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Gay Bard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.034  Friday, 23 January 2015

 

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

     Date:         January 22, 2015 at 7:27:02 AM EST

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Gay Bard 

 

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

     Date:         January 22, 2015 at 3:14:59 PM EST

     Subject:    Shakespeare’s Sonnets in Context 

 

 

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

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

Date:         January 22, 2015 at 7:27:02 AM EST

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Gay Bard

 

David Basch seems to be so busy trying to find the mote on the eyes of others that he neglects thee beam in his own eye. Why he feels the need to denigrate the present moment as “recognizable as part of a crop of obsessed, ill personalities” does little more than reveal a peculiar homophobia.  I had hoped that we had got beyond that kind of pigeonholing. It would of course, be very difficult to debate with someone who is convinced that he has a hotline to some ‘truth’ about Shakespeare. He is correct in thinking that we cannot reduce the Sonnets to autobiographical detail about thee poet’s life.  He is on shakier ground when he claims a ‘spiritual’ Shakespeare for his own crop of obsessions.

 

Perhaps the next time he speaks he should take care that he doesn’t put his foot in his mouth when he opens it.  That way we can take the debate forward.

 

Cheers

John Drakakis

 

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

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

Date:         January 22, 2015 at 3:14:59 PM EST

Subject:    Shakespeare’s Sonnets in Context

 

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 21 seems to be responding to Barnes’ Sonnet 45:

 

Shakespeare Sonnet 21

 

So is it not with me as with that Muse

Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,

Who heaven itself for ornament doth use

And every fair with his fair doth rehearse

Making a couplement of proud compare,

With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,

With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare

That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.

O' let me, true in love, but truly write,

And then believe me, my love is as fair

As any mother's child, though not so bright

As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air:

Let them say more than like of hearsay well;

I will not praise that purpose not to sell.

 

Barnes Sonnet 45

 

Sweet beauty's rose in whose fair purple leaves

Love's Queen in richest ornament doth lie,

Whose graces were they not too sweet and high

Might here be seen, but since their sight bereaves

All senses, he that endless bottom weaves

Which did Penelope, who that shall try.

Then wonder and in admiration die

At nature-passing natures holy frame:

Her beauty thee revives, thy muse upheaves

To draw celestial spirit from the skies

To praise the work and worker whence it came:

This spirit drawn from heaven of thy fair eyes

Whose guilded cognizance left in mine heart,

Shews me thy faithful servant to my smart.

 

Compare Shakespeare’s statement:

 

So is it not with me as with that Muse

Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,

Who heaven itself for ornament doth use

 

with Barnes’:

 

Then wonder and in admiration die

At nature-passing natures holy frame:

Her beauty thee revives, thy muse upheaves

To draw celestial spirit from the skies

To praise the work and worker whence it came:

This spirit drawn from heaven of thy fair eyes

 

The existence of the same phrase “beauty’s rose” in Barnes’ 45 and Shakespeare’s 1, the use of “beauty” in conjunction with “ornament” in Barnes’ 45 and Shakespeare’s 1 and 21 are good evidence that Shakespeare was responding to a form rather than writing to a real person, and the “muse stirred by a painted beauty” was Barnes.

 

Another example is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 68:

 

Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,

When beauty lived and died as flowers do now,

Before the bastard signs of fair were born,

Or durst inhabit on a living brow;

Before the golden tresses of the dead,

The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,

To live a second life on second head;

Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay:

In him those holy antique hours are seen,

Without all ornament, itself and true,

Making no summer of another's green,

Robbing no old to dress his beauty new;

 And him as for a map doth Nature store,

 To show false Art what beauty was of yore.

 

Again the presence of “beauty” with “ornament”, but also “golden tresses”, which appears in Barnes’ Sonnet 68 (the same number!):

 

Would God (when I beheld thy beauteous face

And golden tresses rich with pearl and stone) !

Medusa's visage had appeared in place,

With snaky locks, looking on me alone !

Then had her dreadful charming looks me changed

Into a senseless stone. O, were I senseless !

Then rage, through rash regard, had never ranged:

Whereas to Love I stood disarmed and fenceless.

Yea, but that diverse object of thy face

In me contrarious operations wrought.

A moving spirit pricked with Beauty's grace.

No pity's grace in thee ! which I have sought:

Which makes me deem, thou did'st Medusa see !

