MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.344  Monday, 27 July 2015

 

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

     Date:         July 26, 2015 at 4:56:10 PM EDT

     Subject:    MV Dialog

 

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

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 12:50:24 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

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

     Date:         July 24, 2015 at 11:58:15 PM EDT

     Subject:    Shakespeare Alliteration 

 

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

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 1:58:31 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

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

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 1:53:59 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

[6] From:        Duncan Salkeld <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 2:42:26 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

[7] From:        Mari Bonomi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 3:34:56 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

[8] From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 26, 2015 at 9:22:17 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

[9] From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 4:31:51 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

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

     Date:         July 26, 2015 at 4:56:10 PM EDT

     Subject:    MV Dialog 

 

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 12:05:24 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

To Distinguished Professors Strier and Drakakis:

 

I intend to discuss these issues substantively later. I raised them now because I wondered if anyone had any explanations as to why Shakespeare wrote what I perceived as contradictions. I had in mind something simple, perhaps like a device to unsettle the audience. But let’s just forget it and move on.

 

Bill

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 12:50:24 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

In support of Richard Strier’s interpretation of Portia’s strategy in the Trial scene, one might also cite her behavior earlier, in the casket trial. As many critics have noted, although she is supposed to follow her father’s instructions and let her suitors make their choices freely, she gives Bassanio clues in both the subject matter and the emphatic rhyme scheme of the song she orders sung. In both scenes, then, she cheats. And in both scenes, the Venetians are happy with her cheating. Bassanio wins his prize, of course, and Shylock is defeated. Who cares about the law? It’s always puzzled me that Portia is celebrated as such a noble woman. (Her comment on the Prince of Morocco also shows her to be a racist, but then her comments on other suitors show her to be more universally xenophobic.)

 

Hannibal

 

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

Date:         July 24, 2015 at 11:58:15 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare Alliteration

 

Pervez Rizvi questions this Jim Carroll assertion (MV Dialogue):

 

Shakespeare habitually echoed certain consonants in association

>with certain words, including “Mantua”, which appears repeatedly in

>some plays, a total of 19 times by my count, not including the 

>emendation in Merchant.

 

I’ve long thought Shakespeare’s commitment to alliteration and assonance may help to account for our recognition and appreciation of “Shakespearian” lines without knowing exactly why. An obvious “initial letter” repetition seems often to be de-emphasized by what I would call a “rolling alliteration” utilizing related but transitional sounds in pretty ways.

 

The trouble with my idea is that on the few occasions I’ve attempted to describe it (to myself) the evidence seems to melt away. The Sonnets are the proving ground, of course. I’ve noticed (or thought so) that such sounds as ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘th ‘t’, ‘st’, etc., progressively enhance lines beyond what might be expected of other tools, even to begin new sequences or to make more usual alliteration more palatable.

 

Some letters don’t lend themselves well to treatment. ‘M’ is a good example; but interspersed milder sounds and medial m’s can tone it down. Other letters, sounds, and sights participate. Rather than outright cherry-pick (good or bad) I’ll look at the promising (but unfamiliar to me) Sonnet 59:

 

If there bee nothing new, but that which is,     1

Hath beene before, how are our braines beguild, 2

Which laboring for inuention beare amisse 3

The second burthen of a former child?                 4

Oh that record could with a back-ward looke,       5

Euen of fiue hundreth courses of the Sunne,       6

Show me your image in some antique booke,     7

Since minde at first in carrecter was done.         8

That I might see what the old world could say, 9

To this composed wonder of your frame, 10

Whether we are mended, or where better they, 11

Or whether reuolution be the same. 12

    Oh sure I am the wits of former daies, 13

    To subjects worse haue giuen admiring praise. 14

 

There are only so many letters; their deliberate combination has to be limited. But that’s a lot of b’s up front, ten in five lines. And then there are eight of ‘th’ and four of ‘ch’. Although these combos and their sounds abound I can’t quite believe their existence in the sonnet is by chance—or on purpose,

 

For Shakespeare, one thing led to another: there were many things; so there. ‘Euen of fiue’ has three ‘v’ sounds and two f’s. Not bad for four letters. ‘Hundreth’ introduces courses of the sunne better than ‘hundred’ [Hundreth good pointes of husbandry (I wasn’t counting), Hundreth Sundrie Flowres]; sunne has an ‘m’, damned if it don’t; ‘Show me . . . some . . . image . . . since minde . . .’ and on and on in Shakespeare’s carrecter. We get m’s up the gazoo, not because they’re intended; they just came out. And look at the rest of the mess: it’s a good tale and truly beautiful. Without the undulating repetition it wouldn’t have the same effect.

 

When pondering such things I’m often reminded of The Neurolinguistics of Bilingualism (believe it or not), (Franco Fabbro, University of Trieste), a page of which turns up in the strangest places when I’m not reminded:

 

“When the surgeon started manipulating the tumor, the patient who was conscious . . . began to quote passages in Latin, classical Greek, and Hebrew. Furthermore, he produced typical phonemic associations with the word uttered by the surgeon. . . . When he heard the word Messer (knife, scalpel) he immediately said: ‘Messer, Messer, Metzer, Sie sind ein Metzel, das ist ja ein Gemetzel, metzeln Sie doch nicht so messen . . ‘ . . On the one hand, the patient uncontrollably produced sequences of words that were linked by assonance and/or alliteration, yet without syntactic cohesion; on the other hand, he seemingly wanted to convey an important message to the surgeon, namely his fear of being butchered . . . . The . . . pathological compulsion to speak probably depended on the stimulation of the ventral anterior nucleus of the thalamus . . .”

