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Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0206  Friday, 26 April 2013

 

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

     Date:         April 25, 2013 1:48:24 PM EDT

     Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

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

     Date:         April 25, 2013 1:52:30 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

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

     Date:         April 25, 2013 5:20:03 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

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

     Date:         April 25, 2013 7:28:54 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[5] From:         Abraham Samuel Shiff < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 25, 2013 8:13:24 PM EDT

     Subject:      THE BURNING OF COAL 

 

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

     Date:         April 26, 2013 1:33:44 AM EDT

     Subject:      Coal in Late 1500s in London 

 

[7] From:         Clark J. Holloway < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 26, 2013 2:46:25 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

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

     Date:         April 26, 2013 3:00:49 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 25, 2013 1:48:24 PM EDT

Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

I really hesitate before getting involved in the increasingly unseemly fight between Michael Egan and Larry Weiss but I cannot let two statements in Michael Egan’s last post pass without comment.

 

Egan writes that ‘Shakespeare must have visited Italy’ but that ‘William Shakespeare of Stratford never made that trip’. He goes on to make a similar comment on the subject of a trip to Scotland he sees as needed to write Macbeth: ‘nor did Shakespeare visit Scotland’. Now, I do not for a moment want to get involved in the question of whether the plays’ author needed to have visited Italy or Scotland. I simply want to ask how on earth Egan is so sure that ‘William Shakespeare of Stratford never made that trip’. Egan and I would agree that we have no surviving evidence that he made that trip but I don’t see how we can know that the lack of surviving evidence absolutely precludes his having made that trip. Please understand: I am not suggesting for a moment that Shakespeare did or did not make such a trip. And I am not suggesting that the author of the plays did or did not need to have visited Italy or Scotland. I just want to cast doubt on Michael Egan’s categorical statements that Shakespeare did not make either trip.

 

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

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

Date:         April 25, 2013 1:52:30 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

Regarding Shakespeare and Italy: in 1989, I wrote a play set in Elizabethan London that was geographically correct about the location of London Stone and a few of the streets in its vicinity. I had never been to London. I used something called a map and something else called an imagination. I also used a couple of travelogues and John Stow’s book. Shakespeare had an advantage over me, when it comes to local color: he not only had maps and books available, but knew people who had been to Italy.

 

Tad Davis

 

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

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

Date:         April 25, 2013 5:20:03 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

Michael Egan wrote:

 

>By the way, nor did Shakespeare visit Scotland, and yet Macbeth

>is based largely on an obscure Scottish manuscript, a translation 

>of HectorBoece’s Historia Gentis Scotorum (History of the Scottish

>People) by one William Stewart. Written in almost impenetrable

>Scots vernacular, Stewart’s Croniclis of Scotland, contains many 

>of the play’s most famous elements, in­cluding the role and nature

>of Lady Macbeth. In Holinshed, she’s barely mentioned.

>


>The importance of this is that Stewart’s hand-written manuscript 

>went unpublished until the 19th century. Until then it was in the

>private possession of the nobility. How did Shakespeare get to 

>see it, read it and use it?

 

Oh fer chrissakes. Where does Egan get this crap from? His Oxfordian buddies?

 

Boece's Historia was written in Latin and was first printed in Paris in 1527. It was translated into Scots in 1536, and the Latin edition was republished in 1575. An English translation was used by Holinshed. You can read the original Latin and an English translation here: http://www.philological.bham.ac.uk/boece/ Perhaps Professor Egan would be so kind as to point out the plot differences between Boece and Holinshed for us. The parts of Holinshed used by Shakespeare can be read here: http://shakespeare-navigators.com/macbeth/Holinshed/

 

Tom Reedy

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         April 25, 2013 7:28:54 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

>The Oxfordian is just “the best American academic journal covering the

>authorship question.” according to William Niederkorn, formerly of the 

>New York Times, in his review of Will in the World

>(http://www.brooklynrail.org/2010/04/books/ absolute-will). I’m willing 

>to settle for that.

 

Ah ha! That settles it. Neiderkorn, eh? If you settle for Neiderkorn, you will settle for anything.

 

>Weiss goes on: “This line reminds me of an email you sent me early 

>in the Woodstock process, in which you said that your thesis “is 

>slowly gaining acceptance.”  

 

Nothing Egan says supposedly in reply to my observation contradicts the fact that the paper he referred to in support of the contention in his email to me is a paper he himself wrote, albeit he did not mention the fact, which was published in a journal of which he was editor-in-chief. 

 

>When I submitted my MS to EMP, it was anonymously reviewed 

>before acceptance, nor was I invited to designate a reader. 

 

Wasn’t the reviewer Eric Sams, who provided both the forward and an essay published in your treatise?

