Length of Posts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.172  Wednesday, 4 May 2016

 

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

Date:         Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Subject:    Length of Posts

 

Dear Subscribers,

 

It has been suggested to me again that there be a limit on the number of words in each submission.

 

Yesterday’s Newsletter had some very on posts, and I myself was responsible for not editing down one that was submitted to me from an outside source. 

 

I have no intention of counting words; however, like pornography I know a long post when I see it. Form now on, excessively long submissions will be returned, and the submitter will be asked to shorten it before I will distribute it to the list.

 

Sincerely,

Hardy M. Cook

Editor of SHAKSPER

 

 

The Tempest and Colonialism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.171  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

     Date:         April 29, 2016 at 4:43:35 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism 

 

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

     Date:         May 1, 2016 at 11:53:30 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism 

 

[3] From:        Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         May 2, 2016 at 1:30:30 PM EDT

     Subject:    Colonialism 

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 29, 2016 at 4:43:35 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism

 

I think that Pervez Rizvi is just a wee bit outside when he argues that “Colonialism is at least as old as recorded history,” and so Shakespeare could well have had it in mind when he wrote The Tempest. What is as old as recorded history is conquest and subjugation, which is not the same thing as “colonialism” as it is usually understood in this “post-colonial” world. Shakespeare wrote many plays specifically depicting conquest and subjugation, but none that can reasonably be taken to comment on the colonialism that contemporary critics have in mind when they read the play in that context, i.e., the policy that Rudyard Kipling urged the United States to adopt when he encouraged it to “take up the white man’s burden.”

 

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

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

Date:         May 1, 2016 at 11:53:30 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Colonialism

 

Concerning the pieces about the Tempest as a play about colonialism, I think that here we have an example of how critics’ obsessions take control of what the play is about, making the play about their own personal ratiocination.

 

On the other hand, in one of the popular student review books, the reviewer identifies Prospero as an allegorical representation of the Supreme Being, God, which makes the play’s island a microcosm of the world. In this, Caliban is the evil inclination and Ariel is the good inclination, serving the Lord.

 

Note how Prospero, which name means in Italian, “I make happy,” may derive from the Psalm (84:5), which reads, “Happy are those who dwell in your home,” and is concerned with the repentance of the evil men that have arrived on the island. Note how Caliban tempts Trinculo and Stephano andthe role of Ariel as angel-protector of the good people.

 

As was explained by Colin Still who wrote a book about the Tempest in this vein, when men sin they exile God from their hearts. The narrative of the play is in this vein the restoration of God to hearts through repentance—all things to be discovered in the play. This takes the play into an opposite, more nuanced direction from the “colonialism” thesis.

 

It is amazing how the play turns into a Rorschach text when critics focus on parts, while ignoring other parts, that may take them far afield. The challenge for critics is to rise above their own preoccupations to identify the match that encompasses even the parts they have ignored, thus approaching the theme the great playwright intended.

 

David Basch

 

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

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

Date:         May 2, 2016 at 1:30:30 PM EDT

Subject:    Colonialism

 

[Prospero] is not a colonist....He was cast away by his usurping brother and landed on an island previously inhabited by Sycorax.  But she, too, had only landed there having been cast away, this time legally, by the citizens of Argier, ‘for mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible’, who only spared her life because she was pregnant.  Whether Sycorax as an exiled aggressor has more right to the island than Prospero as an injured victim is a moot point, but it is in any case not one raised by the play.  After Sycorax’s death Prospero landed there, freed Ariel and attempted to educate Caliban (1.2.257ff).  Prospero has made the island as inhabitable as he could, until the propitious time arrived when he could bring his enemies within his power and go home.  Having not killed but forgiven them—which is after all the main and surprising event of the play—he will return to Naples to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda, thence retire to his vita contemplativa in ‘Milan, where / every  third thought shall be my grave.’ (5.1. 310ff).  He is happy to leave ‘this bare island’ (Epilogue, 8), where Caliban can now live alone, if he wants to, whatever the legitimacy of his claim.  (From his final words, ‘I’ll be wise hereafter / And seek for grace (5.1. 198f) it looks as if Caliban prefers to serve Prospero.  Since Ariel will ‘to the elements / Be free’ (321f), the island may well be uninhabited again.)  Prospero’s stay on the island, then, is enforced, not voluntary, and while he can use its natural resources to stay alive, all the normal features of the hated colonist—murdering the natives, stealing their land, exploiting their goods, produce and wealth for profit back to one’s home country—are conspicuously lacing.  If modern critics want to denounce colonialism they should do so by all means, but this is the wrong play.”  Brian Vickers, Appropriating Shakespeare (1993) at 246.

 

I would further note that Prospero treats Caliban with kindness until he attempts to rape Miranda.  Caliban does not deny this charge; on the contrary, he revels in it:  “O ho! O ho! Would’t had been done!” etc.  He makes clear that he will repeat the attempt if he ever gets the chance; and indeed, he spends the rest of the play trying to kill Prospero and rape Miranda by proxy, using Stephano as his surrogate.  Quite obviously, Prospero and Miranda are compelled to subjugate Caliban in simple self-defense, the way we imprison recidivist sexual offenders.  These facts, and especially Shakespeare’s depiction of Caliban as a determined and incorrigible rapist, would seem to complicate efforts to regard him as Prospero’s victim.  But then some people will ignore a great deal in order to reach their desired interpretation.  

 

--Charles Weinstein 

 

 

Vickers One King Lear

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.170  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

     Date:         May 1, 2016 at 1:43:10 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: ONE KING LEAR, huh? 

 

[2] From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         May 2, 2016 at 2:31:21 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear 

 

[3] From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:34:49 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear 

 

[4] From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:28:00 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

[5] From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:54:52 AM EDT

     Subject:    SHAKSPER: Lear/Albany 

 

 

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

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

Date:         May 1, 2016 at 1:43:10 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: ONE KING LEAR, huh?

 

Sir Brian Vickers book that just came out, THE ONE KING LEAR, attacks my work from 1980 and the Two-Text LEAR approach in general. This contribution to Shakespearean textual studies resembles an attack on Darwin carried out by citing extensive quotations from the Book of Genesis and its believing commentators while ignoring any of the evidence that Darwin explains, clumping together for mutual damnation any and all Darwinians, ignoring their quite distinct approaches and arguments, and adopting a faith-based approach to his own arguments. 

 

He misleadingly misquotes crucial details in texts and proposes mystical interventions in hypothesized documents; Vickers sounds authoritative until one looks at his evidence.  

 

The simple nits and grits of how Okes and his compositors tried squeezing t-o-o-o many pages of copy into t-o-o-o few pages of paper Vickers gets right (up to around his page 112), and it is indeed useful to see just how the compositors were shaving text to fit into too little page-space. Useful, but by no means sufficiently explicable for the most interesting and important textual differences between Q & F LEAR.

