MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.350  Tuesday, 28 July 2015

 

[1] From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 27, 2015 at 4:44:18 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  MV Dialog 

 

[2] From:        Richard A. Strier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 28, 2015 at 1:08:53 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

 

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

From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 4:44:18 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  MV Dialog

 

To Maria Bonomi:

 

I think you have misunderstood Professor Strier. His last examples, which you quoted, involved other Jews, not Shylock. When he says “going home with nothing [which is what these other Jews do] is a lot better than Shylock does. Mercy me!”, he does reference Shylock’s forced conversion both as a difference from these other Jews and as an example of a lack of mercy.

 

I particularly enjoyed your comment: “But certainly the forced conversions from Catholic to Protestant to Catholic and again back to Protestant that marked the preceding decades would resonate with them.”

 

I believe that this is exactly one of Shakespeare’s points on the Current Events/Political/Religious dimension of meaning. On this level, one can see Shylock as representing, say, the Catholics, and the Duke and Antonio representing the Protestants, or vice versa. The laws that Elizabeth and her advisors caused to be enacted effectively forced Catholics to convert to the Church of England or face harsh penalties. Nothing so dramatic as “you must convert right this instant or be executed,” but intense pressure all the same.


I do not believe that Shakespeare wrote Shylock as a Jew, but that is a topic of conversation that I intend to take up later.

 

To Pervez Rizvi:


I had not intended my example of one of the play’s contradictions to result in a discussion of the Trial Scene. That discussion will come later. However, you have raised some interesting points that I would like to address briefly now.

 

Portia is not simply “applying a literal reading of the bond.” That is what happened in Shakespeare’s source, Il Pecorone. However, Shakespeare knew that such an argument would not be acceptable in an English court (where the trial is taking place), so he codified this argument into a statute. Consequently, Portia was not construing a contract but rather applying the express terms of a statute (that Shakespeare invented). 


Your point about Shylock committing a criminal offense is right on. His attempt to do so would have been apparent on the face of any pleading that he would have had to file with either the Court of Common Pleas or the Court in Chancery. Those courts would have refused to accept his petition.


However, Shylock could have filed a Bill in the Court of Queen’s Bench without mentioning the pound of flesh but instead alleging that Antonio had committed a trespass against him in the County of Middlesex, which was the county in which the Court of Queen’s Bench was located. This sort of pleading would result in Antonio’s arrest and imprisonment. 


By being in the custody of the prison’s warden, Antonio qualified for jurisdiction by the Court of Queen’s Bench. This Court did not have jurisdiction of lawsuits between citizens, but only lawsuits involving the Crown. Trespass was considered a criminal offense and thus a breach of the Queen’s peace, which did involve the Crown.


With Antonio now before the Court of Queen’s Bench, Shylock could later amend his pleading to eliminate the bogus charge of trespass and replace it with his real cause of action. This sort of legal fiction was called a Bill of Middlesex. It is one more example that Shakespeare provides in the play of appearances being deceiving, of the “outward shows” being “least themselves.”


By the way, I believe that Portia’s court is in London, not in Venice. Indeed, the Venice of the play is really London. (John sort of disagrees with me, believing that Venice is Venice but that Shakespeare used recognizably English legal matters for the benefit of the English audiences.) I contend that Shakespeare needed to disguise what he was doing in the play in order to get it approved for production by the Master of Revels; hence, Venice was London, Christians were Catholics, and Jews were Protestants.


Bill

 

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

From:        Richard A. Strier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 28, 2015 at 1:08:53 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

I am grateful for Perez Rizvi’s comments on the contract in the play, though I do not agree that (in the play) Shylock would be committing a criminal act in enforcing his contract.  No one raises this issue.  Everyone seems—however odd this may seem—to accept the validity of the contract at face value.  If the contract was perfectly legally acceptable, then the penalty clause was as well.  Portia needs to dig up some laws that, apparently, no one has ever heard of before in order to criminalize the penalty clause.  The first of these (only referred to) apparently refers in a very confusing way to “Christian blood,” which seems to imply that it applies only to non-Christians.  The second, read in detail and also unknown to everyone prior to this moment, specifies that it does indeed apply only to “aliens” (a designation not clearly applicable to Shylock, but conveniently taken to do so), and suddenly the issue of attempted murder is raised.  But, again, no one read the penalty clause in this way until Portia produced these unknown laws.

 

On the matter of Shylock’s punishment. I am afraid that Mari Bonomi seriously misreads my remarks.  My point was/is that IN SHAKESPEARE’S SOURCES, nothing is done to the Jew other than his contract being declared void, so he gets nothing.  This is true of the Italian story (Il Pecorone) that is normally taken as Shakespeare’s direct source.  The further punishments—confiscation of a large portion (or all—it’s ambiguous) of his estate; his inability to appoint his own heir(s); and, of course, the forced conversion (on pain of death) are entirely Shakespeare’s inventions.  In other words, to be perfectly plain, the Jew in Shakespeare’s version of the “drop of blood” story is treated much worse than in any other version that we have.