 

As Nervous Norvus says, “We haven’t changed a bit, have we, Cats?!” But I hate to argue that that’s just how Shakespeare was when Pervez suggests I’m seeing and hearing things; he may be right.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 1:58:31 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

John Drakakis says,

 

Larry Weiss thinks that I am missing the point concerning Portia’s alleged legal contradiction.

 

It was Mr. Blanton who made the argument which Prof. Drakakis refutes here.  I actually agree with Drakakis, as I thought my posts made clear.

 

PLEASE do not confuse me with Mr. Blanton.

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 1:53:59 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

Prof Strier says,

 

I believe that Professor [sic] Weiss is wrong legally and is also missing a crucial point.  The notion that Portia is simply enforcing the contract in a rational way is absurd.  Putting aside the fact that no judge, then or now, would have allowed the contract at face value—a legal face value that is stipulated in the play, and never questioned—a judge who did allow the contract would also allow the means necessary for its enforcement.

 

I am not quite sure what the point is.  Is Prof. Strier saying that the courts of the 16th Century would have refused to enforce the specialty because the contract was illegal or unconscionable, a concept in contract law that has a much more modern pedigree?  If so, I would be interested in studying his authorities.  I hope he sees fit to cite them.

 

But no matter, Prof. Strier seems not to have brought his acute legal analysis to bear on what I said.  I did not assert that Portia’s argument was “rational” or that it accords with law (modern or 16th Century).  My point was that it served to  allow Antonio to remain whole without having to abandon the law per vi.  It is sophistry, I concede—look again at what I said and see if I defended Portia’s argument on its merits—but that is not the point.  

 

Moreover, I am not persuaded that courts of the 16th Century might not have adopted some such reasoning to avoid a judgment for the plaintiff.   The doctrine of stare decisis was taken more seriously then than now, and techniques of constructing exceptions and drawing distinctions were not as sophisticated.  As Portia said (in substance), hard cases make bad law.  The early modern courts were adept at the kind of chopped logic Portia employed.  For example, in the law of slander there was a doctrine that the words alleged to be defamatory were required to be given the most innocent construction possible in order to avoid imposing liability on the speaker.  That rule resulted in some odd results; for example, I recall reading in the first year course on torts that there was a case in which the defendant had asserted that the plaintiff had cleaved a man’s head with a hatchet, causing one half to fall on one shoulder and the other half to fall on the other: The court exonerated the plaintiff because he had not said that this was murder, as he had not asserted that the victim died.

 

In any event, please let us all remember that Merchant of Venice is a work of dramatic fiction, not a legal treatise or a how-to manual for lawyers.

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 2:42:26 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

Just to add to John Drakakis’s mention of the reference in 3.5.35-6 by Lorenzo to ‘the getting up of the negro’s belly’. 

 

The Clown’s reply at this point is: ‘It is much that the Moor should be more than reason: but if she be less than an honest woman, she is indeed more than I took her for’.

 

As Imtiaz Habib has pointed out, John Reason or Reasonable was a black silkweaver who lived in Southwark in the early 1590s, possibly serving the theatres there. He appears in the Southwark Token Books for 1579 as ‘Resonablakmore’: see http://tokenbookslma.cityoflondon.gov.uk/jpgs/P92-SAV-183-07.JPG. In 1595, A woman, possibly his wife, is named in the Token Books as ‘Wydow Blakemore’: see http://tokenbookslma.cityoflondon.gov.uk/jpgs/P92-SAV-191-12.JPG. Will Kemp, who probably played Lancelet the Clown, lived just a few doors away in Samson’s Rents.

 

Imtiaz Habib and I published two related articles side-by-side on these details in the BSA journal Shakespeare. Here’s the reference: Habib, Imtiaz and Salkeld, Duncan (2013) The Resonables of Boroughside, Southwark: an Elizabethan black family near the Rose Theatre/Alienating laughter in The Merchant of Venice: a reply to Imtiaz Habib. Shakespeare. pp. 1-22. ISSN 1745-091. Habib discussed historical details and traces regarding the family. I argued that the Clown’s line in MoV looks very much like a topical quip on the Southwark black family, and adds further unsettling tones to this already racially charged play.

 

Without Habib’s work, and a brief conversation with Leslie C. Dunn of Vassar College who crucially asked me ‘What about that moment in the Merchant of Venice when ...?’, I would never have written my contribution. So this is an opportunity for me to thank them both. Plus it allows me to advertise the monumental work of William Ingram and Alan Nelson on Southwark and the Token Books.

 

Incidentally, Sir Thurio in Two Gentleman tells Proteus, ‘My face is black’ (5.2.10). Another Shakespearean black character?

