The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1959  Thursday, 11 November 1999.

From:           Tony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Nov 1999 17:08:41 -0800
Subject: 10.1944 Re: Burgundy and France
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1944 Re: Burgundy and France

I can think of a good many reasons why the choleric Lear would (as
reported at the end of 1.1) want to make it clear to France that his
angry disowning of Cordelia and refusal to bless her match with France,
did not extend to a witholding of the ordinary formalities between
friendly monarchs, an entirely different sphere of concern and one upon
which diplomatic relations, trade, war, mesne feudal obligations, and
other matters of great consequence surely depend.  Or, Lear might have
thought better of his hasty actions and changed his mind to some degree
from what we saw on stage (seasoning his volatile character with a
potential for flexibility among equals).  Why not assume a more complex
Lear, rather than a more careless Shakespeare?  Yes, the passage raises
challenging issues for academic and dramatic interpretation, which I
suppose is why bright people who enjoy challenges employ their brains to
address them.  Stanley Wells' proposal to explain the difficult passage
by altering it and then calling the change an "emendation"  puts him
directly in the Humpty Dumpty  school of interpretation: [a word] "means
just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less."   What's wrong
with a modest comment on the difficulty, and a suggestion that
performers may wish to follow Hanmer's ancient proposal to substitute
Burgundy for France?  The catacombs of Shakespeare scholarship are
filled with the the dry bones of hedge scholars who uncovered examples
of supposed "authorial inadvertance."   I take it the page proofs still
lie in the future.
Please, Stanley, reconsider.

Anthony Burton

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