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Adventures in Original Pronunciation

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.097  Monday, 2 March 2015

 

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

     Date:         February 27, 2015 at 11:14:44 AM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  OP

 

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

     Date:         February 27, 2015 at 11:49:31 AM EST

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: OP 

 

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

     Date:         February 27, 2015 at 1:17:30 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: OP 

 

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

     Date:         March 1, 2015 at 6:41:29 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: OP 

 

 

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

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

Date:         February 27, 2015 at 11:14:44 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  OP

 

William Blanton’s view that Shylock is the devil himself disguised as a Jew has somehow slipped into the discussion of original pronunciation, already a mare’s nest of uncertainties and conflicting approaches that almost sidetrack a very admirable and potentially illuminating line of inquiry.  But it should be no surprise that Mr. Blanton’s notion was resisted rather than embraced.  One principal objection to its plausibility is that it would have the Devil turn Christian, in defiance of all contemporary understanding what the Devil stood for in the general order of things.  Also, to have him convert in mid-play with no one commenting on or celebrating an epochal achievement that would rank beyond the miracles of Christ, promptly emptying Purgatory and maybe Hell too, and all with no apparent consequences in and to the world, constitute barriers that I’m not even tempted to surmount.

 

Tony Burton

 

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

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

Date:         February 27, 2015 at 11:49:31 AM EST

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: OP

 

Oh Dear!

 

Gabriel Egan thinks that he has the monopoly on textual bibliographical discourse, to the extent that without having ever done any collations himself he can wade into a debate in which his strategy is to play one position off against another.  When I use the term ‘substitution’ I mean that one sort is substituted for another.  No more than that. I was only interested in quarto printing since my copy text for MV was Q1. The gibberish that he then embarks upon seems to me to emanate from Egan’s own muddled thinking rather than anything that I have written. Only somebody possessed of Egan’s peculiar brand of stupidity could conclude from my remarks that I was making a general point that applied across the printing formats. There are plenty of examples of exemplary textual scholarship that have appeared over a considerable period of time, but there is no substitute (that word again!) for getting down to the business of handling the actual books. Unlike Egan, I am always embarrassed about advertising my own work, but the next time he is in Leeds he might go and visit the Brotherton Library and search out a 2 volume Ph.D thesis that collates some 90+ quartos of three non-Shakespearean plays from three different printers. Then he can come back and we can chew the fat about the nuts and bolts of textual bibliography. Of course he will also need to re-read his Moxon, McKerrow, Gregg, Gaskell, MacKenzie, and Blayney before doing so.  And I mean, this time, read them.

 

I am more than willing to accept the responsibility for a volume that bears my name, even if this means defending my views in the face of idiocy. But I think that his public impugning of the integrity of the general editors smacks of a childish desperation that has no place in serious academic discourse, despite Egan’s obvious pitch to set himself up as the guardian of some attempt at textual bibliographical political correctness that has no foundation in any renaissance text that he has edited and published. Clearly he has been at a feast of textual-bibliographical language and stolen away the scraps.   But then, I don’t suppose that Gabriel Egan is someone that can be taken seriously, so I pass over his comments in silence in the hope that he will find time to rectify the fully stocked warehouse of beams in his own eye.

 

Cheers

John Drakakis

 

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

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

Date:         February 27, 2015 at 1:17:30 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: OP

 

>If Drakakis really does believe that we don’t know how many 

>pieces of type the compositor had in his sort boxes, then he 

>needs to retract all that he has written about type substitution. 

>If we don’t know how many pieces there were, then everything 

>he has claimed as a consequence of the compositor(s) of Q1-MV

>being short of certain letters has no basis.

 

This observation strikes me as self-evidently correct.  In general, it seems to me that arguments based on type shortage most often works backward:  A particular anomaly, such as variant s.pp., can be explained by a shortage of a certain letter, so, therefore, that letter must have been depleted.  