 

But thereafter he starts playing a game of smoke and mirrors, and his imagined printing house plodding journeymen become suddenly wildly inventive, at times nearly psychedelic, sophomoric, and always destructive in their supposed manhandling of words, phrases, and cues for physical actions which Our Good Sir Bri cannot imagine might have been manipulated by the Vanishing Shakespeare.  The bizarre parsimony of imagination which Vickers displays, as if it were some newly convincing figure of rhetoric, should be collected and displayed in a “Don’t Do This” flyer for first year grad students.  Despite Sir’s book about rhetorical figures (which I haven’t yet read, but look forward to), an argument supported by statements beginning  “I can’t imagine that. . .”  or “It is impossible to believe that . . . .”  has all the structural integrity of a folded Kleenex.  If you work on it for a while, it might hold its own shape, but only if no wind or nose blows.

 

Further, Sir Bri often quotes other single-text faithful as if their opinions alone (which he cites repeatedly) are sufficient, sans evidence, to counter the evidence enumerated at some length in support of multiple-text hypotheses (see for example his truly bizarre reliance on the 19th century work of Delius to support his own insistence on the absolute necessity for lines in 3.1 Q, not printed in the Folio [on his page 242]).

 

Obviously stewing over this material for several decades, in his final rush to empty his spleen Vickers and his editors at thank-you-very-much Harvard University Press seem to have ignored basic fact-checking and copy-editing.  (Or perhaps shaky memory is allowed to stand in for verity when one has been knighted.)  For example, we are told how important to the single-text-Shakespeare-wrote-but-didn’t-revise it is  that  “Kent hears a report that Lear is supposedly in Germany” (page 227) !  No, despite Vickers’ truly ridiculous formulation of narrative necessity, that nugget just ain’t necessary to understand the plot. And, hello, any real rather than memorially reconstructed Q facsimile will show Kent hearing about Kent and Edgar, not Lear, being away in Germany (K2v; 4.7.90-91).  

 

 And check out the goofy typo in his book’s final paragraph where he echoes Harold Jenkins’ similarly absurd and pompous sentiment about Shakespeare never revising : “Having written King Lear, Shakespeare moved on to other projects: Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus . . . He had no reason to go back to his greatest pay [sic].  Nothing needed to be changed. It was, and it always has been, the one King Lear “(page 328). Greatest pay, indeed. One King Lear? Likely not, or at least not on the basis of this ill-digested screed.  

 

It’s a nasty piece of work, besides, on the one hand crudely denigrating Shakespeare’s acting fellows from the 17th century and on the other all modern critics from the 20th and 21st who hold opinions differing from his own. When ordering it, ask your good apothecary to send along more than a single ounce of civet to wash out that foul flavor. Or have ready to hand the very antidotes which Vickers so bitterly attacks: writings on multiple King Lears by Michael Warren, Randall McLeod, and my poor self.  (As is my wont, I have recently re-read my SHAKESPEARE’S REVISION OF KING LEAR.  I forget how much I learned while writing it, and recovering those things feels warm and fuzzy on crisp spring nights in Maine.)

 

I could write a fat review covering chapter and verse of this pseudo-scholarly travesty, but frankly some games are not worth so many candles. Darwin, my dears, needs not my help, nor need the multiple-LEAR versions my further support. They are out there for reading.   I’m movin’ on, to my current project: Shakespeare’s Revision of Everything Else. The other radically revised texts like R&J and Merry Wives need similar rehabilitation. Meet ya’ at the Quarto Corral, Sir Brian. And you better bring your friends.

 

Steve Urquarta'witz

Bibliographa' from 'da Bronx 

 

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

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

Date:         May 2, 2016 at 2:31:21 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: Vickers One Lear

 

Sir Brian Vickers contributes to scholarship in The One King Lear primarily by his hypothesis that substantial (space-and-money saving) omissions from authorial Q1 printer’s copy were restored to F (the 1623 reprint of Q1, 1608) from a (Shakespeare Company) playbook derived from the same “messy authorial copy”. That is, access to the full text proves that Q1 Lear was not revised by Shakespeare (or anyone else) but that it existed before 1608.

 

Vickers cites various passages for ‘close study’ to grant his opinions. Yet one finds assertion, not analysis, and absence of alternative explanations that have driven King Lear scholarship for 150 years. Sir Brian’s commentary is inadequate both to his purpose and to inquiry. I’ll discuss the citations as briefly as I can, given their complexity in contrast to their treatment in One Lear

 

The “insults that Kent delivers to [“Cornwall’s Steward”] includes, in the uncorrected sheet, the incomprehensible term “three snyted.” This is probably a simple case of a turned letter, ‘n’ for ‘u,’ . . . . Okes’s proofreader . . . changed the term to ‘three shewted’ . . . whatever that might mean, and it was left to the Folio . . . to give the true reading, ‘three suited’ (2.2.16). . . . Cornwall [refers to an] “stubberne ausrent knaue,” as [a Q1 compositor read] Shakespeare’s handwriting. The proofreader substituted ‘miscreant’ . . . incorrectly, as the Folio shows, reading it as ‘ancient’ (2.2.126)” (20).

 

To the proofreader, ‘snyted’ was not incomprehensible; it “was a simple case” that may have been verified by Q1 copy. “Whatever that might mean” means that shewted is mysterious; but it’s merely an alternate spelling of ‘suited’; there’s no need for a manuscript to provide a “true reading” to beg the “F copy” question. Vickers virtually ignores variants from Q2 (1619), the Q1 reprint consulted by F compositor “E” through much of its printing. Q2 reads ‘shewted,’ which leads to the F reading as well as any imaginary text. A first Internet search finds that in the 16th century “a phonetic change of sy- to sh- was attested (in the shape of sh- misspellings) not just in the words sugar and sure, but also in words like suit (variously spelled shute, shutte, shuite and shuett).” By 1622 compositors (as F attests) normalized spellings, if others didn’t.

 

From John Jones’s Practical Phonography (1701), a handy spelling book alternatively titled, John Jones at Work: “When is the sound of sh written s? [From a list of 25 examples] assume, assure, consume, censure, ensue, ensure, pursue, pressure, sugar, sue, suet, suit, sure, sute, issue” (101). Notice that even today some sh sounds enshew from words “properly” spelt su. Jones teaches (even the educated) to spell, not by sound but by traditional rules. In Shakespeare’s day, when rules didn’t rule, ‘shewted’ would be understood; it has no One Lear evidentiary value. Similarly, ‘ausrent’ would present no problem to a proofreader, especially with copy in hand: another turned ‘n’ (or minim error) and misreading of ‘r’ for ‘i’; a common error. As for ‘ansient,’ it’s another job for Burdaox Man: daunsing, praunsing, stubbern, prinslie, conseve, consayght, enstrewments, conshume, sensuer, negromanser. These real spellings are evidence, perhaps of the proofreader’s day at the office; but not of F Lear copy.

 

“Cornwall’s Steward” was “Oswald,” who was not named in the speech headings until later, when he is identified in the dialogue. As Stone observes, the extent of Q1’s vagueness in that regard is a sign of reporting, as are the numerous mistaken prefixes.

