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The Sonnets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.187  Tuesday, 15 April 2014

 

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

     Date:         April 10, 2014 at 5:18:23 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Sonnets 

 

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

     Date:         April 13, 2014 at 1:59:36 PM EDT

     Subject:    Gabriel Harvey 

 

 

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

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

Date:         April 10, 2014 at 5:18:23 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Sonnets

 

Ian Steere’s courtesy requires an equally courteous response.

 

I accept that the customary way of treating Shakespeare’s sonnets is to assume that when a poet is writing poetry then s/he is writing autobiographically. This, I am sorry to say is a romantic fiction, and derives from Wordsworth’s ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’. Keats’ suggestion that Shakespeare’s writing confirmed a ‘negative capability’ i.e. a capacity to enter imaginatively and vicariously into a wide range of experience. After all, is this what we teach our students: that they can access experience vicariously through reading literature? The Sonnets ‘imagine’ a series of scenarios that are in effect variations on the genre. If we seek an autobiographical strand then we must assert that Shakespeare could not write about an experience that he had not already had. Biographers plunder the writing in search of this ‘original’ experience, and in the process produce fictions, OR, more disturbingly, reveal aspects of their own autobiographies. The process is very complicated and requires us to ask some searching questions about the assumptions and the discourse of biography. This will extend to a revaluation of what have been considered as ‘facts’.  It is because we know so little of the things that we (from a post-Freudian standpoint) would like to know about Shakespeare that we tend to neglect the radical ‘differences’ between life in the late 16th century and our own. 

 

I have no desire to prevent anybody from creating whatever plausible fictions they may wish to concerning Shakespeare’s life. We create these fictions because the life contains a number of glaring contradictions that no attempt at producing a coherent narrative will resolve. It is why we continue to create the narratives, and to invent origins that are beyond verification.

 

Cheers

John Drakakis 

 

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

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

Date:         April 13, 2014 at 1:59:36 PM EDT

Subject:    Gabriel Harvey

 

Anthony Burton observed:

 

> The recent exchanges over meaning in Sonnet 144

> bring tears to my eyes, as the worst possible use of

> SHAKSPER as a vehicle for wider and better

> understanding of the Bard. Way back when,

> Gabriel Harvey noted that Romeo and Juliet delight

> the younger sort and Hamlet has much in it to please

> the wiser sort.

 

And here I thought my posts were the worst; yet matters of opinion are harmless at worst. Facts are something else. My Wayback Machine says Harvey associated the younger sort with Venus and Adonis, not Romeo and Juliet.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 
Shakespeare in Italy

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.186  Tuesday, 15 April 2014

 

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

Date:         April 10, 2014 at 11:33:15 AM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare in Italy

 

My name is Phoebe Ryan, and I am currently writing an article on ‘Shakespeare in Italy’ for Tuscany Now

 

This piece proposes the leading question – “did Shakespeare visit Italy?” - to get to the grittier authorship debate beneath. With so much rumour abounding and the Oxfordian presuppositions gaining momentum, this piece intends to impartially compare the approaches of Shakespeareans and Non-Shakespeareans, side by side. 

 

Hopefully we can get the debate to carry on in the comment box beneath, so none of the key arguments fall by the wayside.

 

I have given the opportunity for the Oxfordians have their say, where they presuppose all fiction to be based upon biographical experience, and now I would like to have Shakespeare scholars to explain any illogical natures of these assumptions.  

 

The piece can be found here: http://www.tuscanynow.com/blog/?p=49

 

I encourage interested Shakespeareans to respond to any of the content in the COMMENTS section.

 

Phoebe Ryan

Content & Online 

PR Executive

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 
Shakespeare @LibertasU

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.185  Tuesday, 15 April 2014

 

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

Date:         April 15, 2014 at 1:42:02 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare @LibertasU

 

Shakespeare is back at LibertasU. Returning in our third semester will be John Alvis’ course: “Why is Shakespeare the Supreme Dramatist?. This course will examine three plays, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Henry V, and will put to test the hypothesis that Shakespeare seeks to understand human nature by confronting great men with fateful choices. John Alvis, a well-respected Shakespearean scholar and currently Professor of English at The University of Dallas.

 

“Why is Shakespeare the Supreme Dramatist? is a full, 7-week, online course. It starts on May 12th with classes to be held on Mondays from 7:00 pm to 8:50 pm Eastern time, with every class will featuring ample time for discussion. This course is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is interested in delving into Shakespeare but who, for any reason, is not able to attend a regular bricks and mortar institution.

 

Jake Goldberg

 
 
The Sonnets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.184  Wednesday, 10 April 2014

 

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

     Date:        April 8, 2014 at 2:00:23 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Sonnets 

 

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

     Date:         April 10, 2014 at 4:34:42 AM EDT

     Subject:    The Sonnets 

 

 

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

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

Date:        April 8, 2014 at 2:00:23 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Sonnets

 

Peter Groves comments that one of Stephen Booth’s close readings of Sonnet 20 is “nonsensical”:

 

>Gregory Woodruff writes “Stephen Booth points out . . . that the 

>metric of sonnet 20 reveals a layer of double entendre. “A man in 

>hew all Hews in his controwling” reads “a MAN in HEWS ALL HEWS 

>in his CONT row LING” with the spondee in the middle of the line, 

>where the caesura should be, pushing the next emphasis to the first 

>syllable of “controwling” thus emphasizing “cont,” which of course 

>sounds like that Old English word for the female parts (Booth, 1977, 

>pp. 163-4).”  I’m afraid this is a nonsensical scansion, with a 

>nonsensical ad hoc ‘explanation’ attached to it.

