Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: March ::
Hamlet's Fat

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.116  Friday, 16 March 2012

 

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

     Date:         March 15, 2012 9:44:54 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

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

     Date:         March 15, 2012 11:45:11 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

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

     Date:         March 16, 2012 12:04:25 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

 

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

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

Date:         March 15, 2012 9:44:54 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

Many thanks to Hardy for wading into the Variorum and returning with some pearls. There is much there to think about. While I am open to the possibility that the reference is to Burbage’s alleged corpulence, I am unconvinced so far. My own position is that “fat” is Shakespeare’s truncation of “fatigate,” an adjective in regular use during the period and one especially favored by Elyot in “The Boke named the Governour,” a work Shakespeare almost certainly knew. In Hamlet do we not have the very image of the student—admittedly no longer Elyot’s “child”—“fatigate with continuall study or lernyng”? Continual study, continual practice—each has induced a fatigue in Hamlet, a weariness with a world that seems “stale, flat, and unprofitable.” Gertrude’s throwaway line—“He’s fat and scant of breath”—is, for me, one of those remarkable Shakespearean moments where the floor drops out from beneath you when the line is heard and placed in the context of Hamlet’s trajectory throughout the play. A man who begins the play complaining of fatigue with the way of the world is, following this line, on the verge of leaving it. Scant of breath now, he will be bereft of it soon enough.

 

Eric Johnson-DeBaufre

 

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

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

Date:         March 15, 2012 11:45:11 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

>This is getting hilarious. Why would any decent fencer take a drink 

>of wine in the middle of a match? Water, maybe, or a chocolate bar, 

>but not wine, for God’s sake.

 

My college fencing team always kept a large supply of orange slices.

 

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

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

Date:         March 16, 2012 12:04:25 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

>>Larry Weiss says, “Richard Burbage is said to have weighed 16 or 

>>17 stn.”

>

>Said by who? when? Although I’ve seen it variously reported on the 

>Internet, and in one or two books, that Burbage was (variously) 14 or 16 

>or 17 stone, or 235 lbs, there is no contemporary warrant for this 

>statement.

 

As Steve Urkowitz said in another thread, “just because something is believed in doesn’t mean that it actually happened.”  I deliberately used the word “said” to convey the idea to a discerning reader that I wasn’t making the assertion myself, but was merely passing on a commonly believed notion, which might or might not be true, and which, if true, could explain why Gertrude used the word "fat." 

 

It does appear that WS was alert to the possibility that Burbage’s age (32) might be perceived as too old for a university undergraduate Hamlet, so he inserted two speeches that specify Hamlet’s age as 30.

 
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.