 

 

RS 

 

Re: Critical Survey: Special issue on Shakespeare and War

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.349  Tuesday, 28 July 2015

 

From:        Patrick Gray <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 6:27:16 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Critical Survey: Special issue on Shakespeare and War

 

As the author of the CFP for Critical Survey for a special issue on “Shakespeare and War,” I want to assure Larry Weiss, as well as other readers of Shaksper.net, that I would welcome essays sympathetic to conservative principles, as well as progressive, and contributions critical of the “East,” so to speak, as well as the “West.” As I myself asked, for example, after a recent panel at the SAA, “If Bush was Henry V, is Obama Henry VI?” In all seriousness, though, I do want to be clear: I am open to contributions which are strictly historicist, as well as those which are unabashedly presentist, and I would be happy to consider arguments which lean right, as well as left. As Blake wrote, “Without Contraries is no progression.” I sincerely hope to showcase a variety of perspectives, and I think that will be possible. Judging from the expressions of interest to date, I think and I hope that readers will be pleasantly surprised, as well as intrigued, by the range of opinion on offer. And I would also continue to encourage anyone considering contributing to be in touch by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am happy to discuss ideas and possibilities informally in advance of the January 15 deadline, especially now, in the summer, while the days are long, the students are away, and my inbox is blissfully free of the usual term-time barrage.

 

Patrick Gray

Lecturer in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature

Department of English Studies

Durham University

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

From TLS - Shakespeare and Abraham

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.348  Tuesday, 28 July 2015

 

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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 2:48:37 PM EDT

Subject:    From TLS - Shakespeare and Abraham

 

[Editor’s Note: I have been catching up on TLS and discovered a number of Shakespeare –related articles. I will provide excepts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]

 

Not to God

NEIL FORSYTH

 

Ken Jackson

SHAKESPEARE AND ABRAHAM

176pp. University of Notre Dame Press. Paperback, $27.

978 0 268 03271 5

 

Published: 17 June 2015

 

How do you set out to write yet another book about Shakespeare? Well, you might write a book about a completely different topic – the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22, say – and then squeeze our myriad-minded author in at various points along the way, as if Shakespeare were really writing about that same topic, without telling us. In doing so you would be enlisting Shakespeare in a line of philosophers, mostly Continental, from Kant and Kierkegaard to Derrida, who have explored the topic. You could then join that line of theorists by adding your own musings, in the guise of an explication of a few scenes from Shakespeare.

 

Hence Shakespeare and Abraham. Shakespeare often dramatizes the relations of parents and children, and indeed scenes of child-killing or near child-killing fill the early plays. The Akedah, the binding of Isaac by his father Abraham, is about the same topic. Never mind that Shakespeare never alludes to the story, or scarcely mentions Abraham, still less Isaac. He was not allowed to dramatize biblical stories. Philosophically speaking, however, Shakespeare is constantly reworking the biblical narrative. He begins to do so as early as 3 Henry VI and keeps it up till at least Timon of Athens. He uses Genesis 22 “to understand the world – and to pray”. This is why his “Abrahamic explorations” also turn up in unexpected places, such as the trial of Shylock.

 

For Ken Jackson, Shakespeare is not the secular, modern writer so many critics construct: he is a deeply religious thinker. So an ingenious argument, which Jackson admits is “risky”, links the killing of young Rutland at the opening of 3 Henry VI to Abraham’s treatment of Isaac. The saintly Henry’s treatment of Edward turns the Macchiavellian Margaret into a variant of the biblical Sarah angrily pleading for her son: the Duchess of York will later plead in the same way for Aumerle in Richard II. Abraham is not actually mentioned in the play, but what of that? “Shakespeare sets the call to respond to the absolute Other (justice) in contrast to the call to respond to one’s own (Edward)”, which is obviously “within the religious logic of Abraham’s ‘Here I am’”, his repeated response to God’s call. And then there is King John, where the death of the young Arthur suggests further parallels. All of this points to “a deeply complex and devout religious responsiveness”.

 

[ . . . ]

 

From TLS - Lost Plays in Shakespeare’s England

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.347  Tuesday, 28 July 2015

 

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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 2:47:35 PM EDT

Subject:    TLS - 'Losing the plot'

 

[Editor’s Note: I have been catching up on TLS and discovered a number of Shakespeare –related articles. I will provide excepts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]

 

Love offstage

TIFFANY STERN

 

David McInnis and Matthew Steggle, editors

LOST PLAYS IN SHAKESPEARE’S ENGLAND

312pp. Palgrave MacMillan. £60.