 

I don’t know enough about the scholarship in this area to say for certain that it is not feasible to count the number of slugs in each case, but that seems a likely hypothesis.  For example, the abundance or paucity of a particular slug would depend not only on its frequency in the work in question but also on the need for that character to set other jobs the shop had going at the same time.  Extremely detailed research might enable us to determine something close to that, but probably not to anything approaching confidence.  But is the end result worth the tedium?

 

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

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

Date:         March 1, 2015 at 6:41:29 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: OP

 

Thanks to Professor Egan for supplying the correct URLs for the Internet Shakespeare copies of the First Quarto and First Folio of the Merchant of Venice. 

 

I have read those copies, as well as others. Here are the facts:

  • In no copy of either Q1 or F1 is Launcelet referred to as Gobbo.
  • In every copy of Q1 and F1, Shakespeare has Launcelet refer to himself as Jobbe or as Launcelet Jobbe six times in quick succession.

Professor Bate and other Shakespearean scholars have determined that Shakespeare marked up a copy of Q1 when he wrote the version of the play that Hemings and Condell included in F1. Shakespeare made a few changes to Q1. For example, he changed the spelling of “precedent,” which was correctly spelled for the context in Q1, to “President,” which was incorrectly spelled for the context (and capitalized) in F1. Shakespeare could have changed the spelling of Launcelet’s surname to Gobbo, but evidently chose to retain the surname he had given Launcelet in Q1.

 

Professor Egan states that I should take Gobbo’s name seriously, given the conventions of English drama and naming practices. But where does that get us?

 

Assume that it was in fact a universal custom in late sixteenth century England that all men had surnames, and that their sons universally took their fathers’ surnames.

 

I believe that we all recognize that Shakespeare wrote his plays as scripts to be performed, not as texts to be studied. Members of Shakespeare’s audiences to a performance of the Merchant of Venice would not have heard anyone refer to Launcelet’s father as “Gobbo” or “Old Gobbo.” To the extent that anyone cared about the surname of Launcelet’s father, they would have assumed it to be “Jobbe.”

 

Why, then, did Shakespeare give Launcelet the surname of “Jobbe,” and why did he have Launcelet repeat that surname six times in quick succession? It is almost as if Shakespeare were beating his audiences over the head with Jobbe, Jobbe, Jobbe, Jobbe, Jobbe, Jobbe, Jobbe.

 

I have provided my conclusion: that Shakespeare thus brought the Book of Job into The Merchant of Venice in order to provide a second example of someone (God) who had made a deal with Satan. Recall that at the end of The Book of Job God restored the wealth that Satan had taken from Job. Recall also that at the end of The Merchant of Venice, Portia mysteriously restored the wealth that Antonio had lost: 

 

Anthonio you are welcome,

And I have better newes in store for you

Then you expect: unseale this letter soone,

There you shall finde three of your Argosies

Are richly come to harbour sodainlie.

 

You shall not know by what strange accident

I have chanced on this letter.

 

With all greatest respect to JD Markel. Shakespeare does not reveal whether Launcelet, a merrie divell, chose to leave Shylock for Bassanio or whether Shylocke compelled him to do so:

 

The patch is kinde enough, but a huge feeder:

Snaile-slow in profit, but he sleepes by day

More then the wilde-cat: drones hive not with me,

Therefore I part with him, and part with him

To one that I would helpe to waste

His borrowed purse.

 

Shakespeare does have Launcelet say:

 

certainely the Jew is the verie divell incarnation,

and in my conscience, my conscience is a kinde of hard

conscience, to offer to counsaile me to stay with the Jew;

The fiend gives the more friendly counsaile: I will runne

fiend, my heeles are at your commandement, I will

runne.

 

I realize, of course, that it is difficult for those who have studied, written, and taught that Shylock is a Jew to all of a sudden learn that he is not a Jew at all, but rather the Devil poorly disguised as a Jew. I say “poorly disguised” because everyone who meets him knows right away that he is the Devil. I provided a number of examples in my post of 2/23/15.

