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Gay Bard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.510  Friday, 19 December 2014

 

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

Date:         December 19, 2014 at 6:23:11 AM EST

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Gay Bard

 

A pity that David Basch should opt for a limited ‘allegorical’ reading of the Sonnets.  For most of them it is difficult to know who the addressee is, and in a number of cases the content of some of them extends far beyond what we might normally expect to find in a traditional sonnet. Perhaps we need to think abouit broadening the category of ‘allegory’ so that we can think more seriously about Shakespeare’s own imaginative engagement with the form and content of the sonnet genre.  In that way we might avoid some of the more crude referential models that collapse the Sonnets into fictional autobiographies. Clearly, to treat them as limited formal exercises takes the matter too far in the other direction, but to treat them as crudely referential also fails to account for their sophistication.  Some of them seem to emerge as being aligned with the plays, and this might help to narrow down the dating problem, but this needs a lot more thinking through.

 

Festive Greetings to all

John Drakakis

 
 
Shakespearean Injustice

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.509  Friday, 19 December 2014

 

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

     Date:         December 18, 2014 at 2:31:38 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Shakespearean Injustice

 

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

     Date:         December 18, 2014 at 2:46:00 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: Shakespearean Injustice 

 

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

     Date:         December 18, 2014 at 3:04:34 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: Shakespearean Injustice 

 

 

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

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

Date:         December 18, 2014 at 2:31:38 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Shakespearean Injustice

 

“The key to Skinner’s argument is the claim that Shakespeare never imposes on the audience a complete legal argument delivered by a single speaker – rather he moves the different parts of the speech between different speakers ...” 

 

An obvious exception is the Archbishop’s disquisition on the Salic Law in H5,I.ii.35-95.  That passage was largely cribbed from Holinshed but, regardless of the source, I would recommend it to law students and novice lawyers as an excellent example of the proper ordering of a persuasive legal argument.

 

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

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

Date:         December 18, 2014 at 2:46:00 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Shakespearean Injustice

 

“It would be helpful here to consider some of the basic principles of the English law in Shakespeare’s day. ... Prisoners had no right to speak last in their own defence.”

 

They still don’t.  In most jurisdictions the prosecutor or the plaintiff in civil cases, having the burden of proof, enjoys the privilege of making the first opening statement and the last closing statement.  The opposite practice is often seen in theatrical productions, but that is for dramatic effect.  Playwrights are also none too scrupulous about the rules of evidence and other principles of procedure.

 

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

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

Date:         December 18, 2014 at 3:04:34 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Shakespearean Injustice

 

“the Elizabethans do not have “facts” as we understand the word. When they talk about “facts”, they have in mind the Latin word “facio”, I do. A fact is a deed; a matter of fact is a question about whether someone did or didn’t do something, just as we still use the phrase “an accessory after the fact”. In English, “facts” in the modern sense only become commonplace with the foundation of the Royal Society”

 

Even after that lawyers continued to use “fact” as a synonym for the act charged in the indictment, frequently in distinction to the intention with which it was allegedly performed, which was also usually an essential element on the crime.  For example, in the 1807 trial of Aaron Burr it was a point of major dispute whether the Government could prove the defendant’s treasonous objective before they proved the overt act.  They were required to prove the “fact,” i.e., the overt act, first and, consequently, never reached the question of intent as the court (Chief Justice John Marshall) virtually directed a verdict because of failure of proof of the “fact.”

 

 
TLS: Peter W. M. Blayney’s The Stationers’ Company And The Printers Of London, 1501–1557

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.508  Friday, 19 December 2014

 

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

Date:         December 17, 2014 at 6:42:08 PM EST

Subject:    TLS: Peter W. M. Blayney’s The Stationers’ Company And The Printers Of London, 1501–1557

 

[Editor’s Note: The following appeared in the 10 December 2014 TLS. I will provide excepts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . -Hardy]

 

The Errors of Others 

By Helen Smith 

 

Peter W. M. Blayney 

The Stationers’ Company And The Printers Of London, 1501–1557 

Two volumes 

1,300pp. 

Cambridge University Press. 

£150 (US $250). 