 

There are “instances where the [Q1] corrector changed readings . . . without authority . . . . One of Regan’s false claims concerning Lear’s ‘riotous knights’ is that they encouraged Edgar to kill his father:

 

Tis they haue put him on the old man’s death,

To haue the wast and spoyle of his reuenues:

 

This corrector’s version of a passage in Shakespeare’s manuscript puzzled Compositor B, who originally set ‘To haue these——and wast. . . .’ [D4v]. As Greg commented, ‘The compositor . . . inserted hyphens in place of illegible letters . . .’ The [F?] printer evidently had access to an independent source descending from Shakespeare’s authentic manuscript, probably the theater company’s Booke . . . . It reads ‘th’expence and wast,’ which, Greg added, ‘proves the corrector’s order to be wrong . . .’” (19).

 

Evidently often evidently means “no evidence,” but I don’t know why. In this instance, ‘the independent source,’ ‘company book,’ and ‘Shakespeare’s manuscript’ (twice), all beg the provenance question for the close reader. We can’t really know that the corrector puzzled Q1 compositor B; it’s usually the other way round. Vickers’s assumption seems to be that the F editors could have had access only to corrected Q1 or to a descendent Ms. but the ubiquitous Q2 also reads, ‘To haue these——and wast of this his reuenues’. I agree with Stone that F’s ‘To haue th’expence and wast of his Reuenues’ is not credible; it is redundant and hardly metrical. It looks like another botched editorial F fix, based on Q2. Sir Brian devotes a later chapter to F meddling but it ought to be thicker. Alternatives should be kept in mind because he arbitrarily cites text as either editorial or “Shakespeare’s manuscript.” When Vickers supplies no argument or contrary opinion, these categories are of no value.

 

Vickers could have mentioned Stone’s conjecture, ‘To have the siese and waste of this his revenues’. (Misreading of ‘the use’ has also been proposed, and may be right). Q1 compositors were unusually faithful to their copy: ‘this his’ need not have been altered; ‘the siese’, however, may have been a mystery even to the corrector. But the import, “to get legal possession of” suits the situation and it is metrically sound. In any case, the line is not good evidently evidence.

 

Regan “claims that [their visit to Gloucester] is due to ‘Occasions noble Gloster of some poyse’ [D4v]. The uncorrected quarto reads ‘prise,’ the Folio ‘prize,’ both derived from Shakespeare’s manuscript and giving perfectly acceptable sense; editors who prefer ‘poise’ have doubtful authority” (19).

 

The “close reader” has no chance here unless doubting Sir Brian’s presentation and methods. “Both derived from Shakespeare’s manuscript” gratuitously begs the question; “perfect sense” is opposed to “doubtful authority.” Poise meant “weight,” when ‘Occasions of some weight’ is perfectly acceptable (more so, in my opinion and Malone’s). ‘Poise’ at least has authority of a real corrector (who was dissatisfied with ‘prise’), while a second line of foul-paper descendants is multiply conjectural (but so is the first line). Moreover, Q2 (from which F partially descends) reads ‘prize,’ as does F. Vickers doesn’t accept the opinion of Doran, Howard-Hill, Stone, Taylor, Blayney, and others, that Q2 influences F; he never allows Q2 as an alternative source, even though it often provides a Q1 variant in agreement with F.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

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

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:34:49 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

If we have been wondering on what occasion the shorthand stenographer made the report of King Lear, we need look no further than the entry in the Stationers’ Register, and the title page of the Quarto: the performance at court on 26th December 1606.

Even if the players could have stopped reporting in the public theatres, neither they nor anyone else could have prevented a palace official from making a report of a state occasion.

 

John Briggs

 

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

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:28:00 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: One Lear

 

Neither Sir Brian Vickers nor Gerald E. Downs seem to understand the term ‘Revise’. A ‘Revise’ ( term means ‘review’) was in the 17th century (see Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibiography, p.115 if memory serves) and still was in the 1980s (when I did proof correction) the term for a further ‘proof’ requested to see that corrections had been carried out, er, correctly. Just as the proof was checked against copy, the Revise was checked against Proof. You only called for a Revise if there were a lot of corrections and/or you didn’t trust the compositor to carry them out correctly. The Revise was not intended as a second proof, and (unless you were Marcel Proust or James Joyce) was not the occasion for further corrections. It became a second proof, of course, if the corrections hadn’t been properly carried out - a further revise would then be required. (I would not normally call for a revise at galley proof stage, but rather check at page proof stage that corrections had been made.)

 

We don’t know who carried out ‘foul proofing’ for either Quartos or Folio, but they would presumably have checked the proof against copy. The ‘stop-press’ corrections during presswork don’t seem to result from proofreading against copy. Those few sheets with correction marks that were later incorporated in finished copies seem to result from this stop-press correction - it is perverse to call them ‘revises’.

 

John Briggs

 

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

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

Date:         May 3, 2016 at 10:54:52 AM EDT

Subject:    SHAKSPER: Lear/Albany

 

While we are still on the subject of King Lear, there is a historical howler on page 48 of James Shapiro’s 1606. Shapiro confuses the contemporary holders of the dukedoms of Cornwall and Albany: it was in fact Prince Henry who was Duke of Cornwall, and his younger brother Prince Charles who was Duke of Albany (Charles was to later to succeed as Duke of Cornwall on his brother’s death).

Shapiro also states that James himself had been Duke of Albany, as had his father before him. Shapiro is overstating the significance of the Dukedom of Albany: it was in fact a junior royal title, usually bestowed on younger sons. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was the heir of the Earl of Lennox. On his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, he was created Duke of Albany. When he was murdered, the title passed to his son James, who had no need of it as he already possessed (as heir to the throne) the senior title of Duke of Rothesay. When James shortly afterwards succeeded to the throne, the Dukedom of Albany merged with the crown, and was thus available (in due course) to be bestowed on his younger son. James’s possession of the title had been both unexpected and unnecessary.

 

John Briggs

 

 

 

Shakespeare Podcasts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.169  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

     Date:         April 29, 2016 at 5:49:02 PM EDT

     Subject:    Podcast on Arden Shakespeare and Theory Serie

 

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

     Date:         April 29, 2016 at 5:41:18 PM EDT

     Subject:    Reply to Robert Appelbaum 

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 29, 2016 at 5:49:02 PM EDT

Subject:    Podcast on Arden Shakespeare and Theory Series

 

https://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/shakespeare/2016/04/29/shakespeare-and-contemporary-theory-21-the-arden-shakespeare-and-theory-series-with-evelyn-gajowski/

 

In the first of a number of episodes showcasing authors from the Arden Shakespeare and Theory series, Neema welcomes the series editor, Evelyn Gajowski, who talks, among other things, about its conception and purpose, the continuing relevance of theory in Shakespeare studies, and presentism.


