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

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.122  Tuesday, 20 March 2012

 

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

     Date:         March 20, 2012 2:22:55 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

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

     Date:         March 20, 2012 3:28:51 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

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

     Date:         March 20, 2012 1:04:57 PM EDT

     Subject:     Fatness

 

 

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

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

Date:         March 20, 2012 2:22:55 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

Tony Burton says, “If the word [fat] also suited a chubby Richard Burbage playing Hamlet, that would constitute a witty but transient source of amusement for the earliest audiences, but hardly something to retain through Q2, F1 and later editions if its appropriateness related only to him.”

 

With all respect for my friend Tony, this is a treacherous assumption to make.  The Canon contains hundreds of topical allusions, many lost to us, which did not advance the action of the play and arguably had no business being preserved for posterity.  The example that probably springs to all of our minds most readily is the chorus opening Act V of Henry V, which refers to the hoped for imminent return of Essex from his then ongoing Irish campaign.

 

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

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

Date:         March 20, 2012 3:28:51 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Fat

 

Conrad Cook may already know this, but the connection between food imagery and death in Hamlet is explored—rather brilliantly—by Robert Appelbaum in his recent book Aguecheek's Beef . . . 

 

Regards,

Arthur

 

[Editor’s Note: Arthur Lindley reviewed Robert Appelbaum’s Aguecheek’s Beef On January 11, 2011. It can be found at http://shaksper.net/archive/2011/296-january/27813-sbreviews11-robert-appelbaums-aguecheeks-beef or as a pdf files at the SBReviews section of the web site: http://shaksper.net/scholarly-resources/book-reviews—Hardy]

 

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

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

Date:         March 20, 2012 1:04:57 PM EDT

Subject:     Fatness

 

The Psalmist, in the near-contemporary Authorized Version, makes memorable use of “fatness”:

 

Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it:

thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water;

thou preparest them corn,

when thou hast so provided for it.

 

Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly:

thou settlest the furrows thereof:

thou makest it soft with showers:

thou blessest the springing thereof.

 

Thou crownest the year with thy goodness;

and thy paths drop fatness.

 

They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness:

and the little hills rejoice on every side.

 

The pastures are clothed with flocks;

the valleys also are covered over with corn;

they shout for joy, they also sing.

 

[Psalms 65:9-13]

 

The earth enriched with rivers, softened with showers: it’s a very moist world we’re given to contemplate. And for a literary point of view, a moist context into which our word has been fitted. It is suggestive, although not definitive; contributory, along with so much else, toward a definition.

 

Latter-day versions of this passage have been criticized, rightly I think, for replacing the sensual “fatness” with an abstract term such as “abundance.”

 
 

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