And should thyself a moving marble be.

 

I doubt that there is anything new here, the appearance of “golden tresses” in both Barnes and Shakespeare has been noted before (a search of Google Scholar brought up 129 hits for Barnes and Shakespeare and “golden tresses). A search with WordCruncher on my laptop revealed 1233 two-word phrases in common between these two sonnet sequences, 131 three-word phrases (“all the winds”, “work my mind” etc.) and one 4-word phrase (“in such sort as”). This last phrase appears the same way in both: with “sort” the last word in the line, and the next line beginning with “As”.

 

Jim Carroll

 
 
Some dozen or sixteen lines

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.033  Friday, 23 January 2015

 

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

Date:         January 23, 2015 at 9:49:36 AM EST

Subject:    Some dozen or sixteen lines

 

Fellow SHAKSPERians:

 

I’ve had in my pocket for a decade or so some notions on which lines in the Gonzago mousetrap play are the “dozen or sixteen” that Hamlet composed. I’ve always thought it too speculative and old-fashioned to venture for scholarly publication, but I thought others might find it interesting or amusing, so I’m making bold to present it for your delectation in this less-formal forum. I’ll also take advantage of the “liberty” here to range somewhat more widely in my discussion than I might elsewhere. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

I’m digging through very old bones here, of course. You’ll find four and a half pages of small print on the subject in Furness’s Variorum Hamlet, here (citing, among other sources, more than thirty pages of discussion in a single issue of the Transactions of the Shakespeare Society). Only two suggestions emerge from all that: 

 

1. Lucianus’ six poisoning lines beginning “Thoughts black, hands apt...” 

 

2. The twenty-eight-odd lines of ponderous philosophical musing by the player-king beginning “Purpose is but the slave to memory,” or (Furness) “a dozen or sixteen lines from the middle of it” that “can be removed without affecting the action of the play.” Furness doesn’t specify which of those unnecessary, dull, and inapplicable lines Hamlet might have written (or why).  

 

I’m hoping my suggestions make more sense than those musings.

 

Below is the relevant section from Hamlet, this rendition from the Enfolded Hamlet at hamletworks.org. (Green {}s are Q2-only, red <>s are F1-only. Q1, here at UVic’s Internet Shakespeare Editions, offers a seriously adumbrated, rearranged, and predictably somewhat mangled version.)

 

I’ve underlined the passages I think Hamlet added—fourteen lines, or sixteen if you include the last underlined couplet.

 

2023     Enter King and <his>Queene.

..

2024   King. Full thirtie times hath Phebus cart gone round

3.2.155

2025     Neptunes salt wash, and Tellus {orb'd the} <Orbed> ground,

3.2.156

2026     And thirtie dosen Moones with borrowed sheene

3.2.157

2027     About the world haue times twelue thirties beene

3.2.158

2028     Since loue our harts, and Hymen did our hands

3.2.159

2029     Vnite comutuall in most sacred bands.

3.2.160

2030      {Quee} <Bap>. So many iourneyes may the Sunne and Moone

3.2.161

2031     Make vs againe count ore ere loue be doone,

3.2.162

2032     But woe is me, you are so sicke of late,

3.2.163

2033     So farre from cheere, and from {our former} <your forme> state,

3.2.164

2034     That I distrust you, yet though I distrust,

3.2.165

2035     Discomfort you my Lord it nothing must.

3.2.166

2035+1 {H2} {For women feare too much, euen as they loue,}

 