978 1 107 03501 0 

 

The unkind – or worse, blockish – critic has a long history, reaching back at least to the archetypal bad readers Momus, god of reprehension, and Zoilus, the malignant scourge of Homer. Those two figures were alive and kicking during the English Reformation and Renaissance. Writing in 1542, Thomas Becon complained about the “boarish teeth and serpent-like tongues of these cracking calumniators, & subtle Sycophants, which after the manner of Momus are ready to carp, reprehend, and condemn every man’s work & enterprise”. Most of the authors and translators who addressed their readers in print before 1558 took the tack of flattering their interlocutors, addressing them as “loving”, “gentle”, “christian”, or “diligent” readers in an attempt to persuade them to make the right interpretation. A few, however, were more assertive. Robert Vaughan, for example, warned readers of Robert Burdet’s A Dialogue Defensive for Women (1542) “Be not weighed with wilfulness, that oft doth truth subvert / Enterlet no partiality in judgement”, while Thomas Cranmer’s A Confutation of Unwritten Verities (1556) commanded “Judge not before / Thou know mine intent / But read me throughout / And then say thy fill”. 

 

At the beginning of his monumental reference work, charting the fortunes of the Stationers’ Company of London and the producers of printed books in the half-century or so before the Company’s royal incorporation in 1557, Peter W. M. Blayney addresses his readers in sterner terms. He uses his dedication partly to memorialize the late, great bibliographer Katharine F. Panzer, but also to remind those who cite him of the importance of getting his initials in the right order. Blayney opens his preface with a reflection on that most egregious subgenre, the unforgivable review: that which describes the book the mealy-mouthed Momus wants to have read, rather than the one they have actually encountered. While Blayney’s critique must provoke sympathy – that type of review is galling for the book’s author and uninformative for the review’s reader – it unfortunately also sets the tone for much of the rest of these two volumes. Blayney tackles the errors of others – and, when occasion serves, of his own previous publications – with vigour, revealing a tongue that is, if not quite “serpent-like”, then at the least waspish. Even Blayney’s note on conventions becomes a disquisition on prevalent mistakes in the citation of early modern books and the sloppy punctuation habits of the authors of the National Archives’ guides to referencing their collections. 

 

Blayney anticipates this criticism, too, explaining that while some readers may see it as “neither sporting nor mannerly” to lance errors with such vigour, many misapprehensions about the early years of English print have circulated so widely that it is essential to tackle them head on. His book gives an unprecedentedly detailed view of printing in England during the previously understudied period between the innovations of Caxton and the latter half of the sixteenth century: a period whose boom in vernacular drama has had a shaping effect on bibliographical inquiry that far outweighs, as Blayney has shown elsewhere, its impact on the stationers of Shakespeare’s day. A precise “Historical and Lexical Introduction” covers the first years of printing in England, and discusses some of the key terms of the volume, not least the distinction between Stationers and stationers – book trade agents within and outside the Company. Where previous scholarship relied upon a somewhat hazy picture of a gradual accumulation of trade power in the hands of the Company, Blayney argues that the reign of Edward VI provoked a decline in the Stationers’ control of print in the face of a reform-minded and energetic community of printers and publishers without affiliations to the Company. It was the accession of Mary I, the monarch who, Blayney argues, had “most to fear” from the circulation of hostile and reformist print, that transformed this picture, scattering (or worse) the evangelicals, and giving the Stationers an unexpected opportunity to petition for their own incorporation by playing on Mary’s desire to regulate the printing trades. 

 

[ . . . ]

 

These two volumes are resolutely – and declaredly – reference works for a specialist audience, rather than a narrative history of the Stationers’ Company and master printers of London before the charter. Blayney is widely respected as a leading authority in this field; since no scholar of early print can afford not to cite this comprehensive account in future research, more concessions could have been made to less expert readers. The larger argument is unfortunately often obscured, as much by Blayney’s consistent foregrounding of scholarly disagreements and genealogies of error as by the sheer mass of information collected in these pages. The question then is not whether Blayney’s demolition work – which seldom discriminates between major inaccuracies and more local slips, or between senior scholars of bibliography, the authors of general histories of print, doctoral students, and the long-dead New Bibliographers – is “mannerly”, but what it does to shape the experience of the now trembling and anxious reader. While Blayney’s approach is sometimes enjoyably bracing, so much of his account is concerned with the mistakes of others that any reader who is not already well versed in these debates will struggle to understand their larger significance. 

 

[ . . . ]

 

Cogitating the potential attacks of “Momus, and his scornful many” in 1547, William Baldwin offered a challenge to readers: “If you can do better, my friends set it forth: If not, use mine, & take it well in worth”. Blayney is undoubtedly one of the few scholars working today – perhaps the only one – who could assemble such a vast archive of information about early English print, and who possesses the technical acuity to decipher the tales told by chipped and damaged type, chain lines and paper stocks, alongside a host of documentary sources, many of which have been neglected until now by bibliographers and historians of the book. This is a book for use, to be taken “well in worth” by those who study the early English print trades and the men and women who worked in them. 