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

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

Date:         April 29, 2016 at 5:41:18 PM EDT

Subject:    Reply to Robert Appelbaum

 

Reply to Robert Appelbaum (l after the e),

 

I read Robert’s response with interest. First, an important point of clarification: I do not at all wish to dismiss the past 30 years of scholarship and criticism, as I hope my forthcoming book (Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory) will attest in some detail. Second, he is right to say that cognitive science has had little to say about why people do things like kill or steal. In fact, they are more likely to look at crime data and then move backwards to socio-economic reasons. 

 

I have argued elsewhere that cognitive science does give us some interesting and convincing explanations for some of the social phenomena described by the Marxist and post-Marxist theory that pre-figured and indeed underpinned the historicist work that Robert admires. I do not think much in Kahneman and Tversky is directly at odds with what we find in Althusser or Foucault, who both surely assume—as surely any historicist must—the inherent suggestibility and malleability of human beings. How else can power work but through exploiting these aspects of our thinking? I do think certain answers lie there, even if cognitive scientists haven’t always pushed their conclusions in those directions. The case studies that are summarised in Thinking Fast and Slow sometimes read to me like the proof for insights that occurred to have many writers. 

 

Advertising signs they con

You into thinking you’re the one

That can do what’s never been done

That can win what’s never been won

Meantime life outside goes on

All around you

 

How can ideological interpellation work without heuristics? I do not see this as a zero-sum game. It isn't old work overturned by new findings. I see some of these insights adding to and enriching thought and scholarship on Shakespeare, not just of the past thirty years, but also of the 370 before that. I feel that the work of the 1980s was sometimes a little too quick to seek to demolish what had gone before, and I certainly wouldn't want to repeat that gesture now.

 

Finally, I am intrigued by the claim that the “how” of human thinking differs across cultures. Do people in totalitarian states not use mental shortcuts and heuristics like the rest of us? Like Robert says, it is a question to be asked. I am not sure if we can start even asking the question if the findings of cognitive science are to be dismissed as having limited value for us. It starts by accepting that heuristics are a fundamental part of our thinking. Once we’ve done that, much more complex questions can follow and I welcome them.

 

Neema

 

 

 

 

A Matchless Allusion to Romeo & Juliet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.168  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

Date:         May 1, 2016 at 5:38:45 PM EDT

Subject:    A Matchless Allusion to Romeo & Juliet

 

The other day, I was reading the following speech by Capulet to daughter Juliet, in which Capulet (like Sir Thomas Bertram in /Mansfield Park /or Mrs. Bennet in /Pride & Prejudice/) is astonished by her refusal to docilely accede to the husband he has chosen for her. Beyond those (unsurprising) Austenian echoes, I was jolted by the unexpected echo of another, very well known story – can you guess what it is? (the words in ALL CAPSin Capulet’s speech give you a giant hint):

 

CAPULET

 

Soft! take me with you, take me with you, wife.

How! will she none? doth she not give us thanks?

Is she not PROUD? doth she not count her blest,

Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought

So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?

 

JULIET

 

Not PROUD, you have; but thankful, that you have:

PROUD can I never be of what I hate;

But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.

 

CAPULET

 

How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?

'PROUD,' and 'I thank you,' and 'I thank you not;'

And yet 'not PROUD,' mistress minion, you,

THANK me no THANKINGS, nor, PROUD me no PROUDS,

But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next,

To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,

Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.

Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!

You tallow-face!

 

Did you guess?

 

My mind was blown when I read “Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds”—what I was reminded of were the ironically negating lyrics of the final stanza of the song “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” from /Fiddler on the Roof/, in which big sister Tzeitl scares Hodel and Chava out of their romantic yearning for a perfect husband:

 

[Hodel & Chava]

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

Find me a find, catch me a catch.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, look through your book

And make me a perfect match.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, I'll bring the veil.

You bring the groom, slender and pale.

Bring me a ring, for I'm longing to be

The envy of all I see.

For Papa, make him a scholar.

For Mama, make him rich as a king.

For me, well, I wouldn't holler

If her were as handsome as anything.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

Find me a find, catch me a catch.

Night after night, in the dark, I'm alone.

So, find me a match of my own.

 

[Tzeitl]

Hodel, oh Hodel, have I made a match for you.

He's handsome! He's young! All right, he's 62.

But he's a nice man, a good catch. True? True!

I promise you'll be happy. And even if you're not,

There's more to life than that. Don't ask me what!

 

Chava! I've found him! Will you be a lucky bride!

He's handsome. He's tall! That is, from side to side.

But he's a nice man, a good catch, Right? Right!

You've heard he has a temper. He'll beat you every night.

But only when he's sober- so you're all right!

Did you think you'd get a prince?

Well I do the best I can.

With no dowry, no money, no family background,

Be glad you got a man!

[All three of them]

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, you know that I'm

Still very young. Please, take your time.

Up to this minute, I've misunderstood

That I could get stuck for good.

Dear Yenta, see that he's gentle.

Remember, you were also a bride.

It's not that I'm sentimental.

It's just that I'm terrified!

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, PLANME NO PLANS.

I'm in no rush. maybe I've learned

Playing with matches a girl can get burned.

So bring me no ring, GROOM ME NOGROOM,

FIND ME NO FIND, CATCHME NO CATCH.

Unless he's a matchless match!

 

Think it’s just a coincidence? In a 2003 thread in this very same Shaksper listserv…. http://tinyurl.com/zaz2ewv …Capulet’s two consecutive “neologizing imperative retorts” [for other examples, see Dale Randall’s “X Me No X’s…” American Speech, 64/3 (Aut. 1989), 233-43] were noted, but, since /Fiddler on the Roof /is never associated with Shakespeare, no one heard what I believe is, from the right perspective, an obvious allusion.

 

So now, please allow me to introduce you to the evidence I’ve quickly assembled. First and foremost, there’s striking, multifaceted parallelism between these two scenes in /Romeo /and /Fiddler/. Both scenes are about daughters coerced by parents to marrying rich older men those daughters don’t want to marry- plus Tseitl, like Juliet, has already secretly declared her love to a younger suitor. In /Romeo & Juliet/, Capulet spews abuse at Juliet, an insane overreaction to her diplomatic, deferential, and desperate attempt to avoid his draconian fiat. In /Fiddler, /the girls in that final stanza seek to do exactly the same as Juliet—by not challenging parental authority directly, but instead cajoling diplomatically, asking “only” that no match be brought “unless he’s a matchless match”!

 

And there’s also a subtly ironic pun in the word “matchless”, that I never noticed till today—on the surface, it’s a comparative; i.e., the ideal husband is unmatched by all the other suitors. But there’s also a subversive “chop-logic” hidden meaning –he can be a “match” only so long as he’s “matchless”, meaning he must not be a match….imposed on her against her own free choice! And by the way, we hear that same comic chop-logic in the rabbi’s prayer that God keep the Czar (who, like Capulet, is prone to cruel, irrational, and deadly edicts)……far away from the Jews he victimizes!