 

Duncan Salkeld

 

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 3:34:56 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

Perhaps I am misunderstanding Richard A. Strier who says of Shylock, “But nothing further is threatened him, taken from, him or demanded of him”

 

In fact, something more than his principal, and his default bond, are taken from him.  His very identity is stripped. “The Jew” is forced to become a Christian.

 

I admit to a lack of knowledge of how much of a blow this would seem to an Elizabethan audience, in terms of Jews.

 

But certainly the forced conversions from Catholic to Protestant to Catholic and again back to Protestant that marked the preceding decades would resonate with them.

 

In fact, it may be, to both Shylock and to many in the audience, a far worse blow than the loss of his bond and his principal.

 

Mari Bonomi

 

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

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

Date:         July 26, 2015 at 9:22:17 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

In discussing the trial scene as if it were real we are of course going deep into “How many children did Lady Macbeth have?” territory. But as the topic seems to be of some interest, I’d like to offer a response too.

 

Portia’s “no power in Venice / Can alter a decree established. / ‘Twill be recorded for a precedent” can be interpreted so as not to be self-contradictory. In English law the rule used to be that all courts were bound by their own precedents and the ones set by higher courts. This meant that a precedent set by the highest court was set for eternity, since there was no higher court to overturn it. It was not until 1966 that our highest court (now called the Supreme Court, then known commonly as the ‘law lords’) was given permission by the Lord Chancellor to depart from its own precedents. We can suppose that Portia is warning the Duke that if he chooses to grant his court the power to overrule its precedents, then that will open the floodgates. 

 

I agree with Richard Strier’s rejection of John Drakakis’ and Larry Weiss’ argument that Portia is simply applying a literal reading of the bond when she says that Shylock can have the pound of flesh but no blood. Portia’s point is of course extreme sophistry but in contract law it is also a poor legal argument. The bond is silent about whether Shylock can draw Antonio’s blood when cutting his flesh, so the court has to construe the contract to decide the issue. Where there is a choice, a court will not choose a construction which makes the contract impossible to perform. So Portia's construction of the contract would be rejected.

 

What Portia actually does is to go beyond contract law. In shedding Antonio’s blood, Shylock would of course be committing a criminal offence. The fact that he has a bond to permit what he is doing is not enough, since a private contract cannot override the public law. So although he has a winning case in contract law, if he insists on his contractual rights he will be committing an offence. Moreover, no court has the power to order the commission of a criminal offence, so the Duke could not in any case order Antonio to submit to Shylock’s knife. 

 

Had Shakespeare been writing a legal case rather than a drama, he could have given Portia a number of other strong legal arguments. (a) English courts do not order people to perform their contractual obligations if the performance would involve too much interference with their personal autonomy; for example, if an employee walks out on a job without giving notice, a court will not order him to go back. In this case, having a pound of flesh cut off would qualify under this rule. In such cases, courts always award monetary compensation instead, here the value of the bond. (b) English law does not enforce contractual conditions that act to punish a party for a breach; it awards full compensation but no more than that. In this case the cutting off of the flesh is obviously a punishment and is therefore unenforceable. (c) Portia could ask the court to refuse to enforce the contract on the ground of public policy. For example, until Parliament changed the law ten years ago, English courts could refuse to enforce gambling contracts as a matter of policy. Portia could argue that bonds like the one in front of the court are repugnant to public morals and ought not to be enforced.

 

Of course we know that Portia’s court is in Venice, not London. But Shakespeare and his audiences would have had English law in mind. Just as Shakespeare had English workmen in mind when he wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in Athens, but created characters with names like Nick Bottom, who talk about getting sixpence a day.

 

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 4:31:51 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

I think Jim Carroll and I will have to agree to disagree.....

 

Jim says that ‘the frequency of “m” words cited by Pervez does not reflect the actual clustering of “m” words, and there are many instances of multiple consecutive lines with no “m” words at all.’ But this is exactly what we should expect. In real life, data is never evenly spread according to the theoretical probability. We always get clusters which are easy to mistake for something significant if you are not familiar with how randomness operates. If you tossed a coin a thousand times, you would get several clusters of successive heads and successive tails. It doesn’t mean anything - it’s just randomness. One of the ways in which researchers detect fabricated data is by showing that it’s more neatly balanced and orderly than would be the case for real data.

 

For the same reason, it’s completely unsurprising that, as Jim demonstrates, near ‘Padua’ we sometimes get both ‘m’ and ‘p’ words, sometimes just one and sometimes none. 

 

I am not insisting that there is no pattern of any kind. Shakespeare was not generating words at random. He was writing for meaning and everyone has some word associations in their mind, so in principle it’s possible that there’s something along the lines Jim suggests. But the examples he gives don’t qualify as evidence, at least not without a supporting statistical analysis.

 

If you want to play around and see the effects that randomness produces, there is a wonderful website called www.random.org where you can generate your own random numbers. I just used it to simulate the tossing of a coin 1000 times and on the first attempt saw a cluster of 11 successive heads near the top of the list. That’s randomness for you.