978 1 137 40396 4

 

17 June 2015

 

Lost Plays in Shakespeare’s England begins by asking what we can say about plays that do not survive. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is “a lot”, as this bold and ambitious collection of essays goes on to prove. Over its thirteen chapters, the book explores a selection of the 744 named commercial theatre plays from this period that have disappeared. Most are known only by title, recorded in the so-called “Diary” of the theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe, or in preserved records from the “Office Book” of the Master of the Revels, Henry Herbert (itself a lost document). Some, however, like the backstage “plots” that provide scene-by-scene entrances for actors, give poignant indications of what the narrative may have been; a fragmented example of one of these, 2 Fortune’s Tennis, is analysed by David McInnes. Other lost plays do not even have names. Michael J. Hirrel details a series of testimonies to the influence of the 1580s playwright Thomas Watson, whose entire dramatic oeuvre has disappeared; Martin Wiggins provides snippets from unknown plays preserved in John Cotgrave’s English Treasury of Wit (1655). As Lost Plays in Shakespeare’s England repeatedly makes clear, there are degrees of being lost.

 

How did so many plays vanish? Some were destroyed together with the theatres that housed them during the English Civil War; some went up in flames in the Great Fire of London. Others disappeared in the eighteenth century. Famously, though perhaps fictitiously, John Warburton’s cook Betsy “burned, or put under pie bottoms” all but three of his extensive collection of early modern play manuscripts. Many texts are lost because they existed in small numbers and were never published. But as Wiggins points out, published plays can disappear, too. Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Won, printed in a run of, presumably, the usual 1,000 copies, is also lost.

 

One aim of Lost Plays in Shakespeare’s England is to show how much can be learned about plays that no longer exist: their narratives can be gleaned from sources; genre and subject are often preserved in the title. Christi Spain-Savage focuses on “Gillian of Brentford”, a woman – and perhaps a witch – whose deathbed bequest of a fart to each of her neighbours is likely to have been staged in the lost Friar Fox and Gillian of Brentford. When Falstaff dresses (in the quarto of The Merry Wives of Windsor) as “Gillian of Brainford”, what aspects of that lost play might he be responding to?

 

Another aim of the collection is to show what can be done with the limited information that does survive. Andrew Gurr lists lost religious plays of the 1590s, asking if they were designed to offset Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; Christopher Matusiak suggests that the stage friars that filled lost plays will have been in dialogue with Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Lawrence Manley analyses the possible content of the lost plays of a single company, Lord Strange’s Men, suggesting they may have inspired the concentration on religion, heterodoxy and magic that became part of the “Elizabethan mental archive”. Elegant accounts of groups of lost plays – on Britain’s mythical pre-history (Misha Teramura) and the Arthurian cycle (Paul Whitfield White) – suggest that sequences of linked plays may have reflected and commented on early modern government as well as literature.

 

[ . . . ]

 

 

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Call for New Trustees

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.346  Tuesday, 28 July 2015

 

From:        British Shakespeare Association <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 3:31:22 PM EDT

Subject:    The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Call for New Trustees

 

The British Shakespeare Association

Message from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust inviting applications for new Trustees.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

 

Would you like to play a major part in Shakespearian history?

 

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust based in Stratford-upon-Avon was formed in 1847 following the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace as a national memorial. We are currently looking to appoint new Trustees to our Board. 

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity which promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times, is recruiting Trustees to join a new Board to lead and guide ambitious plans to develop new audiences at home and worldwide. We are looking for volunteers to join the Board which will be appointed later this year ahead of the formal change to governance arrangements, which is expected to be completed in summer 2016. 

Governed by an Act of Parliament, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is a registered charity which came into existence as a result of the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and later the other Shakespeare family homes. Today is cares for world-class collections for the benefit of all and welcomes almost a million visitors a year to its sites and educational programmes including the Shakespeare Week campaign which in 2015 attracted over 7,300 primary schools. At the heart of the world of Shakespeare, the Trust connects people of all ages and backgrounds with the world’s greatest playwright. 

In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Trust will re-open the site of New Place (Shakespeare’s final home) as a landmark heritage attraction. 

We are currently looking to appoint new Trustees with the following qualifications, skills and experience: 

• Shakespeare Scholarship
• Collections, Conservation and Museums
• Learning and Education
• Fundraising and Development
• Volunteers, People and Human Resources
• Digital Media and IT
• Property Asset Management
• Visitor Attractions 

We need strategic thinkers who can apply independent judgement, speak their minds and work effectively on a Board with other Trustees. 

The commitment is approximately one day per month and allowable expenses will be met. 

To find out more about the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust please visit www . shakespeare . org . uk 

To find out more about the role please visit http ://www . hays . co . uk/jobs/sbt/index . htm 

 

Please apply by sending your CV and a covering letter to explain your interest in joining the Trust to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

However, if you would prefer a confidential conversation before applying please call John Lavictoire on 01212368982. 

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