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Himself

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0259  Wednesday, 20 June 2012

 

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

     Date:         June 19, 2012 12:27:54 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself 

 

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

     Date:         June 19, 2012 12:48:36 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re:  Himself 

 

 

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

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

Date:         June 19, 2012 12:27:54 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself

 

While I have no opinion on John Briggs suggestion of roles which Shakespeare may or may not have taken in his plays, (HIMSELF), I am open to his suggestions. However, I do have a comment on the name Falstaff, which emerged as the poet’s final choice as the name of this character that followed all evidence of preceding selections proposed.

 

Concerning the name Falstaff, I would in the end refer to the surprise that Peter Levi mentioned in his book, The Life and Times of William Shakespeare. He noted that in an English court record of an inheritance given to John Shakespeare from his father, Richard, John was referred to as “Johannem Shakere.” (Levi was at a loss to explain it.) The relevance of this to the name Falstaff could lie in that the word, “shakere,” which in Hebrew means “false”—the word occurring exactly as “shakere” in the Hebrew of the Ninth Commandment against bearing “false witness” (“eyde shakere”).

 

Thus, the name Falstaff with the prefix, “Fals,” could be an allusion to the name “Shakere” and, coupled with “staff,” to the name, Shakespeare (Shak-staff or Shak-shaft). It could be telling that the character of John Falstaff may have very well been built on that of the poet’s father, John.  In life, John may have had many of the engaging traits of the literary representation of John Falstaff in the plays.

 

That the name Shakere has some significance for the Shakespeares is further suggested by the family’s Coat of Arms, originally sought by John Shakespeare. In this is represented a FALcon, which could account for the prefix of FALstaff. But another name for the falcon used in falconry was “saker”—check on it in a dictionary—the latter a name too close to “Shakere” to be dismissed as irrelevant.

 

In this fashion, we find a double allusion that the letters “FALS,” one to the prefix in “FALcon” and the other to “false” carried by “shak” as an abbreviation of “Shakere” with its Hebrew meaning as “false.”

 

So if factual allusions are being sought to the historic Shakespeare—which is being sought by attempting to couple the poet with roles he may have taken on in his plays—it seems that the name Falstaff itself could be conveying direct historical information, some concerning the poet’s father and some telling how the poet uses the character of those around him as prototypes for representations in his plays.

 

What is more, imagine the delight that the poet would have had in playing a character that conveyed aspects of the character of his own father.

 

David Basch

 

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

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

Date:         June 19, 2012 12:48:36 PM EDT

Subject:     Re:  Himself

 

The reasons John Briggs supplies are interesting, all right, but also troubling. It seems that Sir Toby is a large role, and is like the role of Falstaff: and we are to credit Shakespeare himself not only with writing but also with playing those roles. Why, exactly? Shakespeare is “large,” to us, but we don’t know who else may have been on the scene.

 

Then there’s a possible pun in Falstaff’s name: but must we believe that if a playwright puns on his own name, the pun itself can’t be the end of the matter? What bridge of necessity leads Shakespeare to play a role just because he punned?

 

Is there anything at all to back up the “suggestions that Shakespeare played clown-ish roles”?

 

I’m more troubled to see Shakespeare credited with playing such a great number of roles in his plays. I can allow him the Player King in Hamlet; but then must he also take Polonius, the Ghost, and the Gravedigger too? Tradition holds that he was loved by the players of his day: not if he single-handedly kept so many of them out of employment!

 

 

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