2036     {And} <For> womens feare and loue {hold} <holds> quantitie,

3.2.167

2037     <Oo6v> {Eyther none,} in neither ought, or in extremitie,

3.2.1

2038     Now what my {Lord} <loue> is proofe hath made you know,

3.2.169

2039     And as my loue is {ciz'd} <siz'd>, my feare is so,

3.2.170

2039+1 {Where loue is great, the litlest doubts are feare,}

3.2.171

2039+2 {Where little feares grow great, great loue growes there.}

3.2.172

2040      King. Faith I must leaue thee loue, and shortly to,

3.2.173

2041     My operant powers {their} <my> functions leaue to do,

3.2.174

2042     And thou shalt liue in this faire world behind,

3.2.175

2043     Honord, belou'd, and haply one as kind,

3.2.176

2044     For husband shalt thou{.} <------>

3.2.177

2045      {Quee} <Bap>.. O confound the rest,

3.2.177

2046     Such loue must needes be treason in my brest,

3.2.178

2047     In second husband let me be accurst,

3.2.179

2048     None wed the second, but who kild the first.                   {Ham. That's}

3.2.180

2049      <Ham. Wormwood, Wormwood.>

3.2.181

2050      <Bapt.> The instances that second marriage moue             {wormwood}

3.2.182

2051     Are base respects of thrift, but none of loue,

3.2.183

2052     A second time I kill my husband dead,

3.2.184

2053     When second husband kisses me in bed.

3.2.185

2054      King. I doe belieue {you thinke} <you. Think> what now you speake,

3.2.186

2055     But what we doe determine, oft we breake,

3.2.187

2056     Purpose is but the slaue to memorie,

3.2.188

2057     Of violent birth, but poore validitie,

3.2.189

2058     Which now {the} <like> fruite vnripe sticks on the tree,

3.2.190

2059     But fall vnshaken when they mellow bee.

3.2.191

2060     Most necessary tis that we forget

3.2.192

2061     To pay our selues what to our selues is debt,

3.2.193

2062     What to our selues in passion we propose,

3.2.194

2063     The passion ending, doth the purpose lose,

3.2.195

2064     The violence of {eyther,} <other> griefe, or ioy,

3.2.196

2065     Their owne {ennactures} <ennactors> with themselues destroy,

3.2.197

2066     Where ioy most reuels, griefe doth most lament,

3.2.198

2067     Greefe {ioy} <ioyes>, ioy griefes, on slender accedent,

3.2.199

2068     This world is not for aye, nor tis not strange,

3.2.200

2069     That euen our loues should with our fortunes change:

3.2.201

2070     For tis a question left vs yet to proue,

3.2.202

2071     Whether loue lead fortune, or els fortune loue.

3.2.203

2072     The great man downe, you marke his {fauourite} <fauourites> flyes,

3.2.204

2073     {H2v} The poore aduaunc'd, makes friends of enemies,

3.2.205

2074     And hetherto doth loue on fortune tend,

3.2.206

2075     For who not needes, shall neuer lacke a friend,

3.2.207

2076     And who in want a hollow friend doth try,

3.2.208

2077     Directly seasons him his enemy.

3.2.209

2078     But orderly to end where I begunne,

3.2.210

2079     Our wills and fates doe so contrary runne,

3.2.211

2080     That our deuises still are ouerthrowne,

3.2.212

2081     Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our owne,

3.2.213

2082     So thinke thou wilt no second husband wed,

3.2.214

2083     But die thy thoughts when thy first Lord is dead.

3.2.215

2084      {Quee} <Bap>.. Nor earth to {me giue} <giue me> foode, nor heauen light,

3.2.216

2085     Sport and repose lock from me day and night,

3.2.217

2085+1 {To desperation turne my trust and hope,}

3.2.218

2085+2 {And Anchors cheere in prison be my scope,}

3.2.219

2086     Each opposite that blancks the face of ioy,

3.2.220

2087     Meete what I would haue well, and it destroy,

3.2.221

2088     Both heere and hence pursue me lasting strife,                   {Ham. If she should}

3.2.222

2089     If once {I be} a widdow, euer I be {a} wife.                       {breake it now.}

3.2.223

2090      <Ham. If she should breake it now.>

3.2.224

2091-2  King. Tis deeply sworne, | sweet leaue me heere a while,

 

2093     My spirits grow dull, and faine I would beguile

3.2.226

2094     The tedious day with sleepe.

3.2.227

2095      Quee. Sleepe rock thy braine,                   <Sleepes>

3.2.227

2096     And neuer come mischance betweene vs twaine. {Exeunt.} <Exit>

3.2.228

2097      Ham. Madam, how like you this play?

3.2.229

2098      Quee. The Lady {doth protest} <protests> too much mee thinks.

3.2.230

2099      Ham. O but shee'le keepe her word.

3.2.231

 

 

 

Some thoughts: 

 

o The play reads perfectly well absent these lines.

 

o The king’s “Tis deeply sworne” half-line makes no sense if the if the preceding speech isn’t there. (Ditto Hamlet’s “If she should break it now” and “shee’le keep her word.”) So if Hamlet added that speech he must have also added that half-line. 