 

I believe that we should take Shakespeare’s words seriously. After all, these words are the only evidence that exists concerning what Shakespeare intended The Merchant of Venice to mean. It is all too easy to slough off all the references to Shylock as the devil as some supposed widespread anti-Semitism in England. 

 

But there exists no evidence that Shakespeare himself was anti-semitic. In fact, Shakespeare brings in the Three Ladies of London when he has Anthonio say at the end of Act I Scene 1:

 

Hie thee gentle Jew.

This Hebrew will turne

Christian, he growes kinde.

 

In the Three Ladies of London, Gerondus, a Jew who had loaned Mercadorus a large sum of money, forgave the entire debt plus interest rather than let Mercadorus carry through with his threat to renounce Christianity in favor of Islam in order to avoid having to repay that debt and the agreed amount of interest.(Exactly the opposite of what Shylocke, the Devil who had loaned Anthonio a large sum of money interest free, did in Act 4.)  The exasperated Turkish judge before whom Mercadorus had defrauded Gerontus of his loan, said

 

Jews seek to excel in Christianity, and Christians in Jewishness.

 

The Merchant of Venice is a much more interesting and significant play if we understand Shylock as the Devil. I would very much like to have a dialog with Shakespearean scholars on this and other interesting facets of this great play.

 

Best regards to all,

Bill

 
 
The Secret Code Word Shakespeare Devilishly Hid in Plain Sight in Romeo & Juliet that Shakespeare Uncovered DIDN’T Uncover—but John Milton (and then I) did!

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.096  Monday, 2 March 2015

 

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

Date:         March 2, 2015 at 2:28:00 AM EST

Subject:    The Secret Code Word Shakespeare Devilishly Hid in Plain Sight in Romeo & Juliet that Shakespeare Uncovered DIDN’T Uncover—but John Milton (and then I) did!

 

“Romeo and Juliet with Joseph Fiennes”, Episode 5 of the PBS series, Shakespeare Uncovered, recently aired, and those who missed it can still watch it and the other 5 episodes online:

 

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/shakespeare-uncovered/uncategorized/romeo-juliet-joseph-fiennes-full-episode/

 

It’s excellent, as you’d expect. It provides both (i) a thorough basic factual and critical grounding in /Romeo & Juliet/ for anyone unfamiliar with it, AND (ii) supplementary intellectual treats for the cognoscenti, “with rare perspectives on Shakespeare’s early and beloved tragedy”. And what Shakespeare lover wouldn’t enjoy taking scholarly “potions” from “apothecaries” like actors Joseph Fiennes and Orlando Bloom, scholars Marjorie Garber and Jonathan Bate, and other knowledgeable folks, as your guides, with generous on location visuals from the Globe and a Verona balcony or two, to boot!

 

One of those exotic segments (starting 12+ minutes into Episode 5) was a clip from a recent staging of RomeUS and Juliet—that’s NOT a typo—that is the actual title of the poem by the otherwise unknown versifier Arthur Brooke written in 1562, two years before Shakespeare was born-it’s the poem which was Shakespeare’s primary source. Sorry to burst the bubble of those who (like me till 10 years ago) didn’t know that Stoppard’s version of Shakespeare’s composition of Romeo & Juliet  in Shakespeare in Love was flamboyantly contrary to historical fact. I.e., there never /was/ a plotline being invented from scratch by the Bard, with a working title of Romeo & Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter! But, of course I, like everyone else, still love the film, because it so wittily, brilliantly, and passionately captures and recreates the spirit of Shakespeare.

 

But back to Brooke. As the PBS show accurately reported, it’s been common scholarly knowledge for centuries that Brooke’s poem was Shakespeare’s primary source—not only because of the virtual repetition of the title, but even down (as Episode 5 cleverly enacted) to Shakespeare stealing specific lines of poetry from Brooke, and tweaking them into altered, but still recognizably similar, lines in his play. And, with some exceptions, including the change of moral tone noted in Episode 5, the vast majority of plot and character details in Brooke’s poem are closely tracked in Shakespeare’s play. But, of course, the PBS show, and a thousand other scholars, have also pointed out, that we only know of Brooke and his poem today (he is believed to have died in a shipwreck—a sly joke in Stoppard’s ending!—not long after composing the poem), because Brooke mined, from Italian sources, the literary dross that Shakespeare’s literary alchemy turned into pure gold.