 

This current thread began as a discussion of whether Shakespeare was hypocritical in engaging in business, I suppose rather than starving in a garret.  The Woodstock issue came up later.  Let me try to separate the two questions and lay a foundation for any further debate:

 

Egan’s four volume treatise tries to make the point that Shakespeare was the author of the play we call Thomas of Woodstock. He bet Ward Elliott a thousand pounds that he could prove that “by clear and convincing evidence.” He and Elliott selected me to chair a panel of three Shakespeareans, selected from a panel of scholars with a demonstrated ability to identify the earmarks of Shakespeare’s language, to read his treatise and other things he submitted and decide whether he had sustained that burden. We unanimously concluded that he did not, and expressed our reasons in a detailed 44-page opinion (archived on SHAKSPER) which addresses every argument advanced by Egan. More than a year later, Egan submitted an even lengthier response, which we might or might not deem appropriate to respond to. The question mooted in all those submissions is the attribution of the Woodstock play; it has nothing to do with whether Shakespeare was a hypocrite and certainly nothing to do with whether Shakespeare wrote the rest of the Canon, a foundation assumption on which Egan’s attribution rests.

 

The current thread deals with hypocrisy, not attribution, and, in a broader sense, intellectual honesty. I have cited a number of facts which I believe cast doubt on Michael Egan’s scholarly integrity and, therefore, his standing to accuse others of hypocrisy. (Incidentally, none of those facts affected our decision in the Woodstock case; as we said in our opinion [pp.4-5], “We emphasize, however, that we do not consider Egan’s conduct as reflecting on the merits of his position or the sincerity with which he advances it. In fact, we believe that Egan is sincere in his views.”)

 

Finally, Egan concludes with a veiled threat, which I doubt he is foolish or courageous enough to execute:

 

>This scurrilous canard is put out by ignorant and/or ill-intentioned

>individuals who frankly deserve to be sued. I hope Larry Weiss is 

>first in line.

 

Please, please! Write to me privately and I will give you my address so you can serve me. I would like nothing more than for you to subject yourself to jurisdiction in a convenient venue.

 

The rest of Egan’s latest post is about the so-called authorship issue, which I shall leave alone in deference to Hardy’s policy.

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         April 25, 2013 8:13:24 PM EDT

Subject:      THE BURNING OF COAL

 

In SHAKSPER, 25 April 2013, item [4], Larry Weiss states “The popularization of coal as a source of energy and heat did not occur until the Industrial Revolution”.

 

Coal mining was an important industry in Elizabethan England.  Deforestation made for a scarcity of timber (tree famine),  and coal was used as an available and affordable substitute fuel.  The term “sea coal” refers to the transport by ships from Newcastle to London and elsewhere. 

 

See the two attachments downloaded from EEBO.

 

“Upon the foggie air . . . ” describes the pollution in vivid imagery. 

 

In 1603, Sir Hugh Plat (1552-1611?) published “A New Cheap and Delicate Fire . . . ” to promote his invention of a processed “coal ball” for cleaner burning.  In marketing this improved fuel to “Noblemen, Gentlemen, and Merchants of this most honorable City [London] and the suburbs thereof ”, Sir Hugh claims that his product will prevent the consequence of coal smoke: “discoloring and defacing of all the stately hangings and other rich furniture of their houses, as also their costly and gorgeous apparel” (leaf B4v). 

 

                

 

Abraham Samuel Shiff

Graduate Student

City University of New York

 

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         April 26, 2013 1:33:44 AM EDT

Subject:      Coal in Late 1500s in London

 

Larry Weiss is incorrect about coal smoke not being a problem in Elizabethan London. In “Coal: A Human History”, Barbara Freese writes that “In 1578, it was reported that Elizabeth I was greatly grieved and annoyed with the taste and smoke of sea-coales”. (p 34) In 1603, Hugh Platt published a pamphlet detailing a new method to reduce smoke from coal (by fashioning briquettes out of coal and straw, a technique that failed, by the way). Platt notes that the “coal smoke was damaging the buildings and plants of London, and he does not treat the problem as a particularly new one.” (Freese, 34) Freese also notes that coal became the main fuel for England before 1603, supplanting wood for economic reasons. And this occurred, of course, most intensely in London.

 

In addition, in “Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater”, Robert Weimann notes the huge increases in coal shipments to London, (from 11,000 tons in 1580 to 35,000 tons in 1591) in the latter half of the 1500s. Weimann quotes J.U. Nef’s characterization of the period “an early ‘industrial revolution’” (Weimann 164). In his book “The Big Smoke” noted historian of air pollution, Peter Brimblecombe, also supplies extensive documentation on the air pollution caused by coal in the late 1500s (this problem got worse, much worse, later, of course).

 

I know that my idea to see solar energy as a force in Shakespeare’s plays is quite radical. I agree that my scholarship is not conventional: although I have a B.A. from Harvard and an M.A. from the University of Chicago (both in English Literature), I did not come up with my interpretive approach in the States, but rather after I had been living in Japan, where, somehow, the sun is such a cultural force that you cannot miss it. (Recognizing the same force in Shakespeare was a quite a shock for me.) Therefore, to you in the West, my idea may seem truly like something from another world, or at least another culture, which perhaps it is.