 

And, it turns out that throughout /Romeo & Juliet, /the word “match” is repeatedly used, by four different speakers, as Shakespeare walks this versatile word through the paces of its many meanings, including that very same pun in that last stanza of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” I decoded in the previous paragraph!:

 

ROMEO [re Rosaline]

 

One fairer than my love! the all-seeing sun

Ne'er saw her MATCH since first the world begun.

 

[and it’s that same pun on “match”, as both arrange marriage and comparison, in “matchless match”!]

 

Then, after Romeo & Juliet first meet, we read the Chorus intone in the next Prologue:

 

Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,

And young affection gapes to be his heir;

That fair for which love groan'd for and would die,

With tender Juliet MATCH'D, is now not fair.[again, that same pun on marriage and comparison!]

Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,

Alike betwitched by the charm of looks,

But to his foe supposed he must complain,

And she steal love's sweet bait from fearful hooks:

 

Then, Romeo and Mercutio trade witty jests:

 

ROMEO O single-soled jest, solely singular for thesingleness.

 

MERCUTIO Come between us, good Benvolio; my wits faint.

 

ROMEO Switch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a MATCH.

 

This is yet another meaning of match, as game, a pun which is then unwittingly and darkly echoed by Juliet hears that Romeo having killed Tybalt:

 

…Come, civil night,

Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,

And learn me how to lose a winning MATCH,

Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:

Hood my unmann'd blood, bating in my cheeks,

With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,

Think true love acted simple modesty.

 

And finally the Nurse does an abrupt 180, and advises Juliet that Paris is a better match for her than Romeo, which unites the meanings of arranged marriage and comparison via “it excels your first”:

 

Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,

I think it best you married with the county.

O, he's a lovely gentleman!

Romeo's a dishclout to him: an eagle, madam,

Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye

As Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart,

I think you are happy in this second MATCH,

For it excels your first: or if it did not,

Your first is dead; or 'twere as good he were,

As living here and you no use of him.

 

That is an extraordinary matrix of punning poignant wordplay that makes it crystal clear that the lyricist of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” was very specifically pointing to Capulet’s rant—which adds a dark depth to a song that already was darkened by the agitated minor key interlude of Tseitl’s cautionary tale.//

 

I wondered how this translation of /Romeo & Juliet /to /Fiddler /came about, and Google quickly led me to the following discussion in the late Mark Van Doren’s 1939 classic, /Shakespeare/, as he pointed out ”…the relentless rush of time as the Thursday of Juliet’s enforced marriage to Paris is tolled by Capulet the perpetual motion MATCHMAKER—

 

Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play

 

Alone, in company, still my care hath been

 

To have her MATCHED;(3.5)

 

…Romeo & Juliet will have [the older generation] with them to the end, and will be sadly misunderstood by them. The Capulets hold still another view of love. Their interest is in ‘good’ marriages, in sensible choices. They are MATCHMAKERS, and believe they know best how their daughter should be put to bed…..She is ‘a wretched puling fool, a whining mammet,’ a silly girl who does not know what is good for her….” Whereupon Van Doren then quoted Capulet’s “proud me no prouds” speech.

 

There you have yet another set of remarkable echoing, which to me is strong evidence that the lyricist of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” read Van Doren’s authoritative tome, while grafting /Romeo & Juliet /onto Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye stories. And it was then that I recognized a clue to answering that question, right in front of my eyes (and next to my ears), in parallel scenes from two films made a decade apart:

 

First, the “To Life” number in /Fiddler, /which begins with Tevye and Lazar Wolf toasting each other after the former consents to the latter’s marrying Tseitl (which will be undone in the next scene), then morphs into a complex dance number involving many dancers from among the Jews and Cossacks of Anatevka:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9J4RsUwMh4

 

And second, there’s the opening scene in /West Side Story/, in which the Anglo Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks dance their way through the first of several, increasingly tense confrontations:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxoC5Oyf_ss

 

When you examine it, the parallel is much more than the obvious fact that Jerome Robbins wrote the choreography for both—it’s that Robbins and his collaborators clearly chose to consciously revisit, in /Fiddler,/ the Us vs. Them theme from /West Side Story;/ but instead of Sharks and Jets, it’s Russian Jews and Gentiles! And the subtle, pervasive leitmotif of that echo is the Jets’s finger snaps, which are revisited in the finger snaps by the Chasidic dancers in the Bottle Dance scene in /Fiddler/:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sH3mjOsZY0 

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%Fv%3D9sH3mjOsZY0&h=yAQF1wQLH

 

The following account in Robbins’s Wikipedia page bears out my claim of that revisiting:

 

“In 1947, Jerome Robbins approached Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents about collaborating on a contemporary musical adaptation of /Romeo and Juliet/. He proposed that the plot focus on the conflict between an Irish Catholic family and a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Easter–Passover season. The girl has survived the Holocaust and emigrated from Israel; the conflict was to be centered around anti-Semitism of the Catholic "Jets" towards the Jewish "Emeralds" (a name that made its way into the script as a reference).”

 

When Robbins’s initial conception morphed away from his original Jewish theme into /West Side Story/, he never forgot it, and then played a key role in eventually transplanting it to Czarist Anatevska!

 

And that would have been enough…but then, I turned to the rest of /Fiddler/, to see if I could spot any other /Romeo & Juliet /echoes in it. As I browsed Juliet’s speeches searching for other /Fiddler /antecedents, my eye was caught by two conversations between Juliet and her mother, which I believe find their way into the subtext of /Fiddler. /

 

//

 

First, as Lady Capulet seeks to persuade Juliet to accept Paris as a husband, she turns to a metaphor of Juliet and Paris as fish: “The fish lives in the sea, and 'tis much pride For fair without the fair within to hide.” In other words, fish, especially attractive fish, should be paired off together, as in Noah’s ark.

 

That seems to meto be a direct source for Tevye’s attempt to persuade Chava not to continue her growing intimacy with the righteous Gentile Fyedka, but this time Tevye turns Lady Capulet’s fishy metaphor on its head, using it in a negative sense: “In other words, a bird may love a fish, but where would they build a home together?”

 

//

 

And second, we have what Juliet says to her mother later in the story, when she must conceal that she plans to run away to Mantua to be with the banished Romeo:“God knows when we shall meet again.”

 

That reminded me of the exchange in /Fiddler: /

 

Hodel: Papa! God alone knows when we shall see each other again.

 

Tevye: Then we will leave it in his hands.

 

And I checked in Sholem Aleichem’s original story, and saw that Hodel does indeed say the same thing to Tevye there as well.

 

That exchange leads right into Hodel’s poignant solo in /Fiddler /that Juliet could have sung had she actually been able to pick up and openly move to Mantua, far from Verona, and live with Romeo there.

 

How can I hope to make you understand

Why I do, what I do.

Why I must travel to a distant land,

Far from the home I love.

 

Once I was happily content to be

As I was, where I was,

Close to the people who are close to me,

Here in the home I love.

 

Who could see that a man could come

Who would change the shape of my dreams.

