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Home :: Archive :: 2013 :: April ::
Greenblatt’s Freedom

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0205  Friday, 26 April 2013

 

[Editor's Note: Just a reminder that I will be out of electronic contact next week and will resume mailings Monday, May 6. Keep submissions coming, and I will edit them then. -Hardy]

 

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

     Date:         April 25, 2013 3:29:52 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt’s Freedom 

 

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

     Date:         April 26, 2013 8:16:34 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt's Freedom 

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 25, 2013 3:29:52 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt’s Freedom

 

More often than not the matter of interpreting one of Shakespeare’s doubtful phrases boils down to either (a) A’s opinion is as good as B’s, and there isn’t any way to choose which to prefer; and (b) It’s typical of Shakespeare to provide conflicting simultaneous meanings, and that’s part of his brilliance, not to be reduced to a single meaning.

 

In the case of Greenblatt’s reading of Sonnet 148 and Bishop’s dissenting reading, I think Bishop got it right but that Greenblatt isn’t wrong. But neither (as far as I can tell from this thread) turns to Shakespeare for elucidation, which I think can be found in Theseus’s speech in Midsummer Night’s Dream, reporting that lovers madmen and poets are one in the world of imagination, but very different in bringing their experiences to daily life. Out of imagination “The lover, all as frantic,/Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.” That is to say, the lover finds beauty in one whom (that which) conventional judgment based on the sensory perception of physical eyes “censures falsely” as something unattractive. This is just what Bishops interprets 148 to mean, and I would say that as an (a) opinion his is correct.

 

On the other hand, if the eyes of love do correspond with true sight (that is, the sight which goes beyond superficial appearance to recognize one’s true nature and virtue), then “judgment” (permeated with bias, stereotype, false standards of what is admirable) does in fact contradict the report of eyes with “true sight” and Greenblatt is right—although I don’t suppose this is his meaning one must give him the benefit of the doubt in absentia.  And this reading can stand along with Bishops’s without contradiction, a fine example of (b) and co-existing meanings.  

 

Shakespeare makes nearly everyone look good.

 

Tony

 

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

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

Date:         April 26, 2013 8:16:34 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt's Freedom

 

Greenblatt/Weiss/Eyes

 

I’m with Larry Weiss. The lines open by saying that love has put eyes in the poet’s head that have no correspondence with true sight—i.e. that see as beautiful what is actually ugly. (“If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head” etc.) Then the opposite is posited: maybe my new eyes DO have correspondence with true sight, and what I see as beautiful IS beautiful, and it’s my judgment that has “fled away” and judges (falsely) as ugly what they see as beautiful. It would be hard to argue the reverse without thinking that the eyes that love puts in my head see the beautiful as ugly, which hardly fits the contemporary metaphysics of love.

 
 

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