 

Well, as I will now demonstrate to you, Brooke’s been getting a raw deal for 400 years on one important point that’s never been noticed before. All of the above is merely prologue to the existence of a secret code word borrowed by Shakespeare from Brooke’s poem which is beyond anything than has been dreamt of in the philosophy of scholarly interpretation of Romeo & Juliet (and also, for that matter, Romeus & Juliet and Paradise Lost). Sounds crazy—sounds VERY crazy—but it’s true, and I will prove it, in this very post! It’s a borrowing I discovered 7 months ago while reading Romeo & Juliet for another reason entirely, and then I went back into Brooke’s poem and found the source there. And then I realized, from something I had learned during my earlier research on Paradise Lost, that John Milton may have beaten me to the sleuthing punch by 350 years, as he coded his discovery into his epic poem!

 

I’m breaking the story today, a bit sooner than I had planned, because I could not resist the serendipity of the airing today of Episode 5, with its excerpt about Brooke’s poem, which I hope has resulted in a lot of Shakespeare lovers having Romeo & Juliet temporarily on their (your) minds. And so it’s my goal to blow that part of your mind! Please bear with me till I get to my punch line, which is a single code word that appears in all three passages. I promise it will be worth your attention!

 

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, please click here to read the full post at my blog (most of it consists of the quoted passages):

 

tinyurl.com/mlap3d <http://t.co/LLGAvCvDhn>

 

I welcome any comments you may have, and if you think my argument is worth passing on to any other scholars who are interested in Shakespeare and/or Milton, please feel free to do so.

 

Thanks!

 

Arnie

@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

 
 
PS: « More Mysteries about the Saint-Omer Shakespeare Folio: Marks of Ownership »

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.095  Monday, 2 March 2015

 

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

Date:         March 1, 2015 at 3:52:58 AM EST

Subject:    PS: « More Mysteries about the Saint-Omer Shakespeare Folio: Marks of Ownership »

 

PS: « More Mysteries about the Saint-Omer Shakespeare Folio: Marks of Ownership »

Line Cottegnies and Gisèle Venet

 

Since the discovery by Rémy Cordonnier of a copy of a Shakespeare First Folio last November in the Saint-Omer public library,[1] the scholars’ attention has focussed on the identity of the mysterious Nevill, whose name stares at any reader opening the book. His identification, it is assumed, must help date at least some of the annotations in the volume itself. The book, however, possesses other distinctive marks, possibly marks of ownership, which are perhaps less prominent at first sight. On nine occasions in the volume the letters P and S appear, hand-stamped in ink at the bottom of the page, either both on the same page, or on two consecutive pages. Hand-stamped initials in books are highly unusual. The positioning of the PS marks in the Folio is also odd, although a regular pattern seems to emerge. Their presence raises many questions. What could have driven anyone to want to mark a book at regular intervals?

 

This short article describes the phenomenon, as well as other annotations in the Folio, and offers some hypotheses to explain the presence of the marks. It will shortly be published in the peer-reviewed electronic journal etudes-episteme.org,

https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01120682.

See also https://epistemeparis3.wordpress.com

[1] Saint-Omer, BASO, inv. 2227.

 

Line Cottegnies

Professeur de Littérature anglaise

Directrice de l'EA 4398: PRISMES (Langues, Textes, Arts et Cultures du Monde anglophone: PRISMES)

Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3

 
 
From TLS: Shakespeare and the Red Dragon

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.094  Monday, 2 March 2015

 

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

Date:         March 1, 2015 at 12:52:21 PM EST

Subject:    From TLS: Shakespeare and the Red Dragon 

 

[Editor’s Note: The following appeared in a recent TLS. It is available as the Thursday free piece at the TLS web site. -Hardy]

 

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1523386.ece

 

We hope you enjoy this free piece from the TLS, which is available every Thursday in print and via the TLS app. This week’s issue also features Walter Benjamin’s disembodied sexuality, Barbara Graziosi on shameless dogs and gods in ancient Greece, Galen Strawson on the philosophy behind Tom Stoppard’s new play – and much more.