 

I suspect that Booth would regard this as high praise. See his brilliant Precious Nonsense.

 

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

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

Date:         April 10, 2014 at 4:34:42 AM EDT

Subject:    The Sonnets

 

It has been suggested to me by a fellow list-member that my last comment in this thread was discourteous. Re-reading it, I agree. I am sorry.

 

Please let me now expand upon that comment in a way which I hope will not cause offense. 

 

Here are the main issues which have been put forward in this thread:

 

1. The Sonnets may be interpreted in many different ways. In the absence of his direct guidance, we need strong alternative evidence before we may reasonably infer any of the author's intentions.

 

2. Given their style and the variety of subject matter, it is difficult (some have suggested impossible) to establish a credible narrative sequence from the poems.

 

3. However, independent evidence of Shakespeare’s cultivation of a young, effeminate-looking patron, Henry Wriothesley, does present at least one credible lead: to the scenario that the poems portray the circumstances of, and developments in, their relationship - privately expressed.

 

4. With this perspective, and despite the obstacle noted at 2 above, a narrative sequence emerges with minimal further assumption or strain of interpretation. This strengthens the promise of the lead (described in 3).

 

5. But the emergent story contains some extraordinary content. This feature works for or against the hypothesis, dependent on the availability of independent evidence. If uncorroborated, the bizarreness of the suggested developments will undermine the credibility of the scenario. Otherwise, it will be strengthened in direct proportion to the rarity of the story portrayed.

 

6. The story at 4 is corroborated by objective, independent evidence associated with Shakespeare and/or Wriothesley. It is not just rare: it is unique. There are no inconsistencies. The scenario at 3 is therefore upgraded from promising lead to probable reality.

 

7. The biography thus inferred also provides elegant solutions to a number of otherwise unresolved, knotty problems associated with the Sonnets in their original printing, for example: the strange foreword included by their publisher (for more see A3 at Truths).

 

8. Consequently, we have the strong alternative evidence sought in 1. This presents a high probability that the Sonnets represent private correspondence from Shakespeare to Wriothesley, subsequently published without their consent.

 

Now, there has been nothing put forward in this thread to undermine the above argument or its conclusion. Yet the only signs of animation have come from nay-sayers (who appear to ignore much of what has been previously presented). It seems that there is some collective instinct at work, which is antagonistic to the very idea that the Sonnets may represent autobiography.

 

If so, does this antipathy come from a depiction of Shakespeare which clashes with preconceptions (held irrespective of objective evidence, or its lack)? Is there concern that the acceptance of the high probability of autobiography may open the door to Authorship skeptics (though, with the above-mentioned evidence, the gap between door and jamb is actually reduced)? Are there perceptions of consequential restrictions (on the free interpretation of the poems suggested at 1) which might arouse resentment in those who currently practise or preach, free of such perceptions?

 

I should be grateful for any response which helps to progress our understanding.

 

 
Talking with Biographer Stephen Grant about the Founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.183  Wednesday, 10 April 2014

 

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

Date:         April 8, 2014 at 3:58:41 PM EDT

Subject:    Talking with Biographer Stephen Grant about the Founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library

 

Stephen H. Grant’s Collecting Shakespeare

 

Sunday, April 13, at 4:00 p.m.

921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

Near DC’s Eastern Market

Free and Open to the Public

 

Many people are astonished to learn that the world’s largest repository of early Shakespeare editions is to be found, not in London or Stratford, but two blocks from the United States Capitol in Washington. How this came to be is the subject of a fascinating new book by Stephen H. Grant, who tells the story of Henry Clay Folger and his wife Emily Jordan Folger, who married in 1885 and devoted the rest of their lives to Collecting Shakespeare.

 

Henry was a close associate of John D. Rockefeller, and he eventually rose to the helm of the Standard Oil Company of New York. But the passion that most deeply obsessed a quiet, unassuming Brooklyn couple was not to become public until April 23, 1932, when President Hoover presided over a Capitol Hill ceremony at which the Folger Shakespeare Library was presented to the American people.

 

Copies of Mr. Grant’s long-anticipated biography of the Folgers will be on hand for purchase and inscription, and he’ll be available to sign them both before and after his conversation with John F. Andrews, who spent a decade (1974-84) as Director of Academic Programs at the Library.

 

Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to arrive early. For details about the venue, see www.HillCenterDC.org or call 202-549-4172.

__________________

For more information about this and related Shakespeare Guild offerings, including Speaking of Shakespeare programs in Manhattan with Stephen H. Grant, with Yale scholar David Kastan, and with lexicographer Paul Dickson, in mid-May, see www.shakesguild.org/May2014.pdf, visit www.shakesguild.org, or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
 
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