 

[10]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         July 26, 2015 at 4:56:10 PM EDT

Subject:    MV Dialog

 

Many thanks to all who have responded to my post regarding contradictions in the play. I did not intend to trigger any controversy, although I am glad to read these diverse opinions. This is just the sort of dialog I had hoped for. 

 

Will someone please explain to me why the song with the verse lines that rhyme with lead is not a hint to Bassanio. I gather that “old chestnut” signifies that scholars have debunked this possibility. However, John’s footnote number 65 on page 296 indicates that the song is a hint. I’m confused.

 

Clearly I will have to address the Mantua/Padua issue sooner than anticipated.

 

Shakespeare has Portia send Balthaser (F1 spelling) to Bellario in Mantua. (3.4.49) Perhaps a sizable number of those in Shakespeare’s audiences would have remembered when a Balthazar was sent to Mantua in RJ. This self-reference helps to date the first performance of RJ to some time before late 1596.

 

Portia and Nerissa are to wait at the traject for Balthaser to return with notes and garments. (3.4.51-55) She and Nerissa then take the “common Ferry” to Venice. 

 

Shakespeare does not send anyone to Padua. Portia and Nerissa never meet with Bellario. Balthaser does not travel with them to Venice.

 

Salerio announces that a messenger with letters from Doctor Bellario is “New come from Padua!” (4.1.107-08) When Nerissa, disguised as a lawyer’s clerk, enters carrying a letter, the Duke asks (unnecessarily): “Came you from Padua from Bellario?” Nerissa then lies through her teeth: “From both! My lord, Bellario greets your grace.” Nerissa then hands the Duke the very important — although seemingly commonplace — letter.

 

Shakespeare’s audiences would have heard just moments ago the matters related in Act 3 Scene 4. They would have thought to themselves, “Hey! Wait a minute. I thought Bellario was in Mantua, not Padua, and I distinctly remember that Nerissa did not go to Bellario at either place but rather waited at the traject. WTF is going on here?”

 

Shakespeare got their attention. What’s going on is Shakespeare’s effort to highlight what appears to be nothing more than a simple letter of introduction. 

 

Consider closely what happens next.

 

While the Duke reads the letter to himself, Bassanio and Shylock engage in another slanging match (which no real court would tolerate).

 

The Duke then says, “This letter from Bellario doth commend/ A young and learned doctor to our court./ Where is he?” (4.1.142-43)

 

Nerissa replies: “He attendeth here hard by/ To know your answer whether you’ll admit him.” (4.1.144-45)

 

While awaiting the arrival of the young and learned doctor, the Duke reads the letter a second time, this time out loud and to the entire court (and to the audience). (4.1.149-62)

 

When he finishes reading the letter, the Duke says: “You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes.” Yet another reference to the letter, highlighting its significance.

 

When Portia enters (as Balthazar), the Duke says: “And here, I take it, is the doctor come./ Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?”

 

Portia replies: “I did, my lord.” Note that she does not correct the Duke’s impression of her identity as “the doctor,” and she (“of wondrous virtues” [1.1.163]) lies to the Duke’s face. She was not the Balthasar (F1 spelling) whom Bellario described in his letter, and she certainly did not come from old Bellario.

 

With all that focus on Bellario’s letter, just who is that Balthasar, what does Bellario really mean, and where did Balthasar go?

 

It is unfortunate that editors do not use the F1 spellings of Balthaser (he to Mantua), Balthasar (he who met with Bellario), and Balthazar (she who appeared in court). Many readers believe that Portia did meet with Bellario, and that is how she came to know so much legal business. I know I did the first time I read the play (Norton, Greenblatt). No one on stage addresses her as Balthazar, but only as Doctor or Judge. That name Balthazar appears only once, in the stage direction for her entrance.

 

Again, many thanks.

 

Bill

 

 

A Winter’s Tale at the DC Capitol Fringe

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.343  Monday, 27 July 2015

 

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

Date:         July 26, 2015 at 1:28:36 PM EDT

Subject:    A Winter’s Tale at the DC Capitol Fringe

 

Perhaps the Happy Few production might be of interest: I link in reviews of a production of The Life and Death of King John, and an adaptation of a Middleton play:

 

https://ellenandjim.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/capitol-fringe-festival-shakespeares-winters-tale-we-happy-few/#comment-15001

 

Ellen Moody

 

The International Christopher Marlowe

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.342  Monday, 27 July 2015

 

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

Date:         July 24, 2015 at 6:08:06 PM EDT

Subject:    The International Christopher Marlowe

 

http://christophermarlowe.exeter.ac.uk/conference/conference-programme/

 

CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

 

We are very excited to announce our provisional conference programme. All speakers, panels, and paper titles are still subject to change. Registration for the event is now open; click here for more details.