 

Shakespeare and the Red Dragon

David Hawkes

 

25 February 2015

 

Marisa R. Cull

SHAKESPEARE’S PRINCES OF WALES

English identity and the Welsh connection 

203pp. Oxford University Press. £55 (US $99).

978 0 19 87161 98

 

It must have seemed like a fine idea at the time. On November 24, 2007, in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, the Welsh national rugby team battled South Africa for the inaugural Prince William Cup. It was natural enough that the Prince should present the cup in person. After the visitors’ predictable victory, William’s smiling face filled the stadium big screen. But as the Prince brandished the prize, his smile suddenly flickered. His eyes darted. An unaccustomed noise filled his ears. Could it be? Surely not! And yet it was. To the BBC commentators’ baffled annoyance, to William’s visible consternation, but to the surprise of nobody at all in his Principality, there rang from the stands the unmistakable sound of prolonged and sincere booing.

 

What was going on? Everybody in Wales knew. A few months earlier, Welsh fans had been angered by the sight of the Prince wearing the national rugby shirt of England. Few English people could understand this anger: certainly, it seemed incomprehensible to the Prince. Wasn’t he simply displaying a natural patriotic pride in his country? But to Welsh eyes it looked like an aggressive act. The Prince was announcing his allegiance to a polity that emphatically excluded them. It was an untimely reminder that the future Prince of Wales was, like all his predecessors since the thirteenth century, an Englishman.

 

There had certainly been Welsh claimants to the title. Before the game against South Africa the mischievous Welsh stadium announcer appealed to the crowd to honour the recently deceased Llanelli centre Ray Gravell as “gwir Dywysog Cymru” the “true Prince of Wales”. A petition was launched, backed by several Welsh MPs, to rename the Prince William trophy after Gravell. Some even suggested that the most appropriate sobriquet would be the Glyn Dwr Cup, after the last Welshman to aspire to be Prince of his nation. It was an idea of which Shakespeare would have heartily approved.

 

Although English literary historians have barely acknowledged the fact, the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-centuries were a period of massive Welsh cultural influence on England. Apart from the Tudors themselves, many other prominent families of the day had Welsh roots, the Cecils (originally Sitsyllt) and the Cromwells among them. Queen Elizabeth’s court magus, John Dee, was of Welsh ancestry, as were the major Metaphysical poets. The strenuous, strained language of Metaphysical verse is English as written by outsiders. George Herbert, Henry Vaughan and Thomas Traherne were Welsh by birth, as was the father of John Donne (originally Dwn). Donne’s Welsh connections are especially suggestive, since he could claim descent from the greatest Welsh hero of all, Owain Glyn Dwr himself.

 

Marisa Cull’s absorbing and innovative study demonstrates the profound significance of Wales in general, and Glyn Dwr in particular, for the life and work of Shakespeare. The Bard (the very term has a specifically Welsh provenance) had a Welsh grandmother, Alys Griffin. The man who taught him his “small Latin”, the Stratford grammar school teacher Thomas Jenkins, was Welsh. At least four of Shakespeare’s colleagues in the Lord Chamberlain’s men were from Wales. Welsh characters feature in all the English History Plays except King John, as well as in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Cymbeline and King Lear are set in Celtic Britain, at a time before the English bestowed their current, paradoxical appellation on the Welsh. Even the historical Macbeth had Welsh connections

 

As Shakespeare was well aware, Wales is England’s original Other. The Saxon word Welsch means “foreigner”. The verb elschen, to speak gibberish, literally means to speak like a Welshman. The history of English colonialism begins with war on the Welsh, and the colonial dichotomy between centre and periphery has its original in the fraught relations between England and Wales. The contradictory nature of this relation is encapsulated in the very title “Prince of Wales”. The Principality is assigned a permanently junior, aspirant role, which can never issue in promotion or fulfilment. Welsh identity is sublimated within the English power structure, Welsh history is assimilated into an English narrative, and Welsh people are represented by an Englishman.