 
 
Dostoevsky Draws Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.507  Friday, 19 December 2014

 

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

Date:         December 18, 2014 at 5:31:31 PM EST

Subject:    Dostoevsky Draws Shakespeare

 

This delightful discovery of Dostoevsky’s drawing of Shakespeare definitely’ll delight SHAKSPER’s devotees? 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/annie-martirosyan/dostoevsky-draws-shakespe_b_6327176.html

 

I am looking for a respectable venue to publish it in an extended form in print as well soon...

 

Dostoevsky Draws Shakespeare: The Fascinating Discovery

 

Suddenly, Feodor Mikhailovich put down his tea cup carelessly on the draft, stood up and started his habitual intellectual ritual when he would walk to and fro in the room and make up his characters’ speeches out loud...

 

It is the big stain from the tea cup that you see on the page at once. Feodor Mikhailovich was an avid tea drinker. The handwriting is hardly legible; scribbles, jots and marginalia are scattered naughtily across the page. On the left-hand side is a curious drawing of a man’s head, with the familiar broad bald forehead, curly hair and a pointed beard, looking down, thoughtfully, copying Dostoevsky’s own posture in the famous portrait by Vasily Perov. Under the drawing is a carefully handwritten name - “Atkinson”, together with equally carefully calligraphed random capital letters. Dostoevsky liked to practise his handwriting. On the whole, it is a revealing manuscript from the frenzied genius working on his most arresting and dynamic novel - Demons (Besy).

 

In July 2014, Professor Boris Tikhomirov, Deputy Director of the Literary-Memorial Museum of F. M. Dostoevsky in St. Petersburg, sent a letter to Professor Vladimir Zakharov, President of The International Dostoevsky Society, attaching a manuscript page (c.1871-2) from Dostoevsky’s novel Demons which he had received from Zakharov earlier for examination. The object of examination was the elusive drawing. The text across the drawing includes Stepan Trofimovich Verkhoventsky’s famous vociferation:

 

“The whole perplexity lies in just what is more beautiful: Shakespeare or boots, Raphael or petroleum? [...] I proclaim that Shakespeare and Raphael are higher than the emancipation of the serfs, higher than nationality, higher than socialism, higher than the younger generation, higher than chemistry, higher than almost all mankind, for they are already the fruit, the real fruit of all mankind, and maybe the highest fruit there ever may be!”

(trans. by Pevear and Volokhonsky)

 

A comparative look at Shakespeare’s Chandos portrait is not even needed - Stepan Trofimovich helps to place the man in the drawing. The “Atkinson” Dostoevsky could possibly have known of would likely be Thomas Witlam Atkinson or J. Beavington Atkinson.

 

Dr Nikolay Zakharov, philologist and Shakespeare researcher at The Moscow University for the Humanities, believes that Dostoevsky could have heard of the English architect and travel writer Thomas Witlam Atkinson (1799-1831). The English critic and writer J. Beavington Atkinson is a more likely candidate for the “Atkinson” under the drawing. Zakharov notes that in his diary Dostoevsky mentions an anonymous article called “Angliyskaya kniga o russkom isskustve i russkikh khudozhnikakh” (“An English Book about the Russian Art and Russian Artists”) which retells and includes excerpts from J. B. Atkinson’s book An Art Tour to Northern Capitals of Europe (London, 1873). Zakharov assumes Dostoevsky would have been provoked by Atkinson’s claims that “up to now, the Russian school of art has not developed new styles or new themes” (from personal correspondence with Nikolay Zakharov, Autumn 2014).

 

[ . . . ]

 

 
Henslowe’s Dates

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.506  Friday, 19 December 2014

 

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

Date:         December 18, 2014 at 4:42:18 PM EST

Subject:    Henslowe’s Dates

 

I just wrote this and need some help.

 

‘Henslowe’s Diary records payments to “mr hatheway mr Smythe John daye & other poyet in fulle payment for a playe called the blacke dogge of newgat” on 20 December 1602, made a down payment for part two on 29 January, then noted that the manuscript by “mr hathwaye mr smythe John daye & other poet in full payment for the boocke called the second pt of the blacke dooge” on 3 February. The latter years are also given as 1602, I presume in error.’

 

I presume in error, but I would like to be sure. Does anyone understand Helslowe’s dating? I know he often crossed out the last number of the four and wrote a corrected number next to it, but he does not do so here. Are these dates 1602 and 1603? Thanks, in advance.

 

Mike Jensen

author site: www.michaelpjensen.com

 
 
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