Helpless now I stand with him,

Watching older dreams grow dim.

 

Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,

Wanting home, wanting him,

Closing my heart to every hope but his,

Leaving the home I love.

 

There where my heart has settled long ago

I must go, I must go.

Who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so

Far from the home I love.

 

Yet there with my love, I'm home.

 

These three echoes of Romeo and Juliet in the love stories of Tseitl, Hodel, and Chava in /Fiddler /raise a deeper question: whether this /Romeo & Juliet /subtext in /Fiddler /was entirely the work of its American creators, or was any of it already present in Sholem Aleichem’s original stories?

 

My sense is that the great Yiddish storyteller /did/ know Shakespeare (as well as Austen—especially /Pride & Prejudice/, as I’ve previously claimed many times), and decided to use Romeo and Juliet as a model, but in an outside the box way—in effect, Sholem Aleichem split Romeo and Juliet into three couples, in order to separately highlight three different sides of their complex story:

 

In the triad of Tseitl, Motel, and Lazar Wolf, we see Juliet, Romeo, and Paris; except that S.A. “corrects” Capulet’s tragic error of going berserk on Juliet, by allowing Tevye to change his mind. Then, in Hodel and Perchik, S.A. foregrounds Juliet wishing to marry the “outlaw” who is banished for a serious “crime”, and being willing to following him anywhere. And finally, in Chava and, S.A. brings out the Juliet who wished to marry the forbidden lover, who is part of the ancient enemy of the bride’s clan.

 

Before I close, I want to bring out two fainter echoes of /Romeo & Juliet /in /Fiddler, /which would not stand alone, but which nicely complement all of the above:

 

First, the joyous exuberance of “the tailor Motel Tamzoyl”, after Tevye (again, so opposite to Capulet) reverses himself and consents to Tseitl’s marrying him, in “Wonder of Wonders”, seems to point to Romeo’s following two exuberant love paeans to Juliet on the theme of “wonder”:

 

She speaks:

O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art

As glorious to this night, being o'er my head

As is a winged messenger of heaven

Unto the white-upturned WONDERING EYES

Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him

When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds

And sails upon the bosom of the air.

 

&

 

'Tis torture, and not mercy: heaven is here,

Where Juliet lives; and every cat and dog

And little mouse, every unworthy thing,

Live here in heaven and may look on her;

But Romeo may not: more validity,

More honourable state, more courtship lives

In carrion-flies than Romeo: they my seize

On the white WONDER of dear Juliet's hand

And steal immortal blessing from her lips,

Who even in pure and vestal modesty,

Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin

 

Part of what makes me think this “wonder” allusion is intentional, is that Motel calls himself a Daniel, and I have long seen more than a little of the Biblical Daniel in Romeo the dreamer. So, I believe, did Sholem Aleichem, by means of his clever parody on Daniel, the faux-prophetic dream of Tevye which he uses in order to bring his wife around to the notion of Motl as a good match for Tseitl.

 

And finally, I invite you to read the following exchange through the lens of all of the above:

 

TYBALTMercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo,--

 

MERCUTIO Consort! what, dost thou make us minstrels? An thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing butdiscords: here's my FIDDLESTICK; here's that shallmake you dance. 'Zounds, consort!

 

The image of a fiddler on the roof as a symbol of the Jew in Eastern Europe was clearly derived by the creators of /Fiddler /from Sholem Aleichem’s story “On the Fiddler” in his collection /Jewish Children/. I suggest that those imaginative minds also looked at /Romeo & Juliet/, and found in Mercutio a Shakespearean analog for S.A. fiddler– the fearless artistic soul who teeters precariously on a knife’s edge of divided loyalty between the Montagues and Capulets, seeking to seduce the warring factions into “dancing”—i.e., making peace---with each other. All it earns him is an early death, as he literally gets caught between the crossed swords of Tybalt and Romeo—tragically similar to the Jews whose ancient balancing act in Eastern Europe is brought to a similarly abrupt end, first by the Czar with his pogroms, and then later by Hitler’s Holocaust.

 

And so, in that fiddler on the roof, we see the genius of Jerome Robbins et al – the symbol of dance and music as a force for peace between ancient enemies—most of all in those scenes from /West Side Story /and /Fiddler /I gave YouTube links for, with their astonishing synthesis of music, dance—especially in that brief moment of hopeful possibility, when Tevye and his Cossack counterpart first start to dance together arm clasping arm.

 

To life (and also to Shakespeare, to Sholem Aleichem, and to Robbins and his /Fiddler /partners)!!

 

Cheers, 

ARNIE

 

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.168  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

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

Date:         May 1, 2016 at 5:38:45 PM EDT

Subject:    A Matchless Allusion to Romeo & Juliet

 

The other day, I was reading the following speech by Capulet to daughter Juliet, in which Capulet (like Sir Thomas Bertram in /Mansfield Park /or Mrs. Bennet in /Pride & Prejudice/) is astonished by her refusal to docilely accede to the husband he has chosen for her. Beyond those (unsurprising) Austenian echoes, I was jolted by the unexpected echo of another, very well known story – can you guess what it is? (the words in ALL CAPSin Capulet’s speech give you a giant hint):

 

CAPULET

 

Soft! take me with you, take me with you, wife.

How! will she none? doth she not give us thanks?

Is she not PROUD? doth she not count her blest,

Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought

So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?

 

JULIET

 

Not PROUD, you have; but thankful, that you have:

PROUD can I never be of what I hate;

But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.

 

CAPULET

 

How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?

'PROUD,' and 'I thank you,' and 'I thank you not;'

And yet 'not PROUD,' mistress minion, you,

THANK me no THANKINGS, nor, PROUD me no PROUDS,

But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next,

To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,

Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.

Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!

You tallow-face!

 

Did you guess?

 

My mind was blown when I read “Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds”—what I was reminded of were the ironically negating lyrics of the final stanza of the song “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” from /Fiddler on the Roof/, in which big sister Tzeitl scares Hodel and Chava out of their romantic yearning for a perfect husband:

 

[Hodel & Chava]

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

Find me a find, catch me a catch.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, look through your book

And make me a perfect match.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, I'll bring the veil.

You bring the groom, slender and pale.

Bring me a ring, for I'm longing to be

The envy of all I see.

For Papa, make him a scholar.

For Mama, make him rich as a king.

For me, well, I wouldn't holler

If her were as handsome as anything.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

Find me a find, catch me a catch.

Night after night, in the dark, I'm alone.

So, find me a match of my own.

 

[Tzeitl]

Hodel, oh Hodel, have I made a match for you.

He's handsome! He's young! All right, he's 62.

But he's a nice man, a good catch. True? True!

I promise you'll be happy. And even if you're not,

There's more to life than that. Don't ask me what!

 

Chava! I've found him! Will you be a lucky bride!

He's handsome. He's tall! That is, from side to side.

But he's a nice man, a good catch, Right? Right!

You've heard he has a temper. He'll beat you every night.

But only when he's sober- so you're all right!