 

It is in the nature of such disproportionate relations that the dominant partner is unaware of the subordinate’s real nature, identity and even existence until forcibly reminded of them, as Prince William discovered. Yet Shakespeare, greatest of all English literary heroes, was acutely sensitive to Wales’s fundamental role in the construction of English national culture and character. As Cull demonstrates, he embodied and explored the resulting ambiguities through the indisputably central, yet simultaneously marginal, figure of the Prince of Wales.

 

This book’s title is arrestingly plural. As Cull notes, most readers of Shakespeare identify his Prince of Wales with a single figure: Prince Hal. Even in the plays that he dominates, however, Hal is never the only character associated with that title. Glendower disputes it vigorously, of course, but so does Mortimer, who claimed it as the rightful heir of Richard II. The Henriad features not one but three princes of Wales, each of whom has a very different conception of the role and its proper functions. Cymbeline’s Guiderius is also Prince of Wales, and Cull skilfully links these characters to the princes of Wales who feature in the period’s non-Shakespearean drama, such as RA’s The Valiant Welshman, and Ben Jonson’s For the Honor of Wales.

 

The Prince of Wales, in short, seems to have provided early modern English culture with a kind of symbolic cipher, a floating signifier, on which a vast range of aspirations and anxieties could be projected. As Cull puts it, the role was “part sovereign, part symbol”. This ambiguity was facilitated by the eloquent absence of any real Prince of Wales. Henry VII’s promising son Prince Arthur died prematurely in 1502, and the famously infertile Tudors did not produce a replacement. It was not until 1610 that, following an acrimonious and undignified dispute with his reluctant father, Prince Henry Frederick was invested with the title, only to pass away himself two years later.

 

In the meantime, the conveniently vacant position provided playwrights with a royal personage through whom unofficial political and ideological theories could be vented without fear of offending any actual occupant. The title is not inherited automatically but bestowed in a formal ceremony of investiture, and this opened a space for its nature to be disputed. The figurehead of the Jacobean Protestants, Prince Henry Frederick, agitated to be invested without delay; his cautious father thwarted his ambition for years in an effort to preserve the delicate Elizabethan settlement. The works of Shakespeare, and other writers who dealt with Welsh themes, offered oblique but lucid commentary on this quarrel, and Cull does a fine job of decoding the necessarily clandestine criticisms they contain.

 

In 1 Henry IV, Prince Hal is called “the Prince of Wales” fourteen times. For Cull this amounts to a “fetishization” of the title, and it concentrates the audience’s attention firmly on the Principality’s significance and implications. It provides a way of domesticating the disturbingly “wild Welsh” who are memorably represented by the sinister women mutilating the English dead after Glendower’s crushing victory at Bryn Glas. This “beastly shameless transformation”, in which the Englishmen’s penises are pushed into their mouths and their noses inserted into their anuses, stands for the unnatural inversion of order implied by a Welsh victory over England. That sort of thing is not supposed to happen outside rugby stadiums.

 

It happens in Shakespeare though, and more than once. This was partly due to the necessity of understanding pre-Saxon British history as the ancestor of the Tudor–Stuart state. It was a tricky operation. The exploits of Arthur and Merlin were part of the island’s heroic heritage, and its sixteenth- and seventeenth-century rulers were anxious to claim them as their own. The problem was that the immortal deeds of the ancient Britons did not involve the ancestors of the English. On the contrary, they were performed in the doughty but doomed struggle against them. To acknowledge this, however, would have opened dangerous wounds that were by no means entirely healed. Some way had to be found of reading the Welsh as admirable forebears, rather than as defeated natives.

