she
tells her friends in Belmont that she overheard Shylock plotting with other
Jews against Antonio's life. Critics like John Lyon call attention to the
fact that the disagreement between Antonio and Shylock occurs because of
things that happen after Jessica runs off. Hence, she could not have
overheard such a non existent happening but was trying to impress her new
friends.

If we look at the play carefully, we learn that it was Antonio that had practiced hatred against Shylock, the money lender, that is, Shylock, who in today's terms was the equivalent of the load officer in a bank. What is more, it was Shylock that had wanted to patch things up by giving Antonio a free loan. The heat is only turned up later after Shylock believes Antonio aided his daughter's elopement and storms had ravaged Antonio's fleet bringing him to bankruptcy and default -- all advents that Shylock did not foresee nor had control over.

As far as the play reveals aspects of Jessica's character, none of it is good. Even her new husband Lorenzo has to quip on Jessica's "slander" of him, she having remarked on Lorenzo's "ne'er true" vows of faith. Quips Lorenzo, "In such a night / Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew, / Slander her love."

What is more, Jessica, remarking soon after, "I am never merry when I hear sweet music," brings a long general remark from Lorenzo that concludes about such persons that

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted....

Here above is another character sketch of the treasonous Jessica that Bishop has not seen.

There is much more matter that Bishop overlooks about the play, but let us now proceed to his comments about Judaism, as a religion that supposedly teaches vengefulness and not the promotion of fellowship, love, and mercy.  The fact is that Jews have a whole religious day of prayer set aside to ask for God's mercy for religious sins, a day that is preceded by teachings of giving forgiveness to others on the basis that we cannot hope for mercy if we ourselves are not practitioners of mercy. Ironically, what Bishop calls "Christian mercy" is none other than the very same teaching in Judaism, is Jewish conscience, and is the teaching that Portia uses in imploring Shylock to show mercy to Antonio:

That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

The point is that Shylock's demand for the bond of flesh penalty supposedly due him is not only a violation of this very Jewish precept on mercy but is directly against the commandment forbidding murder, which no vow to the contrary can overrule. This is the reason why Jews who see this play regard Shylock's behavior as most uncharacteristic of his Jewish calling.

That this bizarre behavior by a Jew is sketched from the pen of Shakespeare, the greatest analyzer of human behavior, has led some analysts of the play to conclude that, either Shakespeare is guilty of the warpage of anti-Semitic bias or that we watch the poet's crafting of a Shylock who is acting out a charade of hate in order to humble Antonio into asking mercy from the Jew he despised. Notice, this is a thesis that Shakespeare knew about since it was posed by the Venetian Duke at the beginning of the court scene, a view which Shylock immediately squelches. He does so since, if we interpret correctly, he is intent on throwing a scare into Antonio, thus disclaiming his doing of any wrong, sharpening his knife, offering no medical treatment for Antonio's impending wounds, and the such.

In my view, not enough exploration is given to this thesis of the play, which is another subject. But I would submit that David Bishop has becomes totally submerged by the ostensible behavior of Shylock in the play to the point that he reads this as the typical pattern of Jewish thought rather than, at worst, the portrait of the behavior of a warped individual that has gone beserk.

I think it is best for those who have made a hasty generalization on the particular character of Shylock and show that they have trouble recognizing the meaning of acts of plunder, dishonoring of a father, and the downright practice of false witness ought to step back and look anew at what the play reveals. It is simply not mere "filler," the mere exercise of pretty language, that we are given Portia's remarks on how we sometimes overlook good thinks, like the beautiful song of the nightingale overlooked by day against the welter of the sounds of other birds or the candle that glows so noticeably in the night but goes unnoticed in the daylight. Shakespeare is teaching by these that we ought to look more carefully at things: "How many things by season season'd are To their right praise and true perfection!" This is the praise critic Harold Goddard gave when he was able to remark that Shylock had "a grain of spiritual gold."

When such things are considered, we can find that Bishop makes some good points about proper behavior, but this is not only the behavior that Christians subscribe to.