 

THE INTERNATIONAL CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE

University of Exeter, 7th – 8th September 2015

 

PROVISIONAL SCHEDULE

 MONDAY, 7TH SEPTEMBER

 

9.15-10.00        Registration, coffee

 

10.00-10.15       Edward Paleit (Exeter), Welcome

 

10.15-12.00     Session 1: Marlowe’s Tamburlaine and the East

 

Simon May (Oxford), ‘Marlowe’s Tamburlaine: Ambiguity and the Near East’

 

Chloe Houston (Reading), ‘Valiant Tamburlaine, the man of fame’: gender, Persia and romance in Tamburlaine

Professor Matthew Dimmock (Sussex), ‘Tamburlaine’s Material Worlds’

 

12.00-12.45     Lunch

 

12.45-14.00     Provocation and Subversion in Marlowe

 

Professor Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam), ‘Marlowe’s Provocative Play Names’

 

Vincenzo Pasquarella, ‘Italian Masks/Italianate Devils: The Metamorphic Deceptions in Marlowe’s Edward II

 

14.00-14.15     Coffee Break

 

14.15-15.45     Session 3: Marlowe’s International Perspectives

 

Chloe Preedy (Exeter), ‘Europe by Air: International Flight in Marlowe’s Drama’

 

Barbara Wooding, ‘‘With twice twelve Phrygian ships I ploughed the deep’: Marlowe and journeys of the imagination.’

 

15.45-16.00     Coffee break

 

16.00-17.30     Session 4: Marlowe and European politics

 

Edward Paleit (Exeter), ‘Whose resistance theory is it anyway? The virtual excommunication of Marlowe’s Edward II’

 

Georgina Lucas (Birmingham/Shakespeare Institute), ‘ “An action bloody and tyrannical”: Tyranny and Resistance in Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris

 

17.45-19.00     Keynote: Professor Alan Stewart (Columbia)

                        (Followed by Q&A)

 

20.00    Conference Dinner: Côte Brasserie, Cathedral Green, Exeter

 

 

TUESDAY, 8th SEPTEMBER

 

9.00-10.45       Session 4: Religious Conflict in Marlowe

 

Professor Catherine Gemelli Martin (Memphis), ‘Marlowe’s Massacre at Paris and the Wars of Religion’

 

Killian Schindler (Fribourg), ‘Predestination and Religious Toleration: New International Contexts for Doctor Faustus

 

Meadhbh O’Halloran (Cork), ‘Marlowe’s Mediterranean’

 

10.45-11.00     Coffee

 

11.00-12.45     Session 5: Giordano Bruno, Philosophy and Religion

Professor Rosanna Camerlingo (Perugia), ‘Brunian Marlowe’

 

Luca Bocchetti (Verona), ‘Benvolio, Christ and Actaeon: the Italian Neoplatonic Legacy of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Giordano Bruno’s Spaccio de la bestia trionfante.

 

Cristiano Ragni (Perugia) ‘ “What irreligious pagans’ parts be these?” Machiavelli, Bruno, Gentili and the idea of religion in Marlowe’s Massacre.’

 

12.45-13.30     Lunch

 

13.45-15.15     Session 5: Marlowe from Marlowe to modernity

Professor Richard Hillman (Tours), ‘Dr. Faustus and contemporary French translations of the Faustbuch

 

George Oppitz-Trotman (UEA), ‘Doctor Faustus and the English Comedians’

 

15.15-15.30     Coffee

 

15.30-16.45     Session 5, continued

 

Conny Loder (LMU Munich), ‘Christopher Marlowe’s influence on literary, dramatic and intellectual trends in Germany in the seventeenth century’

 

Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen (Leiden), ‘Marlowe, Shakespeare & Religion in the Twenty-First Century: Two Dutch Case Studies’

 

17.00-18.00     Drinks reception

 

 

REGISTRATION

 

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MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.341  Thursday, 23 July 2015

 

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

     Date:         July 22, 2015 at 5:54:30 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

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

     Date:         July 22, 2015 at 10:49:20 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: MV Dialog 

 

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

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 5:55:45 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

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

     Date:         July 23, 2015 at 7:46:21 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

 

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

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

Date:         July 22, 2015 at 5:54:30 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

I hope not to carry this on interminably, but I am willing to go one more round.  I believe that Professor Weiss is wrong legally and is also missing a crucial point.  The notion that Portia is simply enforcing the contract in a rational way is absurd.  Putting aside the fact that no judge, then or now, would have allowed the contract at face value—a legal face value that is stipulated in the play, and never questioned—a judge who did allow the contract would also allow the means necessary for its enforcement.  The “no jot of blood” thing is a ridiculous quibble masquerading as a matter of strict enforcement.  But no contract can specify all the means necessary for its enforcement; the obviously necessary means are taken for granted.  The crucial point is that the great spokesperson for mercy is winning by a very legally dubious quibble, a supposed hyper-legalism that actually undermines the efficacy of contracts.  I suppose one is supposed to take pleasure in Portia supposedly beating Shylock at his own game (literalism), but this is a pretty cheap thrill, and doesn’t withstand much legal or ethical scrutiny.  And what happened to the quality of mercy?  In all of the variants of the story that I know, the Jew is prevented from getting his pound of flesh, and also doesn’t get his principal back.  But nothing further is threatened him, taken from, him or demanded of him.  Going home with nothing is a lot better than Shylock does.  Mercy me!

 

Richard Strier

Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus

Editor, Modern Philology

Department of English

University of Chicago

 

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

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

Date:         July 22, 2015 at 10:49:20 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

>Based on the evidence he gives I think he is seeing significance

>where there is none. There are 109,220 through lines in the Folio.

