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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: March ::
Laertes, the Superior Fencer?

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.104  Monday, 12 March 2012

 

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

     Date:         March 9, 2012 4:16:48 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: Laertes, the Superior Fencer?, David Crystal

 

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

     Date:         March 9, 2012 6:04:08 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: On Fencer

 

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

     Date:         March 9, 2012 12:21:12 PM EST

     Subject:     Laertes

 

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

     Date:         March 10, 2012 10:56:20 AM EST

     Subject:     Re: Laertes

 

 

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

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

Date:         March 9, 2012 4:16:48 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Laertes, the Superior Fencer?, David Crystal

 

A couple of points: 

 

1. Laertes has certainly been practicing in France. According to Claudius, Lamord, just “two months since,” had spoken of his renown there. (Though Claudius is manipulating Laertes with flattery here, and it’s odd how he fishes for Laertes to give Lamord’s name. But still.)

 

2. If the similarity that I espy between Caesar’s time with the pirates (Plutarch Lives, Caesar, 2.1-3) and Hamlet’s is safe, then this line is apt: “he shared in their sports and exercises.” So Hamlet might have some new rough tricks of his own in hand, learned from men of his father's mettle. In contrast perhaps to Laertes’ more “civilized” (and perhaps sophisticated) style and technique. (“lost all custom of exercise,” BTW, should not IMO be taken at face value; QTC. Hamlet’s screwing with R&G there, dissimulating—and through them with Claudius.)

 

3. On what grounds can we assume that Laertes is younger than Hamlet? Fortinbras is certainly Hamlet’s age or older (or at most 9 months his junior), and I’ve always taken the three to be coevals.

 

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

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

Date:         March 9, 2012 6:04:08 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: On Fencer

 

Two things:

 

Laertes is preoccupied with the decisive nature of his part in the fight. He has decided to betray his friend. He is keeping a secret that is playing on his mind. This must have some effect on his execution.

 

Hamlet is some what given up to the absurd ritual of the thing. Perhaps his detachment, as it does so often, will come to his aid now to place him in a ‘zone’ as twer.

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         March 9, 2012 12:21:12 PM EST

Subject:     Laertes

 

Kurt Vonnegut Jr once described Horatio as the “sane and decent” character of the play. He’s honest to a fault. And when Hamlet accepts the dueling wager, Horatio tries to dissuade him, warning, “You will lose this wager.”

 

Cheryl Newton

 

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

Subject: Laertes

Date: March 9, 2012 12:21:12 PM EST

To: SHAKSPER Conference < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

 

Kurt Vonneget Jr once described Horatio as the "sane and decent" character of the play. He's honest to a fault. And when Hamlet accepts the dueling wager, Horatio tries to dissuade him, warning, "You will lose this wager."

 

Cheryl Newton 

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         March 10, 2012 10:56:20 AM EST

Subject:     Re: Laertes

 

Well, we know at least one thing about Hamlet, in this case, for sure, and leave it to a mother to be remarking about her son's appearance up until her last breath:

 

“He’s fat, and scant of breath.”

 

He let himself go!

 

Now with Laertes having been Ben Franklin-ing it up in Paris, one may wonder what physical shape he’s in, too.  So, in addition to (or maybe even regardless of) swordsmanship, physical fitness may or may not be germane.  Still, can’t help but laugh when Gertrude points this out about her boy--

 

mz 

 

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