 

o The last underlined couplet may or may not be Hamlet’s addition. It works either way—fourteen or sixteen lines.

 

o The two (or three) additions are the very passages that Hamlet feels inclined to comment on.

 

o These interlineated speeches—not just a single added speech or section—are in keeping with what we know of Elizabethan script-doctoring, including the complex emendations apparent from our three versions of Hamlet. See, for just one example, the five passages added to the 1602 White/Pavier Q4 of The Spanish Tragedy. (Added in 1597? By Jonson? Shakespeare?). One addition comprises a whole scene (the “painter” scene), but others are interjections and (partial) replacements.

 

o Aside from the king’s half-line, all the additions are to the Queen’s speeches, including one wholly new speech (and the possible couplet). She’s already said “Such loue must needes be treason in my brest.” The additions just expand on that. (This makes “The lady doth protest too much me thinks” a pretty good punch line. She does go on...)

 

o The queen’s oath and the king’s “Tis deeply sworn” are amongst a plethora of vows, oaths, and swearing (and foreswearing) in Hamlet. See James Black on “Hamlet’s Vows,” here (PDF). Compare the queen’s “Nor earth to me giue foode, nor heauen light” (if she betray her oath) to Hamlet’s swearing on heaven and earth: “O all you host of heauen, ô earth.../...remember thee.../while memory holds a seate/thy commandement all alone shall liue,/Within the booke and volume of my braine.” And also Laertes’:  “Let this be so./.../Cry to be heard as twere from heauen to earth,/That I must call’t in question.” Swearing is a big deal in the play, and was a bigger deal than we can quite grasp in Elizabethan England. It would be a propos for Hamlet to pen these passages highlighting what, for Hamlet, are his mother’s broken vows to his father.

 

o In the context of the play played before the the king, the queen, and all the courtiers, just four months after King Hamlet’s death (Ophelia: “tis twice two months my Lord”), the additions are wildly inflammatory. “None wed the second, but who kild the first”? “A second time I kill my husband dead”? The implicit accusation—that Gertrude killed the king—is not thickly veiled. (cf Hamlet’s line in the closet scene: “almost as bad, good mother/As kill a king and marry with his brother.” Gertrude: “As kill a king?”)

 

o It’s certainly Hamlet’s intent to “catch the conscience of the king” with this play (it fails), with Shakespeare drawing on A Warning for Fair Women (Chamberlain’s Men, published 1599) and other contemporary accounts of “guilty creatures sitting at a play” confessing their guilt to a murder. But whether or not these proposed additions are Hamlet’s, the King/Queen interchange takes aim at one person and one person only: Gertrude. The queen is cast as foreswearing her repeated oaths to her noble and virtuous if rather dull and verbally plodding husband and king. (From the dumb show, the court audience watching this speech knows that she ends up marrying the murderer.)

 

o I will not be the first to point out the connection between the “Mousetrap” and Hamlet’s injunction to Gertrude in the closet scene (TLN 2559), that she not let Claudius “temp’t you againe to bed,/Pinch wanton on your cheeke, call you his Mouse...” Hamlet is (still) livid at his mother, and apparently really does think she might have killed his father. Her conscience is every bit as much a target of the mousetrap as Claudius’. 

 

No production that I’ve seen has depicted how thoroughly unpleasant this sixteen-year-old boy is in the mousetrap scene. He accuses his mother of murdering his father, and—nephew of the king—depicts the nephew of the king murdering the king (this murder was already in the play, needed no help from Hamlet except his “nephew” chorus)all right in front of the king and queen. And that’s before even considering his snide shots at elderly Polonius, or his nasty attacks on Ophelia for jilting him because he’s no longer heir to the throne. (He’s now instead a dangerous hereditary rival to the king and his toady and chief supporter, her father. It’s only one irony that Laertes, not Hamlet, leads a rebellion to overthrow Claudius and take the crown.)

 

We can certainly understand why Claudius is so furious, why he stops the play and calls for lights. It need have nothing to do with feelings of guilt. He’s pissed off. And with good reason.

 

I think this view puts unpleasant memories of contentious family Christmas dinners, with one family member or another stomping off in high dudgeon, in some perspective. 