 

That is where Shakespeare came in. When the fiercely loyal Fluellen rams a leek down Pistol’s mocking throat, the hideous inversion perpetrated by the women of Bryn Glas is domesticated into a comic incident quite compatible with allegiance to the English king. When Henry V declares “I am Welsh, you know”, despite his total lack of Celtic blood, the Other becomes part of the Self. When Richard III refers to Henry Tudor as “the Welshman”, the coming dynasty is heralded as incorporating an originally hostile resistance into the colonial power. By such means, Shakespeare continues the project of unification inaugurated by the historical Henry when he named his son Arthur, began his victorious campaign for the throne at Milford Haven, and marched to Bosworth under the standard of the red dragon.

 

This domesticating project’s success is described with a typically Shakespearean ambiguity. Glendower is an outlandish, incredible figure, often played purely for laughs on the English stage. But his monolingual daughter brings the Welsh language onto that stage, and her marriage to Mortimer places it in a temporarily central position. Cull offers some fascinating speculation as to how widely understood such speeches might have been in early modern London, where the Welsh would have been a highly visible minority. The language would have been at once familiar and mysterious to English people, as Hotspur suggests when he tells Glendower: “Let me not understand you, then; speak it in Welsh”.

 

With contrary Welsh oppugnancy, Glendower refuses to obey, instead taking the chance to remind Hotspur that “I can speak English, lord, as well as you; / For I was train’d up in the English court”. This training seems to have been ineffectual: Glendower is possibly the least English of all Shakespeare’s characters. The play makes a game attempt to defang him. Shakespeare even informs us that he is “certainly” dead, eliding the mysterious fate of the historical Glyn Dwr, who seems to have vanished into the Monmouth mist like the phantom to which he was often compared. Nobody knows what happened to him, thought it seems likely that he found a final redoubt in the home of his daughter, Alys.

 

What’s in a name? We cannot know how much influence Alys Griffin had over her grandson, though early twentieth-century critics like Frederick Harries enjoyed speculating that “the Celtic strain in Shakespeare’s blood may be held to account for the sporadic appearance of genius in an unremarkable middle- class family”. But it is clear that, in spite of Glendower’s reported demise, Shakespeare depicted the Welsh with a vaguely querulous foreboding, especially where the English monarchy was concerned. The Prince of Wales is, after all, the rightful heir to the English throne, and all rulers must be slightly nervous about their heirs. In Richard II, it is the Welsh captain whose astrological hermeneutics leads him to declare: “These signs forerun the death or fall of kings”.

 

This book’s essential argument is that, in Shakespeare’s treatments, “the Welsh become predictors of the king’s fate”. The Prince of Wales is a living embodiment of that prediction. By definition he occupies an awkward, transitional position, always awaiting his parent’s demise, which must take place before he can grasp his own proper destiny. It is a position of inadequacy, of unfulfilment, as the current holder of the title suggested when he lamented that “I feel I must justify my existence”. Certainly, Shakespeare’s English monarchs are well aware of the subversive potential inherent in the Princedom. Just after his coronation, Henry IV shows his prescience when he anxiously inquires after Hal, remarking: “If any plague hang over us, ’tis he”.

 

The Saxon colonization of Celtic Britain provides the earliest, paradigmatic instance of English imperialism’s remarkable skill at conscripting those it has conquered into its service. But as Prince William of Wales discovered in Cardiff, the colonized Other is always waiting for an opportunity, no matter how slight or insignificant it may appear, to assert its continued existence, often to the dominant power’s dismay and confusion. As Hal informs Douglas, in the dark lines which form the epigraph to this original and invaluable study: “It is the Prince of Wales that threatens thee, / Who never promiseth but he means to pay”. But who is the Prince of Wales?

 

David Hawkes is Professor of English at Arizona State University. His books include The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England, 2010. His new book, Shakespeare and Economic Theory, is due to appear later this year.