Did you think you'd get a prince?

Well I do the best I can.

With no dowry, no money, no family background,

Be glad you got a man!

[All three of them]

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, you know that I'm

Still very young. Please, take your time.

Up to this minute, I've misunderstood

That I could get stuck for good.

Dear Yenta, see that he's gentle.

Remember, you were also a bride.

It's not that I'm sentimental.

It's just that I'm terrified!

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, PLANME NO PLANS.

I'm in no rush. maybe I've learned

Playing with matches a girl can get burned.

So bring me no ring, GROOM ME NOGROOM,

FIND ME NO FIND, CATCHME NO CATCH.

Unless he's a matchless match!

 

Think it’s just a coincidence? In a 2003 thread in this very same Shaksper listserv…. http://tinyurl.com/zaz2ewv …Capulet’s two consecutive “neologizing imperative retorts” [for other examples, see Dale Randall’s “X Me No X’s…” American Speech, 64/3 (Aut. 1989), 233-43] were noted, but, since /Fiddler on the Roof /is never associated with Shakespeare, no one heard what I believe is, from the right perspective, an obvious allusion.

 

So now, please allow me to introduce you to the evidence I’ve quickly assembled. First and foremost, there’s striking, multifaceted parallelism between these two scenes in /Romeo /and /Fiddler/. Both scenes are about daughters coerced by parents to marrying rich older men those daughters don’t want to marry- plus Tseitl, like Juliet, has already secretly declared her love to a younger suitor. In /Romeo & Juliet/, Capulet spews abuse at Juliet, an insane overreaction to her diplomatic, deferential, and desperate attempt to avoid his draconian fiat. In /Fiddler, /the girls in that final stanza seek to do exactly the same as Juliet—by not challenging parental authority directly, but instead cajoling diplomatically, asking “only” that no match be brought “unless he’s a matchless match”!

 

And there’s also a subtly ironic pun in the word “matchless”, that I never noticed till today—on the surface, it’s a comparative; i.e., the ideal husband is unmatched by all the other suitors. But there’s also a subversive “chop-logic” hidden meaning –he can be a “match” only so long as he’s “matchless”, meaning he must not be a match….imposed on her against her own free choice! And by the way, we hear that same comic chop-logic in the rabbi’s prayer that God keep the Czar (who, like Capulet, is prone to cruel, irrational, and deadly edicts)……far away from the Jews he victimizes!

 

And, it turns out that throughout /Romeo & Juliet, /the word “match” is repeatedly used, by four different speakers, as Shakespeare walks this versatile word through the paces of its many meanings, including that very same pun in that last stanza of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” I decoded in the previous paragraph!:

 

ROMEO [re Rosaline]

 

One fairer than my love! the all-seeing sun

Ne'er saw her MATCH since first the world begun.

 

[and it’s that same pun on “match”, as both arrange marriage and comparison, in “matchless match”!]

 

Then, after Romeo & Juliet first meet, we read the Chorus intone in the next Prologue:

 

Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,

And young affection gapes to be his heir;

That fair for which love groan'd for and would die,

With tender Juliet MATCH'D, is now not fair.[again, that same pun on marriage and comparison!]

Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,

Alike betwitched by the charm of looks,

But to his foe supposed he must complain,

And she steal love's sweet bait from fearful hooks:

 

Then, Romeo and Mercutio trade witty jests:

 

ROMEO O single-soled jest, solely singular for thesingleness.

 

MERCUTIO Come between us, good Benvolio; my wits faint.

 

ROMEO Switch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a MATCH.

 

This is yet another meaning of match, as game, a pun which is then unwittingly and darkly echoed by Juliet hears that Romeo having killed Tybalt:

 

…Come, civil night,

Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,

And learn me how to lose a winning MATCH,

Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:

Hood my unmann'd blood, bating in my cheeks,

With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,

Think true love acted simple modesty.

 

And finally the Nurse does an abrupt 180, and advises Juliet that Paris is a better match for her than Romeo, which unites the meanings of arranged marriage and comparison via “it excels your first”:

 

Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,

I think it best you married with the county.

O, he's a lovely gentleman!

Romeo's a dishclout to him: an eagle, madam,

Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye

As Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart,

I think you are happy in this second MATCH,

For it excels your first: or if it did not,

Your first is dead; or 'twere as good he were,

As living here and you no use of him.

 

That is an extraordinary matrix of punning poignant wordplay that makes it crystal clear that the lyricist of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” was very specifically pointing to Capulet’s rant—which adds a dark depth to a song that already was darkened by the agitated minor key interlude of Tseitl’s cautionary tale.//

 

I wondered how this translation of /Romeo & Juliet /to /Fiddler /came about, and Google quickly led me to the following discussion in the late Mark Van Doren’s 1939 classic, /Shakespeare/, as he pointed out ”…the relentless rush of time as the Thursday of Juliet’s enforced marriage to Paris is tolled by Capulet the perpetual motion MATCHMAKER—

 

Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play

 

Alone, in company, still my care hath been

 

To have her MATCHED;(3.5)

 

…Romeo & Juliet will have [the older generation] with them to the end, and will be sadly misunderstood by them. The Capulets hold still another view of love. Their interest is in ‘good’ marriages, in sensible choices. They are MATCHMAKERS, and believe they know best how their daughter should be put to bed…..She is ‘a wretched puling fool, a whining mammet,’ a silly girl who does not know what is good for her….” Whereupon Van Doren then quoted Capulet’s “proud me no prouds” speech.

 

There you have yet another set of remarkable echoing, which to me is strong evidence that the lyricist of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” read Van Doren’s authoritative tome, while grafting /Romeo & Juliet /onto Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye stories. And it was then that I recognized a clue to answering that question, right in front of my eyes (and next to my ears), in parallel scenes from two films made a decade apart:

 

First, the “To Life” number in /Fiddler, /which begins with Tevye and Lazar Wolf toasting each other after the former consents to the latter’s marrying Tseitl (which will be undone in the next scene), then morphs into a complex dance number involving many dancers from among the Jews and Cossacks of Anatevka:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9J4RsUwMh4

 

And second, there’s the opening scene in /West Side Story/, in which the Anglo Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks dance their way through the first of several, increasingly tense confrontations:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxoC5Oyf_ss

 

When you examine it, the parallel is much more than the obvious fact that Jerome Robbins wrote the choreography for both—it’s that Robbins and his collaborators clearly chose to consciously revisit, in /Fiddler,/ the Us vs. Them theme from /West Side Story;/ but instead of Sharks and Jets, it’s Russian Jews and Gentiles! And the subtle, pervasive leitmotif of that echo is the Jets’s finger snaps, which are revisited in the finger snaps by the Chasidic dancers in the Bottle Dance scene in /Fiddler/:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sH3mjOsZY0 

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%Fv%3D9sH3mjOsZY0&h=yAQF1wQLH

 

The following account in Robbins’s Wikipedia page bears out my claim of that revisiting:

 

“In 1947, Jerome Robbins approached Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents about collaborating on a contemporary musical adaptation of /Romeo and Juliet/. He proposed that the plot focus on the conflict between an Irish Catholic family and a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Easter–Passover season. The girl has survived the Holocaust and emigrated from Israel; the conflict was to be centered around anti-Semitism of the Catholic "Jets" towards the Jewish "Emeralds" (a name that made its way into the script as a reference).”