 

One last note: Two of Hamlet’s interjections—“That’s wormwood” and “If she should break it now”—are printed in the right margin in Q2. (The facsimile pages from UVic’s Internet Shakespeare Editions are here and here.) They’re the only speeches printed that way in the whole quarto. All the other marginals are stage directions, printed in italic. I have no idea what to do with that (if anything), would welcome any thoughts.

 

Could Shakespeare have penned certain lines as having come from Hamlet’s quill? Sure. Did he? And could I have delved a yard below his deep plots to determine which they were? I’ll leave those questions for my gentle fellow SHAKSPERians.

 

 
From TLS: Shakespeare on Screen

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.032  Friday, 23 January 2015

 

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

Date:         January 22, 2015 at 9:18:44 PM EST

Subject:    From TLS: Shakespeare on Screen

 

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

 

 

Shakespeare on screen 

By Emma Smith 

 

SHAKESPEARE AND THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING CINEMA 

By Russell Jackson 

208pp. Oxford University Press. Paperback, £14.99. 

978 0 19 965946 3 

 

Russell Jackson has his own entry on the Internet Movie Database in the “miscellaneous crew” category: his work as text consultant on a slate of British Shakespeare films from Henry V (1989) to Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) gives him an insider view of the renaissance of that genre under the charismatic leadership of Kenneth Branagh. One conspicuous strength of his new book in the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series is his astute appreciation of something it has been easy for academics to denigrate or ignore: that particular kind of intelligent, populist costume drama that placed Much Ado About Nothing in a sunny Tuscan villa (Branagh, 1993), washed Viola up on a Cornish beach (Trevor Nunn, 1996), and depicted Desdemona’s elopement to the arms of her soldier lover by moonlit gondola (Oliver Parker, 1995). 

 

Jackson’s canon is inclusive and unpatronizing, traversing a century of cinema from early silents to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado (2012). He is not uncritical – wondering how the edgier gender politics of directors such as Sally Potter or Derek Jarman might have transformed a lacklustre As You Like It, for instance – nor does he patronize, writing persuasively about ungarlanded films such as Michael Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) or Stuart Burge’s Julius Caesar (1970). 

 

Jackson’s analysis avoids the mire of adaptation taxonomies that often clog up scholarship on Shakespeare on film. His decision to use the word “original” as “a convenient ­synonym for ‘the play this film starts from’”, like the “freer kinds of adaptation” he reserves for his final chapter, “Beyond Shakespeare”, is refreshingly untroubled. His method is broadly and illuminatingly comparative: placing the neutered 1936 Romeo and Juliet (George Cukor), alongside Franco Zeffirelli (1968) and then Baz Luhrmann (1996) traces an arc of representations of masculinity from bulging tights to ironic fancy dress. It also implies that the films are lineally related to their shared textual progenitor, rather than laterally to the cinematic products of, say, the same aesthetic mode, director, or period. If this organizational decision maps pragmatically onto general approaches to Shakespeare on film in the seminar room, it also necessarily prioritizes “Shakespeare” over “English-speaking cinema”. 

 

[ . . . ]

 

Jackson writes throughout with clarity, wit and elegance. The dozen or so stills from the films that are reproduced in the book are less dramatically visual than his own prose. Lady Macbeth’s “acidulous” tones amid the dodgy accents of Orson Welles’s Macbeth (1948), the eroticism of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III wooing Lady Anne (1955), the gothic setting of Jarman’s The Tempest (1980): these episodes receive crisply appreciative commentary. 

 

At the end of his book, however, this urbane confidence gives way to momentary anxiety: a section entitled “Please rewind” worries that not enough scholarly work has been referenced and that limitations on space may have distorted the topic. These doubts are understandable. Shakespeare and the English-Speaking Cinema does not have an argumentative through-line. It does not engage with the terminological and conceptual fretfulness that characterizes this field, nor is it in sustained conversation with criticism of the films or their “originals”. There is no attempt to make the category of “the English-speaking cinema” into anything much more than a practical self-denying ordinance. But Jackson knows what he is doing. His final injunction to his readers recalls Heminge and Condell: “watch the films again – and again”. This generous and intelligent book will certainly help them to do just that. 