 

Any radical scholarly approach may face questions and criticism. But I want to dispel that idea that Shakespeare was somehow cruelly exposing our (humanity’s) weaknesses and flaws. Shakespeare seems to have sensed the suffering that could come about from our inevitable interaction with fossil fuels, and I think he wanted to show that he stood with us, that he sympathized. I think mainly, too, that he was optimistic about the future for people.

 

Cheers,

Marianne Kimura

 

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         April 26, 2013 2:46:25 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

Michael Egan wrote:

 

>Finally Clark C. Holloway [sic] "finds it amusing that someone would actually 

>go to Verona to verify the accuracy of a Shakespearean pun." Well, sir, it's 

>called research, and you'll recall that in addition to the sycamore grove west 

>of Verona mentioned in Romeo and Juliet I noted The Duke's Oak in 

>Sabbionetta [sic] (referred to in Midsummer Night's Dream) and the identity 

>of Prospero's island, including the origin of "Caliban" and "Ariel." Laugh at 

>these. I think they are major scholarly discoveries and there are many more 

>such nuggets in Richard Roe's The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing 

>the Bard's Unknown Travels (Harper Perrenial 2011). Together they prove 

>beyond doubt, if I may use the phrase, that Shakespeare must have visited 

>Italy.

 

However, you didn’t note that “The Duke’s Oak” in Sabbioneta isn’t actually an oak tree, it’s a gateway, and that Mr. Roe claimed that it was another name for the Porta della Vittoria (though I can find nothing online to collaborate the claim). 

 

I’d think it more likely that Shakespeare got the duke’s oak in MND from one of his sources for the play, Huon of Bourdeaux. In chapter XXI, Gerames, Huon and his companions meet King Oberon while out riding. Growing hungry, the company:

 

>...alighted under a great Oake, to the entent to search for some fruit to eate. 

>They glad thereof let their horses goe to pasture.

>

>When they were thus alighted, the Dwarfe of Fayry[,] King Oberon came 

>ryding by, and had on a Gowne so rich that it were marvaile to recount the 

>riches and fashion thereof, and it was so garnished with precious stones, 

>that the clearnesse of them shined like the Sonne....

>

>Then King Oberon, who knew well and had seen the fourteene Companions, 

>he set his Horne to his mouth, and blew so melodious a blast, that the 

>fourteene Companions, being under the Tree, had so perfit a joy at their 

>hearts, that they al rose up and began to sing and daunce...

 

This sounds quite similar to the frivolous goings on under the Duke’s Oak in MND to me. Of course, the tree isn’t called the “Duke’s” oak in Huon of Bordeaux, but it does have the advantage of actually being an oak tree, rather than a gate.

 

As to the names Caliban and Ariel, Mr. Roe claims that Caliban is Catalan for “outcast” and “pariah.” Again, I can find no collaborating evidence of this (though I did find a site that gave a Catalan definition of “caliban” as “moon”), but since Catalan is the language of the people of Catalonia, Spain, I’m not sure what relation Mr. Roe believed it would have to a tourist’s travels in Italy anyway. And I believe Shakespeare got the name Ariel from the Bible. He probably had one on his bedside table, so he need hardly be called upon to make a trip to Italy to stumble upon the name. 

 

So far you’ve given us a pun, an Italian gate, a Spanish moon, and a Bible reference for your evidence of Shakespeare’s trip to Italy. I apparently don’t find the evidence as conclusive as you do. And my middle initial is actually “J.”

 

Clark Holloway

 

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         April 26, 2013 3:00:49 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

The list price for Michael Egan’s 3-volume edition of Thomas of Woodstock (or 1 Richard 2 as he calls it) is over $350. For that reason I believe most SHAKSPERians will have no access to it and won’t know that the review that he quotes praising its “2,100 pages of painstaking scholarship” is misleading.

 

Much of the edition is taken up with pointless repetition because Michael Egan chooses not to use the usual scholarly conventions for representing the differences between documentary witnesses.  For example, here’s a typical top-half of one of those 2,100 pages:

 

        ARM Run naught but poison, brother; spill them all.

 

BUL Run[n]e nought but poyson brother, spill them all.

 

COR Run naught but poison, brother. Spill them all.

 

EBE Run naught but poison, brother. Spill them all!

 

HAL Rune nought but poyson brother, spill then all

(then, sic.)

 

KEL Rune nought but poyson, brother: spill them all!

 

NOT Run naught but poison, brother; spill them all.

 

WPF rune nought but poyson brother, spill them all

 

    (Volume 2, page 77)

 

Almost all the differences here are meaningless variation in spellings and the remainder could be neatly conveyed in one short collation note. But Egan goes on like this for over 1,100 pages in this volume alone. This is certainly the taking (and indeed inflicting) of pains, but it’s not scholarship.

 

Gabriel Egan

 
 

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