 

 

 
Shakespeare’s Complete Canon to Be Preserved on Film

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.093  Monday, 2 March 2015

 

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

Date:         March 2, 2015 at 7:50:57 AM EST

Subject:    Shakespeare’s Complete Canon to Be Preserved on Film 

 

[Editor’s Note: From TheaterMania.com. –Hardy]

 

http://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/stratford-festival-hd-to-put-shakespeares-complete-canon-on-film_71870.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=27feb2015

 

Shakespeare’s Complete Canon to Be Preserved on Film Thanks to Stratford Festival HD

 

Canada’s acclaimed theater festival takes its Shakespearean expertise and commitment to innovation to the big screen — and maybe even the one in your palm.

 

Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival is the latest in a line of theatrical innovators to team up with live-cinema distributors BY Experience. Like its predecessors, including the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre, the festival will be disseminating filmed versions of its live stage productions via cinema to audiences around the world.

 

Thanks to the city’s fortuitous name, the festival was first conceived as a way to turn Stratford into a cultural destination by mounting a yearly celebration of the works of William Shakespeare. First up this digital season is Shakespeare’s King Lear, led by beloved Canadian actor Colm Feore. The production kicks off an initiative in which Stratford Executive Director Anita Gafney says the festival will “aspire to collecting the whole Shakespeare canon.”

 

In addition to the Stratford Festival’s unparalleled commitment to the work of the Bard, what makes the festival unique among its peers is its remote location. Unlike New York City’s Met Opera or London’s National Theatre, the majority of Stratford’s patrons come from out of town and often even out of country. That logistical factor means that the cinematic gamble could pay an even higher dividend for Stratford than the genre’s other pioneers.

 

By joining forces with a cinema distribution company, the festival’s potential for audience expansion is twofold. First, audiences who aren’t able to physically travel to Stratford, Ontario (located about two hours from the nearest U.S. border), will have an opportunity to witness the company’s work. “It is a way for people who might not be able to get here every year to have some connection with Stratford,” said Gafney. BY Experience representative Julie Borchard-Young echoed her feelings, “What the HD experience is about is providing affordable access in a relatively easy-to-get-to manner…Let’s bring the arts to you and your community.”

 

Even more important, however, according to Gafney, is the possibility that the initiative will draw new audiences to visit Stratford. She and Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who stepped into their positions simultaneously in 2013, have a shared drive to heighten the profile of the festival and let more people know about “the great work [they’re] doing.” Having tried touring productions as a way to expand the reach of Stratford’s high-quality productions, Gafney and Cimolino found sharing the company’s work in that way to be prohibitively expensive and so began scanning the horizon for other options. As the duo witnessed more and more BY Experience success stories, they decided to seize the technological moment. “[Filmed productions are] a way to get out — and to represent the work that we do and to get out to lots of people instead of just going into one market,” Gafney said. Fortunately, Borchard-Young predicts that over time, awareness of Stratford and their mission will increase and “cinema audiences will be inspired to go attend in person.”

 

But Gafney isn’t content to wait and see; Stratford is hoping to use these new filmed versions of their Shakespeare productions to grow their audiences in other arenas as well. As the company begins its conquest of one technology, Gafney and her team are already setting their sights on several more. Intent on reaching as many groups as possible, they’re already working with the University of Waterloo’s digital media campus to find ways of using their new wealth of content on digital platforms like apps and games. Similarly, Gafney is in conversations with the BBC and other television outlets about broadcast and online opportunities.

 

Perhaps the most natural fit for Stratford’s full Shakespeare canon, however, is in the world of education. Both companies see the importance of using their films to equip arts educators. BY Experience, for their part, already cultivates future audiences by providing educational screenings to schools, while, according to Gafney, the opportunity to make a comprehensive collection of their productions available to students and teachers was one of the major impetuses to undertake this ambitious project.

 

The other, of course, is bringing the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s legacy into the modern era. “Shakespeare is what we were founded on,” said Gafney with pride. “It’s at the core of our mandate. We wanted to start with the thing that differentiates us, the thing that we do extraordinarily well.”

 

Since the beginning, the company has presented work by diverse writers, but high quality, often innovative Shakespearean productions have always been what differentiate the festival — and Stratford’s signature combination of reverence for the past and vision for the future is sure to be what sets their on-screen creations apart.

 

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