 
 
From TLS: Shakespeare’s Playworlds

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.031  Friday, 23 January 2015

 

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

Date:         January 22, 2015 at 9:16:34 PM EST

Subject:    From TLS: Shakespeare’s Playworlds

 

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

 

Shakespeare’s Playworlds 

By Goran Stanivukovic 

 

SHAKESPEARE’S POSSIBLE WORLDS 

By Simon Palfrey

392pp. Cambridge University Press. £65 (US $99). 

978 1 107 05827 9 

 

POOR TOM 

By Simon Palfrey

Living ‘King Lear’ 

272pp. University of Chicago Press. £24.50 (US $35). 

978 0 226 15064 2 

 

Characters in King Lear, according to A. C. Bradley, “do not merely inspire in us emotions of unusual strength, but they also stir the intellect to wonder and speculation”. Bradley has often been criticized for treating Shakespeare’s characters as if they were real people, but he rightly reminds us that Shakespeare’s work encourages such intuitive reflections. It is no surprise, then, to see that Bradley is invoked in both Shakespeare’s Possible Worlds and Poor Tom: Living ‘­King Lear’, Simon Palfrey’s complementary exercises in wonder and speculation. 

 

A critic with a penchant for the unnoticed and the unspoken, Palfrey links small verbal units to the larger abstract worlds of philos­ophy and metaphysics, from Aristotle to Giorgio Agamben (the phrase “possible worlds” in the title of the first of these books echoes Agamben, who uses it in Potentialities), in order to conduct experiments in criticism. In both of these recent books, critical, creative and philosophical intimations emerge from Palfrey’s “super close-reading” of words as stagecraft tools and “embodiers of meaning”. “There is no detail unworthy of our attention”, he asserts in Shakespeare’s Possible Worlds, a statement that explains the existence of Poor Tom: a unique book in Shakespeare scholarship. The latter is devoted to a single detail in a single play, Edgar’s Bedlam disguise, taking to an extreme the interest in verbal units evinced by Palfrey in his earlier books, Late Shakespeare: A new world of words (1997) and Doing Shakespeare (2005), as well as Shakespeare in Parts (2007), co-written with Tiffany Stern. 

 

The intuitions of Poor Tom grow out of the systematic approach suggested by Shakespeare’s Possible Worlds, and both books employ Palfrey’s personal jargon of “playworld”, “playlife” and “formaction” – neologisms intended to address how language, stage tools and theatre practice produce meaning in Shakespeare’s work. The philosophical basis of playworld and playlife, for example, lies in Gottfried Leibniz’s notion of monads; for Palfrey, Shakespeare’s playworlds brim with these unrecorded, multitudinous “nodes of life”, which, when registered and written about, become “monadic apprehensions”. 

 

Shakespeare’s possible worlds thus become the possible worlds of a creative form of critical writing. The term “formaction”, meanwhile, is meant to encompass “the active forms of playworlds, their working parts and craft material . . . which do not so much mediate things in the world, as are vital with possible life: cues, scenes, metaphors, rhymes, parts, entrances, lines . . . exits . . . mime shows . . . a present audience”. These are the tools of theatre-making that shape dramatic action and help actors’ gestures shape playworlds, and they are virtually, in Palfrey’s view, alive in themselves: “Cue, . . . you can never escape your own space, your Cue-Space, perfect capsule of a word that can never sleep”. 

 

In Poor Tom, the disguised Edgar generates a playworld single-handedly as he leads his blinded father, the Earl of Gloucester, to the brink of a cliff at Dover, “the murmuring Surge” frothing deep below the father’s feet. In this celebrated scene, Shakespeare’s mind works in many directions at once: 

 

The temptation is death: perhaps as distribution of excess; perhaps as a commitment to feeling; perhaps as knowledge of the last frontier; perhaps as defeat; perhaps as a body that cannot contain all that bursts within; perhaps as a return to the predicative condition of being; or, perhaps, finally, as a release from, or release of, Tom. 