>By my count 41,671 of them contain a word beginning with ‘m’ 

>(other than Mantua itself).

 

Some instances of “m” words, such as “my”, could be considered coincidences because they occur so often everywhere. In Shakespeare’s case, “my” also appears frequently with other “mi” words like “mine” and “mind” (see the examples below). However, the frequency of “m” words cited by Pervez does not reflect the actual clustering of “m” words, and there are many instances of multiple consecutive lines with no “m” words at all. “Mantua” triggers “m” substantives (“man”, “gentleman”, “countryman”, “mood”, “mountain”, etc.) more often than a word like “Padua”, and if you exclude commonplace words like “my”, “me” and “mine”, “must”, “meet”, etc., I think you will find distinct associations between not only words in Shakespeare’s mind, but also syllabic sounds.

 

Compare his associations with “Padua”, for example. Many instances have no “m” words at all, many instead have “p” words close by, and some have both. When both are present, it is usually a commonplace word as listed above. There is one instance already cited where “Mantua” and  “Padua” appear together with “m” words and a “p” word. Below are all the instances of “Padua” in Shakespeare, and of the 24 passages, only 5 have only “m” words associated with “Padua”. One of the passages in the first group below is 7 lines long with no “m” words.

 

The “p” words are highlighted in the text, I’ve indicated the instances of with “m” words by placing the “m” words in the margin, Examples with no “m” words and echoes with “p” words:

 

Not POSSIBLE; for who shall bear your part,

And be in Padua here Vincentio's son,

Keep house and PLY his book, welcome his friends,        Shrew I-i:194–196

 

Within rich PISA walls, as any one

Old Signior Gremio has in Padua,

Besides two thousand ducats by the year                        Shrew II-i:367–369)

 

Nay, I told you your son was well belov'd

in Padua. Do you hear, sir? — to leave frivolous

circumstances, I PRAY you tell Signior Lucentio that

his father is come from PISA, and is here at the door

to speak with him.

Ped. Thou liest, his father is come from Padua

and here looking out at the window.

Vin. Art thou his father?                                                  Shrew V-i:25–32

 

Nothing but sit and sit, and eat and eat!

Bap. Padua affords this kindness, son PETRUCHIO.

Pet. Padua affords nothing but what is kind.

Hor. For both our sakes, I would that word were true.         Shrew V-ii:12–15

 

Here is a letter, read it at your leisure.

It comes from Padua, from Bellario.

There you shall find that PORTIA was the doctor,              Merchant V-i:267–269

 

Examples with both “m” and “p” words:

 

Tell me thy mind, for I have PISA left                      ME MIND

And am to Padua come, as he that leaves

A shallow PLASH to PLUNGE him in the deep,                Shrew I-i:21–23

 

And he shall be Vincentio of PISA,                        MAKE

And make assurance here in Padua

Of greater sums than I have PROMISED.                         Shrew III-ii:133–135

 

I'll bring mine action on the PROUDEST he            MY MINE

That stops my way in Padua. Grumio,

Draw forth thy weapon, we are beset with thieves;             Shrew III-ii:234–236

 

Tra. Of Mantua, sir? marry, God forbid!                  MANTUA MARRY MY

And come to Padua, careless of your life?

Ped. My life, sir? How, I PRAY? for that goes hard.

Tra.  'Tis death for any one in Mantua

To come to Padua. Know you not the cause?

Your ships are stay'd at Venice, and the Duke                   Shrew IV-ii:78–83

 

Give me Bianca for my PATRIMONY.                     MY

Ped. Soft, son!

Sir, by your leave, having come to Padua

To gather in some debts, my son Lucentio                        Shrew IV-iv:22–25

 

My name is call'd Vincentio, my dwelling PISA,     MY MINE

And bound I am to Padua, there to visit

A son of mine, which long I have not seen.                        Shrew IV-v:55–57

 

I humbly do desire your Grace of PARDON,           MUST MEET

I must away this night toward Padua,

And it is meet I PRESENTLY set forth.                             Merchant IV-i:402–404

 

 

What is he that you ask for, niece?                       MY

Hero. My cousin means Signior Benedick of

Padua.

Mess. O, he's return'd, and as PLEASANT as ever

he was.                                                                         Much Ado I-i:34–38

 

Examples with neither “m” nor “p” words:

 

Tranio, since for the great desire I had

To see fair Padua, nursery of arts,

I am arriv'd for fruitful Lombardy,                                       Shrew I-i:1–3

 

And take a lodging fit to entertain

Such friends as time in Padua shall beget.

But stay a while, what company is this?                          Shrew I-i:44–46

 

I am agreed, and would I had given him the

best horse in Padua to begin his wooing that would

thoroughly woo her, wed her, and bed her, and rid

the house of her! Come on.                                             Shrew I-i:142–145

 

As are the swelling Adriatic seas,

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;

If wealthily, then happily in Padua.                                   Shrew I-ii:74–76

 

I told him that your father was at Venice,

And that you look'd for him this day in Padua.