I suggest that we will understand Shakespeare's play better and its episodes of a father distraught and disoriented at losing his daughter and a monkey traded for something priceless when we take to heart the lessons we are given in the play that come at us, all too often from a Portia that "can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching." These regularly tell of a play involved in a message of brotherhood, if only we take the effort to find it out.

David Basch

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         April 10, 2010 3:10:02 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0163  Leah's Ring
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0163  Leah's Ring

David Bishop writes:

"The Merchant is a play, as I would say, based on a pun. It's a pun on the word unChristian. Shakespeare is responding not to Jews or Venetians but to the unChristian behavior of English Christians. He sets up a Jew, the original, literal unChristian, as a villain, and then--surprise--it turns out that this villain points out that Christians, who profess to believe revenge is a sin, routinely engage in it. The theme of the play could be expressed as: the Jew is you. Shakespeare is showing the Christian audience their own unChristian image in the mirror of Shylock."

Perhaps, Girard said it best:

"Those critics who idealize the Venetians write as if the many textual clues that contradict their view were not planted by the author himself, as if their presence in the play were a purely fortuitous matter, like the arrival of a bill in the morning mail when one really expects a love letter."

David Bishop is far from being the worst offender in sodichotomizing the play. Yet in his effort to paint Shylock the archetypal 'unChristian', he minimizes or seeks to explain away those 'human' touches with which Shakespeare 'furnishes' the vengeful alien, while excusing or justifying, for the most part, those who betray or humiliate him.

To illustrate, David claims, "Shylock's 'wilderness of monkeys' may show in its quantification his reduction of bodies to money. so his sentimental attachment, such as it is, may be more to the jewel than to Leah." To David it is yet "another sign of his miserly passion for money."

Are we to understand Shylock would have made no profit in exchanging a turquoise ring for a "wilderness of monkeys'? There are many such examples strewn throughout his most interesting essay. In reading closely, we are still confined to our own mind's eye. No?

Regards,
Joe Egert

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         April 10, 2010 8:01:32 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0163 Leah's Ring
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0163 Leah's Ring

Since much of what I could say in response to David Basch is already contained in the post he was supposedly responding to, I will only quote one line from it: "The Judaism in this play is not real but a false front, created by Shakespeare to make a point about Christians in his own vicinity."

David cites A.D. Moody, whose little book on the play is a locus classicus of this kind of misinterpretation. I have trouble imagining how anyone could get a play as wrong as Moody gets this one.

These responses arise from the fact that the play was written in the context of centuries of anti-Semitism. It is bound to be hurtful today, to Jews and to anyone sensitive to what they have suffered. But we should also remember that it was written in a society, and for an audience, virtually without Jews. The Jew was a standard villain, coming out of anti-Semitic lore, the passion plays, and perhaps most directly, Marlowe. The idea that Shakespeare wanted to make some serious comment on Jews and anti-Semitism seems fairly implausible -- though of course many critics have founded their views of the play on that rock. Many remain, as Joe Egert puts it, confined to their own mind's eye.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

_______________________________________________________________
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.

 

Shakespeare and Letters

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0175  Friday, 16 April 2010

From:        Jennifer Ludgate <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:        April 15, 2010 6:26:03 AM EDT
Subject:     Shakespeare and Letters

Dear SHAKSPEAReans,

I am currently researching the use of letter's in Shakespeare's plays. From a literary perspective this is fairly (?) individual; however, I am also interested as to whether or not the materiality and use of letters as documents reflects on the Early Modern reader's and writer's practices. Does any one know of any where good to look to find out how letters were used/understood/what they meant to an Elizabethan audience? Obviously, there are differences between letters in a play and letters used in every day life but any suggestions of further reading or research which has been done regarding Early Modern and Renaissance letters would be gratefully received! I have read Alan Stewart's Shakespeare's Letters, which has proved very helpful, but I wonder if there are any more studies I have been unable to locate as yet.

Does anyone know how to find out about how letters were sent? How much this cost? What
type of people sent letters and on what occasions? How were the letters addressed? Would
receiving a letter have meant something radically different than it would in a later period?

Similarly, does any one have any particular views about how or why Shakespeare used so many letters in his plays? In particular in his comedies?

Many thanks for any advice or guidance.

_______________________________________________________________
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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