 

[ . . . ]

 

The longer and denser of the two books, Shakespeare’s Possible Worlds, is divided into three parts. “Entering Playworlds” sets the scholarly scene, comparing Shakespeare’s playworlds with those of his fellow playwrights Marlowe, Middleton, Marston and Webster; it also brings in non-dramatic correlatives in Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, and the non-dramatic writing of Sidney and Spenser. (Palfrey also claims that the concept of playworlds could be useful to those interested in questions of authorship; while Middleton’s and Marlowe’s playworlds are abundant, the unpredictability of possibilities in Shakespeare’s playworlds gives him a unique place among his contemporaries.) “Modelling Playworlds” considers Henry IV as the work of an anti-rhetorical Shakespeare who exposes the limits of rhetoric (perhaps not unlike Quentin Skinner’s Forensic Shakespeare; see the TLS, December 12, 2014). “Suffering Playworlds” shows how rhyme, repetition and modal verbs serve as the formactions of suffering and forgetting in The Winter’s Tale, as well as killing boredom in Much Ado About Nothing, repetition in Macbeth, rape in Pericles and death in Othello – themes, respectively, unnoticed, underexplored, well-known, over-examined. The book’s most impressive readings come here. In the scene of his wife’s dying, 

 

Othello has felt Desdemona as her life ebbs away. For all his wildness, Othello’s touch, as befits a professional soldier, is scrupulous as a surgeon’s. He is alert to the smallest fidget, and knows that life can hang upon a twig. He wants a gentle departure, which makes the job harder. And so I repeat: he feels his wife’s graduated exit. 

 

These two “flagrantly anachronistic” books treat Shakespeare criticism as a thought-experiment: “In Shakespeare’s playworlds uniquely – there is no guarantee that we all recognize even roughly the same reality; no guarantee that even if we all see the same thing (say, a drawn curtain) we will all agree about what it is, or about the life it signifies or secretes or denies”. It will be interesting to see what Simon Palfrey’s playworlds of creative criticism might signify for Shakespeare criticism. 

 
 
REED Post-Doctoral Fellowship Opportunity Posting

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.030  Friday, 23 January 2015

 

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

Date:         January 22, 2015 at 8:17:35 PM EST

Subject:    REED Post-Doctoral Fellowship Opportunity Posting

 

REED POST-DOCTORAL DIGITAL HUMANITIES FELLOWSHIP

 

The Records of Early English Drama (<reed.utoronto.ca/>), an international humanities research project focusing on medieval and early modern performance studies that is based at the University of Toronto, invites applications for a post-doctoral digital humanities fellowship for up to two years. The successful candidate will participate in REED’s development of a dynamic collection of freely available digital resources for research and education. REED is a longstanding research and editorial project, with partnership for maintenance and sustainability of its digital resources at the University of Toronto Libraries. REED is overseen by an international Executive Board, with a Digital Advisory Committee guiding its digital initiatives.

 

The Digital Humanities Fellow will be expected to join the project on site at the University of Toronto and will work closely there with the general editor, editorial staff, developers, and research assistants. Members of the REED Digital Advisory Committee will also provide support and mentorship for the postdoctoral fellow, who will be key to the development of a new digital editing and publication environment for REED’s forthcoming collections.

 

The Digital Humanities Fellow will engage in the development of REED’s new digital production environment, including the editing and encoding of TEI XML documents, new strategies for glossing medieval and early modern records, and, in consultation with others on the editorial team, developing the terms for online indexing of REED collections to be linked with other databases.

 

The successful candidate will demonstrate skills and aptitudes in early modern research, textual studies, and scholarly editing in digital humanities contexts. Advanced competency in TEI-compliant XML (P5) and some XSLT 2.0 experience is required. Engagement in open source development, digital scholarship frameworks and open access scholarship is essential. In addition, he or she should possess strong organizational skills and the desire to learn and pursue research in an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment.

 

The successful applicant will be encouraged to pursue his or her own research while at U of T, while receiving training and career development opportunities through REED’s international network.

 

Salary for this position is competitive in the Canadian context.

 

Applicants must have completed their PhD within five years of the beginning of the fellowship. Applicants who will defend their thesis before 1 July 2015 are eligible, but a letter from their supervisor or Chair may be requested. Any award will be conditional on a successful defense. Applicants who received their PhD prior to 1 July 2010 are ineligible.

 

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may further expand the range of ideas and perspectives.

 

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

 

Applications, comprising a brief cover letter, CV, and the names and contact information for three referees, may be sent electronically to the general editor, Sally-Beth MacLean, at < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >. Applications will be received and reviewed until the position is filled; the position can begin as early as April 2015. All applications received will be acknowledged.

 
 
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