Tra. Th' art a tall fellow; hold thee that to drink.                 Shrew IV-iv:15–17

 

And if you will, tell what hath happened:

Lucentio's father is arriv'd in Padua,

And how she's like to be Lucentio's wife.                          Shrew IV-iv:64–66

 

Examples with only “m” words:

 

Verona, for a while I take my leave                         MY

To see my friends in Padua, but of all

My best beloved and approved friend,                               Shrew I-ii:1–3

 

And tell me now, sweet friend, what happy gale      MEN

Blows you to Padua here from old Verona?

Pet. Such wind as scatters young men through the world     Shrew I-ii:48–50

 

Her name is Katherina Minola,                              MINOLA

Renown'd in Padua for her scolding tongue.

Pet. I know her father, though I know not her,                    Shrew I-ii:99–101

 

 

A messenger with letters from the doctor,              MESSENGER

New come from Padua.

Duke. Bring us the letters; call the messenger.                 Merchant IV-i:108–110

 

Than to live still and write mine epitaph.                MY MINE

Duke. Came you from Padua, from Bellario?

Ner. From both, my lord.  Bellario greets your Grace.        Merchant IV-i:118–120

 

Jim Carroll

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 5:55:45 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

Larry Weiss thinks that I am missing the point concerning Portia’s alleged legal contradiction. Surely the issue is clear in the play. She says that “there is no power in Venice / Can alter a decree established.” BUT she goes on to say that if such an abuse of power does occur (as indeed, abuses of power are not unthinkable) then it will “be recorded for a precedent” and therefore lead to further abuses. The lines are condensed certainly, but the meaning here seems to be fairly clear, and does not require a complex negotiation of two legal systems to explain it. To violate the law will introduce ‘error’ “And many an error by the same example / Will rush into the state.” Of course, what the play MAY be offering is an ‘English’ gloss on Venetian law where the latter claims to be egalitarian but that this would not prevent practice from challenging its claimed fairness. This would have more to do with an ‘English’ view of the workings of Venice as a ‘republic’ would it not?  Portia offers in these lines two statements that are not incompatible with each other: if the one statement is violated then error of a potentially tyrannical sort enters into the legal system. The question might be that the law of ‘precedent’ that was creeping into English juridical practice is now transposed as a potentially subversive possibility when applied to Venice. This is not quite the same thing as conflating two different legal systems I think.

 

Cheers

 

John D

 

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

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

Date:         July 23, 2015 at 7:46:21 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

I’m sorry that Professor Strier thinks that I am being bland or dismissive of the MV ‘contradictions. That wasn’t my intention. I have difficulty sometimes (as I am sure he has) in trying to figure out what was Shakespeare’s understanding of Venetian legal issues, and of economic matters, and what was Elizabethan culture’s understanding of these matters. There is also the question of when we should be ‘literal’ in our reading of a particular detail, and whether we need to see it in its larger immediate (and sometimes, not so immediate) context. 

 

To take one perplexing detail, the reference in 3.5.35-6 by Lorenzo to ‘thre getting up of the negro’s belly’. Last night I saw a filmed live performance of the RSC’s current MV production in which a female servant was invented in order to make sense of this puzzling detail. The solution is plausible, but it is a directorial tidying up of something that in the text we have remains a problem.

 

On the matter of ‘contradiction’ generally there is, I think, a larger problem. I agree that close reading can and does throw up textual difficulties, BUT in a play that seems to be as untidy as this one, I think that ‘contradiction’ might not always be the term to describe these inconsistencies.  For example, if we take Antonio’s ‘melancholy’, he says he doesn’t know why he is so sad. In Act 1. scene 2 Portia is also sad, and melancholy, though we have a more immediate cause for it: her dead father’s control over her. Much later in the play, the bested Shylock asks to leave the court saying that he ‘is not well’.  Productions seem to opt in Antonio’s case (as indeed does the current RSC production) for an explanation that he is a (not so) suppressed homosexual.  Last night’s production actually cut the ending of the play in which Portia gives Antonio the letter telling him that his argosies are safe. He is then left onstage sobbing at the end, and we are expected to conclude that this is because he has lost his lover Bassanio to Portia. Alan Sinfield’s analysis of the play cautions us against an unproblematic ‘heterosexist’ reading, and there is a clear tension in the play between heterosexual marriage and male friendship, but Antonio IS paired up at the end of the play: with his investments, and his response is welcome astonishment: “I am dumb!” he only subsequently breaks his silence with what seems to me NOT an anxious statement: “Sweet lady, you have given me life and living..”  Antonio’s initial anxiety may have an obvious cause in that he is not unaware of the business risks he takes as a merchant.  Why should his denial of this cause be of less significance than his response to Salanio’s suggestion that he is ‘in love’?  It is at moments like this that we augment the text with speculative explanations, or that we try to account for what to us appear to be opposing statements. 

 

I don’t want to dismiss these difficulties, but are they not substantially the products of a particular literary form of close reading?  This is a play that is threaded through with a series of motifs, not all of them clearly formulated or explained, and, of course, we are not used to thinking of Shakespeare as an untidy writer. Some of thee details are irrecoverable, but, to take one example that has been raised in discussion, Bill Blanton asks what has the play to do with ‘miscegenation’? The Jew-Christian opposition (Jessica-Lorenzo, that in Othello becomes Othello-Desdemona when it is later linked ‘intra-textually’ with the Morocco-Portia possibility that MV rejects), and, of course, Lorenzo’s remark about ‘the negro’s belly are all to do with miscegenation aren’t they? 