 

When Robbins’s initial conception morphed away from his original Jewish theme into /West Side Story/, he never forgot it, and then played a key role in eventually transplanting it to Czarist Anatevska!

 

And that would have been enough…but then, I turned to the rest of /Fiddler/, to see if I could spot any other /Romeo & Juliet /echoes in it. As I browsed Juliet’s speeches searching for other /Fiddler /antecedents, my eye was caught by two conversations between Juliet and her mother, which I believe find their way into the subtext of /Fiddler. /

 

//

 

First, as Lady Capulet seeks to persuade Juliet to accept Paris as a husband, she turns to a metaphor of Juliet and Paris as fish: “The fish lives in the sea, and 'tis much pride For fair without the fair within to hide.” In other words, fish, especially attractive fish, should be paired off together, as in Noah’s ark.

 

That seems to meto be a direct source for Tevye’s attempt to persuade Chava not to continue her growing intimacy with the righteous Gentile Fyedka, but this time Tevye turns Lady Capulet’s fishy metaphor on its head, using it in a negative sense: “In other words, a bird may love a fish, but where would they build a home together?”

 

//

 

And second, we have what Juliet says to her mother later in the story, when she must conceal that she plans to run away to Mantua to be with the banished Romeo:“God knows when we shall meet again.”

 

That reminded me of the exchange in /Fiddler: /

 

Hodel: Papa! God alone knows when we shall see each other again.

 

Tevye: Then we will leave it in his hands.

 

And I checked in Sholem Aleichem’s original story, and saw that Hodel does indeed say the same thing to Tevye there as well.

 

That exchange leads right into Hodel’s poignant solo in /Fiddler /that Juliet could have sung had she actually been able to pick up and openly move to Mantua, far from Verona, and live with Romeo there.

 

How can I hope to make you understand

Why I do, what I do.

Why I must travel to a distant land,

Far from the home I love.

 

Once I was happily content to be

As I was, where I was,

Close to the people who are close to me,

Here in the home I love.

 

Who could see that a man could come

Who would change the shape of my dreams.

Helpless now I stand with him,

Watching older dreams grow dim.

 

Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,

Wanting home, wanting him,

Closing my heart to every hope but his,

Leaving the home I love.

 

There where my heart has settled long ago

I must go, I must go.

Who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so

Far from the home I love.

 

Yet there with my love, I'm home.

 

These three echoes of Romeo and Juliet in the love stories of Tseitl, Hodel, and Chava in /Fiddler /raise a deeper question: whether this /Romeo & Juliet /subtext in /Fiddler /was entirely the work of its American creators, or was any of it already present in Sholem Aleichem’s original stories?

 

My sense is that the great Yiddish storyteller /did/ know Shakespeare (as well as Austen—especially /Pride & Prejudice/, as I’ve previously claimed many times), and decided to use Romeo and Juliet as a model, but in an outside the box way—in effect, Sholem Aleichem split Romeo and Juliet into three couples, in order to separately highlight three different sides of their complex story:

 

In the triad of Tseitl, Motel, and Lazar Wolf, we see Juliet, Romeo, and Paris; except that S.A. “corrects” Capulet’s tragic error of going berserk on Juliet, by allowing Tevye to change his mind. Then, in Hodel and Perchik, S.A. foregrounds Juliet wishing to marry the “outlaw” who is banished for a serious “crime”, and being willing to following him anywhere. And finally, in Chava and, S.A. brings out the Juliet who wished to marry the forbidden lover, who is part of the ancient enemy of the bride’s clan.

 

Before I close, I want to bring out two fainter echoes of /Romeo & Juliet /in /Fiddler, /which would not stand alone, but which nicely complement all of the above:

 

First, the joyous exuberance of “the tailor Motel Tamzoyl”, after Tevye (again, so opposite to Capulet) reverses himself and consents to Tseitl’s marrying him, in “Wonder of Wonders”, seems to point to Romeo’s following two exuberant love paeans to Juliet on the theme of “wonder”:

 

She speaks:

O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art

As glorious to this night, being o'er my head

As is a winged messenger of heaven

Unto the white-upturned WONDERING EYES

Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him

When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds

And sails upon the bosom of the air.

 

&

 

'Tis torture, and not mercy: heaven is here,

Where Juliet lives; and every cat and dog

And little mouse, every unworthy thing,

Live here in heaven and may look on her;

But Romeo may not: more validity,

More honourable state, more courtship lives

In carrion-flies than Romeo: they my seize

On the white WONDER of dear Juliet's hand

And steal immortal blessing from her lips,

Who even in pure and vestal modesty,

Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin

 

Part of what makes me think this “wonder” allusion is intentional, is that Motel calls himself a Daniel, and I have long seen more than a little of the Biblical Daniel in Romeo the dreamer. So, I believe, did Sholem Aleichem, by means of his clever parody on Daniel, the faux-prophetic dream of Tevye which he uses in order to bring his wife around to the notion of Motl as a good match for Tseitl.

 

And finally, I invite you to read the following exchange through the lens of all of the above:

 

TYBALTMercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo,--

 

MERCUTIO Consort! what, dost thou make us minstrels? An thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing butdiscords: here's my FIDDLESTICK; here's that shallmake you dance. 'Zounds, consort!

 

The image of a fiddler on the roof as a symbol of the Jew in Eastern Europe was clearly derived by the creators of /Fiddler /from Sholem Aleichem’s story “On the Fiddler” in his collection /Jewish Children/. I suggest that those imaginative minds also looked at /Romeo & Juliet/, and found in Mercutio a Shakespearean analog for S.A. fiddler– the fearless artistic soul who teeters precariously on a knife’s edge of divided loyalty between the Montagues and Capulets, seeking to seduce the warring factions into “dancing”—i.e., making peace---with each other. All it earns him is an early death, as he literally gets caught between the crossed swords of Tybalt and Romeo—tragically similar to the Jews whose ancient balancing act in Eastern Europe is brought to a similarly abrupt end, first by the Czar with his pogroms, and then later by Hitler’s Holocaust.

 

And so, in that fiddler on the roof, we see the genius of Jerome Robbins et al – the symbol of dance and music as a force for peace between ancient enemies—most of all in those scenes from /West Side Story /and /Fiddler /I gave YouTube links for, with their astonishing synthesis of music, dance—especially in that brief moment of hopeful possibility, when Tevye and his Cossack counterpart first start to dance together arm clasping arm.

 

To life (and also to Shakespeare, to Sholem Aleichem, and to Robbins and his /Fiddler /partners)!!

 

Cheers, 

ARNIE

 

 

 

 

 

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