 

Cheers

 

John D

 

 

Joan La Pucelle & Her Shakespearean “Sisters”

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.340  Thursday, 23 July 2015

 

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

Date:         July 22, 2015 at 4:51:20 PM EDT

Subject:    Joan La Pucelle & Her Shakespearean “Sisters”

 

Anna Kamarilla responded to my initial post as follows: 

 

“I think what you have observed is less a specific parallel between Joan and Rosalind than one of Shakespeare’s recurring go-to character/situation favourites, namely, a smart woman claiming nominally male space. It is a scenario he returns to over and over throughout his writing career.”

 

Thank you for your very interesting reply, Anna. While I still think there is an extra dimension to the Joan/Rosalind parallel regarding a woman presenting a strongly masculine persona, that goes beyond the more general pattern you have identified, I do agree that the pattern you describe is as you say and is also significant. Powerful women provoke anxious, sexist responses from men, especially those in the military or at a court. I did some quick Googling, and found two earlier scholarly tidbits that address the pattern you mentioned in insightful ways:

 

First, Russell Fraser, in his 1985 edition of AWTEW, at xvi-xvii, connects Rosalind, Helena, and Cressida:  

 

All’s Well…shares a skeptical view of war (and a character called Helen) with Troilus and Cressida. Rosalind in As You Like It has, like Helena, lost a father at the beginning of the play, though while Helena's father is dead Rosalind's is in exile and recoverable. Both women find themselves turning to new male interests. Helena says of her father: ‘What was he like? I have forgot him. My imagination Carries no favour in’t but Bertram’s.’

 

This seems a hard-edged version of Rosalind’s ‘what talk we of fathers, when there is such a man as Orlando?’ (3.4.38-39). Cressida joins the group when her father arranges a prisoner exchange that will take her from Troy and Troilus, and she declares, ‘I have forgot my father’ (4.2.96).”

 

And second, David Bevington, in his 1989 essay “All’s Well That Plays Well”, points out the really striking parallelism between Joan La Pucelle and Helena, including his catch of a whiff of Cressida in Helena: 

 

“...Scene 2 of Act 1 is an entirely male-dominated scene…Perhaps, by overvaluing military prowess as the way to valorize one’s sense of manhood, the male and patriarchal world at the court of France devalues more quiet achievement. ……[Consider] the extraordinary theatrical energy of Helena’s arrival at court. She is the only woman onstage in her first long scene there (2.1) and in the subsequent scene of her choosing a husband (2.3). Helena’s arrival is remarkably like that of Joan of Arc at the court of Charles VII, even in Shakespeare’s disparaging treatment of her in 1 Henry VI. Like Joan, Helena at once convinces her listeners that she has supernatural power; as Lafew insists, she can ‘breathe life into a stone’. Lafew, so ready to detect sham in Parolles, risks the humiliation of being thought gullible by undertaking to bring Helena before the King. The mood of belief quickly infects the King, though he must also protect his self-regard by professing a skeptical stance. All those present are impressed with how quickly all this happens. “This haste hath wings indeed!” 

 

We are thus prepared, in the theater, for an entrance of unusual impact. A repeated pattern in blocking helps to underscore the effect. Lafew, who earlier conducted Bertram before the King, now escorts in a single woman with no conventional credentials for being there. This repetition, coupled with the social irregularity of the second entrance, establishes a visual link between Bertram and Helena in a way that also gives to Helena’s entrance the aura of something miraculous. Moreover, the encounter of Helena is charged, as in the case of Joan of Arc and another French king, with sexual energy. The verbal dueling of Helena and the King is not debased, as it is in 1 Henry VI, but it certainly flirts with erotic suggestion. Old Lafew, saying “Come your ways,”, in the best tradition of the bawd, jests that he will play the role of “Cressid’s uncle”, Pandarus, by daring to “leave the two together’. Even before he escorts her in, Lafew has spoken of this “Doctor She” as one …

 

…whose simple touch,
Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in's hand,
And write to her a love-line.

 

Surely it is no coincidence that Lafew’s phrase ‘a pen in ‘s hand,’ reminds us of the word penis, for the whole passage is replete with images of arousal and quickening. 

 

These erotic suggestions need to be balanced, however, against the danger of devaluing Helena’s innocence of purpose. Helena is very much a woman, but to present her as sexually aggressive is to run the risk of heightening those very male anxieties that Bertram has not yet learned to resolve. Helena tells the King she dare venture ‘Tax of impudence’ if she is found guilty of “A strumpet’s boldness’, but this is only if she fails; and to prevent that, she unhesitatingly calls on “The great’st grace lending grace.” The King is attracted to her, but in a fatherly or avuncular way…”

 

As Bevington’s analysis shows, Shakespeare obviously meant to very strongly echo Joan La Pucelle in Helena’s characterization—they are two versions of women perceived as, and also presenting themselves, powerful witches—a dangerous way of being perceived by such men.  

Cheers, ARNIE

 

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